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HTC Mozart Review - Windows Phone 7

I think I'm gonna break this review into two parts. First touching on the operating system side of things and the other on the general hardware of the phone. I've been using android more recently and before that I've used symbian. Windows phone 7 presents an opportunity to get to know a new OS, like what I experienced with android. So how does the OS fare?

live tiles..

Now if someone is used to iOS or android and to a certain extent symbian, the windows phone 7 UI marks a totally new reinterpretation of how a mobile OS should look like. The main component of the start screen are the live tiles. This is where snippets of information are shown, kinda like strip down widgets of sorts. WP7 organizes itself into hubs, with the user having easy access to the information they require by browsing the People, Picture, Music and Videos and the Office Hubs. It's pretty self explanatory.

people..

By default, WP7 requires that u have a windows live ID. Lucky my first email address was a hotmail account. You also have the option to set up Facebook, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo and other email accounts. Now the people hub is where all your contacts are shown. Recently used contacts are shown neatly on a page. The recent status of your Facebook contacts are also displayed. U can update your Facebook or windows live status right from the people hub. Now to me what's missing here is twitter integration. It would be handy if one could see twitter updates here too. Apparently this feature is coming in future wp7 updates.

Speaking of updates wp7 was updated recently. The NoDo update brought some enhancements such as copy past and better marketplace search functions. Woop ti doo. Copy paste is handy. I mean beats typing everything all over again right?

music..

Wp7 is heavily integrated with microsoft's Zune offering. You have to sync your phone with Zune on your PC to transfer music and videos into your phone. You also have to connect via Zune to check for phone updates. Basically Zune is your "PC Sync" client. I don't have a problem with that. Well apart from Zune not playing nice with the computer at the office. Must be the lack of RAM or something like that. But it runs well on my netbook at home though. The music client is quite the eye candy. The background changes according to the music which is playing. You also have access to band biography and any links to the tracks on marketplace. Sad thing is Malaysia is not actually supported and u need to find a way to create a US based windows live account and link a credit card for u to actually purchase stuff.

zune marketplace

I wonder. The Apple appstore is supported in Malaysia. Android Market and Windos Marketplace is not. Why is that? Makes fully utilizing your mobile OS a bit of a drag la. I'm digressing here.

marketplace..

The Picture hub shows you all the media that is available on your device. Recently captured photos, and recently updated photos from facebook are all displayed in the hub. Pinch zooming is there. Double tap also available. It does the job. I think its on par with the android Gallery. You have options to upload your pics to facebook or SkyDrive. That's pretty handy with the limited storage on your phone. But that's a hardware thing.

The staple functions you would expect from your phone, calling, messaging are all fairly done. An incoming call whilst the phone is on standby would result in a screen popping up with the call details, a simple swipe up gives u the option to answer or ignore. Threaded messaging is quite minimalist. Nothing to brag about. Email on the other hand is excellent. One quirk is you can't set it so that it automatically download the images in an email. U have to click on it first. That should have been an option. Microsoft says its for your own good. but hey i wanna be able to decide to take the risks in downloading my emails and stuff like that. Outlook synchronization is excellent, well that is once you get ur IT people to supply you with the correct certificates and what not. I am surprised by the lack of Task synchronization for Outlook. Er infact, there's no default Task or Todo app for windows phone 7?? Thats a bit weird. Is it not a core function of a smartphone cum organizer? Maybe its coming in another update.

email..

The software keyboard is one of the best default keyboards i've used. I say default because the swiftkey for the android is also one of the best keyboard i've used. Don't let the simple minimalist design fool you. Its pretty accurate. So far i've not yet seen any ways to change the keyboard so i guess its good that the one it came with does the job well.

image from wpcentral.com

WP7 also extends your mobile experience to the web via windowsphone.live.com portal. there you can manage your phone in so many ways. You can ring the phone even if its on silent mode - very handy if you misplaced it in your house, find it if u lost it, lock and erase the phone content right from your computer. This is also where you access all the photos synced to your SkyDrive and what ever information u need. I think this is very nifty.

Basically WP7 is still in its infancy. Before you take the leap to give it a go, u need to consider a bunch of things, if u need apps such as whatsapp, evernote, dropbox, skype etc. U need to check if it is supported first. So far for the apps i mentioned, there is no official support from the developers. Most of them say unless Microsoft relaxes some of the dev requirements, they won't come up with a version of those popular apps for WP7. That actually sucks la. WP7 has a lot of potential but as Apple has successfully shown, the apps that maketh the phone. If Microsoft can't get the developers on board, it would be very difficult for them to sway people to choose WP7 over the competion.

Next: HTC Mozart Hardware bits.
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