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Review: HTC HD2

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While HTC has taken strides to improve just about every aspect of Windows Mobile, multimedia still lags far behind. The music player on the HD2 looks good, and it's easily accessible from a tab on the home screen. But Windows Mobile still has trouble managing music libraries off a microSD card, and it was occasionally a confusing process to find and play the track I wanted. Still, it was easy enough to create new playlists, and the HD2 can even download missing album artwork for songs in your collection. There's also an audio booster than amplifies the sound when you're wearing headphones. I'd prefer a customizable equalizer, but the boost is still effective.


The Music menu offers a link to download music from the Amazon MP3 store. This is an especially odd choice. Though Amazon does have an MP3 store on Palm's WebOS devices and some Google Android devices, this is not a native app for Windows Mobile. As such, the Web site requires use of the Amazon MP3 Downloader program to securely sell .mp3 files. Even free music requires the app, but there is none available for Windows Mobile. So, when the phone directs offers to let you "Shop Music Store," you're actually only able to browse music, not purchase. It seems like this feature was hastily added without real testing.

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In addition to the standard Windows Media Player app, there is also an FM radio on board that you can use with headphones plugged in to act as an antenna. Even better, there's a Slacker app preloaded, so you can play your custom Slacker radio stations over the device's network connection. Slacker worked well on this phone, as well as I've seen on any mobile device, and this quickly became my favorite music option on the HD2.


The T-Mobile HD2 launched with the new BlockBuster movie service on board, but Windows Mobile completely ruins the experience. I tried downloading a movie from the included BlockBuster app, and after some initial setup with my credit card (no carrier billing here), I was able to download "Fantastic Mr. Fox," a 90 minute movie, in just under 20 minutes over my home Wi-Fi connection. Once you start playing, you have 24 hours to watch the film as much as you want, similar to the rental scheme on Apple's iTunes movie store. Unfortunately, once I started playing, I found the fatal flaw in the system.

The new BlockBuster movie service uses Windows Media Player to play movies. They might as well send me a VHS tape. Windows Media Player uses a horrible player interface. Though the movie looked great on the HD2's screen, it stopped often and switched from full screen view into portrait view for no reason. Once, I made the mistake of stopping the movie to check my e-mail. Windows Media Player didn't remember my place, and it was impossible to skim through the movie to find my spot. The controls simply didn't work. I had to press play and check back every few minutes to see if the movie caught up. Strangely, the two included Transformers movies play in a slightly different media player, though it, too, lacked the fine controls that I like on the Apple iPhone, my favorite mobile device for watching video content.


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