HTC’s HD7, 7 Pro, and Dell Venue Pro stand out in Windows Phone 7’s ten-strong launch line-up

Htc_hd7_1 Yesterday was the big official launch of Windows Phone 7 and as Zealot pointed out, although there weren't many actual surprises, one has to be impressed with how well Microsoft pulled off the press launch and kicked off the buzz and build-up to the retail launches later this year. I am particularly impressed with the sheer scale of the launch, with a choice of ten devices from major manufacturing partners making their way into 30 countries. Quite a change from the single device and/or smaller scale platform launches that we're used to, but in playing catchup Microsoft has to hit the ground running rather than simply aim at the early adopters.

A closer inspection of the full launch line-up reveals a series of what appear to be competent, comprehensive devices that aim to cover all the bases and appeal to as wide an audience as possible. This makes sense, but one gets a slight sense of deja vu as most of the handsets tend to play it safe and echo a lot of the technology, design, and construction we have already seen this year in rival smartphones from the same manufacturers. On the other hand, three devices I am immediately drawn to are HTC's HD7 and 7 Pro and Dell's Venue Pro, previously leaked as the Dell Lightning. While not exactly new or entirely original themselves, they do appear to be the standout members in WP7's first wave.

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Simply described as a reworked HTC HD2, the HD7 is a very welcome rebirth of its previous incarnation, which was already a superb piece of hardware, but now with Microsoft's new, much improved all-singing, all-dancing mobile OS in place of the now archaic Windows Mobile. Sadly the existence of the HD7 all but confirms the fact that the HD2 won't be getting a WP7 update for those still clinging to hope. The specs, while not quite as impressive as they were back when its predecessor first hit the market, are still very competitive with a 1GHz MSM8250 Snapdragon processor, 576MB RAM, 512MB ROM, 8/16GB local flash storage, and of course that mammoth (for a smartphone) 4.3-inch WVGA capacitive touch screen. The rest of the specs virtually mirror the HD2's with the notable exception being the new ability to record 720p HD video.

Dell_venue_pro_wp7Moving on, being a QWERTY fan I'm delighted that the other two standout WP7 handsets in my opinion are contributing to the QWERTY revival we seem to be seeing in the latest smartphones. Of the two, the Dell Venue Pro is probably the most interesting design in the whole line-up with a less common portrait slider form-factor concealing a neat full QWERTY keyboard. Other specs are just as impressive including a superb 4.1-inch WVGA AMOLED capacitive touch screen, 1GHz QSD8250 Snapdragon processor, and a 5MP rear facing camera. The remaining specs have yet to be released by Dell but should be very similar to its other WP7 brethren, following Microsoft's platform hardware guidelines/requirements.

Last but not least is the more conventional landscape QWERTY-packing HTC 7 Pro. Like the HD7, the 7 Pro can be considered the latest in a lineage, following in the footsteps of Windows Mobile smartphones such as the HTC TyTN (AT&T Tilt) series and Touch Pro. The new handset includes a great looking 5-row QWERTY keyboard with a neat slide-and-tilt form factor and a 3.6-inch WVGA LCD capacitive touch screen. The rest of the hardware is very similar to the HD7, with the same 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, 576MB RAM, 512MB ROM, 16GB local storage, and a 5MP rear-facing camera capable of recording 720p HD video.

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Overall, although there perhaps isn't a real killer product in WP7's first wave in the same vein as the iPhone, Nexus One, and EVO 4G when they launched, the line-up as a whole appears strong across the board and provides consumers with plenty of solid options to choose from depending on their individual needs.

While the three devices picked out above are the pick of the litter for me, some other notable mentions should go out to the interesting HTC 7 Surround with its unique sliding Dolby Surround Speaker and Samsung's Omnia 7, which brings the company's Super AMOLED display technology to the party. What do you think of the WP7 launch line-up? Which handsets do you like and are you planning to pick one up?

[Gizmodo]
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Jeremy To

Jeremy is a former editor at Pocketables.

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