Music, Video and Camera
The Surround gets its name from it most unique feature: a slide-out speaker bar. Shown in Figure 6, this bar pops up above the landscape screen protruding about half an inch (13 mm). You open this bar just as you would a slide-out keyboard. In Figure 10, you can also see a button on the left side of the bar that acts as an on/off switch for the surround sound. When listening to music, you will notice a difference when the surround sound is activated.
While the sound of this device is not spectacular, it is certainly better than most cell phones. As shown in Figure 11, the Surround has a kickstand that can be opened when the speaker bar is open. This makes the phone a free-standing music player and video display. While we were not terribly excited about this feature, we found ourselves enjoying it quite frequently.
When using the Surround to listen to music, the first thing that you will notice is that due to the deficiency in the Windows 7 software, landscape mode is not supported for music. So when listening to music, you often wind up with the device in landscape mode and the screen in portrait mode, as shown in Figure 12.
We were often frustrated when listening to music or watching a movie using the kickstand because it was difficult to control the volume, especially to stop or mute the music or video when someone entered the room. It would be nice to have a pause button on the speaker bar. Perhaps HTC will work on that.
The Surround works with the Windows Zune software which, like iTunes, handles all the syncing and handling of your music. The HTC Surround comes with a 30-day Zune Pass for unlimited music and 30-day trial of AT&T Uverse mobile apps which lets you download TV shows. You must supply a credit card for the Zune Pass and remember to cancel at the end of the trial if you no longer want to use it, but if you love music, you may really like some of the features in Zune’s music community.
While the Surround is focused more on audio, it also has a very good 5-megapixel camera. On feature that we loved was the ability to take a picture without unlocking the phone. You simply press and hold the camera button on the side of the phone and the camera turns on ready to snap your photo.The camera button is shown in Figure 13 along with the volume control button.
Camera controls are minimal, but the camera app is fast and responsive. There are scene modes, effects like sepia and grayscale, and zoom. You can view the photos or videos immediately or in the Picture hub where you have additional options. Pictures were clear and color representation was good. Videos shot in 720p, were impressively smooth. We were amazed by the ability of this camera to take good low-light photos and videos. We were able to take photos in a room so dark that we couldn’t see anything, yet the camera captured images that were very discernable. Movies taken in dark restaurant were, again, quite good. Photos and movies lost a little detail when shown on a computer, but were still good.