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Topic # 60064 18-Apr-2010 00:57
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First impressions
First impressions out of the box are very favourable, the build quality and feeling in the hand reeks of quality, and the initial set up for your Google account and social networking is dead easy. I had only one problem, whereby it couldn’t connect to my networks mobile data connection. The fix was to just manually input the APN, from which point everything worked fine. That was a rather disappointing experience however, since no smartphone I’ve owned has failed to automatically detect the correct settings for my network operator.

Build quality and Design

Build quality is excellent, no creaks, just excellent materials with a lovely soft touch matte finish. For me the only real negative would be the N97-styled battery cover, which you have to bend/peel off. It feels a little dangerous, and you just don’t need a basic manoeuvre provoking that kind of anxiety handling your brand new expensive smartphone. If I were to nitpick in the extreme I would point out a very, very small gap around the screen that may occasion to collect some dust. A ‘rub-over’ finish there would have been better.
Problems highlighted in other reviews? One reviewer had problems with the Back key, but I’ve experienced no worries with that here.

Screen
The vital stats, on the off chance that anybody here isn’t already very familiar with them, is a 3.7inch AMOLED capacitive touch screen, WVGA resolution. It’s a truly excellent screen, whose only downsides really are those related to the choice of AMOLED screen technology – sunlight legibility is an issue, and some users find the highly saturated colours off-putting. Whether these are an issue is really a personal matter for each potential user to decide. I like the saturated colours of AMOLED screens, and given that outdoors use comprises something like 1% of my total phone use I can live with that quite happily also. In regards to just how bad the sunlight legibility is, I can’t say just yet. The weather has not obliged, its overcast here today, and certainly in these conditions the screen is fine. The capacitive touch is excellent here, everything feels super silky and well implemented. It’s better than the i8910, and the HD2, being the two previous capacitive handsets I’ve owned. In the case of the i8910, I think that is likely to be due in part to the poor touch implementation into the UI of S60v5. The HD2 I’m less sure why, perhaps they’ve optimised it more in the Desire, or perhaps its because the HD2 was the first capacitive TS in the WM realm Vs a more extensive experience of manufacturing capacitive TS in the Android world.

Camera
Will post back on this with more details and some example shots, difficult to make definitive comments until wee see the 720P update however.

Media
As with the camera the media prowess of the phone can’t really be fully adjudicated prior to the firmware update with DivX playback, but as it stands its otherwise an excellent handset from a media point of view. The sound quality in media is excellent, near best in class – the GSMarena review has it level pegging with the X10 here (speculating that the same audio processor is in both Snapdragon-toting devices), but pulling slightly ahead for being able to output a louder volume.
Problems highlighted in other reviews? One reviewer seemed to have problems with audio sync in youTube streams, not an issue that I’ve seen replicated in my handset, but there appear to be a reasonable number of users reporting this in various forums (not sure if this is a branded Vs unbranded FW problem or what, but being sporadic makes it suspicious for something of that kind).

Marketplace
I half expected the marketplace to be a very daunting aspect of the phone, I mean how do you choose the best apps when so many are vying for your attention? It’s a mixed bag really, but essentially positive overall. The market app itself is straightforward, installs are easily achieved once you have your app, and it handily gives you an alert whenever updates become available. Unfortunately due to country limitations, and apparently other more obtuse reasons that I can’t fathom, not all apps are shown on the marketplace on the device. If you know what you’re after this isn’t a huge problem, the .apk installer files can be found around the internet and installed via programs like the free file manager Astro. But that’s a problem in itself, since if you don’t already know the name of the app you’re after, perusing the market from your handset leaves you with the impression it doesn’t exist. LastFMs application is good example, nothing revealed in search for me, but installed the .apk and it works fine with my subscription details. I guess the bottom line here is that you have to supplement your app searches with web-based repositories like appbrain, androlib, androidzoom etc. That’s somewhat disappointing, especially since none of the web-repositories are exactly ideal, and you tend to need to shop around a couple of them to find what you need at times.

