Sunday, April 11, 2010

REVIEW: Verizon HTC Imagio (Part 1) - A Great Windows OS Smartphone

For the last three weeks, I have been reviewing the Verizon HTC Imagio Smartphone. I asked Verizon if I could review the HTC Imagio because, get this, I wanted to review a smartphone that uses a Windows operating system. I am sure that all you iPhone and Blackberry lovers are chuckling right now, but let me make my case...

I cannot live without my smartphone, but I'm still CHEAP!
I have loved smartphones since my son was around two years old. I remember carrying around both a Palm PDA and a regular cell phone and hating it. I would always forget one or the other or end up dropping them both on the floor. When I found out that I could get everything in one unit, I was hooked. As a busy mom, I love having all my information in one place and I don't know how many times my smartphone has saved me by reminding me of my next business appointment or that I need to pick up my son early from school.

Over the years, I have owned the Samsung I-300, Samsung I-700, the Verizon XV6700 and the XV6900 - all Windows OS smartphones. I have also invested a lot of energy and money into getting Windows software for my smartphones. Since all of you know by now how frugal I am, I wanted to review the next generation in Windows smartphones to see if I could get all the functionally that iPhone users have and still use all my current Windows software.

Thumbs Up on the HTC Imagio
After three weeks, I can truthfully say that the HTC Imagio is one great smartphone. It has wonderful features - too many to list in one review post. So I will be doing a series of posts on the HTC Imagio so that I can talk in detail about all the neat things it can do.

In this blog post, I want to talk about the phone overall and compare it to the smartphones I have owned in the past. In future posts, I will cover the HTC Imagio's cool features like:

- Visual Voice Mail (No more calling a number to get your messages)
- Taking Photos and Video (Crystal clear on both)
- VCast Mobile TV (My son is so in love with this feature that I can barely get the phone away from him)
- VZ Navigator (Yes, GPS in the phone with turn-by-turn navigation and more)

So Stay tuned technology lovers...

HTC makes one a great interface.
The most noticeable change in the Imagio from previous Windows based smartphones is the interface. My other Windows smartphones have had interfaces that looked very much like a miniature Windows PC with a Start Menu from where you can navigate to lots of drop down menu picks and scroll bars where you need to use a stylus. The HTC interface takes away the Windows PC look and feel and replaces it with a more current iPhone-like look and feel. The Start Menu consists of all icons and, instead of scrolling with a stylus, you drag your thumb to scroll to your 24 fav app icons. It took a minute to get used to, but after the first day, I have not used the stylus at all.

When you press the Windows navigation key, it toggles between the Start Menu and the Home Screen where you can quickly use your thumb to scroll between Time and Calendar, Fav Contacts, Email, Browser, IM, Photo & Video, Music, Settings, Weather, and Stocks - very cool. My favorite thing to use is the Weather so I know how to dress my son for the day - it's the little things that can make a mother happy.

Hey, Where are my Buttons?
One of things I had to be get used to was the lack of the physical toggle button. All my Windows smartphones have had a toggle button in the center of the other navigation keys. The toggle is used to scroll up/down or next/previous, depending on the app. That toggle button does not exist on the Imagio so I had to learn to navigate apps only using the touch screen.

Bigger and Faster are definitely Better.
Now I am not saying I am old or anything, but I can say that my eyesight is not what it use to be. The screen on the Imagio is huge in comparison to my VX6700 (see photo above) - and I love it. I use my smartphone to read books and I have tons of titles, so the bigger screen makes reading so much more enjoyable. Also I can tell that the Imagio has a faster processor than my VX6700. On the VX6700, the unit would at times lose track in reading the eBooks on the SD card, so my eReader app would fail. This has never happened on the Imagio even with very large size eBooks.

Some things Never change, but they do get Better
The one thing that did annoy me about the Imagio also has happened with every Windows smartphone I have owned: running out of memory. If you are like me, you just go from app to app without closing anything down. When too many applications are open, Windows smartphones tend to run out of memory and freeze or shut down completely.

On my previous smartphones, I had to go to the settings menu and then dig around for the screen to close the apps. The Imagio has a WONDERFUL feature on the right side of the screen where you press the icon (to the right of the battery life icon) and it shows you all the apps that are running and you can shut down any of them with one click. After I learned how to use this feature, I have not had any problem with the phone freezing since the first week.

I am very Happy.
In all, this is the best Windows OS smartphone that I have ever used. The combination of the HTC interface with the bigger screen and faster processor make for a great user experience. While I did have issues with the memory, the issue was still manageable and nothing that detracted from the overall experience.

Next Up - "Mom, There's Cable on your Phone!!!!"
Watch for my next blog post where I will talk about my son's favorite Verizon HTC Imagio features: VCast Mobile TV and VCast Videos. (Hopefully I can snatch the phone away from him long enough to write about it)

Disclosure: I was loaned the HTC Imagio by Verizon for the purpose of writing this review.


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