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
The home screen, with keyboard closed, gives you essential information, including time, calendar, and call status. The bottom of the display has a scrolling ribbon for accessing most applications -- from messaging to multimedia. You swipe your finger to slide along the menu and press any of the large icons to perform tasks or reach more applications. The response is a little sluggish despite the Qualcomm MSM7201A processor running at 528MHz, but it's certainly tolerable and a bit faster compared to the unlocked HTC Touch Pro.
Managing memory, as on the Palm Treo Pro, requires just two clicks. From any screen you can display a drop-down menu to stop an application. Also, I found that by turning off TouchFlo, the Fuze performed about 10 percent faster.
As you get deep into some settings, such as Wi-Fi configuration, you're dropped from TouchFlo into standard Windows Mobile screens. Again, this shouldn't confound experienced Windows Mobile users, but it breaks the interface paradigm and might baffle novices.
You'll find two ways to access audio, via the nice TouchFlo player or the standard Windows Media Player Mobile 10 program. What's more, when you slide out the keyboard and switch to the landscape screen orientation (which the built-in accelerometer handles automatically and quickly), there's a different home screen; this provides yet another way to access a subset of applications.
At home at work
This quirkiness aside, the meat of the Fuze experience -- making phone calls and getting daily work done -- doesn't disappoint. As with other Windows Mobile devices, making calls is simple with the on-screen keypad; when you start to dial, there's a quick lookup of numbers from your contact list. Alternatively, you can dial (and execute other commands) using Microsoft's built-in Voice Command software.
Call quality on AT&T's HSDPA (High Speed Download Packet Access) network was constantly clear during my tests, and I didn't experience any dropped calls. Talk time is rated at up to 7.4 hours; I got about 6 hours in real-world testing.
The Fuze includes the standard Microsoft Mobile Office suite, which benefits greatly from the large screen and keyboard. It's a snap to edit a Word document or update an Excel spreadsheet. Similarly, connecting to a corporate Microsoft Exchange server for e-mail was seamless. For those not using Exchange, AT&T includes Xpress Mail, which gives you easy access to any POP e-mail server. AT&T indicated that Good Mobile Messaging and BlackBerry Connect compatibility will be offered by the end of 2008.
Using the Web was generally a pleasant experience for several reasons. The included Opera Mobile 9.5 browser rendered most sites accurately, the chief exceptions a consequence of no Flash support. The scroll dial lets you zoom in on pages, making them very readable. And you can move around a zoomed page by touching the screen and sliding your finger, but there's no multitouch-style zooming like on the iPhone. Similar to other parts of the interface, responding to scrolling and zooming took 1 to 2 seconds. On a 3G connection, most pages downloaded in 15 to 20 seconds.
The TouchFlo 3D media player matches the HTC's TouchFlo 3D shell. I scrolled through audio files by swiping my finger vertically -- though it's not as smooth as Apple's Cover Flow on the iPhone and iPod Touch.