Hands-On: HTC Merge
HTC's Merge world phone for Verizon Wireless was on hand at CTIA. Here are our initial thoughts about HTC's world-roaming CDMA/GSM wunderfon.
HTC announced the Merge in late February, and it will be sold — at least initially — by Verizon Wireless. It's one of the first Android devices that is a world phone, and can use both Verizon's CDMA network in the U.S. and roam onto the GSM-based networks of European operators.
The Merge is a sideways slider, offering a full QWERTY keyboard for typing. As is typical for this type of device, it a bit thick and heavy. The design is standard HTC, with brownish greys, metals and glass. As attractive as I think HTC's devices are, they are beginning to lose a little bit of their individuality. The materials all felt good, though, and the construction was top-notch.
The feel of the Merge in the hand is really nice. It's got a solid feel to it, and the edges are all nicely rounded and don't dig into your hand at all. It will fit into a pocket pretty well, though its weight will be noticeable. The volume toggle, on the right side of the phone, is a thin sliver. The button barely offered any feedback at all.
The slider mechanism was a little tough. Either it wasn't well-oiled, or its a bit stiff due to its pre-production nature. Either way, it was tough to push open with a single hand. I prefer to use one hand when opening phones. Once open, you have access to the large QWERTY keyboard.
The keyboard is very roomy, but they keys are somewhat flat and have little travel and feedback. I am not a fan of sideways sliders because I don't like the width of the keyboard. However, the Merge's keyboard won't be difficult for people to master. I wish the keys had a slightly better feel to them, but it was by no means terrible.
The user interface is HTC's Sense on top of Android 2.2. The UI was hella flakey on the unit HTC had with them. It was stuttery, crashy, and didn't really want to work properly. When it did, we noticed no changes when compared to other HTC Sense handsets.
For the business user who wants a keyboard and needs to be able to roam between the U.S. and Europe, there are certainly worse choices than the Merge.