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Overview

What’s good: TouchFlo 3D is useful, device resembles unlocked version, addition of microSD card slot
What’s bad: Lack of memory, slow at times, battery life is mediocre


Introduction

Often criticized as the last carrier to get interesting devices, Verizon Wireless has stepped it up a bit by offering the HTC Touch Diamond. Granted, Sprint has offered the device for a while, and more importantly, its successor has been announced. But it's still a good option for Windows Mobile fans seeking a decent device on the network, and would be even better if Verizon lowered the $299.99 price tag.

Design & Features

In the box, a USB cable, charger (which utilizes the USB cable as a liaison between the charger and phone), headset adapter and charging combination accessory that recognizes both 2.5mm and 3.5mm headsets, an extra stylus, and instruction manuals. Overall, the Verizon version aesthetically pleasing; it's a bit boxier than its Sprint counterpart, but it retains the back of the unlocked Touch Diamond. The 2.8-inch, 262,000-color display looks great and displays colors well.

The Verizon version of the device adds a few new programs, most notably Visual Voice Mail, VZ Navigator (which utilizes A-GPS), and the newly minted VZAppZone. Besides that, other standard applications such as Office Mobile, Adobe Reader LE, Audio Booster, Mobile IM, MP3 Trimmer, Remote Desktop, and YouTube were included. The MP3 trimmer was a favorite during testing; the user can cut an MP3 to ringtone length and use it.
HTC Touch Diamond front
A key benefit to the Touch Diamond is the TouchFlo 3D interface. Available as a replacement to the typical "Today" screen, it offers an easy way to keep track of important things. Flicking from the left to right brings up the home, favorites, messaging, music, e-mail, browser, camera, applications, weather, and settings pages. Minus a few performance issues, the overall experience was relatively smooth.

Usability & Performance

A key feature not found in the Sprint version is the addition of a microSD card slot. Offering support for up to 16 GB of storage, the expandable memory is certainly an added benefit. It comes with a cost, though: with the expandable storage comes a noticeable lack of memory that bogs down the device and makes it less responsive than the Sprint Touch Diamond. The Verizon version has 256 MB of flash and 128 MB of RAM onboard, whereas its Sprint brother has 4 GB. As a result, there is a noticeable lag between the two. It often slipped while performing the most basic tasks, such as viewing the call log or scrolling through the programs menu.

The slow nature of the device made it challenging to perform some tasks, particularly when browsing the web. When we would visit a web page and click to zoom, the Touch Diamond would lag, making us think that it didn't recognize the tap. In turn, we would tap it again, and overcompensate. Likewise, this was present in messaging and the phone application, making it challenging for those that move quickly. While on this note, the on-screen keyboard is going to be a love or hate item. The Touch Diamond offers several different typing options, such as an on-screen QWERTY keyboard, "Compact QWERTY," which resembles SureType, and a typical "abc" keypad, much like a standard phone. The virtual keypad is essentially useless for anyone with large hands. In this scenario, the stylus is essentially a requirement, which in turn slows the user down while e-mailing or text messaging.
HTC Touch Diamond Slant
The camera clocks in at 3.2 megapixels, and while camera pictures were generally decent, the slow shutter speed made it challenging to take a clear picture. Our video quality didn't have the same success; most of our clips came out quite blurry.

For the most part, our test calls were clear; users claimed that they couldn't tell we were on a cell phone. Speakerphone, on the other hand, was a bit shoddy and hard to hear, even at the loudest volume. Battery life is estimated at 5 hours of talk time and 15 days of standby time; our device was dead after 4 hours of talking, e-mailing, and some light web browsing. Overall, we would say it's decent, but keep a car charger around just in case.

Conclusion

The HTC Touch Diamond is a good addition to Verizon's lineup, and a solid offering for Windows Mobile fans. Minus a few caveats in pricing and features, there are things to like about the device. As with many devices on today's market, the Touch Diamond is a classic case of "try before you buy." Make sure the on-screen keyboard and memory works for you, and you'll find a lot to like in the phone.
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