HTC ThunderBolt Review
The HTC ThunderBolt uses the latest version of the HTC Sense user interface, which is seamlessly layered over Android 2.2.1 Froyo. If you’ve never used it before, HTC Sense can take a bit of getting used to, but it is no more challenging than using stock Android. In fact, it’s easier. For example, you can personalize the 7 homescreens and add icons without a long-press of the homescreen. Instead, just tap the paintbrush palette symbol on the bottom right of the homescreen - very intuitive. Also included are plenty of pre-loaded HTC widgets which are very functional and further improve usability. For added customization, you can choose from 6 different scenes (Verizon, HTC, Social, Work, Play, and Travel) as each one has its own distinctive layout. If that were not enough, there are also 5 skins (HTC, Black Board, Metal, Slate, and Wood) that can alter the appearance of each scene. So for example, you could actually combine the Work scene with any of the skins. This allows for 30 different looks all together. Naturally, you can go even further by selecting different wallpapers.
The Sense UI perfectly adheres to the needs of social networking happy individuals with its Friend Stream app, and it’s accompanying desktop widget, that aggregates content from your Facebook and Twitter accounts. In addition to reading the latest messages from friends, you can even post your own tweet or Facebook status message simultaneously without the need of running two separate dedicated apps. Moreover, it even allows you to shoot a photo and upload it directly to your social networking accounts. Though it is still nice to have the stand-alone Facebook app installed, as that does allow for some extra features like direct chatting with on-line Facebook friends.
And if you love taking photos and wish to record pertinent information regarding them, you should try out the location based HTC Footprints app. Basically, it will tie in GPS coordinates to photos you've taken and categorize them based on your preference – such as shopping, dining, leisure, and others. For the constant travelers out there, it proves its value in keeping you connected with your cherished memories of places you've visited.
Unfortunately at this time, the ThunderBolt is not supported by the HTCSense.com web site, so you can’t use its features, but you can download the HTC Sync program, that can be used to sync the phone with your PC’s contacts, images, and music files via USB connection.
Even though dual-core processors are already here, the included 1GHz single-core Snapdragon processor (Qualcomm MSM8655) and 768MB of RAM on the ThunderBolt allow the software to reach its full potential, as opening programs is fast, with almost no delay. Moving between the 7 homescreens is also as fluid as can be.
Clicking on the “People” icon on the desktop or in the app drawer will bring up a list of all your contacts shown alphabetically and with their picture on the left side. This is populated by your Google, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter accounts, as well as being able to tie-in with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync accounts. Furthermore, you can import and export contacts to the SIM card. When you click on a contact, it will then open up a new screen and show all their information, as well as 6 icons on the bottom for viewing their details, messages, email, updates & events, gallery, and call history. This is all very useful, and we love the way that HTC Sense brings all this information together, yet makes it easy to use.
Organizer and Messaging:
The calendar works very well, as it pulls information from all your accounts (Google, Facebook, Exchange, PC Sync) and aggregates them to the phone. This way, when you go to the calendar app (or desktop widget), all your events are shown in a day, week, or monthly view. You can also click on them to add reminders and alert tones.
We still have a fondness for using a physical keyboard when tying a message, but the QWERTY keyboard on the ThunderBolt’s large 4.3” display is the next best thing. You can automatically setup your email for AOL, GMail, Microsoft Exchange, Verizon.net, Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo, as well as manually entering in your own POP3 and IMAP accounts. Once they are all set up, you can view your emails by account, or in a combined view that designates each account’s email with a different color bar on the left side. Naturally, you can also send and receive text and picture messages, as well as using the Mobile IM program to connect with Windows Live, Yahoo and AIM buddy lists. Google Talk continues to use it own separate app.