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HTC Touch DUAL review

HTC Touch DUAL review
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HTC Touch Dual, a new and more powerful member of the Touch family that integrates 3.5G wireless connectivity with a sleek and innovative sliding keypad design.
Review On : HTC Touch DUAL

Review by Dmitriy Ryabinin (smape.com)

The Microsoft company has went through a good deal of preliminary inquiry to get to know what the ideal balance of ergonomics is. The Conclusion looked exactly like a 3.5" QVGA (320x240) display which found a wide implementation in many of their PDAs based off the Windows Mobile Software platform. Over the course of time pureblood PDAs got to lose their market importance, so most manufacturers switched their priorities to PDA phones. One of the most important development tasks was to minimize the device dimensions. The first module to suffer was the screen. It squeezed from the usual PDA dimensions down to 2,8" or sometimes even 2,6" or 2,4". Some of the manufacturers were quick enough to make a real hype out of their VGA-standard matrices which let the PDA screens become smaller. This, quite expectedly, shattered the ergonomics concept developed by Microsoft. Aggravated by the awkwardness of the Windows Mobile interface, this misbalance is exactly the thing that keeps the WM OS lagging behind Symbian-based solutions.


The HTC company, the absolute leader of this market sector, doesn't seem to be proud of their marketing achievements at all (unlike others, e.g. E-TEN) which mean little to nothing when there are more close-to-life and way more serious issues to solve. Without setting up much ado, the company have developed their brand new customization system to sort out some of the hackneyed Windows Mobile OS issues, following the trend started by Samsung (just think of the latest F700). The foundation was laid by the appearance of the Touch series, now HTC presents their new Touch Dual device (also known as Nike). The new device sports a lot of software improvements, but is mainly focused on the old and well-known goal - minimizing the use of stylus to the limit in frequently used applications, quite a contrary to what E-TEN and the rest of VGA-preachers are trying to shape as the world PDA phone Design standard.

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


Sporting a full-surface soft-touch coating, the Touch PDA phone has a feel similar to the PEBL U6 folder phone by Motorola, which proved a complete failure in spite of the several interesting solutions like the Hinge passive servo-motor. What reasons lie behind this gap between the success and the failure of the two if both share in common a lot of design elements? The explanation is quite simple - the Motorola company already had a range of stylish folders based on the RAZR platform imbued with a powerful ¡¥image charge' and securely backed up by the slim build by the time PEBL U6 was released, which just drained the new solution's popularity because the customers already were more than satisfied with the existing products. HTC didn't have anything resembling Touch before the actual Touch series was launched, neither there was anything similar on the market offered by other manufacturers. The P3550 model was just a spinoff from the popular P3300, and Samsung i710 didn't even pose a decent challenge because of the lack of features, except probably for the powerful Camera... yet powerful in its respective class only, though. This let Touch to occupy a totally unique niche among the rest of offerings based off the WM OS. Its slim build only further contributed to its success.


The principal difference between Nike and its predecessors consists in the form factor solution - it's a regular (and not a side-slide) slider with a numeric keypad based at the same time on a QWERTY layout. This solution has never been previously implemented neither by HTC nor by any other company. Sadly enough some drawbacks took place as well - for instance, the lack of Wi-Fi and a price higher than the original Touch. This step was taken purposely in order to preserve the original model's popularity. The Touch model joins P3400 and P3300 on the podium as the three best selling PDA phones by the brand. Let's have a quick investigation on the market potential of Touch Dual...


The primary goal of HTC consisted in backing up a successful solution by supplying it with a range of highly functional and versatile features as well as designing a few variants of the handset differing in design. This tasks seems to have been successfully completed. The handset design differs depending on the country. For instance, the Japanese version comes with a regular numeric keyboard similar to most types of phones. Some of the countries will receive shipments of a particular version of the device that supports Wi-Fi. Quite surprisingly, The hardware part of the gadget is closer to that of TyTN II rather than of Touch. Here come the same chipset, the same RAM and ROM specifications and so forth... In the image and likeness of Trinity, Touch II includes a GPS module, however it's not going to be activated unlike what we saw with the precursor model, most likely due to some other solutions expected to expand the Touch series in an alternate direction.

