Monday, January 3, 2011

Mozart's 7th... An HTC Mozart Windows 7 initial review

The HTC Mozart running Windows Phone 7 is one of the newer Windows Phone models.  I was skeptical about Windows Phone (for good reason) given MS track record with horrible mobile software.  How does it fare to iOS?  And my trusty Android?

So far... right smack in the middle.

Offering live "tiles" (ie:widgets) and a more customizable interface than iOS... without the fragmented and messy myriad of options that Android offers... WP7 might just be MS's ticket back into the mobile game.

Although it's still too soon to tell, WP7 seems very streamlined.  Social networking, scheduling, and messaging integration are better than both Android and iOS.  Applications are still very scarce but the 'essentials' (being Facebook and Twitter) are there.

I like how the tiles of WP7 are customizable, and yet don't look as cluttered as iOS does with overly colorful icons for each app.  Something I wish I could customize with Android as well... so far I haven't found a launcher that can just do a basic text menu or single color graphic icons.  The weird blank bar on the right of the tiles bothers me a bit, it serves to let you know that you can swipe to the right, but from a design standpoint it's a bit off, but that's just my personal opinion.

Interface on WP7 is relatively intuitive and animated quite nicely. Animations are smooth without being annoying.  Although I do not like the iOS style expose on tabbed browser windows.  I don't like it on iOS, and I don't like it on WP7. Some tiles are 'live' essentially widgets displaying relevant information.  Like the calendar tile shows current and upcoming appointments without having to launch the calendar app.  The people tile shows photos of your contacts pulled from your phonebook or Facebook. (Both Android and WP7 offer live FB address book integration which is such a great feature since all contact info and photos are always up to date)

Voice functions on WP7 are about at par with iOS.  Both being way behind Android, but for the average consumer, more than enough.  Just press the microphone icon by the search bar and speak your query.

If you function in a Windows environment, WP7 is the more seamless smartphone option.  Outlook and Office are quite handy to have and function almost like their desktop counterparts.  Oddly, Windows Messenger is absent from WP7.

The HTC Mozart is quite nice as well.  The screen is readable even in bright sunlight.  Not as good as trans-reflective screens, but decent enough by today's standards.  Build quality is good, with no creaking or flex.  Touchscreen is responsive enough with the 1GHz CPU.  I like that the Home, Search, and Back buttons are also touch sensitive.  This eliminates the annoying Home button problem that iOS devices have.

They may be late (very late) in the game, but with over 80% of PCs running Windows, the seamless integration and ease of use of WP7 (over past Windows Mobile versions) is a very good entry from MS in the mobile OS race.  The next few years will be very exciting!

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