HD7 Review Part 2
In my last post on the HD7, I covered unboxing and some physical specs. Now that I have had it for a week, I am quickly learning the screens and menus, and getting used to how Windows Phone works (as opposed to older Windows Mobile). It is so easy to navigate, I can almost not believe it is even remotely related to WM, but there is still some quirkiness. In this post, I’ll go over the wireless features and some related apps on the HD7.
Of course, the phone came with a SIM card already installed for connecting to the T-Mobile 3G network. Downloading apps from the Marketplace was fast, though one game stalled out and said that I needed to either sync to my computer or use Wi-Fi to complete the download. I surmised this to be because of the size of the install file. I used the HD7 all over town while web browsing, doing searches, downloading apps, from in the car, inside restaurants, buildings, etc. So far, the T-Mobile network in my area has performed admirably. The HD7 features enhanced 3G HSPDA data connection (up to 7Mbps), where available. I am not going to try to explain what I think I know (or pretend to understand) about all the different carrier networks, standards and protocols, but suffice to say that the HD7 supports both HSDPA (7Mbps) or HSUPA (2 Mbps) protocols under the GSM/UMTS carrier umbrella.
Using the T-Mobile network, I tested playing YouTube (YT) videos, and both live and on-demand TV episodes using the T-Mobile TV app. The on-demand and YT videos played fairly well. Of course the quality was pretty low. Live TV, was very poor, and even though I could tell the bandwidth quality had been throttled way down, it was jerky. Using Wi-Fi, of course will be much better. The HD7 supports 802.11b/g/n standards. The phone alerts you (through a little panel that drops at the top of the screen) when Wi-Fi networks are in range. The setup is very simple, and requires only a few taps to select networks. I installed an add-on app from the HTC section of the app store that let’s you enhance the HD7’s audio adding Dolby or SRS effects, and the sound the thing pumps out is pretty respectable in a mobile handset.
Web browsing using the large touch display is good enough all by itself to make me want this Phone. It is better in some regards than on iPod or iPhone, in my opinion (and not as good in others). You can pinch to zoom and pan quickly with gestures, but the HD7 is very touchy, which can lead to some mistaken screen selections. I'm trying to find a setting to tone this down, but have not yet done so.
I like the new mobile IE for the same reason I like the Android browser: viewable tabs--little thumbnail views of all your open browser windows. I also like the option of switching between mobile and desktop versions of web sites though many sites do not have a mobile version. For ones that do, it often makes browsing much faster. I wish IE had a toggle on the main menu to access this feature (and not a buried setting).
Sadly, I could not find a flash plug-in for WP 7 in the Marketplace or at Adobe. IE required the YT app to be installed to play YT video, but the videos will not play in embedded scripts on web pages. This also means other flash content types do not play at all (Vimeo, etc.). For some reason, after I installed the YT app from the Windows Marketplace, when accessing the link via the HTC hub (more on hubs in a later post), would still re-direct me to install it? Is there different versions or forms of apps in WP7 for hubs? This would seem pretty stupid and confusing if it were the case.
I set up my Yahoo mail account on the HD7, and here is an area that I know MS has made noteworthy progress (from the bad days of WM yore). First off the configuration steps were brief and easy: Tap the mail hub shortcut; select Yahoo Mail (or mail provider of your choice); put in account credentials, and bingo...mail! Very simple and easy. The new mail interface (and the WP7 gui in general) is almost too sparse for my taste, but navigating mail is easy and fluid. Mail supports push, etc. I sent myself an e-mail, and shortly received an indicator in the mail widget on the main home screen.
The threaded messaging interface is good, but I still have to tap an on-screen selection to send text (instead of just hitting enter). I also could not easily create contacts from numbers in my call list or in the chat list. You have to navigate a few menus and it is not really jumping out at you what you are doing. It’s still pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
The hub concept is a bit annoying overall, but useful for category freaks I think. If you like to put your stuff into bins, hubs will appeal to you.
Bluetooth on the HD7 is pretty blasÃ©. It only supports the EDR profile, so you can use your stereo headset or a hands-free device/earwig, but not much else with the HD7. Still, a unique aspect of many HTC devices (and the HD7), is that they have the ability to tune in and play FM radio. It is handy to have a mobile radio receiver. This requires the headset to be used with the HD7, but you could plug a 3.5mm jack into your stereo as well (which is what I did). The tuner uses the cord as an antenna, so unfortunately you can't use the tuner without something being plugged in. The internal tuner app is buried under the Music hub, so you have to drill down a screen , and flip over to it.
I’m really pretty disappointed in the apps and services available for the new Windows Phone OS, and without flash support, you can’t use IE on the HD7 to browse and access them via the mobile browser. I can’t listen to Pandora, Last.fm stations, etc., which kind of bums me out. The Marketplace will hopefully grow enough to remedy this issue soon.
I had fully intended to cover GPS/navigation here, but as I am pushing the 1000 word mark, I think I'll save it for the final post. Tune in next time, and I'll wrap up with Phone, GPS and other misc features of the remarkable HD7!