HTC One X: Bring on the Games!

, posted: 26-Jun-2012 11:39

Finally, the fun begins.  After purchasing or using any phone, my favourite moment is loading the first game.  I have many games, but for these tests I’ve decided to run the most taxing ones; the 3D ones.  I loaded up several games: Dead Meadow, Dead Space, Grand Theft Auto 3, Need for Speed, ShadowGun, Shinerunner, and Zen Pinball.



Dead Meadow, while graphically impressive, left a bit to be desired, as you never really get free control of the player.  It’s all very scripted.  It provided a good workout for the phone graphically, but I ended up throwing in the towel after 30 minutes of playtime.  After 30 minutes of playtime it was 38.2 degrees Celsius according to my laser thermometer  -  so still OK to hold, with some slight discomfort near the camera.





Dead Space, on the other hand, was a lot more inviting.  The graphics in Dead Space leave pretty much all the other games for dead.  The graphics are sort of a combination of PlayStation 2 and maybe Half Life gaming graphics.  Not quite at the  level of graphics of the current consoles or PlayStation Vita  but, at this rate, it won’t take too long for them to catch up.  Dead Space was a pleasure to play, with the One-X screen being the key component.  I could play it while walking round the aisles of the supermarket, or while seated on a plane, or anywhere I had time to kill.





Grand Theft Auto 3 also loaded up very promptly, the quad-core chipset springing it to life with no trouble.  It’s basically a port of the original game, and was very demanding on the phone.  Unfortunately, once all graphics were turned to max the phone couldn’t keep up and dropped quite a few frames.  However, it was still impressive, considering that just 10 years ago computers would struggle with the resolution this phone is putting out!





Need for Speed was one of my old favourites from years gone by.  I couldn’t wait to install it. After a relatively large download, I was set to race.  The phone performed admirably, with no slow-downs at all.  The game uses the tilt function of the phone to turn and that worked well.  It was calibrated perfectly, with no need for any adjustment.  It brought back memories of the past, of what racing games should be like.  Graphically it is one of the most impressive racing games on a mobile platform and was a pleasure to play.





To enhance my playing experience I bought stick-on buttons, which I used with the MHL/TV-Out to play it on the big screen.  These buttons attach to the screen using suction cups, and provide capacitive input, so you can feel where the buttons are when playing on the TV without looking down at the phone.



Shadow Gun is very much in the same realm as Dead Space, but Shadow Gun THD is designed to run on Tegra 3.  Visually, it was stunning. However, it didn’t quite compare to Dead Space, which is just slightly more polished, both in game play and in graphics.  So I didn’t play too much of it, although Shadow Gun does support movement via an external gamepad.







ShineRunner was next, and was more of an experiment to see whether a Bluetooth controller would work with the phone.  I loaded up Wii Controller from the Play Market, and the Wii gamepad was immediately recognised, which was great.  It didn’t need any additional drivers or root access; it just loaded up straight away.  I then proceeded to play ShineRunner, while leaving my device connected to my TV.  If more games supported this and the graphics were better, you could theoretically replace your consoles with the HTC One X or any similar mobile device!





Video of Shine Runner through TV:



My only disappointing game was Zen Pinball, which was an official Tegra 3 title, used to showcase the chipset’s graphics capabilities. Unfortunately the One-X didn’t run it smoothly, which might be related to the old version of software currently installed on the phone.  If Telecom allows the update soon, it will probably become quite playable, as One-X users from most countries who have received the update have reported.   Hopefully we’ll see this update in the next few weeks, so all the latest Tegra 3 games are smooth!





Overall, it’s a great phone for gaming, whether on the move, or playing it on the TV.  The total spend for gaming on the big screen for various games was:
  • $20 for a Madcatz Wii controller and nun chuck (brand new)
  • $6 for stick-on arcade-style buttons
  • $6 for the MHL adapter from eBay
  • Free to $2 for the games from the Google Play Market.   

