Messaging is simple and pretty enough on the Touch Diamond. It supports SMS and MMS, and users can set up personal and corporate email accounts. There are separate Messaging (SMS/MMS) and Mail (email) tabs on the TF3D interface, but the user can view all of their mailboxes in one place on the Windows Mobile messaging screen.

The Messaging screen allows users to view the full message onscreen in TF3D. Flicking up and down moves between messages, and tapping a message brings up the threaded conversation in the WM environment, a new feature of WM 6.1. For MMS the media shows up as an attachment, which is launched by its respective application.

On the Mail screen the user sees a different envelope for each email account they have set up. The envelope is open, and the emails appear as letters coming out of the envelope. The user only gets a snippet of the message here, but tapping on it will bring up the full message in the WM environment from which the user can reply.

New SMS, MMS and emails can be initiated from the TF3D interface, but are typed out in the normal WM environment. Email setup is quick and easy; the Diamond supports POP3, IMAP, SMTP and Lotus Domino formats and can utilize Microsoft Direct Push when associated with an Exchange server, allowing for instantaneous mail delivery. Personal account setup is fairly simple; settings are automatically obtained for many common accounts like Gmail and Yahoo and if they cannot be obtained the user will be taken through step-by-step to input the proper servers. If not connected to an Exchange server the user can select a pull interval from every 5 minutes to once a day, or just pull manually.

The onscreen keyboard remains the biggest sticking point for critics, but HTC has revamped their offerings from the original Touch. The 12 and 20 key keypads still remain (like a standard phone and SureType-esque, respectively) but have been reworked a bit. The 12 key T9 keypad, or “Phone Keypad” as HTC is now calling it, has been especially improved. There are now four columns instead of 3, meaning the dialing buttons are smaller, but the space key has been enlarged (our biggest gripe with the Touch) and the buttons are still plenty big for typing. Another large improvement is that users can now select the Full QWERTY HTC keyboard. On the Touch this only appeared when in a password field, but now users can choose it whenever. Despite the small keys it is surprisingly accurate and we were typing error-free right away. The SureType-like “Compact QWERTY” keypad remains unchanged, save for the re-skinning. Other keyboard options are the small Microsoft QWERTY pad, Block Recognizer, Letter Recognizer, Transcriber and of course third-party alternatives like SPB and TouchPal. We still wish HTC offered haptic feedback for their keypads, but at least they are easier to use.

Connectivity and Data:

The Touch Diamond is a Tri-Band GSM device. HTC claims that the quad-band radio found on nearly every past HTC device was a casualty of the Diamond’s diminutive dimensions, but we’re sad to see this move nonetheless. Because of this there will be several variants of the Diamond to support the different bands used in different markets. It features GPRS, EDGE and HSDPA data speeds, the latter maxing out at 7.2Mbit/s.

The Diamond packs a Wi-Fi b/g radio to allow for data transmission when off the cellular network. Native GPS allows the user to get turn-by-turn directions with third party programs such as Google Maps or Garmin. Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR is available for short-range wireless connection, and pairing is usually automatic so the user doesn’t have to enter in passcodes.

For now there is no U.S. HSDPA support so customers who import the device will be relying heavily on the Wi-Fi. The North American version, supporting the 850/1800/1900Mhz bands, is expected in the second half of this year. Furthermore, it appears that the Diamond will also come in a CDMA flavor and be headed to Sprint late this year.

One of the standouts of the Touch Diamond is the browser, powered by Opera. It is a customized version of the yet-to-be-released Opera Mobile 9.5, and unlike Opera Mobile 8.x it is powered by Opera Mini’s Presto engine. Browsing is, in short, fantastic. Complex HTML pages are rendered flawlessly, panning and zooming is fluid and simple, full-screen mode is automatic and it supports tabbed browsing. Pages are loaded as an overview and the user can easily drag the page to pan around. A double tap zooms in on the selected area and another double tap zooms back out. When zoomed in the browser renders text to fit the view, eliminating the need to constantly drag back and forth to read a paragraph. Rotate the device900 in either direction and the page moves to landscape view nearly instantaneously.

When not in full-screen mode there is a menu bar at the bottom with Back, Favorites, Tabs, Home and Menu. At the top of the page is the address bar and stop button, as well as a close tab button. Unfortunately it does not support Flash, and if you move the device around a lot (and especially if you flip it upside-down) it can get confused and pages don’t re-orientate as quickly. We’ve seen this same behavior with the iPhone though, and we have a feeling it can be blamed on the accelerometer getting confused. There is no zoom pinching like in Safari, but Opera has the ability to copy and paste text as well as download files. We’re sure there will be improvements to Safari on the 3G iPhone, but for now Opera Mobile 9.5 is the best mobile browser out there.

Pocket Internet Explorer is of course available as well, but we fail to see why it would ever be used.

The phone syncs with a PC via ActiveSync (Windows XP) or Mobile Device Center (Vista.) Users can choose to sync any number of items, such as contacts, calendar, tasks, favorites, notes, media and more. We tested it with ActiveSync and had no issues syncing with our existing Outlook database. Officially there is no Mac support, but programs such as Missing Sync can remedy this. The phone also gives you a Mass Storage mode option when you connect, enabling use of the device as a USB drive.

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