Round Robin: TiPb vs. HTC FUZE Q&A!

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! Full contest rules here!]

So the WinManiacs kicked my butt a bit over the HTC FUZE review. David Pogue was wrong, neither Apple Nuts nor BlackBerry nuts hold a candle to WinMo users scorn. However, I'd counter by saying they were so busy being indignant, they didn't really stop to consider the point of the round robin, or the points raised in the preview or final review. In other words, coming from where we're coming from, iPhone users approaching other devices, we were right, and the enraged WinManiacs... well... read on after the break!

Justin Says: It is abundantly clear that the iPhone is excellent as a multimedia device, but lacks some of the productivity tools that a business user is looking for, a Blackberry is really the oposite. I want something that can fit both of those bills, how does this phone handle that?

It doesn't do both well, it compromises to do both from poor to fair to okay. It's power is considerably hampered by its unease of use, and its overall experience is a confusion of inconsistent TouchFlo 3D and archaic Windows Mobile 6.1. I'd almost recommend getting a BlackBerry and an iPod Touch. If, as I mentioned in my review, you're really into tweaking hardware and controlling every little aspect of your device, then go for Windows Mobile and you can make it the best of both.

Jim Says: Just how easy (or hard) is it to get the FUZE to work with an Exchange environment?

Theoretically it should be a snap. I couldn't get it to work, however, as Windows Mobile claimed my Exchange certificate was invalid, so while on the iPhone I could just tap 'ignore' and keep going, this was a dead end on Windows Mobile, as was the convoluted process required to move my Mac desktop certificate over the device. (Yeah, I know, they don't support Mac -- not acceptable).

Brooks Says: Speaking of HTC phones, how’s the HTC Touch HD? Is it available in the US?

Haven't tried the HD but it looks good based on Dieter's hands on. Not available in the US, and not going to be, unfortunately.

WatersWest Says: Would I be able to load up a fuze with music, photos, and videos to the same extent that I do on my 16GB iPhone, and would it be as easy?

Yes and no. You can load it up pretty much with everything you want, but nothing in my experience currently matches the ease of use of the iTunes and iPhone integration and sync.

WatersWest Says: My newest favorite feature on the iPhone is the wireless downloading of podcasts. Would I still be able to do that on a fuze, and would it be as easy as it is on the iPhone (where it is so easy, it’s a pleasure)?

Dieter loves him and recommends him some Kinoma player, which streams podcasts (though I don't think downloads them). I didn't try any direct downloads, so I'm not sure if those are possible. Nothing on Windows Mobile was as easy, however.

Touch Me Says: let’s assume that the bulk is acceptable to me and I am more at home with a physical keyboard. Further, once I get the device set up to do what I want the software becomes more-or-less transparent. Where does that leave the Fuze-iPhone comparison?

It leaves it manipulated to the extreme :) More specifically, it leaves a bulky device that you had to invest significant time tweaking compared to a slender devices that's really not tweak-able to any significant degree.

Touch Me Says: Will the Fuze work more easily with other carriers besides AT&T? Is its replaceable battery a significant advantage in the field? Does the screen look as good as an iPhone’s especially outside? Is Window’s vast array of applications, not to mention the Palm applications it can run, a plus? Is every program efficient with the iPhone’s touch interface or are some uses better with a keyboard (text input, forms) or stylus (database, some games like backgammon)?

An unlocked GSM device is an unlocked GSM device, so until the iPhone 3G is software unlocked, the FUZE is more transportable. I had a replaceable battery on the Treo 680 and never used it, so for me it made no difference. The screen is higher resolution, I believe, than the iPhone and looked gorgeous, but the plastic matt finish vs. glass gloss of the iPhone will depend on individual preference. Are more applications better? No. Look at the 10,000 App Store apps, when many more are more realistically CrApps. So, this will also depend if there are applications you really need that are Windows Mobile or Palm emulator-only (like Office suites, currently). Keyboards and styluses will likewise be individual preferences. I never used keyboards well on the Palm, and didn't like styluses, so the iPhone's paradigm suits me far more. As to types of programs, that's really down to the designers -- they should be able to make any app work with any input method, the same way Photoshop works with a mouse or with a tablet.

