Review: HTC Touch Pro2

I’ve been in need of a new mobile (cell) phone for a while. My old phone, an HTC Touch GSM (the original) was becoming a bit broken. I was loving it to bits.

The USB connector was broken, WiFi only worked half the time, I was starting to get jealous of the iPhone; a number of reasons contributed to the need for a new phone.

I did however love HTC. The phones seemed rock-solid and well designed, especially compared to some of the other manufacturers on the market. Other HTC owners I have met over the years agree; I am yet to hear an HTC owner complain about anything but the price.

I considered a few phones. The Apple iPhone was high on the list, as were a number of Nokia phones, most notably the N79. I will admit at this point to being a brand junkie; there was no way was buying a cheap iPhone clone.

What drew me in to buying the HTC Touch Pro2 was the full QWERTY keyboard and large 3.6″ WVGA screen. I know from owning a decent desktop computer that the most important parts from a productivity point of view are the monitor and the keyboard. They are the parts your body has to interact with, and they should be comfortable.

I bought my phone new in the retail box for $887 AUD from a shop in town. I have seen them as low as $650 on eBay, though I didn’t go this route because I wanted a solid warranty. It is a mobile phone with a hinge, after all.

Now onto the device itself.

It’s far and away the largest and heaviest mobile phone I’ve ever had, or ever seen, or even heard of (apart from the old analogue brick phones). It’s 17mm thick, 116mm long, and 59mm wide. Looking at it another way though, it’s the smallest laptop computer I’ve ever seen. It has a 480×800 pixel screen, as well as a 5-row QWERTY keyboard. Although it is on the small side (naturally) the keyboard is very nice to type with, using both thumbs with the hands wrapped around the back of the device. The screen is also nice, not suffering from glare problems as much as other phones I’ve used (older Nokia phones were particularly bad). If you look closely you can see the individual pixels, but you have to look very closely. It is a very high quality screen.

The screen is a touchscreen, and this is one area where they might have done better. The level of touch required to activate a ‘click’ is in my opinion excessive. It’s far more than on my old phone, or the Apple iPhone. It’s still usable however.

Battery life, as expected for a smart phone with all the bells and whistles, is miserable. I have to charge mine every day, otherwise the battery does run flat. However, being human, I have to sleep sometime, and it’s convenient to charge it every night.

In the box comes a screen protector (very useful, it’s a large otherwise unprotected screen waiting to be scratched), a spare stylus, a USB cable, a wall adapter for charging without a computer, a pair of earphones, and a very nice leather case. The headphones that come with the device serve a dual purpose. The first is as a headset for using the phone, and for listening to music. The second is an antenna for the device’s FM radio. I have to say here that the shape of the headphones is abysmal. They do not fit in my ear at all, and the cable is far too short. If it wasn’t for the fact that they are required for FM radio, I would have just chucked them away.

Inside the device is a Qualcomm MSM7200A chipset running at 528MHz. It’s fast. There’s 512MB of storage onboard, of which around half is available to the user to store settings, documents, and optional applications. Program memory (RAM) is 288MB. More would have been nice, but I’m yet to run out of it.

HTC has gone to great lengths to ensure every piece of software you could desire is on the device, and they’ve managed well, with a few exceptions.

The operating system is Windows Mobile 6.1, upgradeable to Windows Mobile 6.5 some time in the future depending on which carrier you are with. It’s nice, though I notice no huge usability or performance increases compared to Windows Mobile 6.0.

HTC also put their custom TouchFlo 3D software on the device as an alternative user interface. If you’re not used to the Windows Mobile interface, you’ll probably find it nice. I just turned it off and used Windows Mobile as Microsoft designed it. The alternative interface does have a few cool features, mostly related to quickly turning communications on and off as well as turning emails into phone calls near instantly. I get the feeling it’s designed for the jetset business executive. As you may have noticed, I’m not one of them.

The device is also jammed with other software. A YouTube player is there, as is a choice of two browsers (Internet Explorer and Opera Mobile), Google Maps (with support for the GPS built into the device), and Microsoft Office Mobile. As well as a lot more. I loved the fact that Google Maps and YouTube were installed by default, saving me some download time. One application that is missing is Facebook, although given two browsers and a huge screen, it’s not so much of a problem. Opera Mobile even supports tabs, though having more than 2 or 3 tabs open at one time does slow down the device quite a lot, especially when multitasking with other applications as well. I would have liked a few more games installed by default, although I guess I can’t complain – this is a business phone.

Overall, I love this phone, and I’m very glad I bought it. Assuming you have the the money to spare, I would definitely recommend it.


  • Huge 3.6″ screen.
  • QWERTY keyboard.
  • WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, HSPA, it’s all there.


