Wednesday, June 25, 2008

the phone

was spending the past few nights understanding the phone. Now that it's done, it's time to show the pictures.

before showing the pictures, a short discussion on the market situation might be useful.

market side of things
recently, the True Number Portability system was implemented (13 June 2008). As anticipated there were aggressive marketing campaigns from the 3 major telcos to attract new customers through promotions, such as free 6 months subscription from Starhub. Singtel followed. M1 introduced a new product, which is the DIY plan. However on closer look, it's not really for me since the base cost is already $16.05 with only 50 minutes outgoing airtime and 150 sms/mms.

how about existing customers? There wasn't much to do, except to offer handsets at great prices to tempt customers to stay with them for another 2 years. And offering combo plans that seemed to be attractive to consumers.

M1 and Starhub held roadshows after the PC Show 2008, to capitalize on the spending habits of our locals. And they are rather successful, i would say. As for the incumbent Singtel, it has not organised a similar roadshow thereafter - maybe it is depending on iPhone 3G to help increase sales later.

evolution in PDA phones
as some geeks may realise, the PDA phone market is getting hot since Apple's introduction of iPhone into the market segment. I'm not a fan of Apple's products, thus i can only say iPhone did what it did - shake up the segment.

because of the shakeup, we saw certain brands weakening; O2 (now MWg) and HP. Asus is trying hard to penetrate the segment with a variety of products. HTC/Dopod became the dominant player in the segment since it had much experience in the design and manufacturing of phones for O2, HP, Dopod itself, etc. Apple is gaining foothold due to its positive branding and intuitiveness of the iPhone.

many months ago, HTC came out with the Touch product line, with Touch and Touch Enhanced being introduced. It was meant to provide an alternative to the iPhone, since it provided the TouchFLO add-on to Windows Mobile. Then Cruise followed, and now Diamond. Diamond features the TouchFLO 3D, which takes over the Today screen completely. There are many things the user can do with this application - view calendar items, flip photos, listen to music, etc. There is almost no need to purchase expensive applications, making things much easier for the general consumers at large.

Samsung has been making WM phones for some time, however their products were intended more for business users. It recently introduced the Omnia i900, which looks very much like iPhone, except that it runs on WM.

the competition, of course is between HTC Diamond and Samsung Omnia. I feel both products shouldn't be compared, though.

future trends of segment
HTC is set to introduce more products under the Touch product line, which includes the Touch Pro, which appears to be a supercharged Diamond with QWERTY keyboard.

Sony Ericsson is jumping into the fray, although rather late, with the Xperia X1. HTC is the actual manufacturer for SEX1.

Apple is of course introducing iPhone 3G through Singtel in 3 months time. Thus in September, expect another price war between the planned products from the 3 and maybe few more makers.

The box

Piano black box

Free software

MapKing 2007 foc

Martin Fields screen protected

Piano black back - fingerprint magnet

4GB internal storage, no external slot

The TouchFLO 3D interface

Home tab - nice clock, alarm. Allows you to view missed calls too

See your favourite contacts with their photos here


Email, synced from MS Outlook

Opera built-into the ROM, supports touch features

3.2mp camera is finally autofocus and of decent quality


This Weather tab is rather buggy. HTC needs to fix it.

Adjustment of settings here

Shortcuts to programs

Classic Today screen without TouchFLO 3D

Comparison of graphics quality between Diamond and Touch Enhanced

TouchFLO 3D
do note for novice users - the application is actually an item in the Today screen. When you show it in Today screen, the rest of the items are removed. Essentially, it's a nice looking skin over the Windows Mobile operating system that provides linkages to the various components, such as calendar, messages, photos, music, etc.

since it's the first version of the TF3D, the latter is not customisable as yet. For example, the tabs cannot be shifted or removed. The calendar listing cannot be customised, such as showing next X days. Replying of the sms is not done in TF3D as well.

it's also a resource guzzler. In the first ROM version, the Diamond was struggling despite a speedy 500MHz class processor, and going through the tabs was laggy and time consuming. Many registry "tweaks" had to be done in order for the device to be usable. In the second ROM version 1.37, the situation improved, although there are still problems. Such as...

- upon incoming SMS and the device is in standby mode, there won't be any notification, except for a message tone. The message tone wasn't even there in the first batch release. The screen stays off, vibration turned off by default. You need to turn the device on, then the alert is shown. A registry tweak is still required to wake the device up upon incoming SMS.

more info of the second ROM here.

- upon full charge, i turned on the phone hoping to see my Today screen. Only to see the bootup screen.... *pout*

i would touch on the cons first, since any product has their shortcomings.

- battery life. Some people detest short battery lives, and i'm one of them. I dislike the idea of the battery going from 100% to 5-10% at the end of the day. It distorts the usability of the device - it's supposed to play music, chat on the phone, surf net with comfortable uptime. If the device dies with only a moderate workload in a day, it's not worth to buy. And Diamond sadly has this problem because of the meagre battery rating of 900mah.

- infancy stage of TF3D. The TouchFLO 3D is expected to be improved by HTC, since this is the first phone featuring it. HTC should be able to deliver a better version in the upcoming Touch Pro, so for those "waiters" there's no harm waiting!

- no external storage. 4GB internal storage is sufficient for me, but i'd prefer expandable storage. For example, i can swap out the external storage and insert it into a card reader for usage at my PC. Samsung's Omnia wins a big margin by offering a 16GB internal storage + microSD slot here.

now some pleasing stuff.

- form factor. The Samsung Omnia is not even close to being lightweight, not even comparable to the ultra-slim series of their product line. Thus the 2 products shouldn't be compared, because the size sets them apart. The Diamond packs a great deal of functionalities into a deadly slim form factor.

- improved camera. Compared to Touch, the 3.2mp offers AF, although there's no flashlight. But the quality has greatly improved. Of course, Samsung Omnia has 5mp!

- VGA screen. The 640x480 graphics is rather brilliant. Look at the comparison photo between Diamond and Touch Enhanced and you get my meaning. If you really have to compare Samsung's Omnia (240x400), yup the latter still loses in this department.

verdict? I'm on the whole happy with the Diamond, and especially since after i removed TouchFLO 3D from the Today screen. It is a decent performer with everything i need now.

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