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


Design and Ergonomics
Touch Dual shares a striking likeness with its predecessor - while folded, it looks exactly like a typical WM-based PDA phone with a touchscreen and a controls panel below, keeping the trademark Touch style. Save for a thicker and narrower body, the looks of the two models practically coincide. No wonder that Touch holds a reputation of a highly popular product along with Samsung i710, both occupying top lines on the sales chart in their class. The developers keep to the well-trodden path of their earlier bestsellers, save for a few reservations.

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


The back panel now has to be opened in another direction, - namely up and not sidewise like with Touch. This approach doesn't look ideal, because the joint point isn't clearly visible, however the idea sounds and works better in comparison with the predecessor. A new implementation of the memory expansion slot is a serious step forward, it keeps with the highest of standards allowing the long-expected hot swapping support. It's simply wonderful that the HTC guys were smart enough to notice the awkwardness of the side piece hosting expansion and SIM card slots in the earlier Touch model and fixed that in Touch Dual. The display grew smaller, which is a disputable solution considering HTC's orientation towards stylusless data input.


Another exterior difference is the ExtUSB slot that migrated to the left edge of the body. The original Touch model had it on the bottom edge which was way more convenient, especially when you had the phone inside the case - the new solution doesn't allow plugging in headset in such a situation due to the unusual slot location. The power button blocks the keypad just like it used to, which is rather convenient. Talking in advance, we'd also like to note that Touch Dual sports a louder speaker than the one that Touch has; headset sound output produces lower quality sound while Bluetooth offers better sound quality.


While unfolded, Touch Dual looks like a vertical slider, but there's one peculiar thing about the keypad - its type varies depending on the country. The standard variant is a hybrid numerical keypad with QWERTY layout, the text input works exactly in the same way as with a casual cell phone - by pressing a numerical key for a few time until the desired letter appears or through T9. This is nearly as comfortable as SonyEricsson M600i and P1i (in spite of their full-blown QWERTY support the keys are two-position). We didn't find the idea much to our liking, for instance text input is a few times faster with a Nokia E61i.

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


The keyboard elements can't boast a smart design - the block of keys is framed by a thick glossy piece prone to scratching. Should it be gone, the keys would surely be larger and better segmented, which is something missing in Touch Dual. The keys give a solid feel upon stroking. The backlighting is rather dim and uneven - the left side of the panel is brighter. Some of the applications (for instance, the music player) supports extended control with numerical keys.


The Touch Dual device offer the user a unique software solution for data input - the trademark virtual keyboard, being an alternative to the regular keyboard. Unlike the standard Windows Mobile keyboard, it supports stylusless text input - as long as you have at least one finger, you'll be fine with it. It's not a critical point though, provided that the device comes both with a stylus and a normal keyboaed as well. The solution could have look much more reasonable as a part of the original Touch device.

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


A significant improvement over touch is the heavily updated TouchFLO. Now the system behaves in a much more correct way, even an inexperienced user can easily handle the 3D HTC interface - unlike the earlier models that could confuse the novice. A number of software additions took place, we'll dwell upon it in a more detailed way in the following part of the article. There's the temptation to compare the device to iPhone, but there's still the huge difference in the concept, design and dimensions, Touch Dual being much smaller. The handset fits the hand even more comfortably than the original Touch did due to a narrower body. The slider mechanism has a smooth and pleasant feel.


Let's compare the exterior design of the new device to that of its predecessor HTC Touch:

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


Let's dwell in detail upon the arrangement of control elements. The upper part hosts the power button and the ¡¥ear' used to fasten the wrist band, and the stylus holder as well. The latter is a bit short just like with Touch - unfortunately this hasn't been fixed.

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


The finger support for opening the back cover is located in the lower part of the device's body . The soft-reset socket is found underneath, which looks quite unusual. A hung or glitching Dual Touch can't be reset without having to remove the cover, but you don't have to remove the battery in this case. Anyways, it's rather an unpractical solution.

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


The camera button is located on the left edge of the handset's body, the right edge hosts the sound volume swing button (the original Touch had a slide button instead), the interface slot and the memory expansion slot. The SIM card slot (unlike the predecessor) is hidden under the battery cover, but that doesn't pose any real trouble since you have to turn the phone off anyway.


On the whole The controls are rather scarce, additional elements like a scrolling wheel would be more than welcome, looking back at the controls of Touch Dual.


Sales Package
HTC Touch Dual comes with a bundling typical to most PDA phones, there are no nice extras like a memory card (unlike the abundant set of accessories that came with the original Touch and in fact had a memory card included). The decision, however, was taken under the pressure of retailers who complained of a decline in demand for independently sold memory expansion modules. The sales package also includes a USB/HTC ExtUSB data cable, a wire stereo headset (suited to fit the ExtUSB standatd), a battery, a software disk, a printed manual and a case to carry the phone in.


