Similarly, when we stopped writing a text message in mid-flow, we could find it again in the Windows Mobile messaging application, but, when we went through the TouchFLO interface, our half-finished draft was nowhere to be found. With more practice, we think we'd learn to master these quirks, but learning to use the Diamond2 is almost like learning to use a new PC interface, and that's just too complicated for a phone.
Although we struggled with the touchscreen interface, the Diamond2 offers a good typing experience, thanks to the huge array of text-entry options, from Qwerty and alphanumeric soft keypads to handwriting recognition, with quick gestures for things like copy and paste.
We stuck to the Qwerty keyboard in our tests, because our handwriting is barely legible using a pen, let alone scrawled with a fingernail on an 81mm (3.2-inch) screen. The letters are too small for our liking -- once again, more suited to a stylus than a finger -- but the keyboard is responsive and didn't drop letters even when we typed our fastest. The predictive text feature is also fast and accurate, helping a great deal when we missed the tiny keys.
A series of tubes
Surfing the Web with the Diamond2 is a pleasure, thanks to HSDPA and Wi-Fi connectivity, and a great built-in Opera browser. One browser feature we particularly like is the default Google search box, which shows up on the home page almost instantly when commanded.
There's also a YouTube application built into the browser, so that you can keep up-to-date on funny nerd dancing and suchlike. We had no trouble accessing videos, and they looked gorgeous on the Diamond2's screen, with some of the smoothest playback that we've seen on a phone.
Along with its Web prowess, the Diamond2 keeps you connected with stereo Bluetooth and GPS, which works with the built-in Google Maps. If all these features aren't enough, there are thousands of Windows Mobile applications out there to download and install.
The Diamond2's 5-megapixel camera did a good job of capturing our photos in good light, particularly panoramas, thanks to an easy-to-use stitching feature. Shots were somewhat noisy in low light, since there's no flash, but still sharp. In bright light, we found colours slightly washed out, but we would trust the Diamond2 to take the occasional snapshot without any trouble.
Similarly, we found video recordings sharp, but the colour reproduction and responsiveness to changes in lighting could have been better.
The HTC Touch Diamond2 is packed with features, including great Web-browsing capability and a big, beautiful screen. HTC has done its best to patch the usability flaws of Windows Mobile with the TouchFLO interface. But, while we like TouchFLO's design, we feel it just doesn't make enough of a difference once you move past the home screen. We still needed a stylus to get the most out of the millions of tiny options, and the choice of a resistive touchscreen doesn't help.
But, if you don't mind wielding the tiny wand and you'd happily trade the instant usability of the iPhone for a barn full of features, the Diamond2 could be for you.
Edited by Charles Kloet