Google's Android has come a long way. In the past year, HTC has molded the Android landscape beyond anyone's expectations. The recent HTC Tattoo is one such example.
This Android device is named Tattoo not in the literal manner, but via a series of interchangeable covers that reflect your mood. A wide variety of skins are available to choose from via http://www.garskin.com/htc/. And if the standard design doesn't suit your taste, you can customize your own cover and have it shipped to your address. It pays to be gentle with it though, because the removable cover feels fragile and could be easily snap with rough handling.
Aesthetically speaking, the Tattoo shares a similar design concept as its Windows Mobile cousin, the HTC Touch2. Both are equally compact, though the Tattoo is a tad thicker and slightly heavier in our hands. Differences are apparent with Android-specific buttons such as Search (to activate Android's Quick Search Box) and Menu. The return of the five-way navigation pad in the form of a huge click button gets the definite thumbs-up from us for its ease of use.
The HTC Sense UI works just as fluidly on the Tattoo as it did on the HTC Hero. But there were times when a page with multiple widgets became non-responsive for a few seconds. Useful social networking widgets such as HTC Peep for Twitter and Facebook integration with your contacts are standard fare on the Tattoo.
The Donut update for the Android is also featured on the Tattoo, and the changes aren't subtle. New Google widgets such as Power Control allow you to instantly activate your wireless features and screen brightness. The Android Market receives a full overhaul with a more intuitive user interface. Text-to-speech voice synthesis and translation with language support for English, German, French, Spanish and Italian is also introduced in the Donut update. Using it though, requires third party apps from the Android Market.
The Tattoo is capable when it comes to audio playback, thanks to the integrated 3.5mm audio jack. However, the 3.2-megapixel camera and the lack of an autofocus and LED flash didn't sit too well with us. Our fingers were mostly limited to the 2.8-inch QVGA resistive touch screen.
As expected, the smaller screen size equates to more typing errors, even on the auto-rotated landscape virtual QWERTY keyboard. The silver lining to the smaller screen size is that the mileage you get out of the Tattoo - we clocked an impressive two days.
Despite minor hiccups such as the smaller QVGA screen and some slight non-responsiveness, the Tattoo is still great for someone wishing to join the Android gang and looking for a device in its price range of S$598.