One of the gadgets on my holiday wishlist this past Christmas was the Snapdragon-powered HTC HD2 Windows phone. I wanted it for little more than pure gadget lust, so we all knew it would only be a matter of time before I gave in to temptation and bought it. Thanks to Bing.com cashback and eBay Bucks, I got a nice deal on a brand new one that just arrived this afternoon.
It's an unlocked international version, the only model currently available until T-Mobile changes that in a few months, so it doesn't work on the 3G frequencies we have here in the US. This could be an automatic deal-breaker for some, but the reason it didn't stop me is that I have no plans to ever use it as a phone.
My iPhone 3GS and corresponding AT&T contract will continue to serve as my one and only phone and voice/data contract. I work from home and am simply not mobile enough to justify the cost of a second voice/data line. So just as I did with the Samsung Mondi, I bought the HD2 to use as a WiFi-only gadget despite its mobile broadband capabilities. I also wanted to know if it would be able to succeed where the Archos 5 Android has failed for me (so far, anyway). That is, can it replace the iPhone as my go-to device for casual use when I don't need a "real" computer?
I only just unboxed my HD2 and haven't even turned it on yet, so I'm far from being able to answer that question. My hopes are high, however, because a lot of the reasons I prefer the iPhone to the Archos 5 Android as a casual-use MID are either matched or one-upped by the HD2. For example, it has a capacitive touchscreen just like the iPhone, but it's bigger with a higher resolution.
My personal definition of a go-to MID is pretty simple:
- It's a device intended solely for casual use and entertainment, something that is probably more enjoyable than functional to use.
- It isn't as capable/powerful as a UMPC or other computer, but it's not frustratingly limited either.
- The internet experience is the most important feature (I prefer dedicated DAPs for music and PMPs for video); it doesn't have to be complete in the desktop sense, but load times need to be fast, navigation needs to be intuitive, and websites must render correctly (minus Flash elements and various scripts if they're not supported or integral to the site).
- Of secondary importance to me are extra features other than multimedia playback (again, I prefer dedicated DAPs/PMPs for that): ebooks, casual games, camera, other applications, etc.
- And this wasn't a requirement for me before I had my baby girl several weeks ago, but being able to use the device with one hand has become very important to me. So comfortable and easy one-handed usage is now part of my go-to MID definition.
The iPhone already hits most of these bullet points for me, which is why it's the most-used gadget in my collection, but it doesn't handle my email very well and zooming to compensate for the low resolution can be a bit tedious. I think the HD2 will be able to fill in these gaps.
A lot of people hate Windows Mobile and believe that nothing running the operating system could ever be considered perfect, but I disagree. I'm looking for something that's perfect for me, and I've never really had any major problems with WinMo. Is it the best mobile OS out there? Of course not. But I'm comfortable with it, it has a lot of third-party applications and support, Opera Mobile is an excellent browser, and HTC's Sense UI pretties it up and makes it more finger-friendly.
Whether the HTC HD2 will become my ideal go-to MID remains to be seen, but right now I feel optimistic and eager to find out. I'll let you know how it goes.