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  1.    #1  
    [Note: This a a Wait-A-Thon post! Comment on this post -- or any post tagged "Wait-a-Thon" -- for your chance to win a $100 iTunes Gift Card!]

    Usually we wait for This Week in Smartphone Schadenfreude to mock review the competition (such as it is), but if they bring the hype, we'll bring the satire, special-edition style.

    Samsung, Nokia (yeah, I'd forgotten about them as well...), and RIM (and RIM) have already sent in their iClones, and now it's HTCs turn to make mid-2008 look like early 2007 all over again... Ludites and gentlemen, the HTC Touch Diamond.

    (At least I think it's the Diamond, they've pre-announced like 100 different Touch trademarks lately, so it could be the Pro or the Cruise or even the Cubic Zirconium for all I can tell...)

    Speaking of 2007, as we all know when Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld and pulled the iPhone from his pocket, it's form factor was exactly like every other Palm, RIM, and WinMob device out there, with a tiny screen, application independent tic-tactile keyboard, always unstylish stylus, and and OS and interface straight out of 2001.

    Wait, no it wasn't. El Jobso unveiled a revolutionary new device with a giant, hi-res screen, multi-touch input, and an interface the likes of which the industry had never seen before. But they (and we) have certainly seen it since -- reflected funhouse mirror-like in almost every signature device from every company released post-iPhone.

    Now HTC does deserve some orientation-sensing, hardware-accelerated props (assuming they cough up non-crippled drivers this time). According to WMExperts.com and HTC CMO John Wang, they've replaced Pocket IE with Opera (imagine Dell doing that with Firefox on the Windows desktop...), improved on the default virtual keyboard to the point of earning an official Engadget "messy", and very wisely done everything they can to hide Windows Mobile, even though the device sports the latest, greatest (all things being relative) version 6.1. (And boy must that have the furniture flying around Ballmer's tiny office...)

    Instead, they've layered on custom interfaces to "Multi-Touch Cover Flow"... er... single "TouchFLO 3D" their way through photos, put little green numbered dots to count down emails on their envelop icons, and in a myriad other ways joined the "inspired by Apple in Cupertino" crowd. Never mind that its eponymous touch screen is the old school, resistance type (oh, stylus, where art thou?) with the responsiveness of a 386 running Vista Ultimate.

    Want to do anything more than the slicken-ing veneer allows, however, want to tweak a setting to access the fabled power of the platform, and its straight back to Windows Mobile 6.1.

    Surprise, surprise, if you pile whip cream atop a turd sunday, all that shiny sweetness is meaningless the first time you dig in and really take a bite.

    The paltry (and already Apple abandoned) 4GB internal storage capacity is probably sufficient, what with Microsoft creating and abandoning user-unfriendly content services like MSN faster than you can say PlaysNoMore. And it's a good thing since there isn't much to watch on that beautiful, if cramped, 2.8" VGA screen, given the positively tiny 900mAh battery guaranteed to last through a full day of absolutely no use anyway. (For the truly masochistic, of course, a micro-SD expansion will allow an extra moveable part to break and the comforting knowledge that all pressure data is safely stored on something the size of a pinky nail -- no chance of losing that!)

    On the plus side, however, at least HTC didn't copy the iPhone's hardware design. Nope, this baby draws straight from the Zune! Want to zoom a photo, just swirl(?!) your finger around the squirle!

    I get the feeling that when Steve Jobs said it would take the competition 5 years to catch up to the iPhone, he was being uncharacteristically generous. While spec-for-spec the HTC Touch Diamond offers a few huge leap ahead in pure smartphone power, it's horribly out-dated OS, lack of interface innovation, and design straight out of Microsoft's failed X-Mas 2007 music player book is still too little, too late.

    Like Nokia, RIM, Palm, and pretty much every other device maker on the planet, HTC really needs to get in the game, and that doesn't mean just trying to throw as many specs as possible at a device and hoping some cohesiveness sticks (it never, ever does), or out-innovating each other in iCloning the iPhone. It means having a unique, cohesive visual from the get go, and it means out-innovating Apple. Sadly, the only one proven capable of either these days is Apple. (Soon to be witnessed yet again when they drop the all-but-announced iPhone 3G later this year.)

    Read more at http://www.phonedifferent.com/2008/0..._htc_touc.html
  2. #2  
    Oh boy, this should be good.

    For the record, I think the Diamond is AWESOME, although I'm disappointed that they traded a memory expansion slot for the 4gb. Sure, that's easier for a lot of consumers, but I'd rather have, if not both, the expansion slot. microSD cards are getting up to 16gb these days...
  3. #3  
    this isn't even dignified. Was it written specifically with surur in mind?
  4. #4  
    Its going to be a pretty joke when the HTC Diamond outsells the iPhone 3G in Europe, just like the HTC Touch did the iPhone Obsolete.

