Of course the fact that an entire screen on the TouchFLO skin is dedicated to Music, Video and Photos makes it pretty obvious that HTC is going for the consumer who is more interested in fun than function. The only problem with this approach is that the hardware is missing an integral feature – it doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone socket! The only output option available is a mini-USB port, which the bundled hands-free headset can plug into. Unfortunately there is no headphone socket on the hands-free either, so you are left having to listen to your music through the woefully inadequate bundled hands-free earphones!
It is completely beyond me how any manufacturer can expect a product to be taken seriously as a music player without a 3.5mm headphone socket of some kind. Yes, I’m aware that you can get mini-USB to 3.5mm headphone socket cables, but you shouldn’t have to resort to third party accessories to add functionality that should be intrinsic to the design. The fact that HTC bundles a 1GB micro-SD card is also somewhat moot, since clearly the intention is for you to store music and video on it, neither of which you will enjoy without a decent set of earphones.
So, when you take the TouchFLO skin and pretensions of being a pocket media player out of the equation, you’re left with a very slim and light Windows Mobile device. About a year ago, I would have been very impressed with a device like this. In fact I was very impressed with a device like this about a year ago, when we looked at the Orange SPV M600, which was, unsurprisingly an HTC device. In many ways the Touch is just a slimmed down version of the M600, which would have been no bad thing back then, but the game has moved on. If you look at the Orange SPV M700, which is the successor to the M600, you’ll see that it features both HSDPA for fast data download and an integrated GPS module. So, while the M700 may be larger and heavier than the Touch, you get lightning fast Internet, video calling and can use it for satellite navigation.
In reality then, the Touch is a somewhat dated Windows Mobile device in a very pretty party dress.
HTC also made a big deal of the new Home screen features on the Touch, and I have to admit that it’s pretty good. First up, there’s a very large digital clock, so it’s easy to check the time via only the briefest of glances. There’s also a thumb friendly tab that gives you the weather forecast, which works pretty well. However, you have to manually tell the Touch what city you’re in, in order for it to give you the weather report – personally I would have thought it should be able to automatically tell where you are via the cell that you’re currently communicating with. A third thumb friendly button takes you to an application launcher screen, which has ten, just about thumb friendly buttons from which you can launch your favourite apps. The same old problem rears its head here though, once you’ve tapped the button with your thumb, you’ll need to resort to the stylus in order to use the application!