Dimietriev Says: I don’t remember if this has come up, or if some other round robing review has talked about it. But are the many buttons re-mapable in any way?

I didn't test for this. The fine folks at WMExperts likely know, but my guess is everything is configurable on Windows Mobile if a) you dig deep enough, b) spend time enough.

The_Reptile Says: How about a history lesson? This platform has been around in one way shape or form since the PDA days. What innovations has Mr Softie come up with and why is this not a me-too platform/device?

History available from Wikipedia, where you can discover that, unlike the iPhone which leverages the same core as Mac OS X, Windows Mobile is really Windows in name only. Now, if we go by CES shows, then Mr. Gates et. al. have created magical devices that take our entire computing environment with us where ever we go. However, that's all been vaporware. Instead, we've got an aging OS chasing Palm's garnet on the way to obsolescence, with a next generation version delayed to the point being vaporware itself. So, it's not a me-too platform/device, more like a never was. Sorry folks, but Microsoft, like Palm, should have given us an iPhone-class experience 5 years ago. Their complacency has cost them.

ekabe Says: How does the turn by turn GPS compare.

The iPhone doesn't have turn by turn GPS, so it's not comparable. Google Maps is a much, much, much better experience on the iPhone. Turn by turn is nice to have on everything else, but I don't use it much so I'm not missing it like others might be.

James Says: How well does the touchscreen on the phone work?

Uh... watch my video review. It's resistive rather than capacitive, which is good news for stylus lovers, bad news for those who have gotten used to the iPhone, Android G1, or BlackBerry Storm.

Todd Says: I had a question, is the Fuze screen quality way better than the iphone bc it is a VGA device?

It has greater pixel count and density than the iPhone, so you get more dots in less space for a theoretically sharper picture overall.

Glenn Says: What is the biggest difference between windows mobile and OS X on the iPhone, does the htc blur this difference??

iPhone OS X is a modern, desktop derived operating system, built from the ground up to support multi-touch and other next generation mobile features. Windows Mobile is currently an out dated system built for last generation embedded devices. HTC's TouchFlo 3D attempts to mask this, but ultimately fails due to inconsistencies of its own, and -- worse -- the necessity of dropping back into Windows Mobile proper all the time, which creates a completely Jekyll and Hyde user experience. (Again, I'd be really interested to see TouchFlo 3D given a little more consistency and backed right into a Samsung Instinct class consumer device).

The last WM device I owned was an T-Mobile MDA Vario II (HTC TyTN*), which was a WM 5 device. Lots infuriated me about it, but nothing so much that it didn’t automatically connect to Wifi networks (even if you’d joined them many times before). Is that fixed now in WM (like in iPhone)?

It might be; I was running off 3G fast enough I didn't couldn't bring myself to try to enter my long, pseudo-random WPA key into Windows Mobile with a visibly state-changing keyboard. However, going to the settings screen and seeing just how many wireless configuration apps were just sitting there scared the bajeebers out of me. I'm sure they all provided cool functionality -- maybe tethering? -- but that many similar looking and similar named icons is just depressing from a UI point of view. Collect 'em up!

Andrew Says: The physical keyboard for me looks like a win. I don’t have an iPhone, but the iPod Touch Keyboard is annoying for my big fingers, unless in landscape mode, which isn’t always possible…

You know, I have fingers big and smushy enough that typing on a hard keyboard if very frustrating for me, and with the iPhone, I find I barely ever use the landscape keyboard. Maybe it's my alternating typing style, but the portrait keyboard works just find for me. For those who want a hard keyboard with some room to it, the FUZE was definitely a nice, wide slider.

Bla1ze Says: What I wanna know is…Why does the device lag so bad with all that processing power behind it, I mean TF3D really suck up that many resources?

Windows Mobile 6.1 + TouchFlo 3D = Vista Aero on a "capable" 2006 machine.

Joshua Says: If you do a hard reset and not allow the ATT software to load, this device is so much faster.

If you, like Apple, stand up to the carriers and say "No crapware, frakyou very much!" it runs faster still!

Steve Says: When I look at those screen shots I can’t even make out what it is I’m looking at. It’s a typical cluster-f**k of Windows icons, menus, and tabs. What do I click on? What will happen?

