While Anand played with AT&T’s other launch device - the Samsung Focus - and later on the LG Optimus 7, I got to play with the HTC Surround. HTC's entry into the fray stands out on AT&T. Ok, that was a terrible pun. 

It's an interesting form factor, let's just say that. The Surround is put together like a landscape slider, except instead of a keyboard, you get a speaker that runs the entire length of the device. The speaker only slides out a mere 1.25 cm. As a result, the slider mechanism itself feels very sturdy, and there's very little space between the display and main base, not enough to slide a fingernail into. There's no spring mechanism on this slider, it’s just friction and two clicks that hold it in place. 

In case it isn't readily apparent yet, the HTC Surround's primary differentiator is audio playback. There's a small button at the top of the device which cycles through SRS surround emulation and some Dolby audio enhancements. The speaker is actually impressively loud when you’re playing back music, as long as you remember to slide the thing open. 

The speaker grille feels like brushed aluminum, and looks reasonably classy. On the back, when the speaker is slid out, you get a pop up kickstand. It's different from the EVO's kickstand - this one is narrower and rests differently. Where the EVO's is like a leg, the Surround's is like a small base that slides out. It’s just as sturdy honestly and does a great job propping the device up. 

The Surround makes a tradeoff - on one hand, you get the increased thickness of a slider, but none of the keyboard goodness. Honestly, I haven’t found myself want for a keyboard on WP7 yet, especially considering lack of landscape homepage support. There’s definitely a market out there for devices that have good audio and emphasis on music playback. If that describes you, the Surround is perfect. It’s loud, pumps out undeniably the best sound quality from that big speaker of any smartphone I’ve ever used, and even has a kickstand so you can prop it up anywhere. Of course, the Surround also doubles as a loud alarm clock too. 

Battery life is middle of the road for the WP7 devices we’ve tested thus far, but much better than the other AT&T launch device. Oh, and the HTC Surround charges very quickly as well. As we noted before, we’re going to have longer more comprehensive reviews of these devices up when they’re ready.

The First Phones: Samsung Focus Final Words
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  • Hrel - Friday, December 3, 2010 - link

    Am I the only one who sees that the "brown" option for the UI color is red? Am I losing my sight? My tv is adjusted perfectly to THX standards. All the other colors look right. Or is it just the camera you used to take the shot? Reply
  • Hrel - Saturday, December 4, 2010 - link

    As far as I'm concerned any phone that doesn't have a "fine me" feature with the ability to lock it doesn't even exist. Seriously, why has it taken SOOO long to have this? It should be standard on all phones. Now I want to be able to make my phone the key for my car. Reply
  • Hrel - Sunday, December 5, 2010 - link

    I'm the same as your dad. I mean I want to view everything is the proper aspect ratio; but I also REALLY want usefull pixels filling the whole screen. That's why I wish everything was just filmed in 16:9. I mean, that's plenty wide. When I want movies on DVD I just zoom in once so the whole screen is filled and with the exception of far right/left text in some movies I honestly don't miss out on anything. It doesn't cut off very much on the sides and really when you're filming who's gonna point the camera so where you're supposed to be looking is at the edge of view? No one. 16:9 is the only aspect ratio visual media should be in. That way everything is uniform and just fits. Reply
  • Hrel - Sunday, December 5, 2010 - link

    ie no trade offs Reply
  • natewaddoups - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    The article mentioned the confusing behavior of IE's back button... The confusion starts when you open IE from the start menu, because at that point IE throws away your browsing history, so that the back-button will return you to the start menu. It makes sense if you were opening IE to look at a new web page, but it's maddening if you were opening IE to resume a browsing session that had useful stuff in the web navigation history.

    The workaround is to switch to IE by holding down the back-button and selecting IE from the list of running apps. That opens IE without throwing away your browsing history, so that the back-button continues to work for web navigation.

    I actually removed the IE tile from the start menu, just to prevent myself from accidentally throwing out the browser history. I've always got two or three tabs open in IE, with meaningful history in each tab, so it was always aggravating to press the back button and get kicked back to the start menu.

    If you'd like to see this fixed in a future version of Windows Phone, please vote for it here:

    http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-fe...
    Reply

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