Call quality

When I’ve actually received a call I’ll let you know!

Battery life

Obviously a little early to comment on this, but I’ll update as this becomes clearer. In terms of use I have it set like this at present:

Screen brightness 100%, auto-adjust off
Google sync on 24/7
Weather, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds updating hourly
WiFi on continuously

32GB microSD compatibility?

Yes! My 32GB card works fine. Just make sure when you upgrade your card that you copy the contents of the original, including hidden and system files, to the new card. The pre-installed card has some things like HTC Sync that you could possibly lose (like one user I saw in a forums who formatted the card, and then couldn’t get the latest version of Sync from HTC, and therefore couldn’t tether his phone/get Outlook contacts etc).



Anyways, more to follow, anybody with questions is welcome to ask and I'll do my best to answer.




Twitter: @nztechfreak
Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org


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  Reply # 319818 18-Apr-2010 06:11
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I have seriously considered buying one for myself....but I like Maemo too much to give up my N900....
Look forward to the rest of your review, I may look at an Android device for my next purchase...but its too early yet.




HTPC: Silverstone LC16M | abit IP35 Pro | Intel Quad Q9400 2.5GHz | Corsair 520HX | Samsung SH-S203D DVD Writer | NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 512MB RAM | 2 x 750GB Western Digital Caviar GP HDD | 4GB DDR800 RAM | D-Link DWA-547 Rangebooster N 650 Desktop | Blackgold BGT3540 | Microsoft Remote Control & Remote Keyboard for Windows Media Center | Windows 7 64bit

Mobile: Nokia N97, Nokia N900, Samsung Galaxy S, HTC EVO 3D, iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S III (current)

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Geek


  Reply # 319949 18-Apr-2010 16:41
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Yeah I'm defiantly going to get one! Thanks for the review.

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  Reply # 320017 18-Apr-2010 20:12
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Does multitasking slow down the OS - eg can you play movie, browse internet, twitter at same time?



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  Reply # 320034 18-Apr-2010 20:41
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For sure you can do all those things, its extremely snappy. Only slowdown I experienced so far was simultaneously adding about 9 RSS feeds in the News widget, they then all synced with the next sync operation (along with Weather, Twitter, FB, a few other services like the one that backs up my SMS as emails in my Gmail account etc) and things were boggy for about 30s before returning to normal. Otherwise its performance really can't be faulted.




Twitter: @nztechfreak
Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org


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Master Geek


  Reply # 320053 18-Apr-2010 21:59
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Wow -thanks for that info. I'm moving from N97 and wondered if you'll run out of space for apps if you cant install onto microSD



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  Reply # 320062 18-Apr-2010 22:42
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Most Android apps appear to be in the 300kB - 3MB range, I'm sure you could fill the space for apps, but most wouldn't. Once full Root access is available then you can install to the SD card anyways...




Twitter: @nztechfreak
Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org


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Master Geek


  Reply # 320114 19-Apr-2010 09:00
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This looks like a bit of me:
Kingston microSDHC Class 10 16gb
http://pricespy.co.nz/product.php?p=558848


... its still no 32gb though ...

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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 320315 19-Apr-2010 16:54
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Hi! thanks for your great review.

I've just got my Desire from clove.co.uk, and its great! However, I cannot log onto the vodafone data network.

Can you give me your APN settings? 


I have honestly spent the last 3 hours trying all the APN settings I can find on the net to no avail. Maybe it's because I am on prepay?

cheers
Leon 

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Master Geek


  Reply # 320333 19-Apr-2010 17:07
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this was already answered in the other post by NZtechfreak...
http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=97&topicid=59053&page_no=20

NZtechfreak: No thanks needed! Nice to see quite a few of us here to support each other through the teething problems, the "I need an app that does this", "how do I find the settings for that?" phase :)

Had my first tonight, took it off WiFi and couldn't connect to Vodafone internet! Had to enter the APN name manually (www.vodafone.net.nz), works like it should now! First high end smartphone I've ever owned that couldn't just detect them automatically (and several of the previous ones have been HTCs too, no Android handsets though).

