HTC Hero Inverness

The Hero has foregone the rounded lines of the Magic for a return to the more squared off chin-out look favoured by the G1. It shares the Magics trackball and six-button array below the 3.2in touchscreen call answer and end, home, menu, search and back but in a slightly different layout.

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HTC Hero

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No phone maker has done more for Android than HTC. The T-Mobile G1, the first handset to run Googles open-source OS, was built by HTC, and it followed up a couple of months ago with the Magic. Now we have the Hero (or the Touch G2 for T-Mobile users).

The Hero has foregone the rounded lines of the Magic for a return to the more squared off chin-out look favoured by the G1. It shares the Magics trackball and six-button array below the 3.2in touchscreen call answer and end, home, menu, search and back but in a slightly different layout.

Hardware similarities to the Magic continue in the processor, memory and connectivity front, though the Hero adds a 3.5mm audio jack to the mix and features a 5.0MP camera over the Magics 3.2MP effort.

Makes sense

And given that the Hero also runs the same OS on an identical screen, what does it have to set it apart? In a word, Sense.

This is the first handset to run HTCs purpose-built Sense user interface, which places six themed home screens beside each other. As you would expect, Android gives huge scope for personalisation, both in terms of the widgets and shortcuts on each homescreen, and in how you interact with them.

The Menu button offers different options depending on where you are, which is almost too clever for its own good, as it takes a while for you to discover the method to its madness.

We wont waste too long on staple phone features like mapping, video and messaging. Suffice to say it has all the credentials of a serious smartphone, Android is streamlined enough for the 528MHz Qualcomm processor to deliver smart performance and with the Sense UI the Hero is a solid blank canvas for most apps to work well with (though the Android Market is still a long way from mature).

Hero vs iPhone

But the Hero is HTCs latest assault on the iPhone, and will inevitably be judged as such. There is, admittedly, the carrot of Flash support - still sadly absent from the iPhone's immediate future -but we have to conclude that the whole package falls short.

That doesn't stop it being an excellent device in many respects. But HTC has ultimately drifted into and another thing territory, offering too many potential solutions and ways of doing things to feel particularly elegant.

As befitting an Android device, its a bit of a tinkerers dream, and for smartphone first-timers willing to spend a few weeks bonding with a new device, the learning curve will undoubtedly prove worth it.

But if you already have an iPhone, you'd be forgiven for thinking why bother?

Author:Martin James

Copyright 2009 Dennis Publishing All Rights Reserved.

HTC Hero