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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2010 orks, a business unit of Nuevvo Webware Ltd.
Monday, 08 June 2009 14:44

HTC Touch Cruise gets a test drive

Written by Muamer Odobasic

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Review: And handles it like a champ

 

We’ve been playing with HTC’s new Touch Cruise phone for a few weeks now, and it’s time for the results. The phone, as you might’ve known comes with a Navigation system and a couple of other interesting features, so let’s see whether it has what it takes to compete.

Packaging

The phone comes in a black stylish box but we were caught off guard by the size of the box as we expected something slightly larger than the actual phone.

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The box however, contains two smaller ones. The first box houses the phone and the accessories we’ve seen in other HTC’s devices, whereas the other box contains the charger and the phone holder for your car.

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Package Contents:
  • Screen Protector
  • 2 piece earphones
  • Car-Holder
  • Car Charger
  • Extra Stylus
  • Nylon Pouch
  • Travel Charger (Adapter)
  • USB Cable
  • Manuals + Startup Guide
  • 2 GB memory card pre-loaded with COPilot Live 7 mobile navigation

 

The First Impression

HTC Touch Cruise is one of the smallest and lightest smartphones we’ve seen on the market. It’s nicely designed with curved edges and very comfortable to use. The device is light and compact, so you’ll have no trouble carrying it around in your pocket.

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Specifications and Description

HTC Touch Cruise is a Windows Mobile 6.1 based smartphone running on Qualcomm’s 528MHz processor. It comes with 256MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM, just like the rest of the Touch 2 series phones.

 

  • Size: 102 x 53.5 x 14.5mm
  • Weight: 103 grams
  • Connectivity: WCDMA/HSPA: 900/2100MHz. HSDPA 7.2 Mbps
  • Operating system: Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional
  • Display: 2.8-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with QVGA resolution
  • Control panel: HTC TouchFLO™, 4-Way navigation wheel with Enter and HTC Footprints™ buttons
  • Camera: 3.2 MP, with fixed focus
  • Internal memory: 512 MB flash ROM, 256 MB RAM
  • Expansion Slot: microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
  • Bluetooth: 2.0 with EDR
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • GPS: GPS/A-GPS
  • Interface: HTC ExtUSB? (mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one)
  • Battery: 1100 mAh
  • Talk time: GSM: up to 400 minutes
  • Standby time: GSM: up to two weeks
  • Chipset: Qualcomm® MSM7225™, 528 MHz

The device comes with a touch-sensitive 2.8’’ QVGA screen and a four-key keypad (navigation, footprint, send and end keys) and a 4-way control wheel. Above the screen you’ll find the speaker and a small status LED.

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The rear is pretty stylish and houses the 3.2MP camera and a small speaker for sounding the incoming calls and the voice controls of the navigation program. Unfortunately, the speaker is pretty quiet, so receiving instructions while driving might prove to be a tough task, especially if there’s a lot of traffic out there. The rear of the phone seems to be covered in some kind of rubbery substance, which makes the phone feel really good during use.

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The volume up/down key is on the left side of the phone, whereas the on/off key is on top. The USB port is on the bottom of the phone, and it has multiple use - data transfer, charging the phone and headset usage, which is great.

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Interface and Navigation

As we already mentioned, this phone is Windows Mobile 6.1-based and uses TouchFlo 2D interface. The difference between the TouchFlo 2D and TouchFlo 3D is in the looks alone, so the functionality was left unchanged. We’d say that the 2D interface reacts to touch commands somewhat quicker, but the general impression we’ve got is that this device runs faster than HTC’s older models.

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Apart from the standard programs we’ve had a chance too see on HTC’s Touch models, this phone comes with a couple of non-standard ones such as Footprints, Map Search and of course Navigation, which is this phone’s main angle.

Footprints application is HTC’s app that geo-tags your photos, meaning it saves the geographical location where the photo was shot. Apart from geo-tagging, you can add comments, phone numbers and additional information. There’s an option to use Google maps to pinpoint the location where the picture was shot as well as a link for navigation to that spot. HTC is hoping for success with this app, and while we find it handy, we can’t say it’s a must-have for just anyone.

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Map Search is a new app and it’s based on Google Maps, all to provide you with a nice and hassle free means to find restaurants, hotels, museums and such in your immediate vicinity.

