HTC Touch Dual review
The original Touch launched as an iPhone competitor, but although the touch interface was great for viewing photos and playing music it was a chore to send texts or even to make phone calls. That’s what the sliding keyboard of its follow-up – the Touch Dual – aims to address.
It’s important to note there are two versions of the Touch Dual, so be careful when making your purchase: there’s a 16-key model sporting a normal smartphone-like keypad with three letters per key and T9 predictive input, and a 20-key version with a QWERTY keypad with two letters per key, a bit like a BlackBerry Pearl.
The latter is better for accurate text entry, but lacks the dedicated start, mail, web and back keys found on the 16-key device.
As usual, HTC has provided enhancements allowing more productive use of the touch screen. In particular there are options for launching programs, viewing and zooming images, and navigating the contacts list. But when it comes to writing emails or sending texts you’re dumped unceremoniously into the usual Windows Mobile 6 applications.
The new keyboard helps, but ultimately this exposes the limitations of a device with interface tweaks layered over the top of something originally designed for stylus operation. It tries to ape the iPhone where the finger-based screen interface goes right to the heart of the device’s design philosophy, but in this it ultimately fails.
If you can look past the Touch Dual’s image as a wannabe iPhone, and start to think about it as a serious business tool, however, it suddenly starts to make a lot more sense.
It runs the Professional version of Windows Mobile 6, so includes the full version of Mobile Office including document creation and spell checking. Although it didn’t come loaded on our review device, it’s a simple matter to add the Remote Desktop client. There’s no Wi-Fi but HSDPA means that mobile data really flies. And HTC has pulled off quite feat of engineering by squeezing a sliding keypad into a phone just 2mm thicker than the original.
There’s no denying the underlying awkwardness of Windows Mobile stops it from being a credible competitor to the iPhone, but the HTC Touch Dual is worthy of consideration.
For business people in need of push email and Exchange integration the keypad turns what was a good start into a practical business tool. And it’s a nice bonus that it still manages to be one of the sleekest and sexiest Windows Mobile devices around.
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