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HTC Touch Viva review


The HTC Touch Viva aims to bring the TouchFLO interface to the wider smartphone market - read our review to see if HTC makes it to the mainstream

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Verdict: Mid range HTC smartphone which, oddly, ships without a headset

Price: Typical SIM-free price £250

Pros: Low-cost, good screen, WiFi

Cons: No headset, no GPS, average camera, no 3.5mm headphone jack

Design: The form factor is OK, as long as you like black

Operating System: Windows Mobile Professional 6.1

More info: HTC Touch Viva website

The HTC Touch Viva is an update of the original HTC Touch. That device was a watershed in the world of smartphones as it brought the HTC TouchFLO system out into the public arena for the first time.

No longer did users of Windows Mobile devices have to be stylus-bound. They could leave the stylus in its on-device slot (much of the time) and simply use a fingertip to get around. It was a key moment in Windows Mobile smartphone evolution.

Well, anyway, the Touch Viva came along as a way of bringing the TouchFLO experience to those with more limited budgets. As such, it is a mid-range device without the vast array of bells and whistles that some of the higher end Windows Mobile smartphones have to offer.

Interface

The TouchFLO user interface sits nicely on top of Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. You can use a finger to sweep left and right to get to different screens of information, such as weather updates, contacts, music, photos and the web.

The screen measures 2.8 inches across diagonal corners and its 320 x 240 pixels are bright enough. The processor is not the best available, but it handled TouchFLO well and we didn’t find we had to wait for the device to catch up with our fingerpanning as we used TouchFLO.

As a mid-range smartphone there have inevitably been some compromises made on the specifications side of things. There is no 3G, for example. Instead you get quad-band GSM with GPRS and EDGE. Clearly, that rules out fast web browsing over the air, and things like YouTube streaming.

But you can do those things over WiFi as this is present. So, if you mainly want to use the web and stream while you are in reach of WiFi networks which are free to use, such as your own home network, then the Touch Viva can accommodate you. There is a YouTube client as well as the Opera web browser if you do fancy a bit of multimedia and data-rich action.

Cost cutting

Another absence is GPS, so location-based services are a no-go area. Google Maps comes as standard on the device, but it uses mast triangulation to pinpoint your location, so it is not particularly accurate. 

The camera suffers too. It shoots at resolutions up to two megapixels and lacks a flash, self-portrait mirror or autofocus. Its performance in lower light conditions was particularly poor, though if you just want quick snaps to share rather than good photos to keep you should be OK.

These cost-cutting measures are understandable, but we aren’t so sure why the Touch Viva ships without a headset. This is doubly annoying as the headset connector on the device is the same miniUSB type that is used for mains power and the PC connectivity cable.

You are going to need both a headset and an adaptor from miniUSB to 3.5mm if you want to use the Touch Viva for music. Or, of course, you could use Bluetooth with a Bluetooth stereo headset. But really, headsets aren’t so expensive, and we think that not bundling one is a cost-cutting measure too far.

Look and feel

In terms of look and feel the Touch Viva resembles the HTC Touch 3G much more than it does the original HTC Touch. The two-tone casing of the original Touch has gone, replaced with a single chassis colourn - black. Tall, thin Call and End buttons, and a slightly elongated navigation button sit on the front of the casing beneath the screen.

That relatively small screen gives an indication of the size of this smartphone. At 104.5mm tall, 59mm wide and 15.75mm thick it is slightly larger than the more feature-rich Touch 3G, but not as big as the 3.8-inch screened Touch HD. The recessed screen is a little more fiddly to use than the flush ones that are more common these days, and the 320 x 240 pixels are a bit behind the times too, but neither are a real nuisance.

On-board memory is a bit short. There is just 256MB of ROM and 128MB of RAM. At least a microSD card is present so you can add more to that if you want to. Unfortunately, the slot is under the battery so you have to power down if you want to swap cards.

We can see why HTC wants to bring TouchFLO to a wider audience by launching a mid-range device, but we can’t see why the device ships without a headset. We could accept all the other absences as valid cost cutting, but that one seems a step too far to us.

 

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HTC Touch Viva The HTC Touch Viva is slightly larger than the HTC Touch 3G - but has fewer features

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