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03
Dec
2010

HTC Surround review

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Written by Vedran Dakic   

MotorolaMicrosoft launched its mobile version of Windows recently and - a couple of Windows Phone 7 devices are on the market. One of these is HTC's Surround, a very solid WP7-based phone that will show us what the platform can do - right now. It's been awhile since - software-wise - Microsoft offered something substantionally new to its partners on the mobile market so - let's check it out.

There's only one big difference when compared to other HTC phones - you can slide out the speaker and start the party, and use a small stand to tilt it so it doesn't just lay down on the table. Design-wise, this is the only major difference between Surround and the rest of the HTC phones. The back is a bit sparkling and reminds me a bit on some guitars that I have at home. Camera is 5MP with autofocus and flash - it's quite ok, but it's not as good as on quite a few other phones. Screen size is 3.8", with 480x800 resolution, which you'd kind of expect from a phone of this size. Internal storage has 16GB of memory, and you can use 512MB of ROM and 448MB of RAM. You can also hook up your favorite headphones (3.5mm jack) and use micro-USB connector to connect the phone to your computer.

 

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Connectivity-wise, you have everything - up to 7.2Mbit/s download, up to 2Mbit/s upload via 3G, GPRS, EDGE and WiFi. Bluetooth and GPS are also built-in, g-sensor, compass, proximity and light sensor - all there and checked. I really liked the fact that it's kind of loud, has a good built-in EQ, and that you can use it in the dark as a flashlight, or to send a SOS signal should you need that. Ringing is also "enhanced" - if you pick up a phone while it's ringing, ringing loudness will decrease. Speaking of loudness, the slide-out speaker is the loudest thing of its kind we've encountered on a mobile phone so far. You really need to hear it in action to believe how loud is it. Which is also a problem - if you want to use this speaker for conversations, you absolutely have to slide it out. Don't even try to use the speaker while the speaker is closed, as you won't understand a single word someone's saying to you.

As a mobile broadband device, it could definitely be improved and Microsoft needs to do some serious work on this. It's visibly slower then Android competition in everything while offering pretty much the same battery life, so this is down to optimization and some serious work. This is one of those areas where you feel that the OS is a bit unfinished - the feeling that you get more often then not, like something whispering in your ear, all the time. Especially if you're a conaisseur of mobile phones.

Microsoft is definitely running late - and a lot, while we're at it. iOS and Android are still quite a few steps ahead, especially with Androind launching Honeycomb rather soon and all the latest phones based on 2.2 and 2.3. There's a bridge to gap here, although WP7 is a step in the right direction and could end up being a viable platform if Microsoft decides to work on it the same way they re-worked 2008 from 2003 and 2008 R2 after 2008. These are massive improvements and a sign how much MS cares for cloud computing, for example. This is exactly what they should be doing with WP7 as well - throwing massive resources in their WP7 platform to have any chance of being competitive in the mobile market. These two could end up being markets that go hand-in-hand in terms of future services. Which is all the better for NVIDIA's Tegra 2, for example.

That being said, there will probably be more manufacturers siding with Microsoft in the near future. We don't have doubts about Microsoft's performance overall, or in terms of server space and software - but desktops are something that might end up being an useless comodity to most users very soon. In everything else, MS is either on top or close to the top of the game.

 

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