Judie: When HTC first sent news of their upcoming Touch Pro2 back in February, the personal note from my HTC contact said “PS: Know you have been waiting for the next Universal for awhile now…”
Heck yeah I have, and that was a bit of a tease if there ever was one!
Sure the radios, memory, processors, screen types – almost everything imaginable have been updated in newer HTC models, but as feature rich and highly spec’d as PDA phones may have been since 2005, I haven’t been able to keep myself from comparing all of them to the form factor perfection I personally found in the HTC Universal. But after waiting so long with no true contender, I’ve just about accepted that the Universal form factor will never return.
With that in mind I have turned a more accepting eye to current devices which reproduce and perfect other features of the Universal that I liked so much – its almost 4″ VGA screen, the excellent keyboard, the option of using tablet or “laptop” mode, its fast processor, its expansion ability, etc., etc.
Now that the Pro2 is becoming available, Clinton and I both have in hand loaners that HTC was kind enough to send; Drew jumped right in and bought his. So in this review you’ll get perspectives from a couple of people who might buy one and from someone who already has.
Is the Pro2 the next Universal? I for one am excited about having the chance to find out…
Drew: Given today’s out of the box experience boost, the packaging was definitely down-market, a square box and the cardboard insert holding all the pieces.
Judie: It looks like the someone used your box for punting practice! HTC sent Clinton and me not-for-retail-sale reviewer’s boxes, but it doesn’t look like ours were much fancier than yours. 😛
Drew: The wall charger, since mine is the European version with a HUGE UK adaptor, has a similar approach to the Diamond2 with the USB cable required to charge as well. And it looks like my punted box had all the same pieces yours did..
Judie: That seems to be HTC’s answer to making multiple AC chargers – I had the same wall charger with a slide in US two-prong adapter which uses the included USB sync&charge cable.
Drew: My version contained a small leather cover that looks similar to a belt case without the belt piece! I can see the need for a great case, and the accessory list appeared to have a nice one, so we’ll see what accessories actually become available in Australia! Generally a poor turn out.
Judie: Mine had the same leather case; my immediate impression was meh!, and it stayed in the box. There would be little to no need for any case if HTC would just revive the Universal’s form factor…seriously! I know everyone gets tired of me complaining about it, but I wasn’t called “Jasjar Judie” for no reason!
Clinton: HTC included a wired headset, which plugs into the proprietary USB port at the bottom of the Touch Pro 2. Fortunately this port also accepts standard MiniUSB cables so you can use standard chargers and accessories with the Touch Pro 2 as well. The headset itself is not too bad when it comes to audio quality, but there are better ones out there.
Drew: My first impression of the TP2 was that it is a substantial piece of hardware, bigger and heavier than my iPhone. The overall size is the same length as my iPhone but slightly thicker and less wide. Guess the keyboard factor, the enhanced speakerphone, and the Tilt functionality all add to the size difference.
Judie: I am very impressed with the overall weight and size of the TP2. I know that there will be those who complain that it is too large or too heavy, but the rounded edges, the substantial feeling, the overall solidness of the device is something that I prefer. The Pro2 is also rather easy on the eyes, assuming that you like a big flat screen with minimal button interruption.
Judie: This is as good a time as any to talk about the Pro2’s specifications…
|Model||HTC Touch Pro2 (T7373)|
|Processor||Qualcomm® MSM7200A™, 528 MHz|
|Operating System||Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional|
|Memory||ROM: 512 MB
RAM: 288 MB
|Dimensions(LxWxT)||116 X 59.2 X 17.25 mm (4.57 X 2.33 X 0.68 inches)|
|Weight||187.5 grams (6.61 ounces) with battery|
|Display||3.6-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with 480 X 800 WVGA resolution
Adjustable tilt scree
|Device Control||TouchFLO™ 3D
|Keyboard||Slide-out 5-row QWERTY keyboard|
|GPS||Internal GPS antenna|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth® 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g
HTC ExtUSB™ (11-pin mini-USB 2.0, audio jack, and TV Out* in one)
|Camera||Main camera: 3.2 megapixel color camera with auto focus
Second camera: VGA CMOS color camera
|Audio supported formats||AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, QCP, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, M4A|
|Video supported formats||WMV, ASF, MP4, 3GP, 3G2, M4V, AVI|
|Battery||Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
Capacity: 1500 mAh
Video call time: Up to 150 minutes
|Expansion Slot||microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)|
|AC Adapter||Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240V AC, 50/60 Hz
DC output: 5V and 1A
Noise-canceling dual microphones and speakers
Judie: This is also as good a time as any to do our traditional device walk-around. The Pro2 is basically composed of two halves, with the top half basically being the 3.6″ screen and the black plastic which surrounds it – making up a total area of roughly 4.6″ diagonal. At the top end there is an ear speaker with integrated indicator LED. To the right of the speaker is a front facing camera for video calls…if you are lucky enough to live in a country that allows them, which I am not. But you are, Drew! 🙂
Drew: I really don’t use the video call feature and don’t know anyone that does in Australia,. It is interesting though that we all look for the functionality!
