HTC Windows Phone 8S measures up
Microsoft named HTC's Windows Phone 8S handset as a signature device.
That means whenever Microsoft demonstrates the new Windows Phone 8 smartphone operating system it will use the HTC handset.
It's not much of a surprise, since the world's first Windows Phone 7 handset was an HTC Trophy and the first unit sold in New Zealand upon its launch in 2010.
I tried the Domino Black version of this $449 handset, which is available through Telecom.
It's a nice piece of hardware, though not quite as flash as the Nokia Lumia 800 running Windows Phone 7.
It is mostly black, but there is a white stripe on the phone's bottom. White would not be my first choice, as the colour easily marks, but there are also models with dayglo blue, green and red available. Dayglo red would be my first choice and makes a less than subtle statement.
The white stripe is also a sheath that slips over the bottom of the phone. The sheath slides off to reveal a Micro SIM slot and MicroSD card slot. This feature makes the 8S by HTC the first Windows Phone to be released in New Zealand with a MicroSD slot - such capabilities are welcome to someone who likes to carry heaps of music and podcasts around. This means storage is only as limited as the card you slide in.
Charging takes an hour or so via the supplied USB cable and wall socket. There's no wireless charging as with the Nokia Lumia 920, which I certainly consider the flagship Windows Phone 8.
The user experience of the HTC's Windows Phone 8S is comparable to Windows Phone 7 on steroids.
The Windows Phone platform has certainly come of age since version 7, with several enhancements. The most practical change is that Windows Phone 8 does away with the need for the free Zune software for transferring music and videos from your PC to your phone, and replaces it with plug and play technology.
It's a shame, however, that an update to Windows Phone 7 doesn't add this capability - I wouldn't be surprised if it comes however.
The Windows Phone 8 platform also accepts music and movies from Apple's iTunes software.
This is great if you're wanting to move from Apple's ecosystem to Microsoft's, or if you just want a phone that does more than the iPhone.
One of Windows Phone's greatest strengths, over and above the iPhone, is its built in Microsoft Office integration. You can create, view and edit Office files on the Windows Phone. This alone makes the phone indispensable.
On a more superficial level Windows Phone 8 enables you to resize the live tiles, which deliver the latest information from your app to your start screen and it was a good improvement.