Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sat 31st Oct 2009 23:01 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless PureMobile sent us in the GSM version of the HTC Hero, one of the most popular Android-based smartphones out there. There are already a number of in-depth reviews about this phone out there (here's one), but here's my own take on what I liked, and what I disliked.
Order by: Score:
Hero is still Android Last Generation
by kragil on Sat 31st Oct 2009 23:41 UTC
kragil
Member since:
2006-01-04

New Android 2.0 devices with high resolution screens like the Droid are much nicer. I've had VGA screen on my last few phones, no need to downgrade to HVGA.
That said, I will wait for Maemo phone without a keyboard .. it will be nice to know that I support the same technologies that I use on the desktop by buying a phone.

Reply Score: 2

ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

the way I see the Droid and ads, it is designed to appeal to those that were interested in Windows Mobile and the iPaq a while ago. I think the strategy is to get a lot of developers and serious apps for Android before thinking about the walmart and itunes market.

Reply Score: 2

Similar reaction
by StephenBeDoper on Sun 1st Nov 2009 00:24 UTC
StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

A few months ago, we borrowed a HTC Dream (aka G1) for some testing at work. This review is fairly close to my own impressions of the hardware and software.

The two devices that I was comparing to were a recent iPod touch and an old Palm Tre 650. Overall, I found the Dream fit somewhere in between: way more modern than the old Palm OS, but with a less-polished interface; more flexible than the iPhone OS, but not as slick.

Two details that weren't touched on in the review:

The little trackball isn't particularly useful (I still prefer the d-pad on my old Treo, FWIW). It's too easy to accidentally scroll while attempting to click (the ball is clickable, in the same way that most mousewheels are). And while I expected it to work like a scroll wheel in the browser, it actually just jumps from one link to the next in the direction that you're trying to scroll.

And the keyboard - I preferred the Dream's hardware keyboard to the software keyboard in the iPhone OS, but I found it harder to type on than the Treo keyboard (despite being larger). The main problem is that the keys are fairly flat (presumably so they don't get in the way when sliding the phone closed). The Treo has keys that are rounded enough that I can use it to slowly touch-type (touch-thumb?), not so with the Dream.

Reply Score: 2

SIP Client
by emidln on Sun 1st Nov 2009 01:48 UTC
emidln
Member since:
2009-03-18

I've been using SIPDroid for VoIP (through my asterix box and through Gizmo5) without any problems at all since August. I don't know if the app is still available on Google Market, but it is available from sipdroid.org.

Reply Score: 1

RE: SIP Client
by Eugenia on Sun 1st Nov 2009 02:05 UTC in reply to "SIP Client"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

That's the app I was referring to in the article. I don't have an Asterisk server and I am not willing to run one. And I definitely don't want to use the German PBXes, the developer's own PBX company. PBXes has one of the worst license agreements I have ever seen, and besides, I don't want my call to go from Greece (my mom) to the Bay Area (Google Voice), to San Diego (Gizmo), to Germany (PBXes), back to the Bay Area (myself). This will make the call even more laggy than it already is. So going through Germany, just because this guy doesn't want to make Gizmo5 work right out of the bat without the need for a PBX, it's not something I care for. I even made a bug report about this, and he shot it down saying that he's not interested in making this work! In other words, the way *I* see it, SIPdroid is nothing but a lock-in solution to use this guy's PBX solution (since most people wouldn't fiddle with Asterisk themselves).

I just require a VOIP SIP solution that I can configure it with Gizmo5's proxy/other settings and "just work", like I can do on the iPhone in more than one such applications! But on the Android side, I have to fiddle with PBX/Asterisk, and I don't want to do so. I am 36 now, and I don't have the patience to fiddle with software all day long. I wish I was 31 again, but I am not. ;-)

Edited 2009-11-01 02:20 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: SIP Client
by emidln on Sun 1st Nov 2009 03:47 UTC in reply to "RE: SIP Client"
emidln Member since:
2009-03-18

I don't use PBXes to make it work. It works out of the box with Gizmo5 w/o any intermediate connections. Just because they recommend some third party service, doesn't mean I use it. I'm actually a little uncomfortable leaving passwords to every VoIP service I use with PBXes.

