HTC Hero Review
Actually, interface is the most attractive feature of the HTC Hero. Being the world´s first personalized Android device, its major task is to showcase how the flexibility and comfort the system offers. The level of personalization is quite deep indeed. Why? How come? Read on and you will find out.
One of the first things you will face is the standyby screen. Unlocking the handset is as easy as sliding a finger downwards, although you can do it with the menu button below the screen. The music player can be controlled from here if it´s running, which is quite nice an option.
The home screen… or rather, the home screens are what the interface, called Sense, is all about. There are seven and they are customizable beyond recognition through a variety of widgets - we do think the HTC Hero offers the best set of these to date. Aside from the standard active applications characteristic of Android like analog clock, calendar, search, shortcuts and folders, there are quite a few novelty apps developed by HTC. They are 20 in total with quite many coming in several varieties. Say, the clock has 12 different versions and some of them are quite eye-catchy indeed. Apart from lending variety to the interface, they might come in handy in certain situations due to their varying size on the screen, i.e. more widgets can be placed there at the same time.
The available themes make for another cool extra feature. They are called “Scenes” here and the phone comes preloaded with several, named HTC, Social (for social networks and contacts), Work (business related), Play (music and entertainment), Travel, Clean Slate (not tampered with, so you can customize everything) and Custom 1, plus you can save your own personalized versions. Unfortunately, there is no fast switching between modes like on the latest Nokia E-Series models or the Samsung OmniaPRO B7610. Also, you are not allowed to save a theme if system settings have been altered (say volume off and Wi-Fi on)
As a whole, the great diversity of widgets, along with the many home screens means you will probably forget about entering the programs menu. Handling the device is as easy as ABC and even people who have never touched an Android-powered smartphone before will feel at home in several minutes. Actually, the Sense interface to Android is like TouchFLO to Windows Mobile – it adds a wide variety of functions and makes them directly accessible via the home screen.
It is only good words that we can say about the software. It gets on quite well with the built-in accelerometer and the screen switches orientation with but a short delay. The manufacturer has added a lot of animated effects (can be turned off) that play smoothly and look great. Unfortunately, we´ve got a single, major gripe here, concerning the overall speed. With or without the animations on, there are considerable delays on opening certain applications. For an instance, loading the calendar for a first time after a hardware restart takes about 5-6 seconds and another 2 seconds when started for a second time before finally getting almost instantaneous at the third attempt. If you´re used to simpler Windows Mobile smartphones or LG devices running S-CLASS 3D, well, the delays might even go unnoticed, but alongside of the iPhone 3GS, Palm Pre and the greatest WM handsets, the lagging is far from that. We hope this is due to a software optimization issue that will be fixed by HTC with an update soon.
Another nice extra feature of the HTC Hero is its socially-related capabilities that are most evident in the…
Phonebook and Organizer:
Like any other Android-based device, the Hero stakes on flawless synchronization with Google. Should you happen to have a tidy Google account, you will be able to transfer all contacts and related details in seconds. Creating an entry on your phone feels very easy as well and aside from the mandatory data you need to fill in, like phone number, email, ringtone and group, you can also add date of birth, anniversary, IM account, postal address etc. There is also the option to redirect calls from certain contacts directly to your voice mail in case you don’t feel like talking to particular people at the time. Contact entries can be added to your favorites and assigned a quick dial number.
Have you noticed the two info boxes that you´re supposed to add Facebook and Flickr profile information? That´s the social network services functionality we were talking about. Basically, all it takes to transform your phonebook from a slightly boring app flecked with occasional pictures into a vibrant place that reflects your social experience on the Internet is some dedication and reasonable amount of effort. This will make phone contacts appear with the photos associated to their relevant social network accounts and they get altered the minute people change them. Of course, you can assign pictures of your own choice to any contact and see the online status of your buddies. In case the updates are too many, a small digit notifying you of the accurate count will pop up. Entering any contact, you can follow the call history, all emails and messages exchanged to date as well as all relevant contact updates and albums on Facebook and Flickr. It is really hard to describe how pleasing using the socially oriented phonebook feels.
Searching in it can be performed through either the dialing menu (by name or number) or the dedicated search button. Similarly to all self-respecting smartphones, the Hero filters results by both first and family names. Actually, the above mentioned button switches between functions depending on what menu you are in, say, you search in Google from the home screen, within your entries when in the phone contacts and in events and meetings from the calendar. Still, we would have liked to see a universal search function like on the iPhone or even better, similarly to the way it´s implemented on the Palm Pre.
The phone calendar is your major weapon to fight the confusing daily grind. It can be synchronized with Google and Outlook and blends information acquired from different sources. It allows daily, monthly and agenda views, with the latter showing only upcoming events. Creating an entry is easy and you have the option to mark it as a whole day event and set a recurrence pattern, plus the cool feature that add the weather forecast for the specific day.