About the author

I am Vincent Garcia: an ICT Specialist by day; technology geek and DIY handyman by night. I enjoy playing with gadgets, old and new.  Taking most of them through the paces, and to within an inch of their lives! I also enjoy tinkering with things; spending most of my weekends repairing my motorcycles, or renovating my house.  I live in the windy city of Wellington, with my lovely wife Nicola, and my cat Morange. When I was offered the opportunity to review the new HTC One X series, I jumped at the chance.  The short aeroplane trip to Auckland was all part of the fun!  If you want to ask any questions, please add a comment below, or email [email protected]



You've got mail

, posted: 25-Jun-2012 12:08

Due to the large volume of automated emails I get from the production servers I maintain, I don’t lean heavily on my mobile phone for accessing email, as the email client on my work computer is configured to make these much easier to deal with. However, I still find mobile email access a handy feature to have, especially for those times I’ve already tamed the overnight avalanche of work related emails, and therefore have a much more manageable inbox.

The HTC One X comes with two email apps; one that is part of the HTC Sense suite of applications, which offers access to most email services, and the official Gmail client. By default, the phone is geared towards using the HTC mail app, but as is usually the case with Android, this can easily be changed. Of course, if you don’t use Gmail for your email, the Gmail client isn’t going to be of much use. As I use Gmail for my primary email needs, I’m able to pick the client that works best for me. Which as it turns out is a good thing.

More on that later.


The Gmail client is to the left, with the HTC mail client to the right 

Both clients allow you to configure multiple email accounts, providing you with the ability to easily switch between each account. They both offer a similar view of your inbox, presenting a list which allows for multiple emails to be selected, so actions such as deleting messages can be performed on multiple items. By default the HTC client inbox will only show messages from the last 3 days, but this option can be changed so you can see messages from today, the last 3, 7, 14 or 30 days, or all messages. In contrast, the Gmail client shows all messages.

Where the Gmail client has a slight edge is by having more action icons always visible on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. While the HTC mail client has icons for searching and composing new mail visible, the Gmail client also allows you to refresh from the toolbar. This is handy for me, as I don’t have my mail clients configured to automatically synchronize. Getting the same functionality from the HTC client involves first dropping down the menu, and selecting the option from there. For those of you who have your mail automatically synchronizing, this may be a non issue though.

As a counter to this advantage, the HTC inbox view allows you to show messages from all your configured email accounts in the same list, which is a feature that appears to be missing in the Gmail client.

Selecting an email in the list will open up the message body. With the HTC app I found this  to be a pretty unreliable action, with the message body often not successfully downloading. When this happens, I have to exit back to the inbox and select the message again before the message body will display. The Gmail app always operated as expected in this regard, with no issues with the message body being shown.

The default font size used when displaying messages in the HTC app is a little too large for my liking, but this can be configured to be smaller. One advantage the HTC message view does have over the Gmail client is that you can use a pinch to zoom gesture to enlarge the displayed text.


The Gmail message view, left, contrasted with the message view of the HTC mail app
 

A nice feature that the Gmail message view has is the ability to swipe left and right to switch between newer and older messages. In order to get the same functionality in the HTC message view, you need to access the menu and chose the previous or next option from there.

The Gmail compose message view is a little more minimalistic when compared to the HTC one, with only fields for the email message components shown, along with an unlabeled send button, with the rest of the functionality exposed under the menu button. In contrast, the HTC app has buttons for the common actions down the bottom. It also includes a People button next to the To field, to provide integration with your contacts. Both clients provide auto-completion on that field as you type.


The Gmail compose message view on the left, is a little minimalistic when compared to the HTC equivalent
 

Email integration is strong elsewhere throughout the phone, with access readily available from applications that allow you to share content. When sharing by email in this manner, you are able to choose whether you wish to send via the Gmail client or the HTC one.

In summary, the HTC One X comes with a couple of capable email clients bundled with it, and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. Because I could never get message body synchronization working correctly with my Gmail account using the HTC mail client, I find that one more cumbersome to use. As a result, the official Gmail app is currently my preferred choice on the HTC One X.


About the author

Hi I'm David, a self employed software developer on the wrong side of 40, residing in Auckland with my wife and two children. I am a passionate All Blacks and Blues fan, gadget junkie, mature aged gamer, and connoisseur of fine heavy metal (and music in general). I currently own an iPhone 4, but am very open to trying new technologies, and can't wait to see what the best of Android can bring to the smartphone table. I enjoy keeping up to date with the latest technological advances in general, and am encouraged to see that the smartphone market is no longer an iOneHorseRace. I’m very interested to see how the HTC One and Ice Cream Sandwich fares in this regard.



