In addition to meeting up with friends and developing relationships with mobile application developers, carriers, and manufacturers my favorite part of these trade shows is getting hands-on time with products. I was able to try out several that interest me, including the Samsung OMNIA HD, Nokia E75, Nokia N86, HTC Snap, HTC Touch Pro2, and HTC Diamond2. You can check out my image gallery and thoughts on these devices below. The order of my coverage below is from my personal favorite to least favorite.
HTC Touch Pro2
: I have been saving up my mobile funds to buy the Nokia N97, Palm Pre or new Android device, but after some hands-on time with a device today I think those plans all went up in smoke because the device I saw is perfect for a power user QWERTY keyboard fan like myself. The HTC Touch Pro2
stole my heart at CTIA with an incredible keyboard, People integration utility, powerful speakerphone, beautiful super high resolution display, and many more improvements over the HTC Touch Pro. To top it off, according to Engadget
the device just passed through the FCC as the T-Mobile Wing II so I will be able to buy it with one of my four T-Mobile account upgrade discounts.
The HTC Touch Pro2 was announced back at Mobile World Congress in February and I reported with the specs, but didn't say much about my intentions to get it or not. I had the chance to hold the device in my hand and run through all of the features with Eric Lin from HTC. The Touch Pro2 is compelling for someone like me because I am a power user who wants it all in one and I do not want to be limited. As an Exchange user, you cannot argue that any other mobile operating system gives you a better experience than Windows Mobile and that is one primary reason I always have a Windows Mobile device with me.
The Touch Pro2 is not a small device, but that is why HTC gives you the choice of the super sleek Touch Diamond2. It is quite compact for a QWERTY device and if you think about it, this is the HTC Advantage (and more) packed into a phone form factor. The 3.6 inch 480x800 WVGA display looks amazing and is more than capable of letting you get your work done. HTC has spent lots of time improving the software and optics in their cameras and the 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera looks very good. TouchFLO 3D flies and I did not see ANY performance lag while opening and using lots of applications.
The QWERTY keyboard is very well spaced, has excellent tactile feedback, and each key is distinct and raised above the panel. The speakerphone is huge and there is even a mute button on the back below the camera to really give you a full wireless speakerphone experience. There is a new zoom bar just below the display and above the buttons so you can quickly and easily zoom in and out in applications.
The most interesting software functionality HTC added was the People integration. When you tap on People you will see all of your contact info on one screen and then tabs that include call history with that person, email/message history with that person, Facebook status for that person, and quick links to interact with that person. This is the kind of functionality that makes your device work for you and give you what you need rather than require you to tap around to find this information.
Since this device will be upgradeable to Windows Mobile 6.5, HTC has the press of the Start menu taking you to a screen full of application shortcuts. They do this so that when you get 6.5 on there and press Start you will see the "honeycomb" display and wanted end users to have a consistent experience and not have to relearn how to navigate their device.
While you can argue that Windows Mobile is a slow moving beast, HTC keeps pushing the limits and taking Windows Mobile to the next level to keep the platform one of the top mobile operating systems and one that I will keep using actively in the future.
Nokia E75: I have and really enjoy using my Nokia E71 and didn't give a lot of thought to another Eseries device. After playing with the Nokia E75 for a bit, I decided I will be getting this device. It is very compact and feels very solid. The QWERTY keyboard is much better than I thought it would be and I was able to enter data quite quickly. The camera took decent photos, much better than the E71, and I really like the dual form factor.
HTC Snap: The HTC Snap was the new device announced by HTC at CTIA this week. My wife's Dash (3rd one) was recently killed and she wants another. I think she would be much happier with the Snap since the keyboard is fantastic and the device feels amazing in your hand. HTC did a great job with this non-touch screen device and I am personally pleased to see them not focusing all of their resource on touch-only devices. Hopefully, this comes to T-Mobile soon as the Dash2 to go along with the T-Mobile Wing II mentioned above.
HTC doesn't just make excellent hardware, but they also are amazing at designing software and utilities to make their devices even better. The new software on the Snap is Inner Circle and this utility serves to smart filter your email so that you only have to deal with email you want to on your device. You designate who is in your Inner Circle so you can focus on those top few people who matter to you most. You can add as many people as you want to your Inner Circle, but if you put too many in there I think it loses its attractiveness. This is a very nice way to filter through all those "other" emails that do not need immediate attention and those that can be dealt with on your PC later.
Nokia N86: I have a Nokia N85 and never thought too much about the N86. However, this device is MUCH better than I thought it would be after seeing the announcement back at MWC. The dual slider seems much more robust that I have seen on the N95 and N85. I love the new multimedia buttons that are finally actually buttons rather than areas to press. The phone keypad also has distinct, well-spaced buttons and looks to be one of the best phone keypads I have seen from Nokia in a few years. The N86 also has an 8 megapixel camera so it should take amazing photos and video.
HTC Touch Diamond2: The HTC Touch Diamond2 looks to be another fantastic device from HTC, but without the keyboard it is not as attractive to me personally. I am sure it will appeal to those who don't care for a keyboard and want a super slim form factor device. The display is beautiful, it has the People integration, and TouchFLO 3D flies.
Samsung OMNIA HD: The OMNIA HD is a S60-powered device and you can't argue that the AMOLED display doesn't look amazingly bright. The OMNIA HD is quite long and the one I saw and played with had some very buggy software that kept on crashing on me. The casing is a major fingerprint magnet and I would rather see something like what HTC uses on the Snap. Samsung customized some of the apps on the device and has a fun outlined neon look to icons. Compared to all of these new mobile devices though, there is a lot of tapping and navigation to get anywhere on the device. I'll have to see this device with final software because it really could be a winner in the touch-only category.