Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TECH: Is a Windows Smartphone in Your Future? Meet the HTC Titan II

HTC Titan II is a solid smartphone that will complement the new Windows 8 OS for PC and Slate...

A few weeks ago, I attended a technology presentation at my job where I saw a demo of the new Windows 8 operating system that will be available on both Windows PC's and Windows slate tablets. Instead of using the traditional screen icons, the new Windows 8 OS interface uses color coordinated tiles that are suppose to make it easier for users to navigate to information.

Windows 8 OS for PC and Slate has s similar tile interface
If you have used one of the new Windows smartphones, then the tile interface used in the Windows 8 OS will look very familiar. Windows smartphones run the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system that uses the same tile interface that you will see on future Windows PC's.

I have been reviewing the HTC Titan II Windows Smartphone for the past few weeks and trying out the tile interface for myself.  Since I am more familiar with demoing Android smartphones with the HTC Sense interface, I have had a few challenges in using the HTC Titan II with the Windows Phone 7.5 interface.  But overall, the HTC Titan II is a solid monster of a smartphone that Microsoft Windows users will like.

On the left is the HTC Titan II and on the right in my HTC Thunderbolt
The Size is Enormous!!!
I own a HTC Thunderbolt smartphone that I affectionately call "The Beast" due to the huge 4.3" screen. Well, the HTC Titan II makes the HTC Thunderbolt look like a "pee wee" due to it's 4.7" screen. When I took the Titan II out of the box, I could not believe the enormous size of this smartphone. If you have poor eyesight like I do, then you will love big screen smartphones like the HTC Titan II. Watching Netflix and Hulu video on this phone is a real pleasure. All you need is some popcorn to feel like you're at the movies :)

Internet Sharing for up to 5 devices
I love when a smartphone can also be a mifi hotspot and the HTC Titan II can be used for Internet sharing for up to 5 devices. I was able to use the HTC Titan II to give Internet access to my HTC Evo View Tablet so I could do some work while waiting for my son to finish Karate class and I found the 4G service on ATT to be fairly fast. There is no need to spend extra money buying a separate hotspot device if you own a smartphone like the HTC Titan II.

The Interface - loved parts of it
The Windows 7.5 phone interface on the HTC Titan II was a hit and miss for me. Using the tiles is easy and you can pin and unpin tiles as you want so that the start screen has the information that you use the most. But my eyes had a hard time adjusting to the white lettering on the dark black background that is used when you click on tiles like the calendar, settings, and marketplace.

The calendar is very hard to read because the meetings show up in red lettering on a dark black background. Even using Google Mail was hard because the interface uses small black lettering on a stark white background. And though I was able to enlarge the text to better read the mail, the screen does not auto adjust so I had to scroll from side to side to read the entire message. Microsoft needs to makes some changes going forward in terms of colors and style to make the interface text more readable for the average user.

More Apps Please!!!
The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has a decent amount of apps, but some of my favorite were missing.  I use both Windows Skydrive and Dropbox for sharing of my information and photos with other devices.  Skydrive is in the Windows Phone 7.5 Marketplace but there is no Dropbox app which for me is an issue. While Dropbox may be viewed as a competitor to Skydrive, I think Microsoft should have all apps in the Marketplace. Customers should be able to choose a smartphone based purely on functionally not on app availability.

A+ on training
After I setup my mail accounts on the phone, I received a series of emails with instructions on how to use the phone. Apple also does email training like this when you register an Apple product so Microsoft gets and A+ in my book for utilizing email for training.

The first email contained information on personalizing and how to import contacts.  I received the second email three days after the first and this email contains instructions on how to use the marketplace, how to sync music with Zune, and how to take and share photos.

Speaking of photos, the HTC Titan II has a 16mp camera with flash for taking low-light photos and it does HD 720p video.  There is also a 1.3mp front-facing camera that takes 720p video.

Overall, I found the Titan II to be another well made HTC smartphone. The massive screen is very appealing for movie watching and the hotspot capability will save the user from spending additional money on a hotspot device. But the interface is only "so so" for me and the marketplace lacks some of my favorite apps. But for the user who loves everything Microsoft, the HTC Titan II makes for a solid smartphone to complement the upcoming roll-out of Windows 8 OS for PC and Slate.

The HTC Titan II is available on the ATT network for $199.99 with a 2 year contract.


Disclosure: I was loaned an HTC Titan II for review by HTC.  All opinions are my own.

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