Communications
As it was mentioned earlier, Touch Dual is the closest alternative to TyTN II, so the communication part of the both has virtually the same functionality, save for the disabled GPS and missing Wi-Fi in the case of the former. The device is designed to be used in GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and UMTS 850/1900/2100 networks, it supports GPRS and EDGE, as well as HSDPA and HSUPA. Wire communication is achieved through USB2.0 that makes use of the exclusively designed ExtUSB slot (analogous to the common microUSB). The data transfer speed raises no objections. There's no support for the Mass Storage and PictPridge modes.


The wireless communication of Touch Slide is represented by the Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) module. Both work quite well and give raise to no reprimands. AD2P enjoys a perfect support - the sound is of high quality and rather loud, the communication is almost never interrupted. It's a pity though that should the connection be lost, the sound doesn't stop automatically, the built-in speaker is instantly activated. Besides of it, the following profiles are supported:

 
  • File Transfer
  • Generic Access
  • Generic Object Exchange
  • Handsfree
  • Headset
  • HID
  • Object Push
  • Personal Area Networking
  • Serial Port
  • A2DP
  • Audio/Video Remote Control
  • SAP (SIM card access profile)

    Document printing is also possible. There's also the Bluetooth synchronization, you just need to:


    . Install the Windows Mobile Media Control Centre or ActiveSync software to your PC.
    . Then do - Start > Programs > ActiveSync
    . Activate Bluetooth both on the PC and the PDA, than engage the visible mode.
    . On the PDA side, run - Menu > Connection - Bluetooth.
    . On the first run, start the Bluetooth Configuration Wizard.


    The software part is remarkable for the new management application including lots of small improvements like the instant ON/OFF indicator. The functionality is still on the same level, though.


    Memory
    Touch Dual has a total of 256 Mb of hard disk storage and some 128 Mb of RAM at its disposal. That's quite sufficient for basic functionality but not more than that. Unfortunately no memory card comes bundled, so it has to be purchased separately. The memory card slot is the standard microSD one, the most universal variant for the time being. You can use memory cards up to the capacity of 4 Gb. SD 2.0 is fully supported.


    Display
    The screen is powered by the TFT technology, its diagonal is 2,6" and the resolution is 320x240 quite in accordance with the QVGA standard. The color depth is 65K colors, a solution typical of Window Mobile (however the screen diagonal could have been a bit larger, even the good old Touch had some 2,8" of it). The image quality is high, yet the maximum brightness is not as high as one might want. The image dearnerss is better in comparison with the original Touch, since the screen grew smaller and the resolution stayed the same. Touch Dual also sports a better color rendering, and the view angles are much better.

     
    HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
    HTC Touch / Touch Dual


    The screen info stays quite legible in the sunlight, however the sun-resistance is not ideal:

     
    HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
    HTC Touch Dual / Touch


    User Interface
    Unlike the TyTN II model, Touch Dual enjoys a full-fledged TouchFLO support, including a 3D interface - almost the same with Touch, but boosted with a number of minor improvements and addition. The virtual controls block looks like a prism that can be rotated by moving the finger sideways, each of its facets acting as customizable quick call shortcuts - up to 9 frequently called contacts can be associated with them. The same facets can be used to host shortcuts to Multimedia folders and PIM functions. It's hard to say how actually convenient this weird thingie is, but it goes without saying it does look cool.


    This function has undergone a noticeable amount of changes towards a better ergonomics. Additional functions like quick activation of the status line were added, - with a single slight move of the finger you can call up the status line. The Start menu can be made larger so it would take more screen space and, accordingly, be easier to operate with finger strokes. Contact book filtering has been improved by adding an alphabetical list to the right side of the screen.


    The upper line is used for displaying service indicators like the battery life meter or signal quality, the clock and the telecom protocols availability, Bluetooth visibility, GPRS/EDGE availability in the area, a 3G list of launched application. The lower line contains info about context button functions.


    The main part of the desktop can be varied to your liking. By default it shows current day, the service provider info, the owner personal data, messaging stats, the tasklist and schedule, and the indicator area (battery charge, display angle, wireles module manager and backlighting level). The user can customize the order in which these fields follow or remove some of them from the screen completely. Today Desktop can feature a custom picture or a photo.


