The original Touch Diamond was definitely revolutionary, although not for all the right reasons. One thing that was certain is that it made Windows Mobile look sexy, although the odd triangular, diamond shaped design possibly served to put off people with a more conservative view of design. T-Mobile released the original Diamond in a toned-down guise, which it has done again with the MDA Compact V, with a piano black finish instead of the shiny titanium look here.
But, whether you like the angular design of the Diamond, or the straight-laced look of the MDA Compact, the two variants are essentially identical.
The first Diamond had an amazing VGA resolution display, while the Diamond2 ups the ante by going widescreen. The 800×480 pixel display looks stunning on the 3¼-inch screen, and is perfectly suited for playing video.
On the back of the phone is a 5-megapixel autofocus camera and HTC has kept things minimalist when it comes to side buttons, with a power/keylock button at the top and volume keys on the left. At the base is a mini-USB socket (which also hooks up a headset, as there’s no separate 3.5mm socket) for charging and PC-connection.
The camera controls are all touchscreen, and when you fire it up from the home screen, you’re given a full screen viewfinder. It’s here that you’ll see a change to the normal method of taking a picture. Firstly, you can select the part of the picture that you want to focus on – by simply touching it and moving the cursor sight.
Then, you press an on-screen shutter release, which readjusts the focus and takes the picture. This means that you can’t avoid a noticeable lag before taking the photo, so you’ll find yourself telling people to stand still just that bit longer.
There’s also no flash, which is a pretty major omission. Just because Apple hasn’t got one doesn’t mean there’s no need to include something that is a must in low-light. Once you move into the 5-megapixel and above level, there’s no excuse to miss such an essential feature.
However, when you have taken photos that you’re happy with, the picture gallery is where you’ll want to go to view your photos. Thanks to the wonderful hi-res screen, you can really enjoy the images in all their glory without having to send them to a PC. You can even run a smooth slideshow if you want.
This is all well and good, but if you do want to do more with your pictures, you’re fairly limited. The gallery viewer will let you email an individual photograph, but you have to resort to using the standard Windows Mobile file explorer to send via Bluetooth or anything else.
There is another clever feature on the Diamond2, which you’ll see below the screen and above the four keys that operate as call, home, back and call end respectively. It’s a graphical ‘slider’ whereby you can slide your finger to zoom in and out when looking at pictures, or using the web browser. It’s certainly a clever addition, but not quite as good as offering a multi-touch screen, like on the iPhone. In fact, the screen is of the resistive type, meaning you need to press on the screen instead of merely touching it.
A stylus is included, although you don’t need it as much as with other Windows Mobile offerings because HTC has managed to hide the operating system more than earlier efforts. The old application menu is now pure HTC and the settings menu has also been jazzed up to make it easier, and certainly more logical, to find things. But you’ll be brought back down to earth when you start using the email client, file manager or other Microsoft applications.
Still, if you need Windows Mobile for work but can’t quite get on with it, this is possibly the closest you’ll get to a good user experience before the first Windows Mobile 6.5 products arrive in the summer.
The Touch Diamond2 is a decent enough package, and a good upgrade for Diamond users that didn’t fancy the oversized HD, but it isn’t as revolutionary the second time around. However, the improvements to TouchFLO makes it a decent offering and, just in case you thought I’d forgotten, it works well as a normal phone too!
The second Touch Diamond retains its simplistic design, while the T-Mobile one is more sedate. Both are functionally identical, with the usual things like 3G/HSDPA, GPS, Wi-Fi and a touchscreen display (800×480 pixels). There’s a 5-megapixel camera and ‘gesture controls’ for the gallery and web browser. The TouchFLO front-end has been extended to the application menu and more, keeping the Windows Mobile 6.1 interface hidden for as long as possible, which is a bonus. If you need WinMo for work and a large screen for clear text, images or video, the Diamond2 is highly recommended.
RATINGS (OUT OF 5)