Unwrapping HTC's Touch Diamond

Taiwan's High Tech Computer (HTC) revealed its new Touch Diamond handset early last month to rave initial reviews, and it beat Apple to announcing a 3G (third-generation telephony) handset.

I received an HTC Touch Diamond on loan from the company for a trial.

The company, the world's largest maker of Microsoft Windows Mobile smartphones, put a lot of effort into the sleek design of the handset, which sports a 2.8-inch touchscreen on one side and has a back contoured like the shape of its namesake, a diamond.

The package design is fairly compact.

The thin cardboard outer box is shaped like a pyramid with a flat top instead of a point. Inside is a hard, black plastic box that holds everything.

Space inside the box is well-used. Opened, the first sight is a Touch Diamond handset with stereo headphones on each side. Underneath lay the remaining accessories, a battery, an extra stylus, an AC adapter, screen protector, USB sync cable, and a Quick Start Guide and TouchFlo 3D guide at bottom.

What's easy to miss is the two CDs under a flap in the top of the box. These contain instructions and software. It took me a while to figure out they were there and it would have been nice if had HTC pointed them out in the Quick Start Guide.

There's also an extra stylus with the handset, which is important because it fits into the "diamond" shape of the back. Losing it would mean leaving a hole in the back-bottom of your handset.

The size of the Quick Start Guide -- about 2x2 inches (about 50.8 x 50.8 millimeters) -- was comforting. I feared this, my first smartphone, would make me feel dumb as a new user. And it did, at some points.

First, it shows how to open the back casing and install the battery. It snapped off easily, and I installed the battery and SIM card.

One pet peeve of mine is that the HTC Touch Diamond doesn't come with an extra battery. Are you kidding me? For NT$23,900 (US$786) you can't provide an extra battery on a handset built for uses that all suck the battery dry?

Samsung Electronics is the only major company I know of that includes a second battery with its handsets and it's a nice touch. Any heavy phone user needs one.

Charging the battery is a bit of an art. I wasn't sure how to tell when it was fully charged until I read the instructions. When I first plugged it in, nothing noticeable came on to let me know it was charging. On this point, the Quick Guide was no help.

I had to look at the 268-page user's manual (page 26) to learn that a white light circling the navigation controller (mouse) would "breathe" as it was charging, then turn into a fully-lit ring once the battery was full.

The picture in the manual also shows just a standard phone charger, but the one that came with my Touch Diamond isn't standard. It's cool! It's a USB (universal serial bus) that connects to the AC adapter, or can fit into your laptop, for example, for a recharge on the road. Now that's a nice touch.

After that, the initial start-up is easy. Turn the phone on and it prompts you to set the date and time, then asks if you want it to set up the phone connection on its own, to which I answered yes and then it found my carrier and other information.

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