    The extended functionality of HTC Home comes in handy. That's the brand Today screen which offers short stats. It shows the time and three sections showing new messages and missed calls, favorite contacts, weather, launcher and ringtone settings. The lower part hosts the instrument panel which allows for switching between the two components. Let's have a look at each function separately:


    Main menu
    The tab shows current day of the week, the date and local time. When you recieve messages or calls, the tab also shows the number of unread e-mails, SMS/MMS messages or missed calls. If the reminders are set, a warning symbol is also displayed here.


    Weather tab.
    This tab shows info about the current weather (through the AccuWeather sevice) and the weather forecast for the four next days. When you use this function for the first time, you have to choose the city of residense, then the phone will automatically establish an internet connection and downloads the necessary data. The weather info includes current temperature, the extremums and a weather icon (cloudy or rainy, etc.)


    Launcher
    The tab allows adding shortucts to favorite applications and set acess with a single touch. By default it contains shortcuts for comms manager, programs list, brightness adjustment, screen rotation, device blocking and ActiveSync. However everything on this tab is fully customizable.


    Audio
    The tab servers for audio profiles management and displays the selected ringtone.


    As we see it, the Home module is surely a winning function for the phone itself and its designers, the HTC company. The weather forecast is probably the biggest advantage offered here. You can get a detailed weather forecast with a single tap of stylus. In earlier models this function was only available through 3rd party software. Another nice feature of HTC Touch is a better support for text scrolling - you can just move you finger along the screen to do this, tapping the scrollbars with the stylus is no longer obligatory. This could be critical to people who often use public transport.


    Another addition to the functionality of Touch Dual is the Task Manager, displaying a list of running applications that allows to switch between them quickly or shut any running task. Unfortunately this is only available in the Home screen.


    There are two kinds of menus in this phone: the quick access menu and the main menu. The former is activated on pressing the Start button and essentially is a vertical list that contains 7 items, info about the 5 recently launched applications as well as grants access to the main menu and settings. The main menu is a list of applications very much similar to a regular Windows-styled window with icons and application names below them. A maximum of 12 icons per screen is allowed.


    Upon opening the slider, the screen displays a dialogue box offering a few possible options:
  • create a new e-mail
  • create a new SMS
  • create a new MMS
  • create a new meeting
  • create a new task
  • create a new note
  • create a new contact


It might seem a handy feature at the beginning, but over the course of time it really begins getting on your nerves, bringing up the menu every time you open the slider to check time. Moreover, there's no option to disable this.


The window interface has also been changed - the elements got rearranged and mixed with a bunch of nice effects, contributing to the overall style. Now the interface looks more logical, but the functionality is almost the same (besides the above-mentioned feature of the contacts book)


Preinstalled software
The following applications are either preinstalled on Touch Dual or come bundled on a disk...


The Office Mobile software packet includes:
  • Excel Mobile for creating, viewing and editing Excel files
  • PowerPoint Mobile for playing PowerPoint files
  • Word Mobile for creating, viewing and editing Word files


  • The Personal Manager Utilities include:
  • A calendar for scheduling events.
  • A list of current tasks.
  • A contacts application that helps you to store the contact info of your colleagues and friends.
  • A notebook for storing hand-written or typed reminders, pictures and voice records.


The Multimedia Utility package includes:
  • An application for photo and video files management
  • An audio manager that helps you find, sort and play audio files.
  • A voice recorder/player that also lets your records be sent by e-mail, MMS and misc protocols (Bluetooth etc.)
  • A voice dialing application that lets you record voice tags for quick dialing and program launching.
  • Windows Live, Messenger
  • Windows Media Player Mobile for playing audio and video files.
  • A camera applications for taking pictures and shooting video clips.
  • A streaming multimedia player for watching streaming video in real-time mode or on demand.?


  • The communication applications include:
  • Comm Manager for handling GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth and ActiveSync connections, switching the phone on and off, swap between the ringtone and vibro mode, activate and deactivatethe Direct Push function.
  • ActiveSync for Phone/PC or Phone/Exchange server synchronization.
  • A Bluetooth network browser that enables searching for other Bluetooth devices that allow file exchange. Also this application grants access to Bluetooth-shared folders.
  • SAP adjustment for remote access via Bluetooth or SIM card.


