Nine phones are lined up worldwide for Windows Phone 7, but the major differences come down to mobile providers and the physical characteristics. The HTC 7 Surround certainly stands apart, and here's the hands-on review straight from the Microsoft showcase in New York City.
What makes the Surround so special? The source of the name: a slide-out surround sound speaker with Dolby Mobile and SRS WOW HD technology.
There are good things and bad things with the power of this feature. I generally prefer bad news first, so I can just see this being annoying in public places when the user decides to dump (or maybe forgets) the headphones, using the external speaker in their place.
[Image Gallery: Hands-on with the Windows Phone 7 smartphone collection]
Nevertheless, having a portable speaker is convenient in the case of picnics or other small social gatherings where a little background music would be delightful.
While getting a listen of the audio playback on the HTC Surround, I could still manage to hear lyrics and the bass line of the songs when on full blast in the midst of a noisy showcase room. It's not a replacement for portable speakers on your desk or even a few other wireless speaker docks on the market, but it's a useful feature that makes this handheld unique amongst a sea of smartphones.
The HTC Surround is headed for AT&T this fall and set to priced at $199 on contract.