    Surur
  5. #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by cmaier View Post
    this isn't even dignified. Was it written specifically with surur in mind?
    No,Rene is naturally a clown.

    Surur
  6. #6  
    Some of the screenshots i saw of the diamond looked pretty nice to me. Sure, it didn't have apple's fit & finish, and WM is still WM, but the overall package might very well be "good enough."

    And i sure wish iphone supported micro-sd or sd or any form of additional storage, movable parts or no. Especially once we have third party apps, i can think of a million cool uses for it (not to mention the general benefits of more storage).

    I wouldn't sneeze at a VGA screen, either (assuming it had all the other characteristics of the iphone screen in terms of brightness and outdoors viewability, and didn't kill the battery too much). I'd really like to see vga side-by-side with the iphone screen; as it is I can't see dots on the iphone screen, so it seems it would mostly be useful to me in viewing pdfs a full page at a time, but not so useful for movies and such.
  7. #7  
    It's not undignified, its completely ridiculous, which is sorta the point.

    It's really disappointing that "iPhone Killer" seems to be the only thing on the minds of industry insiders and journalists alike.

    Who cares if it outsells the iPhone in Europe? iPhone hasn't sold well in Europe. How about trying to outsell RIM in businesses, or the iPod in music? How about instead of copying the iPhone's feature set, they try to come up with the next great feature set everyone else rushes to copy? How about instead being "me too" and "we're next" we try for a little "hello!" and "we're first!"

    Sure, it's easier to copy than to create (heck, it's made both MS and Apple billions), and if I'm a clown or a buffoon for making fun of it, so be it, but with every blog post and commenter shoehorning in "iPhone Killer" and "better than iPhone" and "beats the iPhone" and whatever else the Diggerati can come up with, the above is certainly not alone in its ridiculousness.
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  8. #8  
    @Dieter: Did I miss-spec myself? I thought the Touch Diamond had micro-SD?

    @Cmaeir - The iPod Nano is 202dpi (compared to the iPhone 160dpi) and that screen, albeit tiny, is *amazing*. 2.8" is a bit small for me, and I think for the iPhone interface as it stands, but VGA at 3.5" would be very nice (and as I said on the podcast last week, 720p would be outstanding).

    Not sure what that would do to battery life either. If the Touch Diamond really only has a 900mAh battery, along with all the radios it sports, that would be a HUGE question mark in my mind.

    And as I mention in the article the animation was gorgeous, but I'm not sold on 3rd party grafts as the future of Windows Mobile. Like running VM where, or back in the Win 3.1 days, on a desktop layers OSs can be annoying enough. On a mobile, I want stuff written as close to the metal as possible...
    Editor-in-chief, iMore
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  9. #9  
    Billions of dollars have been made copying Apple in the past. Shouldn't be a surprise.

    There will eventually be an actual iphone killer that is innovative and doesn't take its design cues from iphone. The one thing apple has in its favor is that it knows this, and it is undoubtedly trying to make sure it's the source of this iphone killer.

    But it will probably come from someplace we'd never suspect.
  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by Rene Ritchie View Post
    How about instead of copying the iPhone's feature set, they try to come up with the next great feature set everyone else rushes to copy? How about instead being "me too" and "we're next" we try for a little "hello!" and "we're first!"
    This is the XDA II, released in September 2003.



    I had one of these for about 1 year. It has a 3.5 inch QVGA screen, soft keyboard, PIE, 128MB RAM and a 400 Mhz processor. It was made by HTC BTW.

    If you for one second believe Apple did not go out there and decided to improve on what has already been done in the market, you are a pretty delusional fanboy.

    There is no new inventions under the sun. Even by Apple.

    Surur
  11. #11  
    those things look a lot like ipaq's.

    everyone improves on what comes before, and adds the occasional new things. iphone does change the paradigm enough so that it can be considered innovative. And the differences between iphone and what came before are larger (though not maybe more significant) than the differences between this new round of "iphone killers" and the iphone.

    Not sure why that matters.

    I guess rene's point is that it would be nice if one of these other companies, rather than starting with iphone and making incremental improvements in features, attempted to rethink the entire problem and come up with an entirely different solution.

    And it would be nice. But it will take time. First, companies aren't set up that way. Second, most companies don't have sufficient resources in more than one or two of human-machine interface design, software, and hardware. Finally, incremental improvements pay the bills while the deep thinkers play around with their big innovations.
  12. #12  
    Which is why I said both MS and APPL copy, and they do. (Just ask Xerox). Heck, my old HTC Jornada looked like that, and so did my Palms before that.

    The difference boils down to Apple's focus on user experience. They look at what's on the market and they try to make it easier and more enjoyable. They make the device they themselves want to own.

    By contrast, many other manufacturers seem entirely focused on speeds and feeds and checking off feature lists. Devices become hodge-podges of this-or-that mistakenly assumed to competitive feature set, which is often incompatible and unclear.