The phone service software package includes:
  • Phone communicator - calls, switching between active calls and desktop conference capabilities.
  • Messaging Manager for sending and receiving e-mail, MMS and SMS messages.
  • SIM card manager for managing contacts stored on the USIM/SIM card.
  • Spb GPRS Monitor that monitors GPRS traffic and helps you to calculate your GPRS service costs.
  • SIM Tool Kit that allows to view miscelanneous SIM info and grants access to operator-specific services.


Miscelannous applications include:
  • Adobe Reader LE for viewing PDF files (Portable Document Format)
  • Sprite Backup for making archived backups of your data
  • WorldCard Mobile for handling visit cards and export of corresponding data to the contacts book
  • A calculator
  • A file browser/file manager
  • A ZIP application for compressing your files into .zip archives
  • Java runtime package for launching Java applications


Settings Private Data Tab
Contains the following settings: Input, Voice Dialing, Personal Data, Block, Keypad slide sound, Keys, Menu, Today, Expanded Start Menu, Sounds and Reminders, TTY


The System Tab
Includes the following settings: TouchFLO, Mic, Keypad block, Exterior GPS, Task Manager, Error Log, Purge Data Storage, Memory, Backlighting, Information, Certificates, Application Removal, Windows update Server, Time Settings and Alarms, Encryption, Display, Power Supply, Language and Standards, Device Block, Quick Tasks.


Connections Tab
This tab shows connections via Bluetooth, Comm Manager, HSDPA, Wireless Lan, Connection Setup Wizard, GPRS Settings, USB to PC, Transfer, Connections, SMS System, CSD Communication Manager.


As wee see, new options have been added to the traditional ones, for instance the blocking option. Unfortunately, it goes crazy upon contact with any magnet so using a phone case with a magnet element will cause the device to unblock, which can be quite annoying.


Phonebook service
The Phone application can be activated either by pressing the Call Button or by activating the corresponding menu item in the Start menu. The main screen of the Phone application hosts three tabs - Calls, Quick Dial and Phone Settings.


Touch Dual stores contacts within the Contacts application. The SIM-card stored contacts share the same list with the user-memory stored contacts. A SIM-stored contact can be transferred to user memory and vice versa. The PDA phone supports three types of contacts:
  • MS Outlook contacts can either be created directly on the PDA phone or synchronized with a PC or an Exchange Server contacts database. Each contact stores a few phone numbers, e-mail addresses, instant messaging contacts, home and work addresses and misc info like post, date of birth, etc. Each Outlook contact can be associated with a unique picture and ringtone.
  • USIM/SIM card contacts. Any of those can only store a name and a phone number.
  • Windows Live Contacts are used by the Windows Live Messenger (MSN). likewise the Outlook contacts, Windows Live contacts can contain detailed data about the person.


Only one telephone number is allowed per USIM/SIM-card stored contact. If you copy a user memory contact to SIM/USIM, the SIM Card Manager program splits any multiple phone numbers associated with a single contact into separate contact records for the USIM/SIM card memory. A special suffix is added automatically to the names of such duplicate contacts to tell between them (by default "/M" stands for Mobile, "/W" for Work and "/H" for Home)...


To make a phone call, you can equally use the Phone application, the Contacts book, the Quick Dial or the Calls menu as well as the SIM card manager. Traditionally there's support for Smart Dialing which makes dialing easier than before. Once you input the initial symbols of the phone number or the person's name, the phone filters all the contacts automatically to fit the search criteria. This sorting works automatically for contacts stored both in user memory and on the SIM card and is applicable to the contacts book and the call log. This saves a bit of time while searching for some person's name in the phonebook. By default, the call log displays information about all calls but it's customizable to filter missed, outgoing and incoming calls only, sorting by name is also present. Besides the name and the number each record in the log stores the time, the date and the call length.


The only limit to the size of the contact book is the amount of free user memory. Up to 12 phone numbers of different types of phone numbers, 3 e-mail addresses, home and work address, web page adress and a plenty of other details like Assistant's Phone Number can be associated with every contact. It's needless to say that each contact can enjoy its own ringtone and picture as well as belong to one of the customizable user groups.


Messaging
Traditionally the Messaging application is used for composing, viewing and sending SMS and MMS messages as well as e-mail messages. Once you get a new message, the Today screen displays a special reminder symbol. You can sort your messages in a number of ways, for example you can sort your e-mail messages by topic.


