I’ve observed that people’s choice of mobile phones is largely associated with what they intend to use it for. My wife, for example, prefers the simple Nokia phones – she has four of them over the years. For her, its the ability to make calls and send SMS or text messages. My daughter is into SMS herself but wants the option to have a camera nearby. So she tends to favor her BlackBerry Curve.

However, the nature of consumer electronics is such that we don’t necessarily know what we are getting until we’ve made the purchase. Take my brother who bought a Samsung Omnia i800 last year. Today he uses it mostly to play Solitaire (an expensive toy if you ask me). As for me, I want a device that can (1) make reasonably good calls; (2) keep all my 2,300+ contacts on Outlook; (3) send SMS; (4) I don’t have to charge every day; (5) easily syncs with my Google calendar; and (6) browse the web (for those occasions when I want to check something quickly.

Arguably, Taiwan’s greatest contribution to the world is its engineering prowess. One company that exemplifies this is HTC. In my opinion, HTC has managed to successfully corner the OEM market for windows-based smartphones. In this review I will give my impression of the HTC Hero – one of HTC’s first ventures into the Android operating system. The Hero is not a new phone. It was first reviewed way back in October 2009. I’ve posted the comments of other reviewers at the end of this blog should you desire to read other people’s thoughts.

The Hero is not my first HTC phone. I bought a HTC Touch years ago and have tried my hand on the HTC Diamond as well. The Touch is my first failure in identifying a good phone for my personal use. Its best attribute was being slim. Its worst attributes were everything else.

Likewise I wasn’t too happy with the HTC Diamond. In fact I was pleased that when Diamond 2 came out, HTC did away with the uneven back plate of the previous model. It was just way too uncomfortable to hold and also annoying when stored in your pant pocket. While both phones were endowed with TouchFlo as a way of introducing us to an iPhone like experience, I found TouchFlo to be a pain in the neck to use. Together with the Windows mobile operating system TouchFlo simply made navigating the phone cumbersome. I attributed this to the choice of underpowered processors used in both models.

To say that the Hero comes from the same family as the Touch and Diamond is a sign that HTC is maturing as a manufacturer. Despite what I think is its mistake of using a less then powerful processor, the combination of  Android 1.5 and HTC Sense gives consumers a near iPhone-like experience without the proprietary technology and design that is the hallmark of most Apple produced devices. (more…)

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A month ago I got myself a Palm Treo Pro (850 unlock) and I thought I would finally get rid of my Windows mobile phobia. As you will have note from previous entries I have tried my hands on other Win Mobile 6.1 devices: Samsung Omnia i908 and HTC Touch Diamond. This is not my first foray into a Windows Mobile device. I do have a HTC Touch and an O2 XDA Atom Life.

I even chucked my BlackBerry Pearl aside to make sure my judgement isn’t clouded by happier memories. But after weeks of fiddling with the Palm Treo Pro I’ve concluded that I am probably not a Microsoft Windows Mobile friend. While the Treo Pro has an elegant external design, a little on the heavy side but solid built, I feel that the operating system is a clunker – requiring too much learning for an average phone user such as myself.

So I took out my trusty old BlackBerry Pearl, charged it and am using it every day now. The Treo Pro is just waiting in a corner – waiting to be traded in for another device – either a Sony Ericsson (for me) or a Nokia (for my wife).

More interesting I was recently loaned a BlackBerry 8900 (the successor to the BlackBerry Curve). After my brief stint with the BlackBerry Bold I had thought that the next device I would love to review is the BlackBerry Storm. The 8900 came a few months after the Bold and is a few weeks ahead of the Storm in Asia. But being a former Curve user, she (8900) is worth the upgrade. 

The 8900 display is about the same brightness and resultion as the Bold. It keys are much better to handle. The device is fast both as a personal information management (PIM) device, and communication is crisp – I haven’t had any signal drops even in my building which is notorious for bad cell signal. 

My biggest hiccup (and remaining one for both the Curve and the Pearl) is the clunky browser experience. You don’t want to use the Pearl or the Curve to surf the Internet. Yes, you can connect to any b or g network but surfing is painful at best.

The 8900 changes the game. I am very pleased that Research In Motion finally updated the software for better surfing experience. To be fair, there is no comparison to the iPhone or iPod Touch when it comes to a portable (handheld) device to surf the Internet (yes, even the Nokia Communicator series isn’t up to the challenge), but RIM has painstakingly updated the BlackBerry so that it is easier to surf.

At the end of the day, we choose ornaments because they fulfil certain functions – they are either beautiful to have, or they are functional allowing us to be productive during moments when we need to be. RIM’s BlackBerry 8900 meets both of these criteria – at least for me.