  • Opera slows down when multitasking.
  • Battery life is short.
  • Included headphones are awful, and using your own requires an adaptor.

Overall: 4.5 stars.

Review: PreSonus AudioBox USB

Since July last year I’ve owned a nice laptop, and haven’t been using a desktop computer much at all. Laptop computers are great, but as I pointed out in my review of the one I bought, the onboard speakers suck. I can wear headphones with my laptop, which produces quite reasonable sound, but unfortunately wearing headphones all day becomes a pain (literally). So in January I bit the bullet and bought a new external audio interface for my laptop. There were a number of considerations for my purchase:

  1. It needed to sound good (or rather, not sound like anything at all). I have plans to do a bit of audio recording via this hardware, and it is important that as little of my audio equipment as possible taints the sound.
  2. It needed to be portable. Although I don’t often move my laptop outside my bedroom, the option to do onsite recordings would be very handy. This means no external power supply, and no large rackmounted equipment, no matter how sexy it was.
  3. I wanted it to connect via USB. I have all the external devices on my laptop connected via a USB hub, and a single Firewire device would mean a second cable. While true recording engineers might scoff at the idea of putting the sound hardware on the same USB hub as any other device, in practise I haven’t seen any difference, and it sure makes it a lot easier to manage.
  4. MIDI would definitely be a bonus, though with most MIDI controllers today coming with USB connections, this wasn’t crucial. Besides which, I don’t have a MIDI controller, and can’t play the keyboard anyway.

After a bit of research, the two options I found were the Tascam US-122L and the PreSonus AudioBox USB. Both of these interfaces did roughly the same thing, though the Tascam device did not have balanced outputs (although I don’t currently have an amplifier with balanced inputs, I may do in the future). In addition, the Tascam device only had one intrument (high impedance) input, whereas the PreSonus device had two. And the price? The Tascam box was $370AUD, and the PreSonus box $365AUD. After twisting the salesman’s arm, I managed to get the PreSonus for $345AUD, and get a bonus Rode T-shirt and three year warranty as well.

Included in the (relatively small) box were the following contents:

  • The AudioBox USB itself.
  • USB cable.
  • Drivers CD.
  • Cubase LE4 CD.
  • Several installation manuals, one for the drivers and one for Cubase.
  • Some foam.

Close inspection of the front of the AudioBox reveals two inputs on the left hand side, each of which can be used for either a microphone or a instrument input. The power LED and button are in the top right of the front of the device. Also on the front are 5 knobs, two for input gain, one for headphone volume, one for main output volume, and one to mix between computer output and the inputs (in real use, one would expect to keep this set to computer output most of the time). On the rear of the device are found the USB connector, MIDI input and output, two 1/4″ balanced outputs, and a headphone out.

The device itself is quite heavy (around 2.5kg) for the size, mostly due to being manufactured out of large pieces of steel. Negative points for enviromentalism here, but when you’re constantly picking up and moving it, like would be expected from a portable unit such as this, I can see that this is a great idea. I haven’t been game enough to try and scratch the unit, but I don’t think you could ever remove more than a thin layer of paint.

The first thing I can report on is that the drivers for this device suck. I was told by the salesperson in the shop that it would be supported on my Vista x64 machine, and if it didn’t, I could always use ASIO4All. The drivers on the CD don’t support Vista x64. And after a bit of thought I realised that ASIO4All wouldn’t help at all, since I’d need WDM drivers anyway before that would work. In the end I reformatted my machine to use Vista x86, and installed the drivers included on the CD. Unfortunately, those drivers only support ASIO or WDM, but can’t do both at the same time. So I could use iTunes, and that would work, but any attempt to open Cubase would crash the machine. I’ve since downloaded the newer drivers off the Internet, and everything seems to be working fine for the moment. One thing to note is that PreSonus do not digitally sign their drivers. In this day and age, that is a very poor performance.

On to sound quality (which is the most important thing, really). It has to be said I’m very impressed with the audio quality for both recording and playback. There is no distortion of the sound that I can hear (playing back songs I know well, such as Time by Pink Floyd or Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day). I don’t have the equipment to say whether it produces a perfect sound, but then again, that’s relative anyway. As for recording, I’m also quite impressed. There is very little noise added to recording above that from the room I’m in. The converters are obviously quite high quality, and very clear. PreSonus’ specs state a >95dB signal to noise ratio for digital to analog conversion, which is comparable with most devices in this lower-end range.

Summing up, this unit is a mixed bag. I love the features, I love the hardware, but the drivers that come with this machine are utter crap. If you have an older operating system such as Windows XP, I can imagine it would be a bit less painful, but if you own a newer machine running Vista 64bit, I’d consider buying a different audio interface. Once you’ve got that sorted out though, you’ve got a powerful and hard-to-kill unit that performs quite well. 3.5 Stars.