Watching video, viewing pictures and playing games is limited by the small screen and slower processor but simple physics games are more than playable. Video is also hampered by very limited format support, though if you do get something that plays, it’s a perfectly decent watch. Helping here is the surprisingly powerful speaker, and the noise-free headphone jack for when you don’t want to disturb others.
Getting all this media onto the device is a simple affair thanks to the standard microUSB connection and microSD slot. The phone has negligible internal storage but the slot will take cards up to 32GB – you should find a 2GB card occupying the slot when newly bought.
Alternatively, if you want to snap your own media, the onboard camera does a surprisingly good job. The camera button launches the app and makes it really easy to handle the camera while grabbing a snap. You can also touch the screen to set focus and exposure. The pictures it produces aren’t spectacular but are certainly on par with most 5 megapixel camera phones. What’s particularly impressive, though, is the single LED flash that does a surprisingly good job of lighting up a room. Technically it still trails a Xenon flash by some way, and it doesn’t necessarily provide the most flattering light but it’s better than not being able to see anything.
Of course, this works for shooting video as well, and thanks to the slightly higher resolution than we’re used to from budget phones, you’re footage won’t look half bad. It’s not HD but more than enough to capture the moment. Incidentally the camera button, while a useful addition, has nothing directly to do with the Facebook integration.
The big difference, then, between the HTC Salsa and any other modest Android phone is its Facebook integration. Tap the Facebook button in most apps and up pops a messaging screen ready for you to start typing. By default whatever you type is posted to your wall but you can also choose to send a message to a Facebook friend. You can also take or choose a picture to upload.
There’s also a Facebook chat app that does exactly what you’d expect; provides a basic messaging interface for chatting to your friends that are online on Facebook chat. It provides a history of your conversations and presents messages in a very easy to follow way. There’s no indication of when the other person is typing but otherwise it’s a pretty seamless instant chat service.
Where the integration is taken to another level, though, is when you use the Facebook button in other apps. Tap it in the camera or camcorder apps and it’ll take a snap recording and instantly have it ready for you to upload to Facebook – just type a few words to accompany the post, select which gallery you’d like to add it too and hit send. Likewise, if you tap it while in the gallery, it’ll go to upload that picture. It also works with the web browser. One press and it’ll create a post with a link to that article, again allowing you to add a few words before posting.
The one obvious omission to all this Facebook goodness is YouTube integration, so you can’t quickly send round a link to the latest video nasty to your friends. All told, though, even if you don’t necessarily consider yourself a Facebook fiend, these well integrated shortcuts are genuinely useful – if only it worked for Twitter as well.
The unwelcome super hot kick in the Salsa’s tail, though, is its high price. For a smaller budget smartphone its £300 SIM free price is definitely above the norm. If prices drop though this could be one tasty number.
The HTC Salsa may be a smaller, budget device, with Facebook at its core but it’s actually a surprisingly grown up smartphone. It’s smartly styled, speedy in operation, packed full of features, and can get you to Facebook nirvana quicker than you can say toasted Tortilla. Whether your desire for Facebook fripperies is strong enough to overcome the slightly high price is more of a personal preference issue but if you do like the idea then it’s very well executed.
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