HTC Touch Cruise £380

4th Jul 2008 | 11:52

HTC Touch Cruise

HTC's Windows Mobile smart phone gets sat-nav

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

Not the first choice for camera or music player, but as a do-everything smartphone with sat-nav, it takes some beating.

Like:

Responsive touch screen GPS with TomTom sat-nav, 3 megapixel camera, HSDPA, Wi-Fi

Dislike:

Heavier than original Touch, no camera flash, average pictures, poor video quality, no 3.5mm headphone jack

HTC is the Taiwanese company that's been behind most of the Windows Mobile smartphones from O2, T-Mobile and Orange but they're now out in the open as a name manufacturer in their own right.

The product though that really raised HTC's profile though was the Touch, which debuted in 2007, and its subsequent series of Touch family smartphones.

Slim and compact, the first model impressed with its well thought out interface, ease of use and better-than-most touchscreen.

A year on and the latest Touch has basically the same set-up but everything's a little bit better, with improved screen, a better camera, faster processor, more memory and one important new addition – GPS.

To start at the beginning, the Cruise is considerably heavier and thicker than the original Touch – not that it's approaching 1980s brick-like mobile standards or anything like, but it feels more like an old-style PDA phone.

Beneath the screen is a quartet of buttons which are set flush with the fascia: call start and end, Internet Explorer and a programmable key to which you can assign any one of around 40 functions.

On the sides are a camera shutter button, a volume slider, voice record/voice dial button and a rather flimsy cover for a microSD memory card. A 1GB card comes in the box but it will take up to 8GB if you need it.

In terms of functionality, the touch screen is one of the best available, with the possible exception of the iPhone. It's sensitive enough to use easily without being too easy to trip. The TouchFlo system allows you to brush your thumb up, down or across to scroll through menus and explore websites.

The Touch Cube system also returns, offering quick access to contacts, media and shortcuts just by brushing your thumb across the homepage.

The potential of TouchFLO HTC Gallery is a lovely option, though it's slightly hidden within the system. You can browse through thumbnails of pics by flicking them across the screen and you can zoom in on them by twirling your finger in a circle on the screen.

Twirl it tightly and the picture will zoom in or out. Twirl it in a looser, wider circle and the picture will flip from landscape to portrait. It's a neat trick that never fails to impress.

Viewing on the screen isn't so good however. It suffers from a fair degree of lag when you're using it as a viewfinder for the camera.

Not a disaster with still shots but it soon became a pain when we tried to record video – with any degree of movement it became too blurred to bother watching.

The camera is quickly accessed via the shutter button on the side and offers several shooting modes including multishot and panorama. Pictures are okay though there are certainly better 3 megapixel snappers out there, and the lack of flash limits your low-light options.

There's also a very basic suite of post-editing features that allows you to crop and auto-correct your pics.

The Audio Manager music player is only average, truth be told, but it does what it needs to without offering anything special like browsing cover art, though there is a three-band graphic equaliser available.

The supplied headphones make no pretence at being high quality but unfortunately there's no 3.5mm headphone jack socket which would allow you to upgrade, unless you've got a mini USB adaptor (not supplied) or use the stereo Bluetooth with a wireless pair.

But the reason for the Cruise moniker is the built-in GPS, backed by TomTom Navigator sat nav. There are maps of Western Europe included on the supplied 1GB microSD card and it will do all sorts of good stuff like offer voice directions, route planning and info on tourist sites.

It works very well and took us across London fairly accurately though as with all sat navs we've tried, the routes rarely stray from the most basic. The latest dedicated sat nav units may offer a few more features but this one does more than just the basics.

Connectivity-wise it has quad-band GSM, GPRS and a 3.6Mbps HSDPA 3G connection which is plenty fast enough for internet browsing, plus Wi-Fi if you fancy using more data-hungry apps like VoIP or streaming audio or video.

The default browser is Internet Explorer but you can also use the rather excellent Opera browser if you prefer, which tends to be faster and better at reformatting web pages for the small screen.

Mobile Office is all present and correct allowing you to create and read Word, Excel and PowerPoint files as well as viewing PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

This being a Windows Mobile phone, of course, you can add all sorts of third party apps if the preloaded ones don't agree with you.

