As mentioned earlier, the physical shutter button makes taking photos markedly easier than on devices that require you to use a touchscreen control – you try taking a self portrait on an iPhone! In most other respects the camera is fairly average, though.
Performance is snappy enough, allowing you to rattle of a few shots in reasonably quick time. Results are par for the course with passable levels of detail, colour reproduction, and sensor noise. It's fine for Facebook but poor for prints.
Video shooting seemed to be inconsistent with one clip shooting at a nice 30fps, one at 20fps, and the low light one at a mere 10fps. We're not quite sure what was going on there and the phone was returned before we could fully investigate but we suspect it’s a results of other background activity sucking up CPU speed and making the camera slow – possibly a victim of the slightly slower CPU on this device. Shooting at lower resolutions was fine, however.
Battery life seemed reasonable with no evidence of the super fast battery drain we saw on the Desire HD. You'll still need to charge at least every other night with moderate use but this is pretty much what we'd expect.
The video and music players have had a face lift but aren't necessarily the nicest apps to use. In particular the music player lacks the sleak feel of the iPhone or Windows Phone 7 while the video player has an awkward thumbnail interface and format support seems patchy. This is definitely an area where more work is needed.
The HTC Desire Z is lovely device. It's hardware design is classy and elegant and its fit and finish is up there with the best. Add in an exceptional quality screen and a very good keyboard and you have a device that ticks a huge number of boxes. There are a few niggles like the slightly slow processor and the somewhat pointless optical trackpad but these aren't enough to dampen our spirits.
As ever there's the question of whether you really need a physical keyboard or, moreover, whether the larger slideout keyboards are as easy to type on as BlackBerry style affairs, but if you are a fan of such devices then we can think of none better on the market right now.