For ref, the settings from my phone (when not configured for my personal pbx):

Account Settings->Username: 1747XXXXXXX
Account Settings->Password: (gizmo5 password)
Account Settings->Server: proxy01.sipphone.com
Account Settings->Domain: (leave empty)
Account Settings->Port: 5060
Account Settings->Protocol: UDP

On the PBXes Features menu, I have none of the options set as I don't use PBXes. Call Options/Advanced Options don't seem to affect network connections, so I didn't list those.

The only drawback as far as I can tell, is that if you don't have an data plan (I don't anymore), the native Google Voice client refuses to work (thus you don't have native dialing when calling non-SIP contacts). I remedy this with a bookmark to voice.google.com on my homescreen, but it's honestly a pretty shitty alternative. This isn't really SIPDroid's fault though, more of a problem that Google Voice only appears to use the Edge/3G connection to transfer the request to initiate the phone call.

Edited 2009-11-01 03:55 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: SIP Client
by Eugenia on Sun 1st Nov 2009 05:40 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: SIP Client"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

I had tried that with a G1 and it didn't work. I tried with the Hero, it didn't work. Opening a UDP port on my router, didn't help either. However, I just managed to make it register by changing UDP to TCP. I will update the article.

Edited 2009-11-01 05:42 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: SIP Client
by Eugenia on Sun 1st Nov 2009 06:51 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: SIP Client"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

False alarm! The registration only works once every ~TEN retries. And it unregisters all by itself after a while, and then fails to re-register. I am afraid that SIPdroid just doesn't work properly on my network. I have opened the UDP/TCP ports too, just in case, but no cake. Other iPhone/PDA/PC clients on various platforms don't have a problem registering btw. So I am inclined to believe that this is a SIPdroid bug or incompatibility.

Edited 2009-11-01 06:52 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: SIP Client
by edwintorok on Sun 1st Nov 2009 10:13 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: SIP Client"
edwintorok Member since:
2009-11-01

Using the SVN version of sipdroid (http://code.google.com/p/sipdroid/source/checkout) works better than the Market version.
Also if your Asterisk has "qualify=yes" in its configuration, then you probably need to apply this patch also, otherwise Asterisk will mark the phone as unreachable: http://code.google.com/p/sipdroid/issues/detail?id=109#c16

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: SIP Client
by Eugenia on Sun 1st Nov 2009 10:16 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: SIP Client"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

Sorry, I will certainly not pull source code off the SVN and build it, or set up an Asterisk server. If an app doesn't work the way it's supposed to, then it's just doesn't work as it's supposed to. It ends there for me.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: SIP Client
by JayDee on Sun 1st Nov 2009 05:47 UTC in reply to "RE: SIP Client"
JayDee Member since:
2009-06-02

Fring is currently working on an Android port. They have a private beta right now. Maybe if you contact them the could let you participate in their beta program. That might be just what you need :-)

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: SIP Client
by Eugenia on Sun 1st Nov 2009 05:52 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: SIP Client"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

I don't like Fring, because I have to give them up my passwords and work through their system. I just want direct clients.

Reply Score: 1

BlackJack 2
by Cody Evans on Sun 1st Nov 2009 03:29 UTC
Cody Evans
Member since:
2009-08-14

I personally find my windows mobile based Samsung BlackJack 2 to have everything I need for basic smartphone usage. It syncs with my Google account, reads office documents (but not OpenOffice), browses the web, and (with Skyfire) plays flash. Though, I am rather annoyed that the Windows 6.5 update won't be available... It's a major improvement over a "dumbphone" that only supports calls and text.