With this many features, and almost limitless application possibilities which can be added to Windows Mobile 6, it's very difficult to fault the Touch Cruise.

There are better music players, there are better cameras, but as a do-it-all, go-anywhere device, it takes some beating.

HTC is the Taiwanese company that's been behind most of the Windows Mobile smartphones from O2, T-Mobile and Orange but they're now out in the open as a name manufacturer in their own right.

The product though that really raised HTC's profile though was the Touch, which debuted in 2007, and its subsequent series of Touch family smartphones.

Slim and compact, the first model impressed with its well thought out interface, ease of use and better-than-most touchscreen.

A year on and the latest Touch has basically the same set-up but everything's a little bit better, with improved screen, a better camera, faster processor, more memory and one important new addition – GPS.

To start at the beginning, the Cruise is considerably heavier and thicker than the original Touch – not that it's approaching 1980s brick-like mobile standards or anything like, but it feels more like an old-style PDA phone.

Beneath the screen is a quartet of buttons which are set flush with the fascia: call start and end, Internet Explorer and a programmable key to which you can assign any one of around 40 functions.

On the sides are a camera shutter button, a volume slider, voice record/voice dial button and a rather flimsy cover for a microSD memory card. A 1GB card comes in the box but it will take up to 8GB if you need it.

In terms of functionality, the touch screen is one of the best available, with the possible exception of the iPhone. It's sensitive enough to use easily without being too easy to trip. The TouchFlo system allows you to brush your thumb up, down or across to scroll through menus and explore websites.

The Touch Cube system also returns, offering quick access to contacts, media and shortcuts just by brushing your thumb across the homepage.

The potential of TouchFLO HTC Gallery is a lovely option, though it's slightly hidden within the system. You can browse through thumbnails of pics by flicking them across the screen and you can zoom in on them by twirling your finger in a circle on the screen.

Twirl it tightly and the picture will zoom in or out. Twirl it in a looser, wider circle and the picture will flip from landscape to portrait. It's a neat trick that never fails to impress.

Viewing on the screen isn't so good however. It suffers from a fair degree of lag when you're using it as a viewfinder for the camera.

Not a disaster with still shots but it soon became a pain when we tried to record video – with any degree of movement it became too blurred to bother watching.

The camera is quickly accessed via the shutter button on the side and offers several shooting modes including multishot and panorama. Pictures are okay though there are certainly better 3 megapixel snappers out there, and the lack of flash limits your low-light options.

There's also a very basic suite of post-editing features that allows you to crop and auto-correct your pics.

The Audio Manager music player is only average, truth be told, but it does what it needs to without offering anything special like browsing cover art, though there is a three-band graphic equaliser available.

The supplied headphones make no pretence at being high quality but unfortunately there's no 3.5mm headphone jack socket which would allow you to upgrade, unless you've got a mini USB adaptor (not supplied) or use the stereo Bluetooth with a wireless pair.

But the reason for the Cruise moniker is the built-in GPS, backed by TomTom Navigator sat nav. There are maps of Western Europe included on the supplied 1GB microSD card and it will do all sorts of good stuff like offer voice directions, route planning and info on tourist sites.

It works very well and took us across London fairly accurately though as with all sat navs we've tried, the routes rarely stray from the most basic. The latest dedicated sat nav units may offer a few more features but this one does more than just the basics.

Connectivity-wise it has quad-band GSM, GPRS and a 3.6Mbps HSDPA 3G connection which is plenty fast enough for internet browsing, plus Wi-Fi if you fancy using more data-hungry apps like VoIP or streaming audio or video.

The default browser is Internet Explorer but you can also use the rather excellent Opera browser if you prefer, which tends to be faster and better at reformatting web pages for the small screen.

Mobile Office is all present and correct allowing you to create and read Word, Excel and PowerPoint files as well as viewing PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

This being a Windows Mobile phone, of course, you can add all sorts of third party apps if the preloaded ones don't agree with you.

With this many features, and almost limitless application possibilities which can be added to Windows Mobile 6, it's very difficult to fault the Touch Cruise.

There are better music players, there are better cameras, but as a do-it-all, go-anywhere device, it takes some beating.

VERDICT

Looks 8
Ease of use 9
Features 9
Call quality 8
Value 9

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