* Updated: Video of Touch Pro2, and new text messaging screen. See below.
HTC today revealed successors to its two flagship devices from 2008: the Touch Diamond and Touch Pro. At first glance, you might think they're just updated versions with bumped specs, but getting our hands on them, we noticed a lot of major differences. There are some really major improvements in the new Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2.
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Both devices ditch the d-pad and circular touch wheel for zooming (which was always awkward,) replacing that with a much larger display and a horizontal touch strip for zooming. The previous displays were all smaller than three inches; the new devices have displays well over three inches. That's a huge difference in screen estate. Not only are they larger physically, but they add more pixels, too, upgrading from VGA (640 x 480) to WVGA (800 X 480.)
Both devices are also slightly thinner, while upgrading to higher-quality materials. While the Diamond and Touch Pro looked nice, they did feel a little plastic-y. The new models feel much nicer and more solid.
The Touch Diamond2 is even more consumer-centric than before, upgrading to a 5-megapixel camera. It also addresses a huge complaint of the original by adding a memory card slot. It's a very slick device.
The Touch Pro2 is even more different than its predecessor. It has an even larger display, almost as large as the Touch HD. It also brings back the tilting, sliding display mechanism that made the Tilt so interesting. They managed to do all of this in a package slightly thinner than the original Touch Pro. Oh, and they packed in a larger battery, too.
The Touch Pro2 has a phenominal feel to it. It's slightly heavier, but the changed shape more than offsets that, so it actually feels lighter than the original. It looks sexy, feels great, and the slide mechanism feels good, too. The tilt mechanism is fully adjustable, so you can tilt it up just a little to hold in your hands, or tilt it up further to set on a desk for video watching, etc. You just tilt it where you want it, and it stays put. That display is gorgeous, by the way.
The best feature of the Touch Pro2 just might be the keyboard. It's one of the best I've ever tried. The keys are perfectly sized and shaped, and feel wonderful to type on. There are five full rows, including a dedicated number row at the top, and a dedicated space bar and punctuation row at the bottom.
The Touch Pro2 also has some unique business features. Collectively, they brand this "Straight Talk". If you're looking at an email thread among a group of co-workers and decide a phone call would be faster, there's a tool to quickly set up a conference call with some or all of those people. There's also a feature on Outlook Mobile that recognizes invitations to conference calls on your schedule, and gives you a simple button to dial into that conference call right from the appointment screen.
Building on the conferencing features, it also has a sophisticaed speakerphone that HTC describes as office conference room quality. It includes two microphones and two speakers, which enables loud volume and background noise filtering. To activate the speakerphone, just flip it over on its face. The large speakers on the back face up, and a large grille even makes it look like an office speakerphone. There's even a mute button in the middle of the back. It's really designed to be set on a desk and used by a group of people as a very serious speakerphone.
On the software side, HTC has a new version of TouchFlo 3D.
The new TouchFlo 3D has a few major changes and a few smaller ones. The smaller ones are things like a stock quote tool and improved alarm and world clock functions.
The major changes include the ability to customize the TouchFlo bar at the bottom of the screen. You can now disable ones you don't want. Another big change is that the Windows Mobile Start menu has been replaced with the main TouchFlo programs menus, just like on Windows Mobile 6.5.
HTC has also taken TouchFlo deeper into the experience, removing the need to jump into Windows Mobile certain tasks. For example, now when you start a new SMS from TouchFlo's Contacts area, you can compose the SMS right in TouchFlo, and then a whole conversation can continue in TouchFlo. In other words, HTC has created their own complete threaded text messaging function that bypasses the Windows Mobile version completely; no more jarring jump between pretty TouchFlo and ugly Windows Mobile when using SMS.
They've also updated their virtual QWERTY keyboard to an offset layout that more closely matches desktop PC keyboards. The new layout also includes arrow keys for navigating text fields, to compensate for the lack of a d-pad on the new Touch devices.
Speaking of 6.5, the Touch Pro2 and Touch Diamond2 will initially ship with Windows Mobile 6.1, but will be upgradeable to Windows Mobile 6.5 - for free - when Microsoft makes it available toward the end of the year.
Here's a video tour of the Touch Pro2:
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