Reply Score: 0

Rating
by lopisaur on Sun 1st Nov 2009 03:47 UTC
lopisaur
Member since:
2006-02-27

So basically you spent the whole review saying how much the phone sucks and gave it 8/10 as a rating. I don't get it. You had nothing nice to say about the product, but gave it 80%?
If you want to write a review of the 'almighty' iPhone and bash every other phone / OS out there, please do so. I feel offended (as an Android user) having to read "reviews" that do nothing else than free marketing for Steve Jobs.

Edited 2009-11-01 03:53 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Rating
by Eugenia on Sun 1st Nov 2009 05:19 UTC in reply to "Rating"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

You are judging the rating based on the amount of words used in each section, and not about how important these problems actually are. Except 1-2 points, the rest are either easy to fix, or not really show stoppers.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Rating
by kragil on Sun 1st Nov 2009 12:43 UTC in reply to "RE: Rating"
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

I think you did a good job. Too many reviews today focus on the good parts and then give crazy good rating. A months later people realize the bad parts. (Good example from a few years back is GTA4, which got 98%+ nearly everywhere and now we know all the bad parts make it more like a 66% game.)

Mention the bad parts and give a realistic rating is good practice IMO.

Edit: I hope you will review an Android 2.0 high res/fast cpu device in the future/or a Maemo phone.

Edited 2009-11-01 12:44 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Rating
by muadib on Wed 4th Nov 2009 13:42 UTC in reply to "Rating"
muadib Member since:
2009-11-04

Fair review, but you've completely missed out on the potential for the Android platform which is why I bought a HTC hero. This phone rocks. 2nd only to the iphone 3gs because it is slightly slower than the iphone and the iphone has more apps. But when you consider the nature of the multitasking operating system you realise that this phone is leagues ahead in sophistication and would be 10x faster than the iphone if it was to implement a single task at a time OS model such as the iphone. The hackability of this phones potential is awesome, apps are easier to create than the iphone, plus did you know that if you have unlimited internet and install the dyndns app you can use the phone as a server? When it comes to apps its behind the iphone in number but googles programming model is designed to overtake it. Heres how: Each phone app is divided into modules (i.e. activities, services, broadcast recievers) this modules can be easily reused and recombined into new applications the potential for rapid app development as well as upgrading applications to use published best of breed solutions is off the charts, apps will be able to be upgrading in seconds.
Granted that the trackball isnt used much, but the potential for the phone still hasnt been reached fully, it will find its place. Google maps isnt a GPS in car navigation app, Google are planning on releasing this next year for free, the rumour is it will also use Streetview. With Streetview, it could become the best GPS package on the market! When the news hit wall street shares in TomTom and Garmin fell by over 10% overnight. Granted iphone is the best at the moment, but if you are looking to make a purchase that will tie you to a phone for the next year or so, IMHO it would not be very smart to get an iphone.

Reply Score: 1

Scary language situation
by bousozoku on Sun 1st Nov 2009 04:58 UTC
bousozoku
Member since:
2006-01-23

It almost sounds like the early days of Mac OS X when a lot of applications were not localised for Japanese, but the English would work its way onto the display in a later release.

HTC is probably right to replace the UI so that all of their phones work the same way, but knowing that Android is the base would make me want it to work the Android way. I remember a review of the UI over Windows Mobile said that it was sluggish to respond. I wonder about a comparison between the two.

Reply Score: 2

Review complement
by zimbatm on Sun 1st Nov 2009 13:46 UTC
zimbatm
Member since:
2005-08-22

I really love my Hero but I'd also like to add some things I've noticed after using the phone for about two months.

In the bug department:

* Sending SMS containing special characters and bigger than 64 characters will scramble the rest of the message on the reciever's phone (encoding problems).
* TouchFlo sometimes crashes in loops and requires a phone restart.
* The phone will randomly call people in your phone history if you keep the phone application open and put the Hero in your pocket. It's not an unlock problem since I have set a difficult enough password.

In the usability department:

* When composing a number with the phone app, it matches contacts which have the keypad letters. This is really nice for fast dialing and should also be used in the phone search.
* The four buttons disposition is not intuitive. Maybe it's me, but I always mix them up and have to look at them to push the right one.
* You can sync contacts infos with Facebook, but you have to do it individually on each contact !
* Google maps path-finding doesn't draw the route on the map but gives a list of waypoints.

