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Hands on: HTC Desire HD..one heck of a phone
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Hands on: HTC Desire HD..one heck of a phone

The box containing my new HTC Desire HD Smartphone is actually smaller than the one that came with my old HTC Desire.

But, when I opened the box and slipped out the phone my first reaction was “Wow this is one big mother of a phone” and quite a bit larger than my Desire. the 4.3″ screen is impressive. I thought this is too big for a phone..it was like holding a brick to my head.

That feeling wore off in less than a day. This big phone is comfortable in the hand, very pocketable and i really like that big screen. My Desire now feels small.

Physically the phone has a good feel..the aluminum unibody (it is made from a single piece of aluminum) construction gives it a solid feel and the textured back provides a good grip. Access to the SIM card and the SD card (8GB included) is via a plastic slide off cover on the bottom. It worked fine unlike the lift off cover for the battery on the side..I practically needed a crowbar to get it off..there are going to be a lot of broken nails.

The big screen means no squinting to read emails and the virtual keyboard is that much bigger and delivers a much better typing experience.

The browsing experience with HTC’s excellent browser is superb on this screen, that extra half inch on the diagonal makes all the difference in the world..again no squinting.

One big plus I found the screen big enough to read a book using the Kindle or my favourite, the Kobo app. That is very impressive and a huge feature for me.

The Desire HD is equipped with the Latest version of Android (2.2 Froyo) and an improved version of HTC’s already impressive Sense interface. It hides the complexity of Android well and makes it easy to navigate around the phone’s features. It comes with more widgets..for example a good bookmark widget, an informative Favourite Contacts widget  and FriendStream..It takes all the social elements you have stored for your contacts (for example Twitter and Facebook feeds) and displays them all in one place.

Performance is excellent, movement around the interface and scrolling of web pages and email or contact lists is really smooth because of the second generation 1GHz Snapdragon processor. Phone quality was great in both directions and data speed on the Telus 3G+ network was excellent(left picture). WiFi was able to fully take advantage of my 25GB/s internet connection(right picture). Clearly HTC has managed to considerably improve the radio over the Desire.

The camera app on the Desire HD is by far the best I’ve ever used. It’s fast, it’s intuitive, and  it comes with everything you’d expect, from geo-tagging, automatic white-balancing, automatic dual-LED flash, and more. Still pictures are an impressive 8-megapixel (3264 x 1952), and video comes set at 800 x 480 with the capability of shooting up to 720p HD (1280 x 720). But don’t throw away your DSLR..the camera is fine for what it is but don’t expect miracles in low light or with fast moving subjects. I shot this video late on a bright winter afternoon..not the best of lighting conditions..lots of highlights and deep shadow but as you can see it is not too bad under these conditions at 720p 29fps.

I do have a few quibbles..there is the battery cover I mentioned above, I find the fairly sensitive down volume button is right where my thumb falls on the side of the phone so I was always lowering the ring volume. Fortunately one great feature of the phone is the boosting of the volume if the phone is in your pocket or purse..that saved me from losing calls. Finally, it may be only me but, I prefer the hardware buttons as on the Desire as opposed to the touch buttons on the HD..the hardware buttons are easier to use without looking.

That said, this is an impressive phone..a worthy upgrade from the HTC Desire and a good choice for anyone trying HTC for the first time. You will be impressed by the quality of construction and the performance.

The HTC Desire HD is available exclusively from Telus Mobility. The price ranges from $149.99 with a three year contract to $499.99 with no contract.

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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