Inspecting gadgets

ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from a shiny new black box to another curious cube that projects on walls.

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By  Imthishan Giado Published  August 30, 2009

ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from a shiny new black box to another curious cube that projects on walls.

HTC has a go at a Hero

Another month, another touchscreen smartphone release. This time it's from HTC, the makers of a million (not literally, legal department!) imaginatively-named but desperately dull-looking handsets.

Honestly, you'd think that people had stopped making normal handsets altogether. But hang on for a second - the Hero has forsaken HTC's usual Windows Mobile OS for Google's exciting new Android system. It's not quite stock either - much like the phone's Touch Diamond forebear, the Hero features a custom touch interface on top of the Google Android innards, named ‘Sense'. Because that's what it - er - does.

The good thing about HTC phones is that they tend to come absolutely stuffed with kit. The Hero comes with every high-end feature available, from high-res H.264 video support to high-speed 802.11 b/g wireless connections. Photo enthusiasts aren't left out either, with a five megapixel autofocus camera coming as standard while geotagging with the built-in GPS is present and accounted for.

In the high-end market at least, these are all features that users have come to expect. So what's the standout attribute, where's the Hero's killer app? It's not the Hero's digital compass, which is just old hat now after the iPhone 3GS came out with one so owners could finally know where they were, even in bed.

It's not the oleophobic coating (or anti-fingerprint to normal people) that HTC's added to the admittedly-gorgeous 3.2" touchscreen - that turned up first on the 3GS as well, so that Mac users with eczema would never have to worry again.

Is it Android? Well, HTC certainly hopes so. And in truth, having the might of Google and its growing store of applications is never a bad thing. But we are a little concerned at the growing tendency of handset manufacturers to slap their own UI on top of Android. Apple's masterstroke all these years has been to design a bulletproof, attractive interface, then stick into devices of a variety of shapes and sizes.

But with HTC supporting Windows Mobile 6.1, the upcoming 6.5 and now Android, we think users will find it increasingly difficult to move between HTC products without getting more than a little confused.

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