Tuesday, December 21, 2010

HTC Desire HD Review

I recently purchased a HTC Desire HD to replace the Nexus One which unfortunately was starting to get a little unreliable keeping a data connection. Why the Desire HD? Well the decision wasn't an easy one, for the week leading up to the purchase, my mind was constantly switching between the Galaxy S and Desire HD. Infact if Virgin had a Galaxy S in stock when I first inquired this may have been a review on the Galaxy S. Eventually however, the Desire HD with it's camera flash, slightly larger screen, and less problematic GPS eventually one me over.

The first thing I noticed when I took the Desire HD out of the box was just how big this phone really is. I was a little concerned at first, it looked a little too big, and felt rather weighty. However, after a few minutes of playing around with it the weight didn't seem to be much of a problem and the phone fit surprisingly well in my hand. The phone also feels very solid thanks to an aluminium unibody case, which is in stark contrast to the plastic feel of the Galaxy S. While I'm on build quality one criticism I do have is the battery and sim compartments feel a bit fragile and could have been designed a bit better. I can see a lot of potential for them to break or deteriorate if constantly removed.

Lets be honest, the massive piece of glass on the front is the main calling card for the Desire HD and at 4.3inch it really is massive. Screen size is all well but unless the screen performs the extra size is rather worthless. So how does it fair against the competition? Well lets just be clear, it's more than adequate. The color representation is great, and the lower pixel density doesn't appear to subtract from the overall image quality at all. The only real issue I have, which is a rather pet peeve, is the light bleed from the SLCD in dark environments. The screen lights up the room substantially even when the screen image is black. Now that I've spent some time with both an AMOLED and SLCD screen I think the benefits outweigh the cons of the AMOLED technology, at least for my usage patterns.

General Performance
With 768MB of RAM there is no noticeable lag even with an uptime of a few days and 10+ apps running in the background. The UI is also very responsive with little to no lag swiping and scrolling. The app tray load is around average for most Android devices but in my opinion the scrolling seems to be smoother when compared to the Nexus One and Desire. All in all I couldn't be happier with the snappiness.

Call Quality
The phone clarity is also very good, it seems to handle in car calls a bit better than the Nexus One with very little to no fade out and higher clarity when traveling along the same routes. The clarity on the other end of the line is also very crisp and clear, I was pleasantly surprised to hear how much clearer voice was when listening to the Desire HD through my girlfriend's Milestone as apposed to the Nexus One.

Music and Video Payback
Music and video playback is equally surprising. Both stock music and video apps contain Dolby Mobile and SRS WOW HD sound enhancement and they really pack a punch. With even an average set of headphones I was surprised how much depth was added to the sound playback with good solid base and clear mids and treble. Another nice addition is the added DivX and XVid support straight out of the box, which is a good thing as the sound enhancements are only available to the Stock music and video players, which is quite disappointing. I would have thought it would make more sense to include them as a global equalizer rather than segregate them in individual apps.

The internet is where the larger screen really becomes a great asset, you wouldn't think a jump from 3.7inch to 4.3inch would add much, well I'm here to tell you when it comes to browsing that .6 of an inch makes a world of difference. The whole web experience is much less frustrating and I find myself using it more often than I did with the Nexus One.

As you can probably tell, I'm pretty happy with this phone. Solid performance, great screen real estate and a very enjoyable online experience. However, there is one thing I'm not happy about and that is battery life. In fact I'd go so far to say that it's rather abysmal. HTC recommend giving the battery 10 days to work itself in, and while I did notice an improvement through out the 10 days it wasn't exactly astounding. I honestly cannot see the reasoning behind putting the effort into creating such an amazing phone only to pair it up with a totally inadequate battery. I find myself having to charge it throughout the day in order to avoid running out of power by the end. Now to be honest I'm a pretty heavy user, I have auto sync on plus a few auto updating widgets and background processes so the average person may come out a bit better but don't expect miracles here.

+ Large crisp clear screen
+ Aluminum unibody design
+ DivX/xVid compatibility out of the box
+ SRS Wow HD and Dolby Mobile sound enhancement
+ Great performance
- Battery and simcard slots a little fragile
- Sound enhancements restricted to stock music and video apps
- Abysmal battery life
- Light bleed through

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