That's a very real concern. The device is not intuitive.

PhilR8 Says: I also with you would have addressed some of the comments from the preview thread that gave you suggestions on how to better use TF3D (like mine). Were these tips helpful? Did you even try them? Or is it still not for you?

The tips did help somewhat, but I think my usage method was just too iPhone-trained to really do a good job with it in only a week. Switching to my nail made it better, but it never did what I intended it to do. I would even try just hitting the icon I want, when it was off to the side, and different things would happen at different times, and no matter what anyone says, if I drag sideways on the music app instead of up and down, no way should that activate the tab bar (which is nowhere near where I pressed) and shoot me into different apps.

Nailing touch is hard. I think we all know that. HTC names their like Touch. That’s a really brazen thing to do if you don’t nail the experience utterly and completely. I’d argue Apple did with the iPod Touch, and HTC absolutely did not with their line.

Maybe I could have gotten used to it if I spent more time with it, or if I’d spent money on it and knew I couldn’t return it, but — again — I don’t think, in 2008, I should have to.

ekabe Says: But after a month of using this phone ive never had a random application generator moment using touchflo. You sure you where holding and dragging? Its not meant to be flicked.

I switched to even just trying to press the icons. Maybe I should have held and dragged, but can't I even just press the icon I want to launch an app? From testing: nope.

pinguino1 Says: I’m not a fuze guy, but many of your negative comments are because you just didn’t do what 99% of people in this planet do: . Read the manual! . The other 1% are iPhone guys.

I never read an iPhone or iPod Touch manual, nor the Android G1, nor the Treo Pro, and I shan’t be reading the BlackBerry Bold why should the FUZE get, never mind need, special consideration?

And if it does, that sorta makes many of my points. I really don’t want a phone I need an instruction manual for, especially after having used PDAs and Smartphones for a decade already…

Darrell Pittman Says: You know, irony can be so ironic. I think back to that 1984 Super Bowl ad, where the Mac’s avatar strides up to the big screen and supposedly, strikes a blow for the everyman against Big Brother. Now look at you lot, grateful for being able to spend big money on a phone, then set it up AT HOME. Then when you do, you can install only Apple-approved apps. You can’t even change your own battery. It’s sad, for people who profess to love freedom.

If I go to a gourmet French restaurant, look at the menu, and then proceed to throw a fit because I can't order pizza, is that a blow against my personal freedom? Of course not, that would be silly. If, on the other hand, I want to go to the trouble of cooking for myself at home, I can make anything I want. I enjoy cooking, and I enjoy restaurants. Cooking can be a lot of work, so sometimes I eat out. Setting up a Windows Mobile device (or Linux distro) can also be a lot of work, so currently I choose to use an iPhone. What's really ironic is all the so-called freedom exponents with little no respect for the choices of others. Part of being free means the freedom to chose proprietary solutions.

PmMann Says: As much as they say “Think Different”, every ipod I have seen is exactly alike. Heaven forbid you want to change the skin of the UI, or even choose a different UI..

"Think Different" was a Mac, not an iPod campaign. There are plenty of devices you can tweak to your hearts content, but does market share show them to be as popular? Nope. Why is that? Could it be that while some groups are especially loud, they don't consider that there's a far larger, albeit more silent group, that doesn't really want to tinker, doesn't even really care for technological details, and just wants their music to work? Apple considers that, and the market has certainly born them out.

Thanks for all the great questions!

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Round Robin: TiPb vs. HTC FUZE Q&A!


Great answers! It probably got a little snippy in the middle and towards the end.
People have to remember we're not all the same, and sometimes one phone will fit better for one person versus the next. It doesn't make the one phone better than the other, just different.

"Dieter loves him and recommends him some Kinoma [Play], which streams podcasts (though I don’t think downloads them)."
You can download podcasts with Kinoma Play too, but people normally just stream them on demand.
Although the iPhone experience as a whole does beat the WinMo experience, it's useful to remember that it is a walled garden. We're hoping that we can bring Kinoma Play to the iPhone someday, but (as you know) Apple is currently very defensive about software that shows them up in the multimedia department.