An incoming message is indicated by a pop-up window regardless of the menu the user is currently browsing through. The message can be instantly opened, deleted or ignored. That stands to reason that all the messages are stored within the same folder, at the same time shown in a tree-like structure allowing for easier navigation.


E-mail can be set to be delivered automatically where you specify the interval before each message is received or sent automatically. Sorting by date is possible. You can activate simultaneous sending and recieving of mail, set a mailing schedule to spend less money by sending the mail when the GPRS traffic is the cheapest and sort incoming messages by size prior to downloading them to the phone.


If you use a Microsoft Exchange 2007 server the message will be delivered instantly and not on the next synchronization. Full HTML support is present. If the message contains several attachments, all of them are downloaded, but you can activate delayed downloading mode. You can use hot key combinations for quick access to the messaging functions like Reply, Forward, etc.


An able security system is in its place. Any outgoing message can be digitally signed and encrypted automatically prior to sending, an IRM (Information Rights Management) capability allows you to limit access to messages in the way you like.


PIM
The Calendar application is used for planning events and meetings, this day's schedule can be displayed on the Home screen. If your PC has a copy of Outlook installed on it, you can synchronize the schedules. Reminders can be set in the form of sound signals or screen flickers.


The Calendar can also be used for arranging meetings via e-mail with the users of Outlook or Outlook Mobile. If the recepient accepts the proposition, the meeting is automatically added to their schedule. When the person affirms to participate, your schedule is automatically updated with an acknowledgement. The Windows Mobile platform has long been known for its strong points in the corporate sphere, so we observe the same once again in Touch Dual.


The standard vCalendar file format is supported for exchanging information about scheduled events, the corresponding files can be exported to the PC version of Outlook.


The Tasks application is used for scheduling events which can either be set to be one-time or recurring. You can set up reminders and sort them by categories. There's a tasklist which automatically highlights in red expired tasks. You can set a reminder that will be automatically activated on every occasion when open your schedule to add a new event.


The Notebook helps you to store quick notes. You can input the text from the keyboard, put it down in handwriting or use voice-to-text processing as well as convert handwritten notes into digital text or send your notes to other people. If a letter traverses more than three marking lines, it's processed as an image, otherwise - as text. To select an image for further removal or copying just hold you stylus pressed to the screen where the image is for a few moments.


Office Mobile comprises three applications used to view and edit Microsoft Office documents - Word Mobile (viewing and editing of *.doc, *.rtf, *.txt and *.dot files), Excel Mobile (viewing and editing of *.xls files), PowerPoint Mobile (playing *.ppt and *.pps files)


The traditional PDF-viewer Adober Reader LE is used to view *.pdf files, including those protected by a password with maximum key length of 128 bit.


Explorer is a basic file manager that serves for browsing media folders. Also a .zip archiver is included as well. A back-up functionality is provided by the Sprite Backup software.


Multimedia
HTC Touch Dual is compatible with the following graphic file formats: *.bmp, *.jpg, *.gif, *.png. A simple Photo Manager is preinstalled to help the user make simple changes to the files, like rotation or trimming.


Multimedia - HTC Touch Dual
 
Windows Media Video .wmv, .asf Windows Media Audio .wma
MPEG4 simple profile .mp4 MP3 .mp3
H.263 .3gp, .3g2 MIDI .mid
H.264 .mp4, .3gp, .3g2, .m4v AMR, narrowband .amr
Motion JPEG .avi AMR, broadband .awb
    AAC .m4a, .aac


The selected media file can be sent by e-mail, transferred to another devices, played as a sliede show, sent to a person through the Windows Live MySpace network and so on.


The preinstalled Windows Media Player Mobile allows for executing video and audio records, both local and networks playback is possible. The three main display windows are:
  • Playback controls (Play, Pause, Next, Previous and Volume) and the video window.
  • The playlist.
  • The media library that stores playlists as well.
  • An alternative shell for music playback - the Audio Managers. Three main categories are used for filtering files here - song title, performer and album. You can compose your own playlists and load them in the Music Player. You can launch an automatical search for any music files like MP3, WMA, AAC or AAC+ both in the user memory and on the memory card.


Before setting an MP3 song as the ringtone, you can trim the track and shrink the file size. The MP3 Cutter is just what helps you to do that.