The world clock, alarms, chronometer and timer are unified into a single, personalized menu that is accessible via the widget-based clock. Unfortunately, the nicely-looking globe where you can pick different cities available on Samsung models is missing here, but the overall functionality is pretty much the same. Setting specific times is done through as of late, all the rage rollers and there is no option to use an on-screen keyboard for that, although we need to say the latter is actually the faster and comfier of the two. Generally, Android suffers from an affliction called lack of integrated tasks application, but there are quite a few available on Android Market. We gave TooDo a go and found it great.
The list of organizer functions is complemented by a voice recording app that visualizes the sound strength on an eye-catchy scale and offers good functionality. The integrated calculator offers several complex things like finding square roots and calculating trigonometric functions.
Both weather forecast and Yahoo! Finance make for cool extra features and allow you to properly prepare for tomorrow, letting you know whether to bring along an umbrella if it´s going to rain or a rope if you´ve gone bust.
1. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 770; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)
Wow, I thought this phone was dumb looking when I first saw, and it's still dumb looking now. It's not all about software either. I do like the 1/2 QWERTY though.
2. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 770; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)
I'm still trying to figure out how exactly this is worthy of a 9, when so many other devices with a better combo of software and hardware get 8's. You guys like Android that much? Whatever...
3. behold--me (Posts: 650; Member since: 22 Jun 2009)
why teflon on white? what a load of crap the sense ui is very nice.....best interface judging on looks and appearance. WAY better than dull plain andriod.... why not better processor? say 800 mhz like the samsung jet? all those transition effects would need some power to get it all runnin smoothly.
8. Vandro (Posts: 17; Member since: 12 Aug 2009)
The teflon is supposed to prevent greasy fingers and dirt from staining the white, soft-touch plastic - believe me, it will. Adds grip, keeps away the dirt. It seems like there needs to be some pre-modification to Android to set it up for faster processors/bigger screens. If the software does not fully utilize the chipset it is running on - for example, Toshiba's skinned WinMo on the TG01 - we end up with an un-optimized, buggy OS with a good deal of lag that looks good. *See above*
4. MTLance (unregistered)
Sluggish phones turned me off by PhoneArena ratings. Sluggish phone should be rated lower. I have my iPhone 3GS never been sluggish before and I would be pissed if that happens. Of well another HTC fail product. Does anyone know the price for HTC Hero? I mean in New Zealand here, on retailer is selling HTC Hero more than my iPhone 3GS 32GB. And not to mention you have to fork out a couple hundreds NZDs for MicroSD card. What an epic fail pricing to me here lol.
5. laseczek29 (Posts: 1; Member since: 12 Aug 2009)
I got it!!! I bought it on 13th and I what to tell? It costed mi 480 euro and it was cheaper for 250 Euro than 32G iphone 3g in Poland. I was very curious it's better to buy Apple or HTC. I've checked all reviews, he, and decided to take htc:) Impressions? Hmmm, what makes me really nervous is...speed of the device. I hope it will be solved in soon future with something like software upgrade, otherwise I will sell that phone ASAP. Why? Lagging all the time, worse that it's shown in this review...:( It's really really nervous. You buy the device to use it without any problem but switching screens lasts sometimes ages... I'm a perfect sound maniac, but no bass or treble control in menu is ridiculous! Sound quality is just average, even compering with cheap SonyEricsson phones. Touch screen is awesome, colours, widgets, etc are also nice, but when you switch them, and suddenly want to make a phone call - he - it will tak almost 3 seconds to go to phone keyboard! Funny isn't it? I hope HTS solve it very soon. I'm really curious that Apple is like HTC, I mean slow, slow? Who can tell me? Because everyone say "ah, eh, i love it, etc" but is it truth? I heard the same with Hero, but honestly I can say, it's worth maybe maximum 200 Euro, not 500. So, I think I will sell it on ebay very soon and buy new iphone 3G :) So fellas, if you don't want to have a lot of laggs, forget about HTC... BR S ps. in Poland they don't give that nice looking case and wiper...:(
6. remixfa (Posts: 13901; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
dude, an iphone, android, and for that matter, blackberry and windows, all are completely different. i have never been a big htc fan, their phones never quite work right for one reason or another. give me a trusty blackberry any day. it may not have all the fluff and sizzle, but it sure delivers a lot of great steak, where other phones, even the jesus phone, fall way short.
7. Vandro (Posts: 17; Member since: 12 Aug 2009)
Just flash the Hero ROM on to a HTC Magic/Sapphire/myTouch 3G. Same basic architecture underneath all the plastic, with a slimmer form. You'll only have to sacrifice the piss poor 5MP for a 3.2MP that can actually take accurate, but underwhelming, photos. And can you say "cheaper."
9. tomtom (unregistered)
This is an awesome phone! My friend bought his from JAB Cellular (http://www.jabcellular.com) and got a really good deal, and great service.
10. mjpower4 (Posts: 7; Member since: 27 Oct 2009)
I like the phone and the premise of it but as a first time G1 adopter previously I wouldn't touch android until they can get a handset together that has better battery life. The G1 was a good handset in theory and so is the Hero but I need to go longer than 24 hours without carrying a charger and car charger and spare handset. Shame will wait to see how further android handsets do next year