Touch And Go

The HTC Touch smartphone has been called any number of names since it was unveiled in the European market earlier this year, “iPhone’s rival” being just one. It’s finally made it to our shores, and if size really matters to you, then it might have been worth the wait.

The Touch is just a few centimeters longer than a credit card and weighs less than 4 ounces. Operating on the Windows Mobile 6 Pro platform, the device lets you open and edit Excel, PowerPoint, and Word documents and open PDFs. Hit or tap the start icon on the smartphone’s 2.8-inch LCD and the applications scroll into view.

What makes the Touch stand out, though, is the screen, which is enhanced by TouchFLO technology, the 3-D interface that lets you navigate and rotate the screen easily. Slide a finger across the screen to access additional features such as the virtual keypad for dialing phone numbers. Slide from the base of the phone upward to reach Windows Media Player (the Touch supports several formats including MP3, WAV, WMA, and MPEG4). You can pinpoint (with the stylus) and return over and over to a particular portion of the audio file. The phone also records video, although streaming video was much more difficult than we imagined. In fact, we stopped after several tries.

The phone offers a range of connectivity options: Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS/ EDGE/Wi-Fi. The settings for sending or receiving e-mails are somewhat difficult to set up, but to compensate, the Touch offers some alternatives. You can access your e-mail account the old-fashioned way or use Outlook with the phone’s Direct Push technology.

Although the phone is hovering around the $500 mark, expect prices to drop soon, much as they did for the iPhone. BE tested an unlocked version of the phone. At press time, it was announced that Sprint would be the U.S. carrier.

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