Friday, June 27, 2008

HTC @ Digital Experience!

*For those that weren't aware, has recently asked me join their team. I'll still be posting more of my personal opinions and more technical thoughts here, but much of my writing will be posted in both places. So, in case you see an identical article under someone named "Mordy" over there, yes... it's THAT Mordy.

Thanks to my recent connections with and its creator Justin Oberman, I was invited to attend the "Digital Experience!" technology showcase in NYC this past week.

I was particularly excited to hear that HTC was showcasing some of their new handsets at this event, especially since the “underground” Pocket PC community has already aquired the unreleased rom for the new cdma Diamond and extracted the software. I was playing with some of the unreleased apps on my handset, and I wondered what HTC would think of that if I showed them...

So, the day of the event I flashed my phone with the latest "bleeding edge" firmware (at the time, the rom I chose was no2chem's 5069k from, expecting to wow the HTC reps with what the underground development community has done with their hardware.
Instead of shocking the HTC reps, however, I was thrown off guard by actually recognizing the rep behind the table- It was Eric Lin of Phonescoop review fame.

I've actually seen Eric's mug on many youtube phone reviews, sometimes posting my own counter-video to comment on something he said. I wasn't exactly expecting to meet this guy in real life, much less find out he now works for HTC!

A sample phone scoop video with Eric, maybe some of you recognize him:

Eric knows his phones, but since he's only been with HTC about 6 months, he didn't seem to be able to offer much more than the normal "scripted/canned" answers that I knew and expected to my questions. In fact, when I pointed to the Sprint Mogul on display and called it the Titan, he wasn't familiar with the name.
For those that don't know, HTC creates OEM devices that get repackaged under various names and outer guises, yet are often the same phone under the hood. For example, the Sprint Mogul, Verizon VX6800 and P4000 are all really the HTC Titan, only resold with different names and often modified outer casing. The development communities tend to call devices by their internal HTC name since its the easiest way to keep track.
At first he thought I meant the Tilt on display, offering to correct me in calling it the Kaiser, or TytnII, sucessor of the original HTC Tytn.
Being the mobile enthusiast that I am, however, I pointed out that yes, the Tytn is an older GSM device, but the Titan is a current CDMA phone, closer to the Kaiser in generational hardware, although often confused with the Tytn due to name similarity.
HTC devices get rebranded all over the market, so its not surprising that people get them confused or that even HTC employees can't keep track. But I would have thought they'd know their own internal names of hardware.
But enough about Eric, he's a great guy and I hope to bump into him again soon.

Meanwhile, I got to play with the REAL HTC Diamond instead of just using parts of its software on my device. I gotta say, its pretty. If you're a Windows Mobile fan, you've already heard about its new touchflo3D eye candy, fabulous VGA (640x480) screen, touch-scrolling d-pad which can be used as zoom controls, and gyroscopic level sensors (which apple calls "accelerometers") that not only detect orientation, but can be used to play a nifty little virtual labrynth-style marble game, where you tilt the phone to navigate a marble with simulated gravity. That's cool.
The phone is actually smaller than it seems in pictures, has a nice glossy finish, and a crisp screen.

However my personal opinion is that the HTC Diamond seemed to lag a bit in its responsiveness. Sure, it was pretty and full of eye candy, but it wasn't as smooth and quick as I would have hoped, in fact the Sprint HTC Touch next to it seemed to be faster despite being previous-generation hardware.
Now, in defense of this device, it WAS a demo unit, and it appeared that someone had already loaded up a pop3 email address with over 200 new emails waiting. Floor models always get a bit abused, so its possible (especially with Windows Mobile) that the lag and slow downs were caused by someone messing around a bit.

I would like to share one more thing that Eric told me. Before I moved on to see more of the show, I asked him about the HTC Dream and the conceptual Android devices.
He wasn't allowed to share much information with me, but he did tell me that he played with one, and that it WAS in fact very cool. He seemed pretty enthusiastic about that, so here's to hoping HTC cranks out a real winner when Android launches...

For more of my take on the Digital Experience! show, check for an entry on this coming week.