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HTC Product Launch - October 1

Touch Dual and S730
We did not miss the opportunity to take part in the HTC’s press event which took place on October 1st in London. As expected the world largest Windows Mobile phones manufacturer announced several new devices, part of its Q4 portfolio. To be honest, we were actually expecting a few more devices, such as the Phoebus and Polaris, but obviously their official launch is pushed for a later date.

The star of the show was the slider version of the launched in June Touch - the HTC Touch Dual. Originally the name was expected to be Touch Slide, but obviously, HTC did not want the customers to perceive the new device just as a slider version, but a phone with dual text-entry methods. After the extremely successful market performance of the original Touch which already hit 800,000 shipped devices so far, HTC definitely saw the opportunity to add one more device to the successful line.

From the outside, the Dual is almost identical to the original Touch. The weight is slightly increased to 4.2 oz (120g) from 4.0 (112g) in addition to increased height. Our expectations were to see definitely ticker device because of the sliding keypad but in actuality the difference is almost undetectable.

A definite minus which of course HTC did not mention is the decreased screen size from 2.8” to 2.6”. Another visible difference is the added secondary camera for video conversation, which of course is due to the fact of the added 3G support. Our expectation of quad-band GSM did not happen and the Dual is still tri-band GSM (900/1800/1900 Mhz) with single band 3G. So for all of us in the US will be able to use the phone only on 1900 Mhz band with no 3G.

The main difference in the design of course is the sliding down keypad or keyboard. The “or” is because depending on the region you live in or the local carrier preferences, the Dual will come with either standard 12 keypad or 20 keyboard. Our personal preference is definitely the second one and this is not solely because of the increased number of keys which leads to easier typing, but because of its actual design. The 12 pad variant looks extremely cheap with its clear plastic keys which are large enough but very flat for our taste. Around them are positioned four shortcuts (Windows, Messaging, IE and Clear) which the 20 key variant lacks. The actual sliding mechanism on both keyboards is perfect as with all latest HTC devices.

Moving to the software and features, one of the main differences is the added 3G support on the Dual and the truncated Wi-Fi connectivity. The controversy here is that the official HTC site and specifications list the device WITH Wi-Fi. We called Jason Gordon from HTC and Richard Nelson from HTC’s PR agency and they both confirmed the lack of Wi-Fi in the Dual.

The only area where we can say the Dual builds on the Touch is the actual TouchFlo technology. For all of you who are not familiar with it, it is just a fancy word for the interface which HTC developed to make their devices more one-hand-friendly-operated and of course not to miss the current trend of “touch” navigation (iPhone, Prada etc).

HTC Touch Dual Demo:

Talking about the iPhone, the Dual now features very similar touch image manipulations such are gallery scrolling (same as on iPhone), zooming in and out which are activated by drawing a circle on the screen and depending on the direction, it either zooms in or zooms out. The other cosmetic changes concern the HTC Home screen which is slightly different; the added tabs in the Stop All application with one showing the amount of available memory and when clicks links to the Memory application.
The other “major” improvement is the two virtual keyboard designs developed by HTC for the Dual which can be downloaded and installed on the first Touch.

Similar to all other major manufacturers which often release their devices in different colors, the Touch will be available in Arctic Silver for the holiday season and if you pray enough, HTC said will release one more color very soon.

The Dual will be launched by Orange in the UK and will cost nothing with a 35 pound plan. There is no exclusivity and other carriers will also offer it. The expected launch of all devices announced during the event is after October.

HTC S730 is the successor of the S710 Vox which we reviewed back in June. The new model keeps the idea of its predecessor and so is very similar in functionality and design, but logically moves to the next level improving the features with 3G support and tweaking the home screen interface.

In June again, HTC launched the Touch, which become widely popular because of its TouchFLO-personalized interface, which updated some parts of the Windows Mobile 6 OS to be sleeker and more convenient to use. S730 is the first WM6 Standard phone to feature similar graphic interface personalization, coming with “Live HTC Home” screen which resembles the home screen of the Touch (Dual) and the TyTN II. A variant of this interface is expected to be also available in the still-unannounced T-Mobile Shadow, which is based on the HTC Phoebus.

The S730 is a 3G-capable phone, but not really the way we would have liked it to be. It supports the fast HSDPA 3.6Mbit/s standard but as the Touch Dual only for the 2100 MHz band, which is used in Europe and Asia. We would have preferred it to work in tri-band (850/1900/2100MHz) UMTS/HSDPA networks in order to be usable in the States. This is not impossible, as we’ve already seen with the first and second TyTN.

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