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Sunday, February 13, 2011

HTC Surround with Windows Phone 7 review #imabzzagent

It has been about 6 weeks since I received the HTC Surround for review from BzzAgent and I have given it a full run for it's money!


This gadget is one of the sleekest and most technologically advanced new phones on the market. But being a new OS and a totally new design, it definitely has it's faults. And I have a few beefs with it. The last 6 weeks have been a love-hate relationship with my new phone.

I went from a Samsung Eternity to this new windows based HTC Surround. It's like comparing a newspaper to an iPad. The OS is fast and reliable. The system never seized up on me and I never once felt that it was sluggish or couldn't handle the system with it's 1GHz processing speed. I've taken pics and added games,apps and music without trouble.




The HTC HUB has apps that are specifically designed to work best on your Surround. One thing I'm not sure about, is how to find out how much memory you've used, and how much you have left. It has 16GB internal memory but, as of right now, the HTC Surround lacks an expandable memory. It would be nice to know if Angry Birds and my rockin Bon Jovi collection will fit!

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One problem I had, twice, was that I lost all sound. No ringtone, no alerts, and the person calling me couldn't hear me, but I could hear them. Not sure if this is an OS issue or just a glitch. I had to remove the battery and restart the phone and everything worked fine again.

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Something I found a little annoying, was that when I plugged in my SIM card, only about half of my contacts showed up, so I had to add some manually. Then, when I added Facebook, my friend list was automatically added to my contact list. I don't know about you, but I don't need all of my Facebook friends in my phone book.


But one cool thing is you can link your Facebook contact with their phone number and their email, so you have all the info in one place! And it uses their Facebook profile pic as your contact photo. Pretty cool!

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And something I learned the hard way, is to NEVER put your SIM card in your new smartphone without contacting your service provider to upgrade to a smartphone plan. And I had $98.00 in charges in 12 hours to prove it! What happened was, I got my new phone in the mail, and was super excited to play with it. So I charged it up, put my SIM card in and proceeded to play around. I figured that since I didn't have a smartphone plan initially, I could just run off of my home wireless. Boy was I wrong! Instead of connecting to my wireless, I was technically 'roaming' when I was playing online and setting up my phone. The next morning, I got a text from ATT saying that they noticed I had a new smartphone and upgraded my plan automatically. Then about an hour later, I got another text saying that I had exceeded $50 in charges for that day. I, of course, panicked and called ATT immediately. They told me that I had incurred $98.00 in charges in the time that I plugged in my SIM card, to the time when they automatically added the smartphone plan to my account. Literally, 12 hours. $98.00. I couldn't believe it! I explained what had happened, and ATT was more than happy to credit back the charges. They were understanding and, luckily, didn't give me any trouble.


Kudos to ATT for their great customer service!

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The HTC Surround is super easy to navigate and is totally customizable. It works like an iPad with flick, pinch, and zoom features. With this high tech touch screen, you are able to use multiple features at once. You can send or receive a text while you are on the phone. Check your email while listening to music. Or conference multiple contacts on one call. Nothing cooler than surfing the web while you're on hold! But this multitasking feature can also be a hindrance. I found that when I was talking on the phone, sometimes I'd be calling someone else or searching the web with my cheek. The equivalent to butt dialing that I like to call 'cheek dialing'. After a while, I learned to lock the screen after answering a call!

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One more WAY cool feature is voice dialing. You can say a contact and the phone dials it for you. Great for dialing and driving!

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The HTC Surround also boasts "hands-in-the-air" fun with it's built in slide out speaker and kickstand. Even though the HTC Surround claims to give a full "surround sound" experience with it's built in Sound Enhancer, it's still a phone. The sound left something to be desired, and the slide out adds a good amount of thickness to the phone that I don't think it needs. And since this is the phones only speaker, any sound is muffled unless the slider is out.

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The camera in the HTC Surround is pretty high tech. The camera features:
* 5 megapixel color camera
* Auto focus and flash
* 720p HD video recording
* Built-in scenes include candlelight, landscape, and portrait match the environment of your subject

The camera works great! I didn't have any trouble taking great pics, then sending them to other contacts or posting them to Facebook. One downfall is that it lacks an anti-shake mode, which means a lot of my pics turned out a little blurry, since my hand isn't always so steady!

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The HTC Surround also has plenty of preloaded ring tones and sounds. You can customized sounds for new emails, new texts, voice mails, and other notifications. One thing I couldn't figure out was how to set your phone to alert multiple times. When I receive a text, it alerts once. That's it. If I don't hear it the first time, I'm out of luck! I've searched for an answer online but came up empty handed.

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One other issue I've had is battery life. When surfing the web, emailing or texting, the battery dies down pretty quickly. If I use my phone regularly throughout the day, it's almost dead by the time I plug it in at night. If you are using your phone quite a bit, expect to have to give it a little juice to make it through the day.

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So lets break it down.


PROS:
-fast surfing with the 1GHz processor
-16GB internal memory
-super sensitive 3.8" touch screen with pinch to zoom capability
-ability to multitask
-slide out speaker and kickstand with Surround Enhancer
-5 mega pixel camera
-preloaded ringtones and sounds with HTC Hub for customized apps and games
-non slip back
-browsing in both portrait and landscape


CONS:
-slide out speaker makes phone a little clunky
-"cheek dialing"
-short battery life when using smartphone features
-speaker has to be slid out, or any sound will be muffled
-integration of contacts - EVERY contact pulling into your phone book

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Overall, my previous phone has NOTHING on all the cool multimedia features of the HTC Surround. I love having the web, email, Facebook, Twitter, games, music and more all at the touch of a finger. I was appalled at how expensive surfing the web is without the right plan, but with smartphone plans starting at just $15 a month, ATT's got you covered. I am excited with my HTC Surround and I can safely say no other phone that I've ever had can compare to it's quality and user friendly features. And I will never go back!

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Honestly, this phone has so many features it would take me days to documents them all!  The pros definitely outweigh the cons in this case.  Check out the HTC Surround in all of its multimedia glory at HTC.com!

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A HUGE HUGE HUGE thanks to BzzAgent and ATT for providing me the HTC Surround free of charge for review. My opinions are all my own and getting the phone for free did not influence my review in any way. Please see my full disclosure for more info.

Photos taken from the HTC site.

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