I will post up a review thread shortly with my thoughts to date and as I get deeper into the phone and OS.



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  Reply # 320360 19-Apr-2010 17:56
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Thanks for fielding that for me!




Twitter: @nztechfreak
Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org




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  Reply # 320406 19-Apr-2010 19:20
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First impressions

First impressions out of the box are very favourable, the build quality and feeling in the hand reeks of quality, and the initial set up for your Google account and social networking is dead easy. I had only one problem, whereby it couldn’t connect to my networks mobile data connection. The fix was to just manually input the APN, from which point everything worked fine. That was a rather disappointing experience however, since no smartphone I’ve owned has failed to automatically detect the correct settings for my network operator.

 

Build quality and Design

Build quality is excellent, no creaks, just excellent materials with a lovely soft touch matte finish. For me the only real negative would be the N97-styled battery cover, which you have to bend/peel off. It feels a little dangerous, and you just don’t need a basic manoeuvre provoking that kind of anxiety handling your brand new expensive smartphone. If I were to nitpick in the extreme I would point out a very, very small gap around the screen that may occasion to collect some dust. A ‘rub-over’ finish there would have been better. A little more on the design side of things after another day and half of use: The hardware buttons are all fine. In particular the placement of the Back key is nice, since in both portrait and landscape orientations your thumb lies directly over the button, the portrait positioning of the button working really well for one-handed use. I have mixed feelings about the placement of the power/screen on button, at the top left of the device. For one-handed use its in quite a nice position, but I notice when I take the phone from my pocket that in that position I always seem to awaken the screen which I’d rather it didn’t do. The optical trackpad I think I prefer over a trackball, but I’ll talk a little more about that in the UI side of things, along with some further comments on the power button.

Problems highlighted in other reviews? One reviewer had problems with the Back key, but I’ve experienced no worries with that here.

 

Screen:

The vital stats, on the off chance that anybody here isn’t already very familiar with them, is a 3.7inch AMOLED capacitive touch screen, WVGA resolution. It’s a truly excellent screen, whose only downsides really are those related to the choice of AMOLED screen technology – sunlight legibility is an issue, and some users find the highly saturated colours off-putting. Whether these are an issue is really a personal matter for each potential user to decide. I like the saturated colours of AMOLED screens, and given that outdoors use comprises something like 1% of my total phone use I can live with that quite happily also. In regards to just how bad the sunlight legibility is, I can’t say just yet. The weather has not obliged, its overcast here today, and certainly in these conditions the screen is fine. The capacitive touch is excellent here, everything feels super silky and well implemented. It’s better than the i8910, and the HD2, being the two previous capacitive handsets I’ve owned. In the case of the i8910, I think that is likely to be due in part to the poor touch implementation into the UI of S60v5. The HD2 I’m less sure why, perhaps they’ve optimised it more in the Desire, or perhaps its because the HD2 was the first capacitive TS in the WM realm Vs a more extensive experience of manufacturing capacitive TS in the Android world.

 

Sense UI

I probably don’t really need to labour this part of the review, most of you will be familiar with the Sense UI, for those who aren’t there are plenty of good write ups around (the Engadgetmobile Incredible review being a recent one on this iteration of Sense. There are still a few points regards the UI where I feel I should proffer my own opinion, so I’ll run through these quickly. First, onscreen keyboards. How are they? In a word, great. I’m finding this phone extremely good for typing, even with the reduced screen size coming from my HD2 it manages to outdo that handset. HTCs predictive text implementation is excellent. Furthermore, after applying mods to add Speech-to-Text (curiously missing on unbranded handsets, but included in some branded firmwares) to the keyboard and Google Search (accessed by hitting the Search hardware key anywhere in the OS, truly excellent), its overall the best experience I’ve yet had in TS typing.