HTC One X Movie Editor

, posted: 21-Jun-2012 10:04

Android 4.0 marked the arrival of a movie editor integrated into Android itself, and as you might expect HTC has kept it in there and added their own Sense flavouring to it.

Starting off you have to accept HTC’s T&Cs (only on the first launch) before creating a new project or resuming a previous project. So far it’s pretty straightforward - and it remains that way.



Once you’re in the project view you can hit the plus button to add pictures and clips from the gallery. Sadly, there is no ability to take pictures or video directly in the app. You can crop video clips to your desired length however once a picture has been added it appears to be displayed for a fixed length of time (about 3 or 4 seconds) depending on the theme used.

You are able to include up to 50 clips in your video. As I found out the hard way, videos added must be more than 2 seconds long and images must be under 8 MP and less than 2 MB in size. Considering the One X camera can take images that are larger than 2 MB this is bound to cause issues.



Adding to frustrations, you must choose a theme, either birthday, formal or travel. The theme basically determines what the clip transitions are and the stock audio. I did not find a way to gather further themes.



Going into the preview mode is where you will find a lot more than just a preview of your video. Here the ability to change the default audio to one of your own music tracks is present. On the right there is a slider to favour either the music track of the audio of the video clips.



Once you’re done playing around with your rather crude video you can export it in either widescreen 720p, 540p, or 360p resolutions. Obviously you’re going to stick with 720p for the most part and you shouldn’t be disappointed with the MP4 quality.

Overall, the Sense 4.0 movie editor is a nice little tool for video editing on the go. It would be near perfect as a mobile video editor if it had more themes with it for more occasions and less limitations. Aside, I know stock Android 4.0 also has a movie editor but since I have no proper way of comparing the two. I haven’t looked into other video editors in the Play Store but Sense 4.0’s has you covered for 90% occasions you will use it for.

About the author

I’ll be honest: there was once a day when I got bored and sick of seeing all the smartphone related news in my RSS feeds. This day was literally no more than nine months ago. Well here I stand today; known as Blair the college student in the real world, ArchSerpo in this one. Whilst not even considered an adult by the Government I have established myself as a Android and mobile technology news reporter and in depth reviewer for KitGuru, Android Mobile New Zealand, and now (hopefully) the TelecomTech blog. While bias towards the green team may appear given, I have had experience with all the major mobile operating systems except BlackBerry and MeeGo in the last six months and always keep an open mind.



eReading on HTC One X

, posted: 21-Jun-2012 09:59

Reading books on my phone was a little thing I started last year when I acquired the Steve Jobs biography in digital format. I ending up reading the entire thing on the 4 inch display of my now-retired HTC Incredible S. With a few tweaks and settings my reading experience was good to go - set the brightness to the lowest value possible and only allow portrait orientation.

Now onto the HTC One X. With its 4.7 inch 720p “proper” RGB matrix amazing display. You’d think it’d be a decent replacement as an ereader and you’d be right.

It isn’t quite a ereader quality setup however - you’ll still suffer glare when in direct sunlight (it’s winter so naturally this hasn’t been tested massively). However it does cut out the need for a reading light at night.



For my digital reading I use Aldiko, which allows me to painlessly import my ebooks and flick through pages using the volume rocker. Anything more I don’t care about.

For the last few weeks I’ve been reading various books on the One X and I am yet to run into any eye strain or anything like that. I find the display really nice to read with - especially lying in bed at night.



I even have the text smaller now than what it is in the screenshot above; admittedly I near-perfect, if not perfect vision. Plus, even the smaller text is easily readable on the 4.7 inch display.

The HTC One X makes for a decent reading companion with only a few tweaks that should be made for all phones anyway. This is regardless of the fact that a page of text on One X is noticeably smaller than one in the real paperback. The 4.7 inch 720p display ensures text is not jagged at all. Plus you have the added benefit of holding a 130 gram device over a 300 to 500 gram device in a tablet, which is a lot more ergonomic is you ask me.

About the author

I’ll be honest: there was once a day when I got bored and sick of seeing all the smartphone related news in my RSS feeds. This day was literally no more than nine months ago. Well here I stand today; known as Blair the college student in the real world, ArchSerpo in this one. Whilst not even considered an adult by the Government I have established myself as a Android and mobile technology news reporter and in depth reviewer for KitGuru, Android Mobile New Zealand, and now (hopefully) the TelecomTech blog. While bias towards the green team may appear given, I have had experience with all the major mobile operating systems except BlackBerry and MeeGo in the last six months and always keep an open mind.



