Hands-on review: Windows Phone 7-based HTC 7 Surround

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 Surround certainly stands apart, and here's the hands-on review.

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.

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