HTC Touch Pro

The HTC Touch Pro extends upon its predecessor by using the stylised back and the sleek & simple front but now also comes with a keyboard among many of the improvements.

Only a couple of months ago, HTC fired a warning shot in the air of all iPhone competitors. “We are here,” the shot proclaimed, “and we are ready to do battle with a unique and powerful device.”

The HTC Touch Diamond was a new device that took all of the research HTC had done from their past Pocket PC work, TouchFlo software, and stuck it in all in a device that was suited for a market that wanted stunning & unique design in a product.

The HTC Touch Pro extends upon the design success of the Touch Diamond by using the stylised diamond-cut back from the original and the sleek & simple front. But meshed inside of it is a phone that oozes build quality and comes with a solid slide-out tactile keyboard. Feeling like a giant rubberised phone, the Touch Pro feels like it would make it out of your pockets even if keys, coins, and snapping baby alligators sat inside. It really does feel well built and its weight only adds to this.

When you carry the HTC Touch Pro, you know it’s there. It’s not like a Motorola Razr or an iPod Nano; you would have to try really hard to lose this puppy.

At 165 grams, the HTC Touch Pro is heavier than an iPhone, one of the main devices the Touch Pro competes with. It’s also smaller in height but almost twice as thick.

Everything else about the HTC Touch Pro seems to make a lot of sense, from the high resolution 2.8 inch 480×640 screen (640×480 in landscape mode) to the heavy connectivity options including WiFi 802.11 b/g, HSDPA (7.2Mbps), in-built GPS receiver plus A-GPS, and a whole bunch of other useful things like a 3.2 megapixel camera, microSD card slot (a feature missing from the Diamond), TV-out, stereo FM radio, and an accelerometer for rotation detection.

With all of this technology inside such a small device, you’d think HTC had made a great phone, and to a degree you’d be right. It’s loaded with functionality and if you loved the HTC Diamond but wanted an easier way to write messages and documents, the keyboard really brings the whole package together.

One of the biggest complaints hurled at the HTC Touch Diamond was a lack of speed. For a device with as much power as it had, it still felt incredibly slow and definitely took its time going from one function to the next. It’s good to know then that HTC have fixed up many of these speed issues.

They’re not all gone, however, as the HTC TouchFlo menu is still slowing down the interface and overall making it a hassle to use the device cleanly. I’m still putting it down to a resource intensive interface sitting on-top of Windows Mobile’s own interface and it would be nice if perhaps Microsoft and HTC would work together to integrate the designs rather than load them on top of each other.

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Sliding the keyboard out will get you a good feeling hand-held computer. The keyboard doesn’t feel quite as easy to use as what iMate did in the JasJam but HTC have still done a good job in bringing a proper keyboard. It’s kind of a shame that they used the Asus Eee keyboard design where the right Shift key becomes a square sitting next to the up arrow, a button placement that’s always bothered me and is likely to bother people who type with a left-handed dominance… like left-handed people.

While the Touch Pro is a 3G phone, the sound quality when you hold it to your ears is more akin to that of a 2G phone. Walking in the street yielded fairly low volumes even with the sound turned right up and overall quality seemed sub par.

And even though the HTC Touch Pro has decent sound when you plug the packaged headphones in or use a Bluetooth headset, HTC have decided to go for a USB connector for everything making it impossible to plug your own headphones in as there’s still no remote with a 3.5mm headphone input either. I’m not sure why HTC seem to persist with this “USB only” port thing but since it’s in the much awaited Android-powered HTC Dream too, I don’t expect it to be getting better any time soon.

Overall, I’d have a hard time suggesting the HTC Touch Pro to anyone other than people who like their phones solid or who want to move on from a JasJar or JasJam to something similar. While the connectivity options are excellent and the build quality is obviously there, it still feels like you’re walking around holding a stylish brick that doesn’t work at the speed at which it should. Sadly, the HTC Touch Pro is better than the HTC Touch Diamond, but only just.

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Product: HTC Touch Pro

Vendor: HTC

RRP: $1099

Website: HTC Touch Pro

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark