In case you missed our live coverage of the T-Mobile HD2 launch event in New York City the other night, we figured we'd recap what we know and what we found out while there, getting our nerdy groove on.
One thing is for certain: the HD2 for T-Mobile U.S. is one heck of a multimedia powerhouse and you get a lot of bang for your buck. Still, with Windows Phone 7 Series around the corner, is the HD2 already falling behind? We think not and we'll explain why as we cover all the glorious media features on board.
Read on for all the details!
Release date: March 24, 2010
Price: $199 2-year contract/$449 without
OS: WM6.5 (no 6.5.3 on board this time)
Processor: Snapdragon 1Ghz
Included Expansion Memory: 16GB
ROM/RAM: 1 GB/576 MB
The HD2 for T-Mobile comes loaded with a whopping 1GB of internal storage, a mighty 16GB microSD card and plenty of RAM to go around, making this version of the HD2 trump its Euro brother (the U.S. version doubled internal memory and boosted RAM).
All of that memory is needed for the huge amount of multimedia services loaded on board, which tend to consume more space. The 16GB expansion slot is really for anything you want, but in particular, T-Mobile is hoping you download some rented movies from the new Blockbuster movie application. More on that below.
Multimedia, Multimedia, Multimedia (Services)
The main attendees on Tuesday were Blockbuster Video, Barnes and Noble, MobiTV and GoGo In-flight entertainment, all demonstrating what their software could do on the HD2.
Allowing rentals or purchases and operating via direct download to the 16GB storage card, the Blockbuster video program was quite nice. Prices range from a few dollars to $4 for rentals to $18-24 range for purchases.
While expensive, the service does work with Blockbuster's other video streaming services found on their Blockbuster OnDemand. In fact, when logged in if you play a movie on your HD2 and pause it, Blockbuster OnDemand can pick up and continue the movie right where you left off on your TV or computer.
The program also nicely integrates with GPS during searches. If a movie is not found in their digital library, you can use GPS to locate the nearest Blockbuster video store to rent a physical copy to pick up later.
Video quality was great, taking advantage of the 800x480 resolution. Movies take 15-20 minutes to download over WiFi (no 3G support). Overall, the Blockbuster video app is quite killer, though perhaps too little too late for the fading company.
Barnes and Noble
Featuring their new eReader service, B&N also did a great job with their application for the HD2. The program allows you to access your account, purchase and download new books and of course read them. "Lending" is allowed to the device but not from the device, at least not in this current version (those familiar with the Nook should understand what that means).
The eReader itself was quite impressive. Graphically it looked quite good, resembling real page turns. The reader picks up where you left off in your book, allows jumping to chapters and overall just works. Books average at about $9.99 for new releases.
For those who prefer streaming of their media, you have MobiTV. Offering a bunch of live stations, like MSNBC and Fox New, it acts like the poor man's Sling Player. But it's more than that as it also has some Video On Demand like full episodes of NBC's "Community".
Working over 3G (and T-Mobile's network, where available, rocks at those speeds), the quality was pretty good and quite watchable. The UI was also much better than previous incarnations.
The service will cost $9.99 a month.
Gogo In Flight Service
This is a service us non-frequent-fliers are familiar with, but evidently those who travel a lot already know all about it.
Evidently Gogo allows you to connect to the internet while flying to check email, Twitter, etc. which we could understand is a valuable commodity when traveling a lot.
The program itself is free for 6-months on the HD2.
So, is the HD2 Already Outdated?
Sure, Windows Phone 7 series is getting all the press now and we know the HD2 won't be getting that upgrade, officially at least. But the T-Mobile HD2 is here now and could quickly compete with any contenders for best smarphone of the year.
With it's giant 4.3 capacitive screen, super fast processor and ample memory all around, the HD2 was rockin'. Sense 2.5 was smooth as butter and featured that new Documents tab.
For $199 and T-Mobiles new low cost services, we think it's quite the bargain, especially when compared to what is on AT&T. Throw in the included Swype and Slacker Radio and it's a powerhouse. Granted, T-Mobile's 3G is not as robust as competitors, but where it works, it seems to work well.
The only down side to all of the above mentioned digital services is cost. In order to really take advantage of all of those things, you need to shell out quite a bit of money per month: $9.99 for MobitTV, $9.99 for new eBooks, $3-4 for a movie rental--all for your phone and it adds up. So take that into consideration.
Overall though, we were left quite impressed with the T-Mobile HD2. If you're hesitant about WP7S and its current limitations, then take a serious hard look at this guy first.
Look for our full review in the coming weeks!