Judie: Directly under the screen is the swipe area that we also just saw on the Diamond2; the Zoom Bar. Swiping your finger will allow you to zoom in and out on “photos, documents, maps, web pages, and more”, and it will also allow you to change font sizes from within certain programs.
Directly underneath are four buttons – Call, Start, Back, and End (Home). The microphone is the small dot you can just see on the bottom left edge of the case.
On the top edge, there is a power button which also serves as a screen backlight toggle.
Judie: On the bottom is the combination sync/charge/headset port, the microphone on the left, and the stylus silo on the right.
Clinton: The stylus of the Touch Pro 2 is lightweight and has a gray plastic tip and handle. Unfortunately it is not magnetic like the one on the original Diamond and Touch Pro which I think is a big loss. I loved the fact it would just snap into place on those devices when I slid it back into the silo. When you remove the stylus from the silo, the device does wake up like the original Touch Pro which is nice.
Judie: On the left side of the device there is an elongated rocker switch to control the volume.
Judie: The back of the Pro2 is composed of matte silver plastic. On the one hand, I am thankful that it is matte and not that shiny stuff which attracts fingerprints and hand grease…and that makes me crazy. On the other hand, I sure do wish that it had been composed of metal. I’ve just about given up on seeing that on another HTC device, though.
Drew: I too would have preferred a metal back piece, instead of the plastic as it lessens the ‘creakability’ feeling.. Overall it is a stunning piece of hardware and I’m very interesting in trying the speaker phone capability that Clinton mentions below.
Clinton: The back of the Touch Pro 2 is an attractive brushed aluminum with a elongated speaker running the length of the spine of the phone. This is the speaker for the Straight Talk feature – which I’ll discuss in detail in a few minutes. Inside the center area of the speaker you will find a microphone mute button as well as the lens for the 3MP camera. I’m a big fan of the diamond look of the original Touch Pro but I really like this smooth, sleek look as well.
Drew: I was particularly taken with the great screen and speaker system, really a huge lift from the iPhone and my TyTYN II. Great quality improvement.
Judie: I totally agree – the screen is amazing.I am most impressed with it when streaming YouTube video – no stutters, no pixellation, no problems whatsoever. I daresay that it totally rivals the iPhone experience, and it blows away watching YouTube videos on my MacBook Air. Gah! 😛
Judie: Back to the rear side for just a moment: the racetrack-shaped grill on the battery cover offers the appearance of an incredibly large speaker; but looks are a little bit deceiving. The speaker is simply a quite large box under the cover on the right side of the camera lens. Even so, it works incredibly well with the phone facing forward or flipped with the screen down. That said, this is one of the best speakerphones I have ever used – it gives the $6,000+ Vertus a definite run for their money!
Clinton: Straight Talk is an all new feature from HTC and one that I’m personally very excited about. Straight Talk is an audio conferencing solution built into the Touch Pro 2 that allows you to have up to 4 callers on the same call all while using the Touch Pro 2 itself as your conference desk speaker phone. This makes the Touch Pro 2 a dream for those who travel. Now you don’t necessarily have to set up a conferencing bridge using your enterprise’s solution for a quick, ad-hoc conference call. You can simply call all of the parties for the call and get to work. It’s a massive time saver.
Drew: The lack of the 3.5mm headset and the ability to jointly charge/sync and use a headset is still reminiscent of the TyTYN II, and I had hoped that this unit would have emulated the the Touch HD in that regard.
Judie: Yeah, it looks like HTC has decided to make a bit of a compromise by offering more radios, pocketable size, and better overall features. In return, we give up the ability to use our favorite headset which would require a 3.5mm jack.
Drew: The TouchFlo looks identical to the Touch HD and the occasional lapse into native 6.1 is very apparent. Not a surprise really, but I can see turning it off at some point and just using the native interface. I’m not anticipating installing SPB MobleShell at this point, as the TouchFlo comprises most of what I might need.
