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HTC Imagio Review: A Business Phone Shows Its Fun Side

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HTC Imagio

The HTC Imagio from Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless

At first glance, the HTC Imagio looks like a standard business-oriented smartphone. And while this Windows Mobile-based smartphone does offer plenty of features for business users, it also packs in a surprising number of entertainment features, like access to Verizon's mobile TV service. Unfortunately, though, the Imagio is a bit sluggish to use and is hampered by its Windows Mobile operating system.

Design

The Imagio is an all touch-screen phone. Its features a 3.6-inch display, below which sits a zoom bar and five small buttons: send, end, back, media, and Windows start. A thick bezel surrounding the display doubles as the phone's speaker. The phone itself isn't the sleekest handset around; it's actually a bit thick and heavy, but the result is that it feels very solidly constructed.

The display, though, is gorgeous. It feels roomy, and is bright and sharp, with a resolution of 480 by 800. The touch screen is resistive, not capacitive like the screen on the iPhone. A resistive screen typically requires a bit more pressure and accuracy, and I did find that I had to press the Imagio's screen firmly for it to register my taps.

Making Calls

The Imagio is a dual-band phone, so it can be used overseas. In the U.S., it works on Verizon's CDMA network, and if you travel overseas (where CDMA networks are less common), it will run on a compatible GSM network.

Voice quality was good on my test calls made over Verizon's network. I heard occasional static and crackling during some calls, but voices came through loud and clear on both ends of the line.

Software

The Imagio features version 6.5 of Windows Mobile. The operating system might be the phone's biggest weakness; it's outdated and in need of a major overhaul. Microsoft is working on an overhaul, which will arrive later this year in the form of Windows Phone 7. But that's of little help to people looking to pick up a Windows Mobile phone right now. For more information, read my complete review of Windows Mobile 6.5.

The Imagio does feature HTC's TouchFlo 3D interface, which helps make Windows Mobile more usable. This offers a customizable tabbed-interface that shines on the Imagio's big, bright display.

The Imagio also offers a good selection of apps. It comes with the familiar Microsoft Office apps on board, and includes access to Microsoft's recently launched Windows Marketplace for Mobile for adding more titles. The selection in Microsoft's store remains weak, but should grow with time.

GPS

The GPS-equipped Imagio comes with access to Verizon's VZ Navigator. You can even use the GPS capabilities abroad with VZ Navigator Global. I haven't tested the international features of the GPS app, but it performed very well in my tests of its use in the U.S.

Messaging

The Imagio offers a couple of e-mail options. For personal accounts, you get access to Verizon Mobile E-Mail for access to POP3 and IMAP accounts. Mobile E-Mail is easy enough to use, but I find its interface a bit too cluttered.

Business users will also be able to sync e-mail, calendars, contacts, and tasks with their corporate Microsoft Exchange server.

Browsing the Web

As a Windows Mobile phone, the Imagio comes with the mobile version of Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. IE Mobile delivers a decent browsing experience. Most sites looked good, and pages loaded quickly. But it can't compete with the experience of surfing the Web on an iPhone, or even a Palm Pre.

Luckily, the Imagio also comes with the Opera browser, which provides an improved browsing experience. Its interface is more appealing and it offers tabbed browsing.

The Imagio supports both Wi-Fi and Verizon's 3G network for speedy Web browsing. My review unit seemed to have trouble maintaining a Wi-Fi connection, though, and I had to manually locate and reconnect to my home network several times in the course of my testing the phone. On the upside, though, the Imagio offers global 3G support, a feature that business travelers will enjoy. It supports Verizon's EvDO network in the U.S., and switches over to HSDPA networks when overseas.

Camera

The Imagio features a 5-megapixel camera that captures still images and videos. The camera features a ton of advanced settings for capturing still photos -- you can adjust the quality, white balance, and the ISO, and can create panoramic images -- but the results were only so-so. Photos of still subjects looked very good, but moving subjects often came out as a blur.

My video clips came out better, and looked stunning when played back on the Imagio's screen. The videos looked slightly less crisp when viewed on a computer screen, but not terribly so.

Music and More

Verizon offers an impressive suite of multimedia features, under its V CAST brand. These features, which include everything from a mobile music service to a mobile broadcast TV service, are available on a variety of the carrier's phones, but not usually on its smartphones. The HTC Imagio is an exception, though, as it features the carrier's full line of V CAST services.

The V CAST services include V CAST Music with Rhapsody, an impressive (if pricey) mobile music service, and V CAST Video, which offers a selection of pre-packaged video clips that can be viewed on-demand. What's more impressive, though, is that the Imagio supports Verizon's Mobile TV service -- it's the first smartphone to do so. This allows you to view live over-the-air TV via the Flo TV service. The channel selection is a bit meager, but the overall service itself is excellent.

Price and Availability

Verizon Wireless is offering the Imagio for $199.99 when you sign a two-year service contract.

Bottom Line

The Imagio is a solid business phone that will please globe-trotting users. Its hampered a bit by its Windows Mobile software, but it does offer some of the best multimedia features you'll find on a smartphone.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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