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From the Apple iPhone to the LG KF700, the touch generation of phones have finally arrived. These new phones not only offer touch-sensitive screens, it also provides users with applications that redefine how a mobile phone should be. HTC’s latest offering, the Touch Diamond, comes with a TouchFLO 3D interface that claims to gives you touch control over this Windows-based smartphone, but just how well does it perform?


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The Touch Diamond phone, a Li-Ion battery, an extra stylus, an AC adapter, a screen protector, a quick start and TouchFLO 3D guide, a wired stereo headset, a USB sync cable, and a couple of application discs are included inside the pyramid-shaped box.

HTC has only included a few buttons on the device. The Home, Back, Talk/Send, End, and Navigation key are all located up front, while the volume control and the power button are located on the left spine and on top of the phone, respectively. The phone also comes with a USB/headphone port and a stylus compartment, which are both located at the bottom of the device.

There are also two cameras on the unit, with users being able to use one for taking shots (3.2-megapixels) and the other for video calls (VGA camera). The unit comes with 4GB of internal storage, which can store quite a number of photos, videos, and music files, but lacks a memory card slot that can expand the memory of the phone.

 


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As previously mentioned in our head-to-head review between the iPhone and the Diamond (see it here), the Touch Diamond sports a small candybar form factor and a bright 2.8-inch screen that displays icons clearly. While the piano black fascia gives it an elegant look, it is highly susceptible to fingerprint marks, transforming the unit from shiny to dirty in a matter of minutes.

HTC uses a Qualcomm MSM7201A processor running at 528MHz and has 192MB of RAM, which helps prevent slowdowns and lags. It uses Windows Mobile OS 6.1 but users will hardly notice it as HTC gives more priority to its TouchFLO 3D interface.

The TouchFLO 3D interface comes with 11 tabs (Home, People, Messages, Mail, Photos and Videos, My Place, Music, Internet, Weather, Settings, and Programs) that can be accessed by sliding your finger right or left over the tabs. The interface is smooth and intuitive, allowing users to spend more time getting things done rather than fiddling with the unit’s settings.

The Home tab displays the time, call history, and calendar appointments, with users being able to set the alarm or appointment to view details of any appointment. The People tab allows you to add your favourite contacts you most frequently communicate with, with users being able to add a picture to match the contact. On the Message tab, users can read SMS as they arrive, flip through received SMS and MMS messages, or create a new SMS or MMS message. Also available is the Mail tab where you can send and receive e-mail messages from up to four e-mail accounts.

 


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A Photo and Video tab allows a user to flip through stored photos and video clips and view them in full screen. It even automatically rotates the photo by turning the device sideways and can zoom in/out of photos by sliding your finger clockwise/counter-clockwise. The Diamond’s Music tab allows you to visually browse through music albums and play music. It is compatible with MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, WAV, and AMR-NB files, and organise music into categories such as title, artist, genre, playlists, composers, and even purchased files.

In addition, a Weather tab is also present on the device, enabling users to check local weather as well as the weather for cities around the globe. The Internet tab launches the Opera Mobile browser. This browser, coupled with the finger gestures available while browsing the pages (like double tapping for zooming in/out), made it easy for us to check pages with a lot of content.

The Diamond comes with a My Place tab that hosts various Telstra services such as BigPond, Foxtel Mobile, Yellow, Sensis1234, Whereis, and even Trading Post. Since the phone is HSDPA-enabled, we did not have any problems streaming Foxtel content to the device. Despite all the available tabs, we were still able to find some icons that were hard to press. For example, the Connection Manager sitting on top of the home screen was hard to press and we had to resort to using its stylus.

The HTC Touch Diamond also comes with Wi-Fi, A-GPS, and Bluetooth for added connectivity, with these settings available on the Settings tab for easy on/off toggling.

 

With various functions and features available for users, we thought that HTC gave its battery enough juice to last for a day. Unfortunately, the unit only lasted less than a day in our tests, with us having to charge the unit after listening to music and surfing the Internet for a couple of hours. It is therefore a must that users bring the USB/AC charger along and charge the unit as soon as the battery hits the halfway mark.

HTC has created the best Windows-based smartphone we have seen to date. The Touch Diamond comes with ‘the lot’ and will offer users an intuitive touch experience that delivers. However, we cannot help but compare the Diamond with Apple’s iPhone, and from what we saw, HTC still has a long way to go in perfecting their touch technology.

The HTC Touch Diamond is free on Telstra’s $80 plan or can be purchased separately for $999.  See page over for product specifications and pricing.

 

HTC Touch Diamond Product Specifications:

Processor:  Qualcomm MSM7201A 528 MHz
Operating System:  Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Memory: ROM: 256 MB / RAM: 192 MB DDR SDRAM / Internal storage: 4 GB
Display: 2.8-inch TFT-LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with VGA resolution
Network
HSDPA/WCDMA:
Europe/Asia: 900/2100 MHz
Up to 384 kbps up-link and 7.2 Mbps down-link speeds

Tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE:
Europe/Asia: 900/1800/1900 MHz

Device Control:  TouchFLO 3D and Touch-sensitive navigation control
GPS: GPS and A-GPS ready
Connectivity:
Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g
HTC ExtUSB (11-pin mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one)

Camera
Main camera: 3.2 megapixel color camera with auto focus
Second camera: VGA CMOS color camera

Audio:
Built-in microphone, speaker and FM radio with RDS
Ring tone supported formats:
· MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, WAV, and AMR-NB
· 40 polyphonic and Standard MIDI format 0 and 1 (SMF)/SP MIDI

Battery
Rechargeable Lithium-ion or Lithium-ion polymer battery
Capacity: 900 mAh
Talk time:
· Up to 270 minutes for WCDMA
· Up to 330 minutes for GSM
Standby time:
· Up to 396 hours for WCDMA
· Up to 285 hours for GSM
Video call time: Up to 145 minutes for WCDMA
(The above are subject to network and phone usage.)

AC Adapter
Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240V AC, 50/60 Hz
DC output: 5V and 1A

Dimensions: 102 mm (L) X 51 mm (W) X 11.35 mm (T)
Weight: 110 g (with battery)

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HTC Touch Diamond | $999 |  | www.htc.com
For: Design; Intuitive TouchFLO; Connectivity Options; A lot of features and functions
Against: Some icons are small and hard to press; Phone sometimes hangs; No 3.5mm jack; Poor battery life
Conclusion: The best smartphone around… If Apple’s iPhone is not part of your equation.

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