Streaming Multimedia allows for 3GP and MP4 files to be played. It also handles SDP (or Session De!--ion Protocol) files. In addition to that, Internet Explorer can be used to open web-pages that employ RTSP-links (or Real Time Streaming Protocol) and host streaming media content. That's used mainly bu m.youtube.com


The voice recorder servers, quite expectedly, for talk recording. The records can be further sent via MMS or e-mail, or transferred through a wireless connection. Recorded fragments can also be used as ringtones. The records are stored in the AMR-NB (Adaptive Multi-Rate Narrowband) format. The default save location is the My Voice Records folder.


An important improvement over the predecessors (including even TyTN II) is the photo and video gallery. It's not the dull WM application found with other devices (and looking hopelessly inferior as compared to trademark dedicated applications used in other platforms), but a very handy and nicely looking file manager with an adjustable slide show. This reminds of latest Samsung handsets, and the G600 model in particular.

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


The highlighted file is marked among the rest of the files by a larger icon in a frame. Both horizontal and vertical browsing is supported in any of the view modes. A quick menu is available, granting quick access to the most important functions like delete, Send, etc. The smartest part of the application is the perfectly customizable slide show that also allows to apply some special effects to the images being displayed, slide frequency and orientation can be customized as well. A repeat option is also present. These features are quite new to WM, default applications found with other models only dispose a very modest range of visualization settings.

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


The Audio Assistant applications acts as an enhanced equalizer. The very presence of a sound-processing program gave rise to speculations over the actual quality of hardware sound produced by the device, and the suspicions weren't far from the actual state of things - the program also servers to improve the somewhat challenged quality of the hardware sound. This might be of real help, but nevertheless the device still has a lower sound quality than the original Touch.


Windows Mobile Opera and the Flash
HTC Touch Dual came to be the world's first WM-based PDA phone to feature a preinstalled Opera browser application. A very nice addition that's sure to be warmly welcomed by the customers, considering the low ergonomics of the default Internet Explorer browser native to the WM platform. The Dual gadget sports a browser version of 8.65, the Opera application takes about 5 Mb of ROM space. The main advantages include:
  • address line search (a - Answers.com, g - Google, s - Opera Web search, w ¡V Wikipedia, y - Yahoo!, z - Amazon.com)
  • Flash animation support (with a separate utility to play flash games and animations)
  • an option to save pictures from the Web to RAM
  • Grab & Scroll ¡V - a comfortable scrolling support


Bookmarks can be imported from the default Internet Explorer browser.


The embedded Flash player is also a novelty to the Windows Mobile platform. The application is very plain and doesn't support screen rotation. The user can play .swf files, the player is based on the v7 of the Macromedia Flash technology.


Theoretically, the Touch Dual camera is exactly the same type of module used in the original Touch - a 2 Mpix piece with no auto-focusing capability, however in real life there's an actual difference both in interface and image quality. Let's have a quick comparison of photos taken with the two handsets in different environments:

 
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


It's easily seen that the Dual takes photos of a lower quality as compared to its predecessor. The camera build specifications, however, completely coincide - sharing the same lack of a flashlight, a protective lens cover and a mode switch button. The shoot button is one-positioned, which is a standard for all cameras without an auto-focusing functions. It's exactly the lack thereof that makes the device useless at taking snaps of documents or any other close-up shots. Quite expectedly, the device has no function for namecard recognition. As for the rest of features, those are quite characteristic of a WM-based PDA phone.


All settings necessary for a non-autofocusing camera are present. The interface got updated, it's more comfortable now - the quick menu can be opened by stroking any point of the screen. The resolution, white balance, brightness and media files storage location can be instantly adjusted, it takes no time to switch between different modes of shooting. The main application screen contains a few status symbols showing the zoom magnitude, the timer value, the selected shooting mode and so on. Nearby resides the above-mentioned quick menu line, which can act as a control element even while the phone is folded by giving the user quick access to settings and the gallery. The gallery, as it was already noted, went through a massive overhaul and now it's the smartest WM-based image viewing application. The point isn't critical for a device supplied with a modest 2 Mpix camera without auto-focus, but still a nice addition.

 
photo samples
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos
HTC Touch Dual  photosHTC Touch Dual  photos


The extended camera options include a lot of extra settings like an exposure meter and other features untypical of this class of devices. The maximal resolution is 1600x1200 for photos and 174x144 for video clips. There's also a 4x digital zoom.


It's evident that the device can't produce a picture anywhere above than a very modest quality. The camera is more of a complementary element than a key feature, making a good sidekick to the frontal VGA camera, given the 3G and HSDPA support.


