HTC Hero – Quick Hands on/First Thoughts

hero1It’s was the mobile platform with the might of Google behind it, but there was a lot missing. The Android native UI wasn’t overly interesting and the first devices were missing basic features like a standard audio jack. With the introduction of the HTC Hero this morning, HTC offers the first Android device that feels like it’s actually finished and it’s the first Android device I’d pay for.

I’ve just been using mine for a few hours but it’s been love at first sight. Mine’s a white unit with the Teflon coating and it feels great in the hand and looks like prop off the set of the moview 2001. Quick review of specs, GPS, digital compass, a gravity-sensor, 3.5mm stereo headset jack, a 5 mega-pixel autofocus camera and expandable MicroSD memory. The Hero also has a dedicated search button that allows search through Twitter, locating contacts, find emails or search for any data that’s on Hero. In practice it works well, when I remember that it’s there.

What sets Hero apart is HTC’s UI for Android called HTC Sense. The Ui is fluid and works great and feels modern. I love the multiple screens with glanceable information. I’ve got my calendar, Twitter, Weather etc all set up and customized they way I want it. As I’ve pointed out before, it’s the home screen concept for information done right. HTC includes a boatload of widgets that totally transform the device into a custom user experience. Even better, I can save multiple profiles or scenes as HTC calls them and switch based on context. Excellent.

Downside? The device has got a lot going on and is nowhere near as fast the iPhone 3Gs in terms of performance but it’s not nearly as slow or sluggish as some of the early reviews have made it out to be. It’s also too early for me asses battery life which was a nightmare on the G1. More over the next few days as I spend some more with the device.

This is clearly what T-Mobile should have brought to market. The MyTouch feels totally dated by comparison.

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