HTC HD7 Unboxing Review

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IMG_0418Having the HD7 for a few days now, I can say that finally having used Windows Phone up close and personal, the new OS is a winner. I put it clearly in the same league as Android (maybe a few rough edges). Of course, a brilliant 4.3-inch multitouch screen never hurts your chances in a review, but really, the HD7 has so far done nothing but impress me. WP 7 feels like an extension of the same innovation that is making Windows 7 a hit, and HTC has done the new OS proud, in my opinion.

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This is the unbox post, so I still have that new gadget glow…

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HTC is a mobile hardware giant with a flair for producing the coolest of handset cool. I'm fairly confident HTC devices will somehow be around when the next civilization arises on planet earth. The new HD7 follows in this tradition of gadget flair without nary a look over it's shoulder. It's quick, it's not hard to use, it does everything a gadget/phone it's size should do, and looks good doing it! It is the new face of Windows Mobile and even my iPhone-crazed son complimented it (and he hates Windows anything).

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I won't belabor the box description. It's a box, and the HD7 was neatly tucked inside. Mainly, I should point out what comes in there (besides the phone itself). You get headphones (with control bud), a USB charger and USB-microUSB cable, 2 startup-oriented guides (one for the phone, and one for WP), and some other misc docs, warranty, etc.

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The shape of the HD7 is almost aerodynamic (or appears so), possessing a semi-curved back and flat face. The sides flair out a bit along the back edge, giving better access to the minimal buttons located around the periphery (power on top, volume and camera buttons on the right). The front screen area is a beveled and rounded beauty. I like the design of squeezing 2 small speaker grills at the edges of the screen and the body (at least that's what I think those are).

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The face is almost all screen real-estate, save for a minimum of 3 touch-sensitive inputs marked out for Start, Back, and Search controls. The 800X480 TFT LCD screen itself is so bright and clear, that it nearly takes your breath away when you first power it up. The new WP7 OS seems a little Android-like, especially in the first startup screens and setup. The screen is so sensitive, I was able to make button selections by not-quite touching it.

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Along the right edge (viewing from front), both volume and camera buttons are slim-line versions of the similar chromed-out look along the edges, but with a brighter finish, making them stand out more. Along the base is a 3.5mm port and microUSB port for charging and syncing the unit. I think I would have liked the power button on the top edge to be more in the middle for one-handed convenience.

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The HD7 is almost solid and bulky enough to be a two-handed device. The back is also attractive, with it's 2-tone gray finish, and stainless camera stand thingy. The stand flips out and serves also to help protect the aperture and dual flash LEDs when closed, though the lens still sticks above it’s surface a bit. I'm worried that setting it down on the back (especially on an uneven surface), could easily result in a scratched lens.

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The camera is worth mentioning, besides the fact of it's rather unusual kick-stand/protector--it can shoot stills at 5 MP (2592X1944) resolution and video at 720p. The software settings for the WP7 app allow you to auto-select between 7 shooting modes, and includes flicker and metering mode adjustment--about which, I have no idea at this point.

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Images looked a little blurry at low-res settings, due to some jitter while holding the phone. Coupled with the huge display, the camera is a respectable reason to go for this phone as a carry-along replacement for an aging  or cheap PnS (or camcorder, etc.), but my new Canon SD blows it away even at lower res images.

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The back portion of the phone that surrounds the camera pops off to reveal the battery compartment (SIM card also is inserted in a slot here). The material on the back is a thin polycarbonate of some kind, though it has a pseudo-rubbery feel to it. It is also remarkably flexible and easy to remove.

I don't want to go into too much depth in the unbox post on the WP7 OS, but my early feeling is that it is well-designed, and should squelch many a nay-sayer about Microsoft's ability to deliver a good mobile product. This phone is (so far) working very well in light testing of the UI, and apps. It is easy to browse the menu system and find things, open apps, and go back to previous screens. Fonts are large and easy to read on the large display. The Marketplace is certainly lacking the ginormous amount of Apps that you can find on iTunes, but is not much different than using the Apple App Store app on my iPod touch (very simple). I haven't used the HD7 enough yet to understand all the concepts behind hubs, but it is obvious that like Android, the experience is designed to be cloud-connected, interactive and built to sync and work within the MS family of products. The default widgets offer a wealth of information at a glance, and can be customized. I added my Windows Live account to the phone, and it automatically synced pictures to my Sky Drive, and contacts from my Windows Live friends. It has not crashed, locked up or given me any problems, and the 1GHZ processor appears to easily manhandle the new OS screens and widgets. I have a very good early impression of this phone.

Stay tuned for more blog coverage of the HTC HD7--next post: wireless capability , navigation and audio--as well as tips, info and reviews on other mobile phones and gadgets.

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