Unfortunately, when it comes to a headphone socket, HTC hasn’t followed the lead of other recent Touch handsets. Instead of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack the Viva uses the mini USB port on the bottom for audio output. As this is also used for syncing and charging the device (a wall plug charger is included) it means you can’t listen to music via headphones while you’re topping it up with juice or syncing data with your PC. But this won’t bother you immediately as the handset doesn’t actually come with any headphones at all! Instead you have to buy them from the HTC accessories store! A pretty ridiculous situation if you ask us.
On the software side, the Viva uses the 2D version of HTC’s TouchFlo interface. This sits on top of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system and offers finger-friendly access to most of the phone’s key features. For example, you can move between functions such as text messaging, the music player or the Internet browser just by running your finger across a row of icons positioned at the bottom of the screen.
The 2D version of TouchFlo has less flashy animation than the new 3D version found on the Touch HD, but we prefer it as it feels much more responsive and less fiddly to use. That said, there are still too many occasions when you get dumped rudely back to the standard Windows Mobile look and feel. In this respect, it’s still a long way off the slickness of the iPhone user interface. Nevertheless, the use of Windows Mobile OS does offer some benefits like the suite of Office Mobile applications for editing Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.
HTC has added a few more applications including a dedicated viewer for YouTube, a handy RSS news reader and, best of all, the Opera web browser which is a big step up from the standard Windows Mobile version of Internet Explorer.
Google Maps is also preinstalled, but don’t get too excited because the handset doesn’t have GPS onboard – it just uses mast triangulation to work out your position. The other big downer is that the phone lacks 3G functionality. Instead, you’re limited to EDGE download speeds, which is fine for picking up emails on the move, but noticeably slow when you’re browsing the web or using Google Maps.