I'm a professional game developer from Wakefield, England, working as a senior programmer for Rebellion North.
I'm a married father of five and I a also sometimes do Retroburn stuff.
Martin 'Bytrix' Caine
Father. C++ Games Programmer. Cyclist. Guitarist.
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Tuesday, January 4th 2011 / Blog

A week with the HTC HD7

I've now had my new Windows Phone for a full week and thought I'd share my thoughts on the new operating system and the phone itself (HTC HD7).

I have to admit that the first time I used Windows Phone 7 it felt a little strange but after arranging the icons how you want them and personalizing the phone's settings it feels pretty nice.

I fully expected there to be bugs with the software having read around some forums prior to getting the phone but I have encountered quite a few which seem like pretty major bugs. Hopefully Microsoft (and HTC) will release updates quickly to patch any major bugs. I'll cover some of the issues I've come across below:

Corrupted start screen graphics
I've only come across this one once but it did require a full reboot of the phone to fix the problem. Basically, I was playing a game, accidentally pressed the search button then pressed back to return to my game and I got booted back to the start screen with corrupted graphics. With bugs like this it's easy to blame the operating system of the phone itself but it could just as easily be the game I was playing doing something 'wrong' or the HTC software on the phone. This video shows what happened: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGTgTqW0p8Q

Marketplace closes and refuses to open
I've had this one a few times, I'll be browsing around the marketplace reading some application descriptions and all of a sudden will be kicked back to the start page. Clicking on the marketplace icon again just shows 'Loading...' for a few seconds then closes. I've only been able to resolve this by performing a full reboot.

I've also seen a few bugs in games which were mostly due to tombstoning and resuming afterwards but won't go into those as it's the developer's fault and not the phone's.

I've also found a few things with the phone that I think could be better or things that have just been slightly annoying:

Accidentally pressing the search button
There's nothing worse than being in the middle of a game and suddenly having Bing pop up out of nowhere, yet this has happened to me a handful of times so far. When playing a game I hold the phone kind of like an Xbox controller with my index fingers around the top corners of the phone. Sometimes the fleshy part of my finger touches the search button and launches Bing, I've tried to slightly move my fingers to stop this and it is my fault, not the phone's as the search button is there for convenience.

Volume seems quiet
The volume when watching a video or listening to music (through the inbuilt speakers) seems a little too quiet. Since the HTC HD7 is advertised as a portable media player you'd think it would be a little louder (I know many people will prefer headphones but there are times you just want to watch something on the go without getting your headphones out).

Pause inbetween music tracks
I've noticed a momentary pause between tracks when listening to an album. I'm amazed at this since the media player is meant to be based on the Zune and pretty much every other media player/phone has no pause when the track changes.

No LED indications
Coming from using a BlackBerry (Bold) I've always liked how the LED indicates whether or not I have something to look at (say an email, message or facebook update). As far as I can tell LED only comes on when charging and I've not seen a setting to make it work like my BlackBerry does.

Charging (or not) through USB
I've noticed once or twice that while plugged in to the PC the phone doesn't seem to charge (or is charging very slowly). I'm not sure if this is a hardware issue or what's the cause really so I've just been using the plug-in charger whenever I need to charge the phone up and that works fine.

Tap and hold
Not really a problem, there have just been a few times where I'm wondering how to do something (such as leave a review for a game I've bought) and it turns out I just have to tap and hold the icon to see additional options. Other phones I've used in general don't have this method of accessing options so it took a few days to get used to.

Inflexibility of the start screen
This was something I knew about before getting the phone as I've spoken to many other Windows Phone 7 users, but I'm amazed at the lack of customization options for the start screen. For a phone that's meant to be uniquely customizable I'd like to have more control over the look of the icons and their arrangement. For example I'd like to see how 3 columns of icons look rather than 2 or make the pictures icon just span 1 column, as far as I can tell this just isn't possible currently.

Camera quality
Personally I don't care about the camera as I have a proper camera for taking photographs (Fujifilm F200EXR) and I'm always amazed how phones are marketed as having X megapixels and autofocus and all these other features when the CCDs they use just aren't any good. What I've found with the HTC HD7's camera is that it takes nice shots in bright sunlit areas but don't even attempt taking photos indoors or at night as they come out fuzzy. It's nice to grab a few photos when you're out an about but I don't think any camera-on-a-mobile can replace a real camera.

Price of the XBOX Live Games
I understand Microsoft's strategy with the XBOX Live games, each of them offers 200GS (XBOX Live GamerScore) which is something many XBOX players covet, and the pricing of the games seems to be in line with the price of games on XBOX Live Arcade (which also offer 200GS). However, I don't think the GamerScore is enough incentive to spend £5 or more on a game for a mobile phone. I think as the marketplace grows and some quality games come out at the lower price points Microsoft might have a hard time selling their own games at the higher price points.

Jittery notification sounds
I'm not sure what's causing this but whenever I receive an email the notification sound doesn't play correctly, it's as if the CPU is doing something really intensive which causes the sound to stutter. Hopefully it's a minor thing that can be patched as it is rather annoying if you receive a lot of email.

Wireless Sync
When I saw this option in the Zune software I though it'd be great and that I'd be able to wirelessly sync with the Zune software and deploy by debug XNA applications to the phone. Unfortunately it seems Wireless Sync is only enabled when the phone is being charged and has been plugged in for atleast 10 minutes. I understand a full sync can be quite an intensive task but it'd be great if there was an icon to click to enable Wireless Sync whenever you want as most of the time when I want to sync I want to deploy and test a game or just transfer over a new album.

Automatic brightness sometimes too dim
I have to admit I have brightness set manually on my other phone and my iPod (both set to about 80%) but I thought I'd leave the HD7 at it's default setting of automatic brightness adjustment. Most of the time it's great but occasionally it'll look really dim and washed out. I'd like it if I could set it to automatic but adjust the minimal brightness level too.

Ring or vibrate
The only two options as far as alerts and calls seem to be are ring or vibrate, there doesn't seem to be a way to simply turn off the volume without it enabling the vibrate function.

Individual volume settings
This one is more of a feature request, but I'd love to see individual volume settings for things like the alarm, ringer, email alerts, texts and games. Say if I want to play a game and turn the volume down but keep the volume up for calls and emails. Most phones don't actually allow this but I think it'd be a nice feature.

Overall I'm very pleased with my new phone and although I did primarily get it for development purposes I think it does exactly what all the adverts show and reduces the amount of time you spend flipping through screens and staring at your phone. A quick flip to the start screen and I can now quickly see if I have an email (in any of my 3 main accounts), missed phone calls, messages or application updates. With a few little OS updates I think Windows Phone 7 will become one of the big names in the mobile marketplace but it'll take a lot to build up to the levels Android and iOS have achieved.

If you found this post helpful please leave a comment below:
HTC IN PAKISTAN / 2011-11-17 17:46:30
I like this phone and plan to get one
Tags:   hd7   htc   windows phone 7   wp7