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New Touch Dual from HTC

Last year, HTC, the world’s leading provider of Microsoft Windows Mobile smart devices, launched Touch Dual.

This new and more powerful member of the Touch family offers the best of both worlds—3.5G wireless connectivity with highly-sensitive, full-function touch screen and a sleek and innovative sliding keypad design.

The Touch Dual is the second device to feature HTC’s TouchFLO, the same gesture-recognition technology as that in the HTC Touch, but now the new functionality including the ability to view photo slideshows using on-screen controls and to zoom and rotate images with only a hand.

TouchFLO also allows enhanced finger touch scrolling and browsing of web pages, documents, messages and contact lists.

Touch Dual is about two inches by four inches so, when sideways, it can fit in an adult’s palm. It’s just over a half inch thick, a little meatier than the average smartphone. Plus, the Touch Dual is easy to grip.

The top portion is taken up by a tall 2.8 inch glass-like screen, two buttons and a flat control. The two vertical buttons, the equivalent of traditional stop and go buttons, glow red and green when they are available.

The flat control, which serves as an all-purpose menu joystick, is a square metal button surrounded by a touch-sensitive border.

For the traditional phone lovers, it may take a while longer to adjust to the buttons. But once you get the hang of it, there’s no stopping your fingers from browsing the menus, downloading music or photos, transferring data or simply playing games.

The bottom portion of the phone, once you slide it up, is just the keyboard, a flat-surfaced collection of buttons made of a light, crystal-like material.

The keyboard isn’t as wide as, say, the full-sized Sidekick, but isn’t as tiny as the average phone.

HTC also kept the ports and quick controls simple. On the left side are the volume buttons and the mini-USB/power port. On the right is a well-disguised camera quick key and an equally well-hidden stylus holder (the instrument can be removed by pulling the small notch on the stylus itself).

The Touch Dual comes in a durable, high-end black rectangular box that seems more fitting for a Gucci purchase (the lid doesn’t even need to be removed – it uses magnets to close).

The included accessories are equally impressive: the phone, wall plug, mini-USB cord, iPhone-quality earphones.

The main menu screen has colorful icons representing ring preferences, applications, phone brightness, orientation (vertical or horizontal), security features and so on.

Press the flat control to move along the menu… or use the stylus to double tap.

In fact, the main challenge with the phone may be thinking you are missing something when, in fact, HTC is just trying really hard to satisfy your every whim.

Like a stylus? Use it. Like joysticks? You can use that, too.

HTC even added a skin-sensitive touchscreen to the mix. Use your thumb to rub up from the bottom of the screen and a touch-controlled “menu cube” will appear.

Rub left or right to access different menu options, such as email, SMS, Internet Explorer and phone book. This method seemed fast, intuitive, fun, and, perhaps, somewhat excessive.

Text messaging and emailing seemed smooth on the device, primarily because of the smartly-designed keyboard.

But the user will be surprised if he decides to use the touch screen for sms. Touch Dual actually has several options for text inputing—the normal QWERTY buttons, the average cellphone buttons, more taps and the numbers will appear, or the letters will be capitalized.

The Windows Media Player is the HTC Dual Touch multimedia hub. Once the phone is plugged in, Windows will ask if you want to create a folder for the phone.

You can then drag and drop music, playlists and videos onto the HTC icon. The average song, however, took a few seconds to transfer. And receiving data via the built-in Bluetooth is even longer.

For all the bells and whistles, playing multimedia on the Dual Touch is simple: play/pause, rewind and fast forward options, along with an onscreen volume control and music details listing.

The sound is also good, especially if you use the earphone. The built-in speakers are not that loud as compared to other music phones.

The 2.0 Megapixel camera lacks a flash, a surprisingly omission for a phone of this caliber, but otherwise the HTC Dual Touch does the job.

Press the camera button on the side – or go through the menus – and the screen turns into a viewfinder. You can attach the photo, save it in memory and so on.

One odd function is what may be described as a rapid-fire option: the camera will take five photos in rapid succession, allowing you to save the best ones.

The HTC Dual Touch is a good looking, adaptable phone that is unlike anything on the market. Practical users will be annoyed with the overbearing options and abundant functions, but hardcore phone lovers will be happy to discover all its little tricks.

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