When the line-up was originally announced for Windows Phone 7 I immediately set my sights on the Dell Venue. It had a nice size screen with a slide out physical keyboard. The AMOLED screen with Gorilla glass also got my attention. The main reason I was interested, however, was that keyboard. In the past on other phones I had a horrible experience with touch screen keyboards. I could never type on them very quick and I easily got frustrated and would just refuse to answer emails or text messages until I could get to a PC.
I placed an order for a Dell Venue only to find out that the shipping would occur about 2 weeks after the launch date of Windows Phone 7. All of my co-workers and friends were going to receive their other Windows 7 phone devices at least a week before me. The day that the Dell Venue was supposed to be shipped I received a notice that there was an issue which would push back delivery to sometime in December. I was very disappointed.
I made the decision to not wait any longer for the Dell and instead ask T-Mobile to ship me an HTC HD7. I really liked the looks of the HD7 and it does have the biggest screen of all the Windows Phone 7 devices. I figured since I had a 30 day grace period I could try out the HD7 and if I didn’t like it I could send it back and wait for the Dell.
The shipment of the HD7 arrived earlier this week and I have now had a couple days to really play around and use the phone. So far I am very impressed with it. The phone is very fast and the touch responsiveness is amazing. I have even become very comfortable using the on screen keyboard. I am surprised at how quick I can type and how smart the phone is. Even if I do make a mistake by hitting a wrong letter the phone is smart enough most of the time to automatically fix my mistake.
The live tiles on Windows Phone 7 really is a nice touch. They are the right size to show important data without having to launch into a bunch of apps. Right now I have my phone configured so I can see if I have voicemail, emails (both corporate and personal), my upcoming calendar events and the current weather. With a quick flick I can see my other tiles on the home screen that would launch me into Netflix, Facebook, Xbox Live, Mobile TV, music / videos, and my photos. The cool thing is that you can pin any application or contact onto the main start screen for quick access. This gives you the chance to really personalize the experience to your own needs.
I am really enjoying the nice integration Windows Phone 7 has with Windows Live and Facebook. Clicking on the People tile takes me into a unified contact list that brings in contacts from Windows Live, Facebook, and Exchange. Each contact has a small profile picture which gets pulled in from either Exchange or Facebook. When I click on a contact I see their details which includes phone numbers and addresses. Next to each piece of information is a small note to indicate where the information came from. For example one contact’s mobile number comes from my Windows Live and Outlook address books while the home number comes from the contact’s Facebook page. When you first configure the phone you may see some contacts listed multiple times. This occurs when you have a contact in multiple locations (Outlook,Facebook,etc…) and the phone is unable to link them up automatically. In those situations you can very quickly link the contacts so the details are merged into a single view.
No phone would be complete without a marketplace filled with cool apps. Microsoft and it’s many independent developers delivered with a great selection of applications at launch. Currently there are over two thousand applications available; some for free and some for a small price. Right away I made sure I had Netflix, Weatherbug, Adobe Reader, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, WoW Armory, You Tube, TED, CardStar, and SlingPlayer installed. All of the apps except for SlingPlayer can be downloaded for free.
I haven’t really played around with the 5MP camera or tried taking 720p HD video. For me, a camera on a phone is just not that important. Sure it comes in handy sometimes, but I can live without it.
I have watched some shows using Netflix and Slingbox. The video and sound quality is very good. The Last.FM, Slacker and Zune audio apps provides more than enough streaming audio to keep a person occupied for hours. Of course you can always load up the device with your own audio and video content by using the Zune desktop software. You can even use the built in FM radio to listen to your favorite local stations.
After having used Windows Phone 7 on an HTC HD7 I am very impressed. This is a huge leap forward for Microsoft and they have positioned themselves with a great platform for the future.