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Magical and Heroic

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When it comes to buying something, most of us want to spend less and get more. The same is true for mobile phones also. But sometimes, spending a little more on a mobile handset can guarantee you a device that has all the pre-requisites of a good phone, serves as your preferred gateway to the Web and is stylish too. has always been steady in the mobile vendors’ race, and with handsets Hero and Magic, the company has once again proved its prowess in developing mobile phones that are more than just frills and touchscreens.

HTC Magic
Price: Rs 29,900

Magic is a delight to use, and we mean it. We loved the fact that Magic has a very responsive touchscreen, it integrates Google applications seamlessly, requiring no technical expertise whatsoever, and has a satisfactory battery life of up to seven hours. This 3.2 inch touchscreen phone, encased in a plastic shell, sports six shortcut buttons and a little trackball (Blackberry-style) that comes handy when you don’t want to dirty the touchscreen with your grubby hands.

What makes Magic an attractive device in an iPhone-crazy world is its simplicity in setting up Web services such as email. By default, you will be pushed towards a Google account, but you can set up virtually any other client you may have. Magic also makes Web browsing quite insightful. The onboard accelerometer automatically switches the resolution to landscape when you turn it on its side. You can zoom in or out with a tap on the screen, just like the iPhone.

Magic’s 528MHz processor is okay for routine usage, but we had a few performance issues. For example, scrolling around Web pages or emails is not as smooth as it is on the iPhone. Magic also lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack, which seems like a ridiculous omission for any smartphone competing with the iPhone. Though it is not meant to be a music phone, yet it is a distress factor.

The Indian version of HTC Magic does not have access to the Android market yet. Until then, it is just another smartphone with some good features. For Airtel customers, Magic allows free data download of 100MB per month for a period of six months. Priced on a par with the Apple (8GB), Magic costs Rs 29,900 and is available at Airtel centres and authorised HTC resellers.

HTC Hero
Price: Rs 31,990

The other Android-powered HTC mobile phone Hero’s browser experience and media integration is near perfect. One of the first things you will notice about Hero is that it’s quite different in design from a typical smartphone. There are very few buttons located below its touchscreen, including a trackball on the lower portion of the device. The bottom of the phone is actually bent upward, which may feel awkward in pockets, but it is not really a problem. We tested the phone on an Airtel connection, on which HTC offers free data download of 100MB per month for the first six months.

On the hardware side, Hero has a 528MHz CPU, 288MB RAM and 512MB ROM. It also packs in Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth with A2DP support, 5-megapixel autofocus camera, an accelerometer and expandable MicroSD memory. Although it has the same resolution as the HTC Magic at 480 x 320 pixels, it has a capacitive screen which is much more accurate when it comes to registering finger presses. In fact, it’s on a par with the iPhone which, let’s face it, has set a pretty high benchmark for touchscreens.

HTC Hero gains on the built-in user interface called HTC Sense, which makes navigation a lot easier and more intuitive. For example, size and shape of the phone widgets can be changed, or the user can define a profile that lets him switch between different phone modes. Simply speaking, you can transform your phone’s focus from business to weekend mode with a flick. Rather than burying the important contents under the menu, you can directly place them on the home screen to have a quick glance, a feature that is missing on most high-end smartphones, including the iPhone.

HTC Hero is available for Rs 34,600 in Maharashtra and Rs 31,990 in rest of India.

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