Recently, I got my paws on the HTC 7 Surround, a Windows Phone aimed at audiophiles with its glorious Dolby Digital surround sound speakers. I have had this phone for about a week, and I have to say I am quite impressed with Windows Phone 7. Like all current Windows Phones, it offers Xbox Live integration, Zune, and a neat and interesting Metro User Interface (UI). You also get the marketplace with a semi-decent selection of third-party applications. How well did things go for me? Let’s find out!
Specs are as follows: The HTC Surround weighs 165 grams with the battery inserted. It has a 3.8 capacitive LCD touchscreen and sports a resolution at 480 x 800. The processor is clocked at the minimum requirement for Windows Phone 7 with a 1GHz snapdragon processor. The camera is five megapixels with autofocus and flash, and it also does 720p video recording. The battery is not the greatest with only 1230 mAH, giving you up to 4.1 hours of use. Along the top you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, and on the bottom a micro-usb connector. You get 16gb of onboard sotrage, no external sotrage, and 512mb of ROM and 448mb of RAM.
Call quality is great, and talking on speaker phone is very nice with the slide out speakers. Had no problems with that.
The phone is quite thick and feels a bit heavy. This isn’t a problem for me, as I like thicker and heavier phones, but for some it is. Mainly the thickness comes from the slide out speakers, but I am sure some people would rather have one of HTC’s nice physical keyboards.
The main catch of the surround is its Dolby Digital surround sound speakers. I’ve been using this phone for about a week now, and I have to say the speakers are quite loud. There is an EQ button which switches the surround sound on or off. In the HTC Hub there is an application called “Sound Enhancer” which is a bunch of nice preset EQs. Only problem is once you install that, the EQ button fails to work after use. Overall, the speakers are the best cell phone speakers I have heard. Not real surround sound, but it’s quite nice. The EQ also works nicely when played through external speakers or in a car.
To go with the slide out speakers, there is a built in kickstand for media. Great for when sitting down somewhere streaming music or watching movies with Netflix. You just slide the speaker out, and pop the kickstand out on the back. This is something that is becoming more standard in HTC phones.
The camera takes fairly decent photos. Sometimes, they seem to come out a bit darker than the actual setting is, but it doesn’t bother me. There is a built in LED flash for low lighting, as well. With a dedicated camera button, Microsoft claims you can go from pocket to camera in a few seconds, without having to unlock and then launch. While I thought this wouldn’t be that exciting, I actually use this quite a lot. I usually have a passcode set on my phone, and this helps taking pictures of things as they happen. If you have kids, this will be great for capturing the moments, as those nuggets move fast! Bellow is a a quick picture I took with the Surround.
The software on the phone is pretty standard. It comes with the standard apps that Windows Phones come with. There are a few preloaded AT&T apps, and the HTC Hub. Unlike Android, there isn’t much customization options. You can change the color of the tiles and the change the background color from black to white. Overall, the software experience is clean and simple. The only hiccups and choppy apps I have used are those created from some third party vendors who just have bugs and kinks to work out.
To wrap this up, I really love the HTC Surround. It has been my daily driver for about a week now, and the whole experience is amazing. While not as feature-rich as Android, the experience is something greater than Android. The touchscreen is almost, if not is, as responsive as the iPhone’s. The speakers are very nice, especially with HTC’s EQ. The capacitive buttons are responsive, unlike some previous HTC phones. The camera takes fairly decent pictures. All of these things add to a great experience. So what do you think? Is the Surround really that nice, or do you prefer another Windows Phone?
The HTC Surround is for sale on AT&T for $100 on contract, and for free refurbished.