HTC Touch Pro

Competition in the smartphone space is fiercer than ever. Is HTC's Touch Pro as good as we initially hoped?

The best part of the phone though is the keyboard. Last year's keyboard equipped model, the TyTn II was known as the Tilt, as the keyboard not only slid out but came up at an angle as well. HTC has done away with this rather cool feature, which does mean that it doesn't balance on the table quite as well. However, when held in the hand it makes very little difference, and the improved keyboard is a much better trade off.

The key improvement is a dedicated row of number keys that makes typing quicker and easier and key size and travel is spot on too. There's also a Shift key on both sides of the keyboard, and the Enter key on the right has been enlarged too.

All in all, there's a lot to like about the hardware on the Touch Pro. The software however, is not quite as agreeable. HTC's Touch Flo 3D interface is a good start, which essentially adds a slick looking skin over Windows Mobile Professional 6.1. The applications icons and the 3D interface for scrolling through pictures, videos, music and emails is very slick and the weather applications looks great, as goes email in an envelope preview. However, while it should be possible to scroll up and down between messages like this I found that I instead found that I usually just opened the email as soon as I touched the screen. Once you do, you're left with the regular clunky Windows Mobile interface, which means getting out the stylus.

A true indicator of the limits of Touch Flo 3D is that it doesn't present a consistent interface across the whole device. When in regular portrait mode, pressing on the on-screen soft menu buttons in any given application will bring up a list of enlarged, and therefore easy to use with the fingers, menu options, but when you open the keyboard and turn it sideways you get standard Windows Mobile menus.

The inconsistencies carry over to web browsing. While in portrait mode the default page gives you a search box. By contrast, when you open the keyboard and select the Web Search button, it fires up Google.com instead. Furthermore, in portrait mode, double tapping the address bar brings up the search box, into which you can type using the on-screen keyboard. However if you flip open the keyboard and try and do the same the box keeps on disappearing, which is slightly maddening.

Furthermore, while Opera Mobile does a great job of reflowing text to fit the screen, and is generally very good, it does seem to strain the processing power of the device and the browser has a hard job differentiating between taps to cause the page to zoom, and taps to click through on links. Try converting currencies at www.xe.com using the Opera browser as an example it's an exercise in frustration.

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