Clinton: – TouchFLO 3D v2 is simply fantastic. One of the complaints about the Windows Phone interface is it looks simply old compared to other mobile device interfaces. This version of TouchFLO 3D now dives deep into the User Interface and nearly completely buries the native Windows Phone UI. Now you can adjust almost any setting or feature within the Touch Pro 2 without actually seeing the native UI. Add to this the fact that this version of TouchFLO 3D is very finger friendly, you will find yourself using the stylus of the phone far less often than with previous devices.
When TouchFLO 3D came out last year with the Diamond and Touch Pro, many of us in the community were excited because it was the first step by a OEM to re-do the interface on their own. Spb Software House had done a great job with Spb Mobile Shell as a software answer to the problem as well but for it to really gain momentum, HTC or another OEM needed to take it to the next level within the device itself. You could see where TouchFLO 3D could go in the original version and now you are seeing a far more advanced version of it in the Touch Pro 2. I simply love it.
Judie: I love what HTC has done with their Home screen and the way that they have managed to refresh the Windows Mobile environment; everything for the most part is finger friendly, and as is becoming typical with HTC Touch devices anymore, I have had little to no need to remove the stylus.
Drew: There is no included storage space beyond the usual ROM/RAM allocation which given today’s trend is a bit of a surprise.. Lucky I had an 8g MicroSD card to put into the slot, which was covered by the back unfortunately.
Judie: The largest card I have is a 16GB microSD (that I just remembered I was supposed to send to Clinton – eep!), and it worked in the TP2. In my opinion and given the TP2’s form factor, this puts it into the HTC Advantage‘s league more than the HTC Universal’s. As long as you are using a larger card, the location of the microSD slot won’t be an issue; those of you with smaller cards who tend to do some swapping will likely loathe it.
Clinton: That’s okay Judie, I still have a laptop bag that I was suppose to send you! The only real, erm, advantage the Advantage has is that you have a 16GB SSD Drive and a MiniSD slot. This could techinically give you up to 32GB of onboard storage. Pretty darn sweet if you have a lot of photos or music.
Drew: I am very impressed with the backlit keyboard, Tilt function, and am hoping to replace my netbook Dell Mini 9 with this unit. It’s smaller, an adjunct to my work PC, and will hopefully require less maintenance.
I tend to leave the Dell at home more often that not, and this unit will be much more usable. The business approach of the Pro2 as compared to the Touch HD is more apparent and whilst it has all the functionality of the Touch HD, the no nonsense approach to the keyboard and Tilt function definitely makes it something more useful for typing and doing more computer like functions.
Clinton: I love the tilt aspect of the screen and the keyboard. There is no reason that this device could not be your primary device for a day trip or the like for business. Because it can handle all of the native Office applications and is powerful enough to do anything you need from a business perspective, there is no reason to haul the laptop around in my view. With my Touch Pro I’ve made such trips before – take off in the morning and come home in the evening. I think with the Touch Pro 2 I could do the same and have the benefit of slightly better battery power and a more comfortable keyboard.
Judie: This is where the Pro2 really starts to shine as an example of a possible Universal or even Advantage replacement. The keyboard is large and usable, and the TP2 – while still a slightly chunky device – is much smaller than the Universal or Advantage, but the screen is actually a higher resolution than both! Just for fun, I’ll show the TP2 next to a Universal…
It’s an exercise in futility, but imagine for just a moment if the Universal had the TP2’s specs, its larger resolution screen, the GPS, the updated BT, WiFi and 3G radios, a faster processor and the updated HTC and Windows Mobile software. Mmmmm! My dream device!!! :drool:
Clinton: – The Touch Pro 2 could absolutely be an Advantage replacement and given my infatuation with that fantastic device, this is something that should be noted coming from me! The biggest problem with the Advantage is, uh, it’s big. Now you can get all the same power and higher video resolution without the size. I still think the keyboard on the Advantage is better, but I fully admit I’m jaded. 🙂
Judie: Like the Tilt which preceded it, the TP2 is begging to be used in its “laptop” position. Unlike the Tilt, it doesn’t sit quite as solidly; due to the rounded edges on the battery cover, the TP2 may rock for just a moment when it is set down. This is not annoying, and it doesn’t give me a sense that the device is in any danger of toppling.
Drew: I will be trying to sync with both a Vista machine as well as with an XP machine to keep them both in sync. Since this is my first experience with Vista, I am quite happy to report that they synced up quickly, but I have lost my work calendar entries on my home Vista machine, we’ll see how that works out in the long run.
Judie: Since I am on a MacBook Air, I use Plaxo to keep my contacts and calendar entries synced. Downloading the necessary program over the air was a snap, and syncing between the two was done without incident. Granted, having an Exchange account would probably make this a bit more efficient.
