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The Touch supports email and SMS messaging, but does not support MMS. Thus far Sprint has not released a Windows-based phone that supports their Picture Mail service, so while this was a disappointment it did not come as a surprise. All of your mailboxes are displayed on the main messaging screen, including text.

Email setup is quick and easy, the Touch supports POP3, IMAP, SMTP, Lotus Domino as well as Microsoft Direct Push when connected with an Exchange Server. When setting up a new email account the device will attempt to automatically obtain the email account settings based on the entered email, and if they cannot be obtained the user will be taken through step-by-step to input the proper servers and choose options. The device supports push email for Exchange servers, or the user can set up one personal account with Sprint Mobile Email which serves as push. Otherwise, the user can select a pull interval from every 5 minutes to once a day.

Without a physical keypad there are several on-screen options for text input. HTC has included both 12 and 20 key options; the former is used as a standard 12 key dialpad on a phone would be, whereas the 20 key is similar to the SureType keypad found on the BlackBerry Pearl. Also available is a Block Recognizer and Transcriber, both of which are forms of handwriting recognition, and a standard layout keyboard. Typing with either the 12 or 20 key touch keypads is easy enough without a stylus, and both utilize XT9 predictive text or can be used in multi-tap mode.

The lack of a physical keypad will be the biggest sticking point for many buyers, but after a few days with the device we had no issues at all. While it would have been nice to have haptic feedback confirm key presses, unless we were really flying the keypad had no problems keeping up with us. There are several great third party keypads that will make you even more efficient. We recommend SPB Full Screen Keyboard for users looking for a full keypad, or TouchPal for users wanting an advanced SureType keypad.

Connectivity and Data:

The HTC Touch has the Qualcomm MSM7500 chipset, meaning it is capable of EV-DO rev A data. At launch, however, it only supports rev 0. When the device is upgraded to rev A it will be capable of upload speeds approaching 500kB/s, and more importantly to the consumer it will support GPS services. Real world download speeds with both rev 0 and rev A are around 1MB/s.

ActiveSync 4.5 ships with the Touch and is responsible for data synchronization with the PC. The device synced contacts, appointments, notes and tasks flawlessly with Outlook. Officially there is no support for a Mac, but as always there are third party applications that allow for this.

The GSM variant features Wi-Fi, but that has been removed (via hardware, not software) in the CDMA-one in favor of a 3G cellular radio. In general we feel this is a good move, as EVDO offers greater coverage than Wi-Fi, though in a perfect world both radios would have been present.

Bluetooth 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate is on board, and the HSP, HFP 1.5, DUN, FTP, OPP, A2DP, AVRC, PAN, HID and BPP 1.2 profiles are supported. Also supported is FTP file transfer. We had no problems pairing the Touch with other devices to both send and receive files. Unlike the Mogul before it, we have experienced no issues with the Touch and Bluetooth headsets. We quickly paired the BlueAnt z9 with the touch and audio quality was good. We used the Motorola S9 to test the stereo Bluetooth and again came away satisfied, although advanced users may want to do some Googling for A2DP performance tweeks.

The included browser for the Touch is Pocket Internet Explorer. It is a full HTML browser and overall performance was good. However, even though the screen is large by phone standards, it is still tiny compared to a computer monitor so you will still find rendering issues here and there. Due to the Java VM we were able to load Opera Mini 4 and found the browsing experience to be much more pleasant, although we did have some midlet error issues when using the onscreen keypad. The error can be ignored and the program does not crash, so it serves as only a minor annoyance rather than a deal breaker.

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