Senin, 16 April 2012

HTC Hero Android Phone (Sprint) - one of the first android phones on the market

I both love and hate this phone. I love the Android operating system. It's very elegant and easy to use. The Market is filled with Apps, and I was able to find an app for everything that I needed to do. I've used several different Android phones and generally found that the Android OS is reliable and stable. The phone and the user interface is also visually appealing. Simply put, the phone and the OS are beautiful.

HTC is known for adding its own modifications to the internal OS on all of its phones, and this one is no exception. HTC has modified Android on this phone to make it better looking and in some cases easier to use. However, those modifications may also have introduced problems, as I'll explain, below.

There also seem to be some serious build quality issues at HTC. The first phone that I got experienced an intermittent problem that caused the voice recognition feature to never work the first time. If more than 30 seconds passed and I tried t o use it, it would be wrong the first time, no matter what I said. This was a minor issue, but there's really no reason why it should have occurred on one phone and not on another. I got a replacment phone, and the voice recognition now works, but it takes forever (up to 20 seconds after I stop talking) to work at times. There are a ton of posts on the internet about voice dialing problems on this phone, and so I'm not the only one complaining.

Voice dialing is a major issue with this phone because the phone lacks any tactile keys. When you're driving and you want to make a call, you can dial on a phone with a regular keypad by touch. Since this phone has no keys, you either have to look at the keypad, or you have to use voice dialing. Voice dialing on other phones (including the Samsung Moment and even my very old Motorola RAZR) can work very, very well. Unfortunately, on this phone, it just doesn't.
HTC also makes the Google Nexus One, and it too has had a mixed reception on quality issues. Even worse, my first Hero also had repeated crashes of software that should have worked fine, including the application that you use to program the phone with your phone number and MSID. These are basic phone functions, and they really shouldn't crash.

My second phone continues to have application crashes for apps that I know should work fine, and do work fine on other phones. For example, today, the telephone dialer application crashed. The telephone dialer application is the application that gives you a dialpad so you can use the phone. It's a basic application, and shouldn't EVER crash. Yet, on the HTC Hero it crashed for me today. I suspect that HTC's modifications to Android are responsible, as the problems have occurred on different HTC Hero phones, and I've found that other Android phones are very reliable.

While HTC's modifications make the Android OS visually appealing, they also replace text based labels which are easy to understand with often confusing icons. HTC's modifications also make the phone take about 30 seconds longer to boot-up. There is simply no reason why HTC needed to do this to its customers. Honestly, I'd rather they at least give me the option to disable their enhancements...

(Update: Apparently, you can disable at least SOME of them: Go to the Home Screen, Press MENU button, Press Settings, Press Applications, Press Manage Applications, wait for the OS to compute application usage, Scroll down the list until you see HTC Sense and select it to go to the Application Info page, Press the Clear Defaults button, Press the HOME button. You will be prompted to select which app to compete the action with. Select Home and chose to make this the default action. If you want SenseUI back, follow the same steps, but instead of selecting "HTC Sense" from the applications list, select the application c alled "Home" (not the HOME button), and then clear the defaults.)

The processor may also be a bit slow. I've noticed on several occasions that the phone seemed to miss the fact that I pushed on certain buttons. For example, in order to answer calls on an HTC modified phone, you have to swipe your finger down the screen. On several occasions, I've actually missed calls because the phone didn't register my swipe until the call went to voicemail.

Why not just use the hard buttons? Good question! The layout of the call and answer buttons makes them very hard to use for someone with medium to large size hands, so its difficult to push one of them without also pushing one of the other nearby buttons. The speakerphone volume is also a bit low, making it almost useless when you're in a car.

Also, if you have a bluetooth headset and you're used to using the button on it to activate voice dialing, you're going to be disappointed. For some reason, HTC d idn't properly implement that feature. So, if you push the button on your bluetooth headset or speakerphone, nothing happens. Again, this is a basic feature built into most phones nowadays, and it surprises me that HTC didn't implement it on their flagship Android phone.

I've also used a Motorola Cliq (which also runs Android) and the Samsung Moment and found them to be quite reliable. The Moment definitely has a better screen, is a little larger than the Hero, and has a slide-out keyboard. Given my experience thus far, I think that I like the Moment better. Although it's a bit larger and I don't really care about a slide out keyboard, I can't stand the apps crashing on the HTC Hero..

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