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HTC Hero Android smartphone

Cometh the hour, cometh the mobile?

Already on board is QuickOffice, allowing you to view, but not edit, Word, Excel or PowerPoint docs. There's a PDF viewer too, so the Hero covers just about all the major business doc formats. Still, it's a pity HTC didn't opt for a full Mobile office application that would have allowed document editing. HTC's Footprints app – previously seen on the Xda Guide which HTC produced for O2 – is also here, offering an easy way to geotag pics and attach voice and text notes to document your travels.

HTC Hero

Stock options: plenty of other apps available at the Android Market store

Browsing the Internet is nice 'n' easy, the onboard accelerometer automatically flipping the screen into landscape mode when you turn it on its side. The screen does the iPhone multi-touch thing for zooming with ease and it will play Flash video too, albeit jerkily on occasion, as we found with trailers on the IMDB site. YouTube videos played fine though, with or without the dedicated YouTube app, which makes it a little easier to browse the site. Bookmarks show up as a scrollable line of full pages, which is a nice touch, and you can have up to five pages open at once.

The Hero’s 5Mp camera, is a step up from the Magic's 3.2Mp offering. As with other HTC phones, however, the camera is less than stellar. There's no shutter button, so you'll need to set up a widget on your home page, if you want quick access. Even then, it's not that swift – taking a good four seconds to fire up and another four seconds for the autofocus to kick in once you've pressed the trackball to take the pic.

The camera can switch between 4:3 and 3:2 widescreen modes, but even with its maximum resolution of 2560 x 1712 pixels, the colours tended to look washed out and lacking detail compared to other 5Mp snappers like Samsung's Jet or Sony Ericsson's C903. Video will record at 352 x 288 pixels, which isn't great, and there's an unacceptable amount of blur if you move the handset at all – as usual with HTC's cameras, we're disappointed, but not that surprised.

Indeed, there isn't much in the way of imaging extras either, with just a timer, geotagging, colour effects and a 4x digital zoom rather awkwardly operated by the trackball. Alas, none of the face recognition, panorama or even macro shooting possibilities, which are commonplace on the better camphones these days. There are however options in the gallery to upload to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter or Picasa as well as send by email or MMS.

HTC Hero

E-mail supports MS Exchange

The music player sounds OK and it will play MP3, AAC and WMA tracks. However, you'll want to upgrade the tinny headphones supplied. It’s a shame the Hero hasn’t the same CoverFlow-style landscape browsing option for music that exists for videos. Speaking of which, it will play MPEG-4, H.263, H.264 and WMV videos, but not AVI, disappointingly.

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