Performance
The hardware part of HTC touch dual is based on the Qualcomm MSM 7200 CPU operating at a frequency of 400 Mhz - the same one is used in the top TyTN II model. It's a serious forward step and an important improvement over the predecessor, posing a strong challenge to any competitor within the price bracket.


Spb Benchmark
  HTC Touch Dual HTC Touch
CPU index 1494.74 355.24
File system index 145.79 124.15
Graphics index 3446.59 2964.42
ActiveSync index 4751.67 2173.34
Spb Benchmark index 357.27 249.24

The ARM11 core, as you see, is enough to provide more than just a high performance. Sadly enough, there are some drawbacks in Java implementation - the performance is high as well, but 3D profiles are not supported. Although it's not critical for a PDA phone for there's a good variety of 3rd party software available.


JBenchmark. 3D profiles are not supported.
 
  HTC Touch Dual HTC Touch
Jbenchmark 1.0.1 Score 7142 14231
Text 1392 492
2D Shapes 2020 6969
3D Shapes 1142 1871
Fill Rate 419 885
Animation 2169 4014
Jbenchmark 2.0.1 Score 886 640
Image Manipulations 564 362
Text 2365 1690
Sprites 990 431
3D Transform 1182 637
User Interface 348 635


The Core Pocket Media Player

 
  HTC Touch Dual HTC Touch
RL_XQ (640x480) 24.12% 48.80%
RL_MQB (320x240) 99.45% 113.29%


We can't say the results are perfect, but neither we can call the handset a failure on this front. Unfortunately there's no visible improvements over the original Touch. This can easily be explained by the fact the the Qualcomm 7200 core includes a video accelerator that isn't fully supported by the current versions of the media player software.


 
  HTC Touch Dual HTC Touch
Video cycle (AVI) 5:01 5:38
Audio cycle (MP3) 17:46 18:07


As we see, Touch Dual demonstrated good results for a PDA phone over the course of battery life tests. The results are slightly inferior to those of the original Touch handset, but HTC engineers had no reason to extend the battery life of a device lacking the energy-thirsting Wi-Fi. On the whole, the battery charge will be enough for most users.


Impressions
The HTC Touch Dual PDA phone is remarkable an unusual form factor rarely seen in combination with the Windows Mobile platform; the device also sports a number of original (and quite handy) software solutions. The design is in keeping with the original Touch concept, the sequel is meant to be a further development of the earlier successful solutions which made the original Touch handset extremely popular, which still retains the title of one the best selling HTC products of all times. It's doubtful whether the sequel will enjoy the same enormous success, the product looks less oriented at the mass market. However it offers a good target audience expansion to the original Touch concept, and popularizes the Windows Mobile platform even further as well - until recently, the slider fans had to refuse all of the Microsoft touchscreen goodness and look for other WM-based (or, more likely, Symbian-based) solutions.


The new Touch looks less balanced than its precursor, but quite accordingly it's targeted towards a less numerous audience. It's positioned as a more sophisticated addition to the existing Touch products. The first model sold enormously well, the following ones are going only to complement it, but evidently not to become replacements - that's exactly the way HTC look upon the situation. At least, this is going to stay true for the few next months and there's no clear evidence of an upcoming replacement for the original Touch at all. This approach to marketing looks wiser than what E-TEN try to preach. The X500+ model is going to phase out by November, forcing the customers to buy the new X800. Such policy looks rather an aggressive approach to the customer, especially considering the poor customer support of the earlier models by the aforenamed company. However the modest productive capacity of E-TEN leaves them no other options. We have already mentioned only some 320,000 E-TEN devices having been sold worldwide (see Mio A702 review) - that's strikingly few in comparison with a major manufacturer like HTC.


If you are looking for a stylish slider by a famous brand sporting a Windows Mobile platform enhanced by a few original software solutions and you don't mind the keyboard or Wi-Fi much, you might want picking a Touch Dual handset. If not, at least two alternative solutions can be mentioned - the more massive side-slide, QWERTY-based devices like P4350 or TyTN II or the compact S710 smart phone which has no touchscreen, or maybe the more compact handsets that make use of a standard numeric keyboard - ASUS P525, P526, Mio A702 and some future products from the corresponding lines. The Touch Dual is sure to fill an appropriate market niche, however it doesn't look like a would-be bestseller.


Originally posted at Smape Review :
  • HTC Touch Dual review by Tan Kit Hoong


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