Test Center review: AT&T Fuze sparks Windows Mobile
The AT&T-branded HTC Touch Pro smartens up the Windows phone with an expansive touch display, full keypad, and 3-D interfaceFollow @infoworld
If you're ready for a Windows Mobile smartphone with a large, VGA (480 by 640 pixels) display, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and quad-band radios for worldwide use, the Fuze is an excellent option. Thanks to the Fuze's bigger screen and keyboard, I prefer it to two other very good Windows Mobile 6.1 phones I've tested, the Palm Treo Pro and the HP iPaq 910c.
The AT&T-branded hardware I tested is almost identical to the HTC Touch Pro ($799, unlocked), Verizon HTC Touch Pro ($350), and the Sprint Touch Pro ($300, locked). It's a large and heavy device, measuring 4 by 2 by 0.7 inches and weighing in at 5.8 ounces. The size and weight are welcome trade-offs for the bright 2.8-inch LCD touchscreen and solid keyboard that pops out sideways from under the handset.
The biggest difference among the AT&T, HTC, and Sprint models is the keyboard layout. AT&T opted to use the top row for symbols, then overlaid numbers on the right side of the backlit keyboard. Therefore, you must press the function key while entering any numeral. Though I didn't have an issue with the generous key spacing, the flushness of the keys to the faceplate might cause errors when you're typing quickly.
With the keyboard closed, you control the Fuze with a circular, backlit control pad along with home, Back, and phone buttons that are also positioned under the screen. For working with applications, the touchscreen is very responsive to finger presses or taps with the included stylus.
I liked the dedicated power switch at the top of the case, plus the push-to-talk key and volume controls on the side. But you need to plug a dongle into the mini-USB port to use a wired headphone.
HTC's TouchFlo 3D is a slick interface that masks Windows Mobile 6.1 from users. Overall, the interface design is very good, but needs a little more thought. There are often several, inconsistent ways to do the same thing -- unnecessary complexity that might confuse inexperienced users.
[ Find out more about Windows Mobile 6.1 by reading "Microsoft takes big step in managing enterprise handhelds." ]