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HTC Dream - Of Androids and Electric Sheep
By Seow Tein Hee - 4 Mar 2009


Do Androids have Curves?

Unlike the creamy white T-Mobile G1, what we got here in Singapore is the matte black version. This is fine by us, though we did inquire on the possible availability of the white version from SingTel. There has been no word yet on this, but we do think that having the color option could raise the consumer interest.

We love the Dream's 3.2-inch capacitive touch screen. Period. Generous on the screen real estate and friendly to the thumb, the Dream didn't give us problems when we were navigating through its unfamiliar (at first) user interface. The only thing that could have marred the Dream's screen, is the sheer amount of fingerprints that made its mark on the screen. As it is, we figured this is unavoidable due to the touchscreen nature of the device.

Put a 3.2-inch capacitive touch screen, and you get what we call a swiping good time (and loads of fingerprints too).

The Dream's navigation layout isn't particularly simple, though it does make its buttons obviously clear. Just below the screen, there's the Menu button. This, as one might surmise, brings you deeper into the menu of each application for more options. There are the standard Call/End buttons strategically flanking the Home and Back button. What comes next, is the focus of our attention: the trackball. Frankly, it wasn't really our favorite portion, seeing as how the trackball is the size of a pea, and it's pretty hard to utilize as an Enter button. In fact, there were moments when we accidentally moved to a different icon before pressing down the trackball. We think you get the picture: inaccurate input.

The trackball felt a little too small for comfort, and didn't sit well with us on its sensitivity.

The Volume buttons are adequately raised for comfortable usage.

The camera button is a little too flushed and made it awkward to half-press for the auto-focus to trigger.

When it comes to the battery casing, we think there's a conspiracy out there. Akin to the earlier review of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, we had to pry the battery casing before it granted us access to the battery and the SIM card slot underneath it. Needless to say, we were apprehensive in doing so, as the device felt as though it might snap at any time from our excessive force.

Though there's a small catch (highlighted in red) to latch your nails onto and pry the casing open, it still made us pretty squeamish in opening it.

And now, we move onto the final part: the slide-out 5-row QWERTY keyboard. Much can be said about this and we'll start with the negative aspects. Firstly, the hinge that's utilized is vastly different from what you see on similar devices such as the HTC Touch Pro. With a single rail and a curved hinge supporting the screen's movements, we do wonder at the sturdiness of the design. Furthermore, when we were removing the battery casing, there were moments when we accidentally gripped the screen and it seemed as though we were placing a lot of stress on the single hinge.

The single hinge illustrated here gave us food for thought on whether rough usage will compromise the device's durability.

And have we got a lot of comments for the keyboard. We went ahead with the standard message test, and mistakes were aplenty. The reason behind this is simple: the right portion of the keyboard is constricted due to the navigation pad. In short, our right hand couldn't get a good reach of the keyboard, thus reducing our typing speed. This doesn't mean that the keyboard is totally unfriendly. With the individual keys spaced out, it did create more room for comfort and we loved the tactile feed of the keys too.

With an existing obstacle on the right of the keyboard, our right hand felt constricted and unable to adapt to the keyboard as well as it could.

If you haven't realized it by now, we haven't mentioned the microSD card slot. This is because we only found it right after sliding the keyboard out and noticed the catch that reveals the microSD card slot. On the bright side, this means you won't need to tackle the battery casing to access the microSD card. But, if you were to think about it, requiring one to slide the keyboard out to access the catch that opens up the slot, is just adding more work than necessary.

True, we won't have to worry about constantly prying the battery casing open to access the microSD card, but it would have been better if it didn't require us to slide the screen up just to access the slot.

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