    HTC makes beautiful stuff, no doubt about that (even when they manufacture for others). And, yeah, Minority Report had Multi-Touch, Apple bought Cover-Flow, there were MP3s in phones long ago, Pocket IE and Blazer predate MobileSafari, and there were even ways to make calls before the iPhone! (I know!)

    The huge difference is that Apple wants to the iPhone, and so does everyone else (when they really should have clear, unique, compelling visions all their own -- now that would be competitive -- that would kill!)
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  13. #13  
    HTC made the iPaq's too.

    I guess rene's point is that it would be nice if one of these other companies, rather than starting with iphone and making incremental improvements in features, attempted to rethink the entire problem and come up with an entirely different solution.
    The WM market did go through this process, and found its customers preferred smaller, more pocketable phones, and hard keyboards. Apple is primarily trying to sell a PMP, hence its large screen fascination, but one must remember the iPod shuffle outsells the iPod Touch, probably by orders of magnitude.
  14. #14  
    @cmaeir-

    I haven't had a chance to look at Android much yet. Any chance that, coupled with HTC's impending hardware, could be another look at the smartphone problem?
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  15. #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by Rene Ritchie View Post
    @Dieter: Did I miss-spec myself? I thought the Touch Diamond had micro-SD?
    You mis-stated things multiple times, but that was probably because you were too busy looking for ways to skew things towards your own uninformed and biased opinion.

    For the record, NO there are no expansion card slots, YES there IS a stylus, and the 900mAh battery will be upgradeable to a larger one as an option when the Diamond is made available.

    Parody is one thing. Blowing stats out your *** after reading a single article and watching a 30 second video? That's not parody, it's closed minded-ness.
  16. #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by Rene Ritchie View Post
    The huge difference is that Apple wants to the iPhone, and so does everyone else (when they really should have clear, unique, compelling visions all their own -- now that would be competitive -- that would kill!)

    Your last paragraph contradicts the preceding ones. First you say everyone copies, and the iPhone was not born out of the split skull of Zuess, then you demand that other manufacturers create something completely unique "all their own"

    Do you really think none of these companies were interested in user-friendliness and looking after their customers?

    If there is anything Apple excelled in, its eye candy. They however did not invent it, so have no claim on owning it.

    TouchFlo 3D is a novel solution to the UI issues on WM, and bare only a passing resemblance in some screens to the iPhone. It however remains very attractive, and I thinks more so than the iPhone. It certainly has a lot more "wow" factor, and it seems, looking at iPhone sales, thats what its all about.

    Surur
  17. #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by Rene Ritchie View Post
    @cmaeir-

    I haven't had a chance to look at Android much yet. Any chance that, coupled with HTC's impending hardware, could be another look at the smartphone problem?
    I tend to doubt it; if it's the best software in the world, with the best interface ever imagined, it's still designed in a sandbox and thrown over the wall to the hardware makers.

    The greatest innovations tend to come when people look at the whole system. RIM email, iphone visual voice mail, exchange activesync, etc. couldn't have come without thinking about the server side, for example. Multi-touch, proximity sensors, accelerometers are all integral to the iphone UI and sdk, etc. The great palm innovation (i argue) was the manner in which it synced.

    Google is working with hardware makers, of course, but the minimum hardware requirements don't lead me to believe that, at best, the great android innovation will be the way it integrates the web into everything it does.

    But, again, who knows.
  18. #18  
    @ArrowHead,

    The SD was a last-minute addition, since I kept going back to the fact that they couldn't be only shipping 4GB, and WinMob devices typically have an SD slot, so I looked for spec lists and found Micro-SD on them, which made sense given the 4GB and the precedence. Thanks for the correction and any others would be greatly appreciated.

    @Surur:

    Two takes on the same problem can be unique, as can two photographs of the same event. It comes down to vision, which may just be what everything is coming down to.

    But you raise some interesting issues, why does the latest Windows Mobile 6.1 need UI solutions? Isn't UI one of the cornerstones of an OS? Would the Touch Diamond be substantially different if it used Microsoft's UI out of the box, and if so, why, and if so, why again? Microsoft no doubt is providing what their extensive market research and profound business experience tells them their user base wants. Why would HTC graft TouchFLO 3D on top of that?
    Editor-in-chief, iMore
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  19. #19  
    eww. it has a stylus?
  20. #20  
    @cmaier: That's an excellent observation, re: designing the whole banana. I know from the D conference, Jobs and Gates disagreed on that, but I can't help but think you're spot on about that. Single acts of will by integrated designers working on complete solutions.

    BTW- Given the recent comments about a "Zune Phone" coming out of the Microsoft/Danger acquisition, maybe Redmond will be stepping off the platform-only and onto the plate of an integrated device themselves? Granted, the near duplication of the iPod with the Zune doesn't give massive amounts of hope, but Danger might inject a little innovation...
    Editor-in-chief, iMore
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