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15/10/2010

#yn-ytech-gadget-banner img { display:block; } Hands-on with the HTC's HD7 Windows Phone for T-Mobile

Now this is more like it. Armed with a big, beautiful 4.3-inch display, similar to those on the Android-powered HTC Evo 4G and the Motorola Droid X, the HTC HD7 is the one upcoming Windows Phone 7 handset that left me with a serious case of gadget lust Monday — well, save for one key missing feature, that is.

Don’t get me wrong — the HTC Surround, Samsung Focus and LG Quantum (all of which will be debuting on AT&T in the next few weeks; ) look like impressive handsets, particularly the Surround (with its slide-out surround speaker module) and the Focus (with its 4-inch Super AMOLED display).But the HD7 is something else, mainly thanks to its whopper of a screen — all 4.3 inches of it, same as on the two of the most drool-worthy Android phones, the Evo 4G (on Sprint) and the Droid X (for Verizon Wireless).Boasting a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and a dual-LED flash, not to mention a 1GHz Snapdragon processor under the hood, the slim and relatively lightweight (or at least, it felt light compared with the Evo and the Droid X) HD7 makes for one of the most striking handsets I’ve seen, even forgetting for a moment that it’s running on Microsoft’s new but unproved Windows Phone 7 OS.The HD7’s mammoth display looks great — bright, vivid, hardly any sign of pixel structure that I could see. I also noticed during my brief hands-on test drive that performance on the HD7 was excellent, with the various Windows Phone live "tiles" swirling in and out of view with nary a hitch. (It’s worth noting, though, that performance on all the Windows Phone devices I tested today was pleasingly snappy, pretty much across the board.)Set for release in mid-November — no exact date or pricing yet (and indeed, it’ll be interesting to see if the phone hews tofor its Windows Phone 7 devices) — the HD7 looks like it’ll make an excellent mobile video companion, with T-Mobile promising access to its T-Mobile TV app (think clips from ABC News NOW, Fox Sports, PBS Kids and Azteca America) as well as the upcoming Netflix streaming app for Windows Phone. I also love the sturdy metal frame on the phone’s 5-megapixel camera that doubles as a fold-out kickstand.Another interesting new app that’ll ship on the HD7: T-Mobile Family Room, which the carrier says will let family members write and post notes on a "virtual chalkboard" and share items like calendar events and pictures, complete with real-time notifications whenever someone adds a new post. That sounds a little like T-Mobile’s personalized take on Facebook — not hugely inspiring, I guess, but I’ll reserve judgment until I see the app in action.So far, so good, but here’s the disappointing part: no support for T-Mobile’s speedy new HSPA+ network, which promises 4G-type data speeds. Too bad, considering that two of HTC’s latest Android phones — theand the— will be doing the HSPA+ thing on T-Mobile.Of course, there’s also the whole Windows Phone 7 thing, whichwith a series of press events. , the rebooted Windows Phone platform has promise, but it’s got a daunting amount of ground to make up before it catches up to Android, the iPhone and RIM in terms of market share and app selection. Whether you’d want to be a guinea pig for Microsoft’s grand experiment — even with a phone as hot as the HD7 — is a thorny question, to say the least.— Ben Patterson is a technology writer for Yahoo! News.

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