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The Navigation system is this phone’s greatest weapon, and we must say that we were quite impressed with the functionality. The phone we’ve received from HTC had the CoPilot Live 7 application preinstalled.

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HTC made sure that this device easily switches from the phone to the navigation system. The phone comes with direct navigation access key, whereas the rest of the accessories for such tasks can be found in the box. When the phone is placed into the phone holder in your car, the UI automatically changes looks and the screen shows a 6-option menu.

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The navigation system runs like a charm and calculates the navigation paths almost instantly, courtesy of the strong CPU. The only downside we’ve found is the time it takes to calculate the position we’re currently in as it took the phone 5 to 10 minutes to establish a link to a satellite and pinpoint our location. This of course is called the “cold start” so the GPS signal will be located much faster later on. Our QuickGPS app allowed us to download the latest GPS satellite data off the Internet, but it seems like it didn’t help much.

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Camera

This model comes with a 3.2MP camera with autofocus. Picture quality is pretty good, but only in good lighting conditions. HTC still refuses to include flash with their cameras, and while we don’t see the reason for that we’re hoping that HTC will remedy this in perhaps the next iteration.

Connectivity

This device runs on Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE frequencies at 850/900/1800/1900 MHz and HSDPA/WCDMA frequencies at 900/2100 MHz. It’s capable of 384Kpbs up-link and 7.2Mbps down-link.

Touch Cruise also has Bluetooth 2.0 and WiFi and we must say that the connection is excellent, and we didn’t lose signal once, not even in confined spaces.

However, we noticed a small glitch when connecting to the internet. Namely, when you start a browser or a program which requires an internet connection, the phone automatically connects to the internet without notifying the user or asking him on which connection would he prefer. In our case, the phone ignored the existing WiFi connection and used the GPRS/UMTS connection of our telecom operator. After you’re done with your internet session, the phone doesn’t warn you of still being connected to the internet, nor does it automatically close the connection. This is a significant drawback in our opinion, because you’ll have to manually turn Data Transfer off in the Comm Manager if you’re planning on using your WiFi spot. Unfortunately, we’ve noticed this in HTC’s Touch Pro, Touch Diamond and Touch HD phones, something we’re hoping to see fixed in the future.

Battery

The battery in our today’s test subject is Li-Ion 1100 mAh. HTC’s specs say it’s good for 400 minutes of usage on GSM or 375 minutes on UMTS networks. We were more than happy with our battery’s life as it can last up to 5 days in typical usage scenarios (a few SMS, 30 minutes of phone calls and about 1.5 hours of listening to music every day) with no need for charging it

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If you’re hard-core internet or navigation user, bear in mind that the battery life will be significantly decreased. We’d advise you to use the car phone-charger as the GPS and constant screen refresh’s tend to deplete the battery faster.

Conclusion

The HTC Touch Cruise is certainly a phone that will seriously grow on you. Its size and weight are definitely great as this is one of the smallest smartphones on the market. The navigation system with CoPilot Live 7 program runs really fast thanks to the strong CPU and enough memory. New routes are calculated almost instantly and it’ll do well on crossroads as well. We took a wrong turn only once, and the reason was serious proximity between the two streets.

Note that the navigation contains a wide selection of languages including even Serbian and Croatian, although Bosnian for instance isn’t on the list.

Function-wise, the TouchFlo 2D is identical to the 3D version, but it seems somewhat better at touch-command response times. Like all full touch phones, this phone is difficult to use with one hand only, so you’ll need both hands to draw the maximum from this device, which is of course difficult at times.

We found the lowest priced Touch Cruise in Poland and it’s priced at €388, whereas German and Austrian pricing were between €405 and €426. You can check out all the prices here.

The navigation system is pretty slow when it comes to pinpointing your current position, but once it does, it runs like a charm.

Connecting to the Internet with no user warning is a thing that HTC should remedy in the upcoming months. Until then, we’ll have to determine connection methods manually, which is quite troublesome considering that these things should be made easy in the first place.

Nevertheless, this small phone impressed us with its functionality, speed and battery life. The price is great as well since you’ll get a Smartphone and navigation in a device the size of the phone. So, without further ado we dub this device a Fudzilla Recommended piece of equipment. 


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Last modified on Monday, 08 June 2009 15:10
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