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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  • AssBall - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    LOL! Yeah, I think he needs to lay off the Ritalin. Reply
  • morphologia - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    Seems to me you are creating the problem yourself by caring about it so much. No one is forcing you to take such exception to political imagery. All you have to do is not care and the problem magically vanishes.

    Sheesh.
    Reply
  • Fleeb - Saturday, October 23, 2010 - link

    I did not even noticed that there is a Pepsi billboard in there up until you mentioned it. :S Reply
  • Exelius - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    Given the head start Apple and Google have, what are Microsoft's prospects with the carriers?

    Carrier support is obviously very important with licensed models like WP7 and Android... As Google learned with the Nexus One, what are Microsoft's prospects in mobile? Verizon is highly invested in Android, so don't look for them to push Android phones heavily, and AT&T is still riding Apple's cash cow... I don't think the two platform's positions are a coincidence.

    Furthermore, is Microsoft prepared to potentially be the #3 mobile platform long-term? And that's assuming they can get out in front of RIM. I don't know that they have a chance of catching Google or Apple (Microsoft as a consumer brand is probably irreparably damaged and Google and Apple are still very popular.)
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    this is the #1 reason that I have right now for buying a WP7 phone. "Microsoft needs to pay the bills"??? Are you serious!?!? So their profits on Windows and Office are only for spending 1 billion on advertising and we get to eat it on seeing ads when I am searching through my email??? I can't understand the justification on not blasting MS here on this... which of their competitors do this now? This opens a door full of feces that I would rather not touch... Imagine turning on your phone to be bombarded by 3-10 ads before you can use the phone... and it starts with consumers being ok with an ad here and there while you do things not web related on your phone... "xbox live brought to your WP7 phone by Applebees- tap here to find the nearest applebees while your game loads"

    NO WAY MS... good try though. I guess it's up to Nokia/Intel with their meego to get my hard earned money... I am not paying for those ads on my phone - no way no how.
    Reply
  • Smilin - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    Which of their competitors do this now?

    Apple and Google that I'm aware of. Settle down beavis.
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    Consumers know of three key smartphone products right now - Apple, Android, and RIM. The people that do know about Microsoft's previous offerings are probably still bitter.

    How will Microsoft overcome this deficit? They actually don't offer anything more than a nice slick interface that runs integrated functions smoothly, but falters on Apps. They won't even benefit from the latest must-have hardware - the launch phones are essentially 6 month old equipment.

    RIM has always banked on the business customer, Apple with the trendy, and Android got everyone else. Well, they all have mature products now. Android was able to gain traction due to the iPhone/AT&T exclusivity which made them the only 'consumer targeted' smartphone on the other three American carriers. That was key to Android's success. There is no longer a pent-up demand for Microsoft to attach itself to.

    What wasn't mentioned in the article is the competitive landscape for these devices. They will be going against superior Android hardware and a new version of the Pre. I just don't see much demand for these outside of the Zune-faithful.
    Reply
  • lwatcdr - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    Yep it all comes down to on thing.
    Is Windows Phone 7 better in every way than IOS and Android. Frankly WebOS is also a very good mobile platform but is not getting anywhere near the buzz that it should.
    Just being as good as just isn't enough when your competitors have a huge lead.
    For me the big thing that WP7 offers will be ZunePass. If you are a music person that could be a huge benefit and it is a really good service I hear. I just don't think these devices are good enough and the lack of apps is a huge barrier.
    Reply
  • AssBall - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    Remember the microsoft compatibility though. This OS has the potential to make for excellent corporate phones. Reply
  • teohhanhui - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    Latest must-have hardware? That won't really matter to the average consumer. (And higher raw performance doesn't necessarily translate into better responsiveness, which greatly affects the user's perception of performance.) Reply

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