HTC Surround Full Review

Windows Phone Seven on the HTC Surround

The Review

On Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 I picked up the HTC Surround from my local AT&T crackhouse. I was immediately recruited to go shoe shopping with my wife. I spent this time getting acquainted with the phone, and murdering the battery. The phonebook will take all contacts from Facebook, your email’s book, and your SIM, as well as your Windows Live account. These can all be linked, and many do automatically. If first and last name match, all numbers and email addresses are linked within one contact profile, and that is linked to their Facebook updates. Nifty. You can use the “People” tile to check what’s up on Facebook, but that’s just like looking at your News Feed. The Facebook App works better for, well, Facebooking.

The Windows Twitter app does not notify on replies, nor does it list number of replies on the tile if you pin it. Hell, Seesmic or Beezz don’t have everything I want. Seesmic has multiple accounts, but no notifications at all. Beezz notifies, but doesn’t keep track on the tile. Also, they don’t keep running so every time you load them up they start from scratch, even though they check for Tweets in the background. Multitasking is odd.

For a video run-through on the navigation, go here.
Everything is easy to figure out. It’s either on the main screen which scrolls vertically or the secondary screen. The main screen contains items that are pinned to it, so you can put whatever you want there. Everything else goes to the secondary screen.

Games are all lumped under the Xbox Live Hub Tile. The HTC Hub has some great stuff specifically for the phone, like the Attentive Phone app,
which adds some nifty features to the phone. The Youtube app is nifty,
in that it plays videos, but you can’t upload, even via MMS or email.
That’s a bit of a WTF.

Hubs vs Tiles
There are two types of clickable items on the home screen. One is a Live Tile, which is typically a single app or contact for you stalker types. The other is a Hub, which is a mini-OS. the Xbox Tile is basically a holding pen for all games. Some in-hub apps can be run independently, like the HTC Flashlight app, but the Games are run only within the Xbox Live Hub.

Speaking of Video:

Indoor Test of Autofocus from close to far and back. Fairly quick, decent 720 quality.

Outdoor low light shot, again with realtime auto focus test.

Outdoor test in full sun. Also a test of the Stereo recording feature.

Camera has two stage button. Depress halfway for focus, then all the way to take the picture. Flash tends to wash out photos, but it’s a damn phone. 5MP is good enough for me. Again, it’s a phone. All photos can automagically be uploaded the the SkyDrive account linked with your Windows Live account.

This model has the totally awesome slide out speaker with a little button to toggle between shitty sound, SRS sound or Dolby. When the speaker is slid out, the kick stand is exposed. Works well for watching videos. Nice and loud. However, if you toss headphones on, the button still works to toggle sound quality. Makes a nice difference.

Security: Max of 4 digit login Pin? WTF, Microsoft. You can set the camera to work without unlocking, but you can only shoot, you can’t review.

Speech to Text works really well. “RSS Reader for Windows Phone 7” was understood with the TV on in the background.

Search: Bing works. However, the damn search button is great for being tapped accidentally. Also, the marketplace search doesn’t stick to apps, even
if opened from the App store.

Maps App is good, like Maps app on iOS. Gives directions but not Turn by Turn. Oh well. Search is quick, as is overall 3G based data.

What it has:

  • Good speed
  • Nice SMS/MMS app
  • Cloud Syncing (I’m all Google, and it works great)
  • Audio Quality

What it needs:

  • Copy/Pasta
  • Ability for Facebook/Twitter App to notify or have notification/reply count on front tile
  • More Apps (Pandora/Angry Birds, I’m looking at you)
  • Acceptance that there’s a damn video camera. Let me upload video to the Youtube

A quick Macro shot:

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