Interface:

TouchFLO 3D (TF3D) is awesome. The “home screen” is an interface in itself, and users will rarely have to venture outside of its environment. Of course the device is powered by Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, so once you get outside of TF3D the user will find the familiar WM interface of devices past, but like we said there is often little reason to ever leave TF3D.

Along the bottom of TF3D are several tabs. Here you will find Home, People, Messages, Mail, Internet, Photos and Videos, Music, Weather, Settings and Program. While you can just tap to select a tab, they do not all fit on the screen at once, so you will actually place your finger on the bar and slide right or left. The selected tab becomes larger and there is a transparent icon and text over the display to tell you what tab you are on as you glide across through the tab bar. It is very intuitive and slick, and works as advertised. The dedicated Home key on the pad will return you to the main tab whenever you wish.

On the Home tab the user will see a large clock, as well as any missed calls and upcoming calendar appointments. The People tab lets the user set visual speed dials for their contact list. The contact’s assigned picture shows up and the user can flip through them with a swipe down or up on the screen. Messages displays SMS and MMS messages, while Mail displays email accounts. Email messages are previewed as a letter coming out of an envelope, and again the user can scroll through different messages by flicking up and down on the letter. Internet launches the browser, but also displays the YouTube application and any user-defined favorites for quick, one touch access.

Pictures and Videos allow the user to scroll through their albums directly from the main screen. Flicking up and down moves the user through their images and movies, and tapping on one will bring it into full screen mode. When in full-screen the user can rotate the device and pictures will change orientation. From this tab the camera and camcorder can also be launched. Music again puts the media on the homescreen; the user can flip through their album art and play music, as well as access their music library. The album art of upcoming tracks is displayed behind the current one, and flicking up and down again cycles through these tracks.

The Weather tab is very cool. It allows users to add up to 10 cities worldwide and has some slick animations for the current conditions. For instance, when it’s raining the screen will appear to get drops on it before a windshield wipercleans them off. Flicking up and down through the cities plays different animations related to the current conditions. You can also pull the five day forecast for the location. If you want even more information it will launch the browser and take you to AccuWeather’s homepage.

The settings tab is in essence a skinned, watered down version of the standard WM settings screen. Settings available are Sync Data, Sound, Wallpaper, Communications (Comm Manager,) Data (to manage weather download options) and About. The user can also launch All Settings, which takes them to the WM settings menu with all the options. The last tab, Programs, is a simple launcher that allows the user to set up to 18 shortcuts to programs. It shows 9 per screen, to access the second screen the user simply flicks their thumb upward. The user can also launch All Programs, which is a skinned version of the WM Programs menu.


We really, really like TF3D. The interface is silky smooth, animations are modern and slick and it is a very practical interface. The design is simple and intuitive, and the user can forget they are using WM most of the time. In fact, we were so impressed with the interface that we didn’t even notice/remember the Start Menu until well after we were using the phone for a bit. Our only real complaint with it is that when you turn on the Diamond you have to tap the screen to launch TF3D, which takes fifteen seconds or so. We’re perplexed as to why this isn’t an automated process and hopefully HTC will address this in future updates. Windows Mobile is a powerful but clunky platform, so we applaud anything that serves to simplify and hide it. TF3D does a wonderful job of not only hiding WM, but also offering a power and intuitive tool to the Diamond.

While in the TF3D environment everything runs smoothly; animations and transparences and kinetic scrolling all work flawlessly. Now and again the Music or Picture tabs might exhibit lag for a second or so while loading the media, but nothing that took away from the experience. Outside of TF3D, however, we noticed lag while moving through the Windows interface. Given the Diamond’s increased processor, memory and improved video drivers we have almost resigned ourselves to the fact that WM 6.x itself will always run somewhat slow, though we’ll dive deeper into that later. What we’ve seen of Windows Mobile 7 looks promising, but we really hope Microsoft focuses on fluidity which is a major factor in the iPhone’s success.

Phonebook:

Outside of the People tab, the phonebook on the Touch Diamond is standard Windows Mobile fare. From that tab the user can launch the full phonebook, which is identical to what we have seen on past HTC WM devices, such as the Touch. The contacts are listed alphabetically by last name, though the list can be sorted by company as well. Along the right hand side is HTC’s Random Access plug-in, which displays the alphabet top down and the user can run their finger along it to select a certain letter and jump through the contact list. From the phone screen, as you begin to type a number it will match it with your contacts both numerically and alphabetically. For instance, if you type in 866 it will match any 866 numbers but also bring up anybody with a form of Tom in their name.

Contact storage is limited only by system memory, so for all intents and purposes it is limitless. Each contact can store a wealth of information, such as company, job title, picture ID, several different numbers and addresses, multiple emails and IM names, assistant and manager information, customer ID and account numbers, birthdays, anniversaries, spouse and children. And if that’s not enough, you can always add notes. In fact, if you’re on a call with a contact and you pull the stylus out the Diamond will automatically launch the notepad and associate the note taken with that contact.

HTC has created custom screens for incoming and outgoing calls. The outgoing screen displays the contact name and phone number at the top, and to the left of that is the Picture ID (if one is not assigned a default silhouette is used.) There is a grouping of six buttons in the middle- two rows of three- which includes Hold, Add Call, Note, Mute, Speaker and Contacts. At the bottom is a large red End Call button. The incoming screen is a bit plainer; the Picture ID is centered at the top, and below is the contact name and number. A large green Answer and red Ignore button sit below that, and finally is a Mute Call option along the bottom. The Picture ID is not quite as small as a standard Windows Mobile ID is, but it’s still not large. It is larger on the incoming than outgoing screen, and with the VGA resolution the size isn’t really an issue.

Of course this all syncs neatly with Outlook, making contact management that much easier. If the user is connected to an Exchange server two-way Outlook sync can be done over the air.

Voice dialing is handled by Cyberon Voice commander. It is very similar to VoiceSignal, but adds some advanced features such as controlling music playback, checking upcoming appointments and launching applications.

Organizer:

Again, the PIM functionality of the Diamond is the same as other Windows Mobile devices. The calendar is launched from the Home tab. It can be viewed in several ways; Agenda, Day, Week, Month and Year. Adding an appointment is simple, though not exactly finger friendly. Since we’re dealing with the standard Windows Mobile interface here it is best to pull out the stylus to add events.

It is a very advanced calendar, offering everything a user would need and expect including recurrences, reminders, category grouping, sensitivity settings and much more. Notes can also be added to an event, for instance the user can set an appointment for a meeting, then take notes for that meeting within the appointment. That way, the user can simply go back to that calendar event to find the corresponding notes.


The Diamond offers other essential PIM elements such as Tasks, Notes, Voice Recorder and a calculator. These programs are more basic and all work as you would expect them to. There are a few options available for Tasks, for instance setting priorities, reminders, recurrences and categories. Notes can be handwritten or entered via the various keypads. Other than that it and the rest are barebones, which is just how simple programs should be.

We love TF3D, and wish HTC had paid some more attention to the core PIM elements of the Diamond as well. Finger-friendly programs like One Touch Organizer and PocketCM Contacts have made life much easier on WM devices in the past, but with the Diamond’s VGA resolution they do not work properly. Hopefully the WM developer community will again rise up and offer some solutions to this problem.

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