HTC has arguably been Apple’s closest competitor when it comes to the iPhone. After all the company even managed to sneak out the original Touch before Apple had time to get the first version of the iPhone to market. But now HTC has got even more competition on its hands with the likes of the Blackberry Storm and Samsung’s Omnia snapping at it’s heels. Its response to this is the Touch HD, a phone with a screen that’s so crisp and sharp that it knocks the displays on rival devices for six, leaving them looking blurry and out of focus. But is a high resolution screen enough to make this device a winner?
First things first, the Touch HD looks fantastic. The styling is quite minimalist, in part because the front of the phone is almost completely taken over by the huge screen. Nevertheless, other details, such as the four control buttons beneath the display, are nicely tailored and even the stylus tucks neatly away at the bottom edge of the handset. Unlike the iPhone, the back of the HD easily slides off to reveal not only the replaceable battery, but also a microSD card slot for beefing up the 288MB of onboard RAM.
However, it’s the screen that everyone comments on when they first lay eyes on this device. And, oh, what a gorgeous screen it turns out to be. It’s absolutely massive taking up almost the whole length and width of the handset. At 3.8in, it’s larger than the iPhone’s (even though both devices are almost identical in size) and has an incredibly crisp resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. Colours look rich and life-like, and this combined with the high res nature of the display means that films and pictures really seem to leap off the screen.
However, as good as the screen is, it’s not without its faults. As with other HTC devices the company has had to opt for a standard touch panel, rather than the capacitive type used on the iPhone. The reason for this is that the HD has to be able to deal with the stylus as well as your pinky when it comes to control and capacitive screens simply don’t work with a stylus. However, a standard touch panel just isn’t as responsive as a capacitive screen when it comes to finger control and the effect is pretty obvious here.
Anyone who’s used the iPhone will find the HD’s screen unresponsive and not nearly as reliable. Sometimes you have to touch it multiple times to get it to register what you want it to do, while other times it selects an area of the screen slightly off where you were actually pointing at. You get used to its foibles over time and can adjust the way you use it to make it more reliable. However, the point of a good user interface is that you shouldn’t have to get used to it – it should just work without any problems and that’s not the case here.
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