 

I mentioned above that I wanted to single out the power button and trackpad here. The power button is the only way to awaken the screen, which is annoying. I much prefer being able to hit any button, and then open the phone with the software unlock. Who knows though, I may just make the adjustment automatically within a couple of days, but for now it’s a niggle. The trackpad has tended to variously attract praise or criticism, depending on which quarter you look to for advice. I have yet to find any situation where the UI actually needed the use of the trackpad, its perfectly finger-friendly, and the phone could probably have gone quite happily without the trackpad at all. The situations where I do like and use the trackpad tend to be for vertical list navigation, particularly in small drop-down web fields, and also as a hardware button that can be assigned to things (for instance I use it as a quick save button in GameBoid). I think overall it’s an asset, small improvements are nevertheless small improvements.

 

Regards the speed of operation: its extremely good. I didn’t consider it would feel like too much of an upgrade Vs the similarly-specced, Snapdragon-toting, HD2, but have been surprised to find it noticeably snappier in comparison. I’m not exactly sure whats feeding into this impression of small, but very definite, improvement. I think the extremely silky touch experience on offer here, in concert with subtle animations throughout, goes a long way to making things feel faster, but I don’t know that it explains it totally. It makes me wonder whether the Android OS is just handling its resources better under the Sense UI here than WM does under the Sense skin there…

 

Media

As with the camera the media prowess of the phone can’t really be fully adjudicated prior to the firmware update with DivX playback, but as it stands its otherwise an excellent handset from a media point of view. The sound quality in media is excellent, near best in class – the GSMarena review has it level pegging with the X10 here (speculating that the same audio processor is in both Snapdragon-toting devices), but pulling slightly ahead for being able to output a louder volume. More thoughts: I note that Android has a serious problem with reading Genre tags, which really makes me wonder how much other reviewers have really used this device as a day-to-day device, since I’ve not seen it mentioned in any other reviews. Basically any mixture of tag standards causes the Genre to become “unknown genre” to the music player (and, incidentally, every other player in the Market as this is an OS problem). This is quite a large drawback, and takes a bit of effort to address – basically you have to clean all but one tag version off the music, which tends to zap embedded album art in the process, requiring you to then sort out album art again (which you can do automatically in the music player, but then it’ll grab your typical low-res album art, which I just don’t want on my high res device). Considering my music collection is meticulously tagged, and I’ve never, ever, had another device have problems with it, this is a significant disappointment. Factor in the compounding factor that selecting a Genre and shuffling happens to be the most common mode of listening for me, and you have a major complaint. While I’m talking negatives here I have to single out the Android music player, as I’ve seen nearly every other Android handset review do. HTC has done some nice work skinning it, but the UI is just nowhere near as good as my HD2. It needs some work, and I guess I’ll be waiting for Android 2.2 at least before that happens. That said, to put this in perspective – do I still like this as my MP3 player? Yes, the excellent sound quality is consolation enough for me, and along with a few nice touches like having album art and player controls represented on the lock screen, whatever niggles I have they are soundly outweighed.

Problems highlighted in other reviews? One reviewer seemed to have problems with audio sync in youTube streams, not an issue that I’ve seen replicated in my handset, but there appear to be a reasonable number of users reporting this in various forums (not sure if this is a branded Vs unbranded FW problem or what, but being sporadic makes it suspicious for something of that kind).

 

Marketplace

I half expected the marketplace to be a very daunting aspect of the phone, I mean how do you choose the best apps when so many are vying for your attention? It’s a mixed bag really, but essentially positive overall. The market app itself is straightforward, installs are easily achieved once you have your app, and it handily gives you an alert whenever updates become available. Unfortunately due to country limitations, and apparently other more obtuse reasons that I can’t fathom, not all apps are shown on the marketplace on the device. If you know what you’re after this isn’t a huge problem, the .apk installer files can be found around the internet and installed via programs like the free file manager Astro. But that’s a problem in itself, since if you don’t already know the name of the app you’re after, perusing the market from your handset leaves you with the impression it doesn’t exist. LastFMs application is good example, nothing revealed in search for me, but installed the .apk and it works fine with my subscription details. I guess the bottom line here is that you have to supplement your app searches with web-based repositories like appbrain, androlib, androidzoom etc. That’s somewhat disappointing, especially since none of the web-repositories are exactly ideal, and you tend to need to shop around a couple of them to find what you need at times.