Media Playback with the HTC One X

, posted: 18-Jun-2012 13:45

If I find myself waiting in a line or flying on a plane, I usually like to pull out my laptop or cell, and watch a video or two.  I have found myself in that situation many times with the HTC One X on hand.  Luckily it’s very easy on the eyes, due to its large screen and vibrant colours.



The first thing I wanted to do was test music playback, to compare it to other devices I’d used in the past.  Playback overall was very pleasing, comparable to the Galaxy S2, although not quite as good as the original Galaxy S.  One minor disappointment in the stock player is lack of album art, which makes it a bit harder to scroll through albums, as you have to focus on the name, not the picture.



Overall, scrolling through music to find something to play was nice and quick.  The included headphones were fine, nothing special, although a bit weird that HTC has discontinued its Beats headphones on beats-enabled phones!  Another highly touted feature is its Beats software, which seemed to be an equaliser with enhanced bass/treble.  Not really amazing, more of a gimmick, which reminded me of the old radios with “Enhanced bass boost” buttons written on them!



The FM tuner was a surprising feature, and one I put to good use.  The headphones act as an aerial, picking up most stations in a fast and effective manner.  It was good listening to the latest news reports on the hour or even testing it out with a little music.



TuneIn was another feature I used a bit.  It’s basically internet radio and it searches for your location based on your GPS coordinates.  It’s extremely handy when you are out of coverage, or have forgotten your headphones and want to use the speaker to play radio.  I tried several NZ radio stations, as well as a few overseas channels, and the quality was very good.



However, video playback was what I wanted most!  Loading up a few videos from my computer, it played them effortlessly.  I was surprised to see MKV, MP4 and DivX Avis files play effortlessly, although I couldn’t find the Video playback folder at first.  It turns out the videos are automatically added under the Gallery section of the phone.



HTC Watch was a built-in app that I also had a play with.  It has a selection of recent and decent movies from the last few years.  They are available to rent or download, with some as little as 5c each.  The encoding was good and they streamed fast.  However, HTC might want to rethink the Watch application and maybe include other downloaded videos into the application because having two video applications is a bit of a pain.



After giving the video, audio, and radio a good run in, I decided to throw it up on the big screen.  Getting the One-X onto a TV is a breeze thanks to its MHL compatibility.  You can buy an MHL adapter from eBay for about $6, and it connects your phone through HDMI to your TV.  This means you can Game, browse the internet, or watch videos on the large screen.  I only had two issues with it.  The first being that it was never at 1080i/p, it was always at 720P, which occasionally dropped even lower when displaying games. 

The second issue was that it’s always stuck in Landscape mode,  meaning you can’t play portrait games on the TV.  This should be able to be rectified by a simple software upgrade that HTC will hopefully provide, as it’s lacking compared to the older Galaxy S2 which can do 1080P in landscape and portrait, as standard.  Overall though, the MHL adapter gives you a great cheap option to get movies onto the big screen.  It’s also good for showing relatives your family photos or funny youtube videos at parties!



Overall, the media playback of the HTC One X is great, let down by a few small things, which I’m sure HTC will be able to address in future with a software update!

About the author

I am Vincent Garcia: an ICT Specialist by day; technology geek and DIY handyman by night. I enjoy playing with gadgets, old and new.  Taking most of them through the paces, and to within an inch of their lives! I also enjoy tinkering with things; spending most of my weekends repairing my motorcycles, or renovating my house.  I live in the windy city of Wellington, with my lovely wife Nicola, and my cat Morange. When I was offered the opportunity to review the new HTC One X series, I jumped at the chance.  The short aeroplane trip to Auckland was all part of the fun!  If you want to ask any questions, please add a comment below, or email [email protected]



TelecomTech's profile

Telecom New Zealand
Auckland
New Zealand


Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

We choose tech savvy Geekzone users to "test drive" the new handsets from Telecom New Zealand.

The team will post firsthand reports on using these smartphones on New Zealand's smartphonenetwork. Make sure to keep an eye on this blog. Who knows who might be our next "test drivers"?

   

Catch up on previous Telecom Tech reviews - read about the Nokia Lumia 1020Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia Lumia 710 and HTC Sensation.





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