Good answers. The key is that Microsoft should have provided a better user experience for WinMo by now, and they haven't focused sufficiently. They can certainly do it when they try. I think WinMo is being pulled in multiple directions. It is powerful and configurable, but not easy to use. Resistive screen and stylus are very big hits in the far east, and are griped about endlessly in the west. Perhaps they need to spit platforms, I'm not sure. I do know this, there is no reason why a touch screen device has to have so many tiny X's to press and menus that aren't finger friendly. with a D-Pad, WinMo standard is more user friendly than S60, and is familiar to most of us.

How can you call yourself a technophile if you don't want technology just for technology's sake ? Not so. The holy grail of the UI should be to allow the user to interact with the machine in a transparent and intuitive way. I'm not sure if Apple have completely succeeded here, or if this is even possible. Clearly though, it is they who have best understood this principle, kept it at the heart of their technology and thus to-date, have the most compelling device.

Thanks for answering my questions, Rene! About the capacitive vs. resistive touch screens: how do you use the iPhone outside in the winter? It was 0 F this morning and making a call on my old Treo was no problem. I don't know what I would have done with a capacitive screen that required a bare finger. I guess a special stylus is available for the iPhone?

Thanks for answering our questions.
"Windows Mobile 6.1 + TouchFlo 3D = Vista Aero on a “capable” 2006 machine." classic..

As a former Treo lover who left Palm to go to WinMo and now an iPhone user, what bugs me the most is that we're on the sixth major revision with multiple smaller revisions of Windows Mobile. We're also looking at the second edition of TouchFlo. Yet Apple's iPhone has had only two major revisions and its MUCH smoother to use than either.
I don't blame HTC. I think they're trying. But Jobs came in, plopped down a device that is much friendlier than WinMo on his FIRST TRY. Why can't MS keep up? Why are they playing catch up? THEY WERE FIRST!!
Hopeful, but not optimistic...

I don't think anything will ever compete with the iPhone cause apple is only going to make this device better and better and evryone will always be playing catch up. Always!!

"...if I drag sideways on the music app instead of up and down, no way should that activate the tab bar (which is nowhere near where I pressed) and shoot me into different apps." This was the worst aspect of TF3D in my experience with the Fuze. It's also one that HTC could correct easily. I'm not sure anyone has really nailed "touch" or how long touch will last as an input method. Non touch gestures is the next thing. We see it with the Wii and to some extent we all do it with a mouse. Touching the screen you're looking at has some obvious disadvantages, its messy and obscures the view.

Not what I expected from your review, but it is good to hear a different opinion coming from a different perspective. Thanks.

All you iPhoners crack me up. Face it, your iPhones are on lockdown like Ricky Ross. I know as a ex- iPhone owner myself. I switched to the G 1 and I love the open source platform. The endless possibilitys are way surpassed iPhones limits, face it peoples. Clo

I just went to an ATT store today and the Fuze is a bit chunky but still pretty sexy in it's own way.

I don't normally comment on blogs but your post was a real help. Thank you for a great topic, I will be sure to bookmark your site and check it out again. Cheers, Amy xXx.

The display models at AT&T stores for the Fuze are pretty slow, and make the phone seem very sluggish, yet I hear the phone is pretty fast in terms of loading its own applications. Touchflo3d also wasn't as quick nor as responsive as I've heard as well. Out of the box, is the Fuze generally sluggish, or was there just problems with the display models?
Also, way too many people I know are suggesting the iPhone over the Fuze, including the store workers themselves, and a big issue seems to be Windows Mobile. What would be the pro's and con's of Winmo for a Winmo noobie? For those that own both the iPhone and the Fuze, what do you like and dislike about each phone?
Share your opinion with me at take care.

I am in awe of how attachted people get to inorganic items and materials. All people know, including those in Tajikistan and under a rock that windows always is and will be a cheaper version of mac's. But just like anything of cost, it does not necessarily represent the quality. I have owned WM platform phones for years and I am a loyal Mac user. The iPhone does all it says it does well. And WM systems just don't. It's a basic truth. My question is how hard is it to fuse the fuze to a mac? To have them equally compatible as are iPhone/Mac?