On the positive side:

* Making a call is faster than on the iPhone. It's unlock, dial button, 2-3 letter to find the contact and click. On the iphone you often have to exit a running application and finding the right contact takes longer.
* Home screen holds useful informations. I have my next calendar events so that I don't have to open the application.
* Less procrastination because the games on the app store are crappy :-p
* Direct synching with Google is a big plus, no more docking to keep my infos up to date.
* Availability of 3rd application data on the sd-card and trough disc mount is also nice.

On a more general note, I hope they will get the 1.6 version out soon. It was promised in September and we're still waiting. I hope it doesn't reflect problems in the developer department at HTC. Public communication could as well be improved and more transparent.

After reading my comments you may feel the review is really bad but don't forget it's much easier to describe problems than making positive comments. In general, I'm much more happy with the Hero then the iPhone. Small details like the number of steps to make a dial make the difference. And in general, I don't really use all those applications. It's much more important to me that the 2-3 applications I use daily are polished than having tons of them.

Cheers,
zimbatm

Reply Score: 2

RE: Review complement
by johnboyholmes on Mon 2nd Nov 2009 08:23 UTC in reply to "Review complement"
johnboyholmes Member since:
2005-11-16

In google maps path finding if you press the menu key on your phone one of the options that comes up is "show on map"

One of your usability problems is now gone :-)

Reply Score: 1

RE: Review complement
by werpu on Mon 2nd Nov 2009 12:19 UTC in reply to "Review complement"
werpu Member since:
2006-01-18



On a more general note, I hope they will get the 1.6 version out soon. It was promised in September and we're still waiting. I hope it doesn't reflect problems in the developer department at HTC. Public communication could as well be improved and more transparent.

There wont be any 1.6 update for the Hero, they will deliver 2.0 instead. They are going to skip 1.6 due to the modifications they did to stock android. It was pointless for them to patch up 1.6 if 2.0 already is out of the door.

My biggest gripe is their non existent Mac support for Tethering (Partially Apple is to blame there as well) outside of that I love the phone.

Reply Score: 2

I have one
by werpu on Mon 2nd Nov 2009 12:16 UTC
werpu
Member since:
2006-01-18

European GSM Version.
First of all the phone is really snappy, if you add the latest software update to the mix. Before it was laggy, but now it is more or less at the same speed level as the IPhone UIWise.
Secondly, I agree mostly with the article, HTCs camera support always was subpar, but the phone is so close to being excellent and yet it falls short in some minor areas.
First the biggest gripe I have is not phone related. The phone supports USB Tethering, and it works, but not in OSX (thank you apple for not delivering a proper RNDIS implementation)
So you have to hack the phone open to enable Wifi Tethering which the phone is perfectly capable of to support tethering for OSX. While the last slower revisions of the OS made the rooting process relatively easy, HTC tries to prevent rooting now by all means. Which is kind of stupid since most users prefer the phone rooted. (due to wifi tethering and apps2sd being enabled)

The second thing is the camera, if you buy HTC you get rock solid phones with lousy camera lenses, period. Id rather have a phone build as solid as a brick (it has metal framing left and right) than having a phone with good camera and the rest is flimsy. The Heros camera is ok but not excellent.

As for 3d, the HTC uses a qualcom chipset it has dedicated 3d, but it is not really that fast.

But for now I love the phone generally, but I am aware that the next generation of Android phones comes out now. But I am in a wait and see loop, I will exchange my phone probably next year have in mind that NVidias Tegra is on the doorsteps, it probably will be mid next year that the first Tegra phones will be available.

As for the Motorola droid, I would recommend a wait and see approach as well, Motorola has not been known to produce solid hardware the last years. Maybe they have changed. So far regarding solid hardware I would only trust HTC and Nokia so far blindly.

Reply Score: 2