Drew: eWallet installed quite easily, and I am trying to decide what else to install; I will go searching. I tend to be like the Apple Application user: good with an application for a couple of weeks and then I lose interest. Facebook installed quite easily as well. I’m already starting to find that the touch screen is quite good even in the Tilt position..
Judie: eWallet and Plaxo were the first two things I installed, then Google Maps with Latitude. I’m using PockeTwit at the moment.
Clinton: My first applications that were installed were Spb Wallet, Twikini and Facebook. I installed Spb Puzzle earlier this morning – that’s my latest addiction in life – and it looks STUNNING on the TP2.
Drew: As I live in Australia, I installed my Virgin SIM and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was recognised and the Internet connections were properly installed. I did need to remove the proxy setting to give uninhibited access using Internet Explorer. Opera is included on my unit.
Judie: Clinton and I have unlocked versions as well, obviously not the future AT&T versions, so I think we may have the same native programs as your retail version.
Clinton: – Included with the Touch Pro 2 are several applications including RSS Hub, the OEM version of Ilium Software’s NewsBreak (best frakin’ RSS reader out there for WinMo – you read it here!), YouTube application for viewing YouTube videos, Google Maps, Opera 9.5 browser and WorldCard Mobile which allows you to snap photos of business cards with the built-in camera and it will automagically add it to your contacts.
Judie: This is my first time to play with WorldCard Mobile, and I am very impressed!
Drew: I’m had some initial difficulty in using the touchscreen as I would on the iPhone, but can see the value of being able to use my finger AND the stylus. The stylus is a little smaller than I would have expected and a little less hefty.
Judie: Yeah, there are benefits to both Capacitive and Resistive touchscreens, but I must say that these latest Windows Mobile devices, the HTC ones anyway, really blur the line between the types. Even though it is Resistive, and thus will work with gloves on or with a stylus versus only with an actual fingertip, there doesn’t seem to be any type of delay – not like we have seen with Resistive touch screened devices even six month ago!
Drew: The WiFi function works quite well; it found my personal network easily, and I only had to type my password in once and it connected perfectly. Due to my PrePaid SIM, I anticipate using WiFi quite a bit.
Judie: I had no issues with getting on my Linksys stream, and I anticipate using WiFi a lot as well, especially when at home. Our WildBlue satellite connection is substantially faster than the EDGE / GSM speeds we get in the country.
Drew: Overall I’m very excited to be using a Windows Mobile handset again and look forward to using it for the next month at least. I know I said I would wait for the new 6.5 release, but the Touch HD and Touch Pro2 really beckoned!
Judie:I am eagerly anticipating Windows Mobile 6.5, but I have to tell you that the excellent interface present in the current crop of HTC touch based devices makes the wait much easier to bear.
Clinton: Yeah, I’m not sure what to think on this. Having seen Windows Mobile 6.5 in action it is absolutely a step in the right direction. But I also think that HTC with TouchFLO 3D v2 and Spb with Mobile Shell have set the standard really high for User Interfaces which could actually pose a challenge for Microsoft with WinMo 6.5. There are other improvements in 6.5 but that’s the biggie, and they may have a challenge.
Judie: At one of the last Mobius sessions, a longtime friend who now works for HTC asked me what was so much better about the Universal’s form factor versus the new sliding keyboards. I thought the answer was obvious: a touchscreen device that could be used in either tablet or laptop style, but with a swiveling screen that folded around and over upon itself – there was never a need for a case or cover. Everything was self-contained and as near perfection as possible.
I honestly don’t see the Touch Pro2 as a Universal replacement; I see it as more of a pocketable Advantage replacement. As such, I think that it excels.
Clinton:- The Touch Pro 2 is $779.99 and available from a variety of locations including the ClintonFitch.com hardware store. Keep in mind though that this is the European version so while it is unlocked, you will not get 3G support here in the US if you are a AT&T customer. If you want that you will have to wait until the AT&T branded version comes out in a few weeks.
Drew: That would be rockin’ deal Clinton at $779 USD! I paid $1299 AUD, which is about $200 USD more than that. In general the higher end smart phones are very expensive in Australia, and availability and competitive pricing is nonexistent. The Advantage never came to Australia for example; the Universal did but no carrier picked it up. The market here is much smaller at 21m and it’s far far away causing high shipping costs.
Europe is often a great place to get these type of units as they are generally released there first, and the competitive nature of the carriers there causes much higher handset churn. My unit was actually a UK unit that was unlocked.
Judie: We’ll be back in a few more weeks after we’ve had a chance to really break in our Touch Pro2s. In the meantime, enjoy the gallery shots and let us know if there is anything in particular that you would like us to try or check out.