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By Thomas McKinnon 7 August 2009

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Navigating a Windows Mobile 6.1 touch-screen device is a bit like steering an oil tanker in choppy seas; it takes some time to get where you want to be.

While the same is true of HTC’s Touch Pro2, its flagship “oil tanker”, the handset manufacturer has worked a little magic with TouchFLO 3D that buries the Windows UI deep within the device making it easier to use than any WM 6.1 phone we’ve used before.  The once unbearable drop-down Start menu is now presented as a grid. You can even customise the layout of the grid, adding or removing apps as you please.

The WM platform is also due an update to WM 6.5 that should become available in late October in South Africa. With the supposed interface improvements, including a friendlier graphical Start menu, the Touch Pro2 looks set to be a very competitive smartphone option, especially for business users.

Hardware

The Touch Pro2 is a serious bit of kit weighing 178.5 g and boasting dimensions of 116 x 59.2 x 16.65 mm, making it one of the heftiest devices we’ve ever reviewed.

With all this bulk you get a 3.6" TFT LCD touch-screen with a native 480 x 800 WVGA resolution. While the display is a resistive touch-screen, as opposed to a capacitive like the iPhone or Android devices, it is reasonably responsive; we encountered few issues with the touch experience.

A bit like the Nokia N97 it features a tilt display. The Touch Pro2’s display is however adjustable up to about 45-degrees, more inline with the TyTN II’s tilt display. While it doesn’t feel quite as solid as the N97’s, the fact that it is adjustable makes it a little more versatile.

The Touch Pro2 also features a 528 MHz Qualcomm processor, 512 MB of ROM, and 288 MB of RAM. This is a decent offering but it could really have done with a little more onboard memory. A microSD card slot is however provided, which you rather annoyingly have to remove the back case to access.

The Touch Pro2’s full QWERTY keyboard, complete with separate number keys, is without a doubt its best feature. The keys are well spaced, offer decent feedback and your overall productivity if you email or message a lot will be given a significant boost.

Worth a mention is the Touch Pro2’s outstanding battery life. We were really impressed with the 1,500mAh Li-Ion pack it comes with. Even after a day of heavy use including emailing, web browsing and regular phone calls there was some juice to spare. 

What we weren’t impressed with was the lack a 3.5 mm jack. The lack of a 3.5 mm jack adapter makes this even more annoying considering the price of the device. This omission aside, we were very impressed with the hardware package on offer and although the device is large it looks sophisticated.

Special features

HTC is really pushing the Touch Pro2’s Straight Talk feature. The feature integrates your messaging, phone and conference call options so you can communicate with contacts on all three levels via any of the applications. For instance you can start a conference call from your email account, and even manage that conference call.

The device’s speakerphone further enhances its conferencing capabilities. You can activate the speakerphone, with noise cancelling microphone, by placing the phone face down, which is very nifty indeed.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity features the Touch Pro2 offers both HSDPA and Wi-Fi. GPS and A-GPS are included, but there is no navigation software loaded apart from Google Maps. We had no issues with setting up any of the connections and were browsing and emailing within minutes of switching the device on.

The Touch Pro2 comes equipped with an Opera Mobile browser which is superb, especially the tabbed browsing feature. We also enjoyed HTC’s “Push page” feature which allows you to cache certain web pages for quick access without the need of a connection.

Multimedia

Denting the devices multimedia appeal a little further, considering the lack of a 3.5 mm jack, is the lack of an FM radio. What we view as a standard feature on any mobile device is simply missing on the Touch Pro2. A cause for further irritation was the lack of a packaged TV-out cable even though the handset supports TV-out. The phone does support a wide variety of audio and video formats though, with its large screen, impressive speaker, YouTube app and tilt display making it a great desktop video player.

Beyond these features the handset offers a fairly standard WM 6.1 bouquet with Word and Excel document viewing and editing, a PDF viewer, calendar, and decent email offering.  There is also a rather average 3.2 megapixel camera, which does the job but could have been better.

Final Word

The HTC Touch Pro2 is unarguably a high-end, sophisticated device with a specific focus on the business market. Its Straight Talk feature and full QWERTY are a real aid to mobile productivity and TouchFLO 3D makes the WM 6.1 platform bearable, for a few months at least. Windows 6.5 will surely make this a better all-round device (if you can’t wait until October checkout Gizmodo’s guide to installing a beta). It’s just a shame HTC haven’t packed more memory, a 3.5 mm jack and a better camera into what is an excellent device.

PROS
Responsive 3.6\" touch-screen, a full QWERTY and improved TouchFLO 3D UI.
CONS
It lacks a 3.5 mm jack and is a very bulky device.
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