HTC Hero Review

Sunday, 30 August 2009

⚠️ This is an old post

It's possibly been exported and imported from at least three different blogging platforms over the years. That probably means, at best, there are broken images and links. If the post is technical in nature, any advice is probably out of date and irrelevant. Or it is really old, it was the wafflings of a teenager with too much time on his hands working out what blogging is… If it is the latter I would probably cringe if I re-read it. But it's here because it's part of my past, not my present.

You've been warned! Onwards…

I have finally said goodbye to my E70, it has been packed up in it’s box waiting to be loved, and instead moved on to the HTC Hero, also known as the G2. Android, the operating system, has been around running on several hand held devices for a while now, notably on the original HTC Dream, however what it lacked was polish. Android was a great system with much potential, yet it wasn’t quite realised with the Dream.

Firstly the design, it is a beautiful device, it looks stunning. It is also solidly built, it feels substantial; it won’t break if you drop it! It has a couple of buttons across the front which work with the design, as well as a volume control along the left hand side. It has a 3.2" touch screen with multi-touch enabled (I’ll get on to this later) and has a very nice 5 mega pixel camera stuck on for good measure. The other real beauty of this phone is that HTC have put a 3.5mm audio jack in it, meaning that any standard earphones play nicely with it.

My only really complaint about all of this is found in the buttons, they all work well, however they just feel somewhat flimsy, as if they will just stop working soon… I also never really liked trackballs on the top of objects, they all suffer from the same problem that trackballs in computer mice found; they get dust stuck in them!

Inside it has WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and HSPA (fast internet) cell chip. The memory is slightly lacking; 512mb of internal storage with 288mb of RAM which is all that the phone needs, however if you are planning to use the device to store anything else adding a memory card is necessary. The phone came with a 2Gb microSD card, however I upgraded straight to 8Gb. In other words, the internals of the phone are pretty much the same as the Dream.

One thing that always put me off buying a touch screen device is that they have almost always left something to be desired. HTC have really got the capacitive screen working well, putting it well above competition like the new Nokia N97, even rivalling phones like the iPhone or the Palm Pre.

The camera that has gone into the machine is really impressive, no it won’t replace my Canon IXUS, however it does a good job in most situations. It uses the track ball to both zoom and shoot (which I strongly dislike) however it works. The above photo at Seven Sisters near Eastbourne was taken on it’s first trip out of the box! The video effort is somewhat lacking, however it does a good enough job if all you want to do is to watch it on the screen.

For a smart phone the battery life isn’t bad, it will last out a day and a half on standard use. I have got into the habit of turning most things off when not needed to push that out to two days. Engadget have been saying that the battery life is similar to that of the new iPhone 3GS (I still think that is a stupid name).

The software is stunning, HTC have put a lot of time into really giving Android a make over with a really beautiful user interface, pretty much everything that could of been rebranded with the default Android interface has been! Having multiple home screen is also fantastic with the amount of extra widgets that HTC has put together for the device.

Much time and love has gone into the keyboard of the phone. Like the iPhone the device lacks a physical keyboard, however having copied the iPhone’s keyboard this isn’t really a problem for the machine. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the keyboard was, nothing on my e70 keyboard, however with the predictive and corrective text software enabled I can get a good speed on the thing now.

Bugs; there are a couple, that much is to be expected. The main thing that really irritates me is that when you receive a message you have to tick twenty (exaggeration) boxes to tell the machine that you have read the thing, and even then the little number on the icon doesn’t go away. The second one when making a phone call the screen turns off, which is fine, however a pain when you need to use the touch pad to navigate through menus (press one to do this, two to do that, etc).

Overall I am impressed with this phone, yes it could be speedier, however it works well. It does everything that I need it to and it does it well. The design is stunning, the touch screen works so well. I think it was a good purchase.

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