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Review: HTC Surround with Windows Phone 7

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The HTC Surround is a solid device, but more importantly, Windows Phone 7 is a solid new operating system.

The Surround is large and heavy, but offers excellent music and video playback powers. The stereo speakers are a great compliment to the beautiful display, but don't translate to an awesome auditory experience for phone calls. The Surround had terrible call quality, and the signal performance left me with concerns.

Battery life was really good, and the camera and video camcorder both perform well for this segment. Images and movies were share-worthy, no doubt, but sometimes fell short of what the best cameraphones can do.

On the software side of the equation, the Surround is one of a number of new Windows Phone 7 devices hitting U.S. carriers this fall. Microsoft has done a commendable job of rebooting its smartphone platform in what is a clean and total break with its past OS.

The user interface is far friendlier to newcomers than Windows Mobile 6.x, and its slimmed down architecture is easy to figure out. This comes at the expense of customization, though. The mix of apps and Hubs — each their own sense of style — is an interesting way to bundle services and content. The Hubs, in particular, are mostly well designed and assembled, and offer a visually pleasing way to interact with your contacts and content.

Would I recommend the Surround? Well, I'll happily recommend Windows Phone 7 to anyone not interested in Android or iOS, or anyone bored with the status quo and looking for something entirely different.

Will consumers fall for the Surround's stereo speaker gimmick? That's really up to each person, but many might want to skip the Surround for its large size and odd form factor in favor of something a little bit thinner or more practical.

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