 

Call quality

When I’ve actually received a call I’ll let you know!

Update: Still no calls! Being home on parental leave as a new Dad means people tend to phone on the landline at present…

 

Battery life

Obviously a little early to comment on this, but I’ll update as this becomes clearer. In terms of use I have it set like this at present:

Screen brightness 100%, auto-adjust off
Google sync on 24/7
Weather, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds updating hourly
WiFi on continuously (on home network, actually saves battery Vs trying to remain connected to the poor network coverage in my home)
Music player ~40-60mins/day

Update on battery: With the above, and considerable ‘first day mucking around’, the battery lasted 14 hours before telling me ‘14% battery remaining, please connect to power’. Pretty good. Second day I got to 16 hours. Today up to 9 hours and battery sitting at a healthy 60%. With a few more charging cycles under my belt I feel comfortable that the battery life will be just fine. I’ll charge every night, but that’s been normal for me for several years now.

 

32GB microSD compatibility?

Yes! My 32GB card works fine. Just make sure when you upgrade your card that you copy the contents of the original, including hidden and system files, to the new card. The pre-installed card has some things like HTC Sync that you could possibly lose (like one user I saw in a forums who formatted the card, and then couldn’t get the latest version of Sync from HTC, and therefore couldn’t tether his phone/get Outlook contacts etc).

 

GPS:

Installed Copilot Live, which appears to be the only navigation solution for here in NZ. Works fine, can’t complain. GPS performance seems commensurate with all other high-end Smartphones I’ve used, with locks typically coming in at around 10seconds (utilising AGPS, no doubt slower for those without data access). I have yet to try and lock in more adverse conditions, such as amongst tall buildings, or with heavily overcast skies, so can’t pass comment on that just yet. Have installed run.gps, but not been out and about with it just yet, so will feedback on that at some other stage too for other keen sportstrackers out there.

 

 




Twitter: @nztechfreak
Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org


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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 320409 19-Apr-2010 19:22
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thanks guys...but still no go...

May I know if you guys are on contract or prepay? Coz I've read that the settings are slightly different...

If all else fails I might have to do a hard reset! =(

Basically I keep getting the "connection failed" message... 



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  Reply # 320414 19-Apr-2010 19:27
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Were you on WiFi or airplane mode before that? Some people have had sporadic errors connecting when switching back from those to network data...




Twitter: @nztechfreak
Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org


pih

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 320443 19-Apr-2010 20:41
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NZtechfreak:
GPS:

Installed Copilot Live, which appears to be the only navigation solution for here in NZ. Works fine, can’t complain. GPS performance seems commensurate with all other high-end Smartphones I’ve used, with locks typically coming in at around 10seconds (utilising AGPS, no doubt slower for those without data access). I have yet to try and lock in more adverse conditions, such as amongst tall buildings, or with heavily overcast skies, so can’t pass comment on that just yet. Have installed run.gps, but not been out and about with it just yet, so will feedback on that at some other stage too for other keen sportstrackers out there.


I heartily recommend "Google" (Brut) Navigation - free, no rooting required, and so long as you don't mind using your data connection for map download (it's really very light on data, in my experience) it works really well.  Route and map data is cached when you start your journey, so even if you drive out of coverage area, you're covered. There are a couple of minor glitches related to the hack (eg. voice announcement is often late or non-existant), but in spite of this I love it and use it often.  That said, I've heard a few good things about CPL, so if you're happy with it then that's great - I haven't used it so I can't compare the two.]

Edit: The word "Google" in the link text was meant to have a strikethrough - it got stripped off - added quotes instead



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  Reply # 320446 19-Apr-2010 20:46
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Yeah, I'm aware of the free Google Nav alternative, couldn't be bothered with the bugs, not a function I mind paying for.




Twitter: @nztechfreak
Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org


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