We're a little confused by the media options on the HTC Hero - on the one hand, the Sense UI has brought new options for such playback, as well as a whole host of neat touches.

On the other hand, the phone seems have taken a step backwards with the design and interaction with media on the new Hero compared to the Magic.

The htc hero

For instance, on the home screen you can set a music playing widget to give you easy access to you tunes. Not only that, but you can also control the music you're listening to on the lock screen, meaning that HTC has neatly sidestepped the problem of not having dedicated music player keys.

On the other hand, things like the gallery interface (or 'Albums' as it's termed in the HTC Hero, meaning we thought there was no way of viewing all our stuff in one go) were now in list format, rather than the cool grouped gallery view of the HTC Magic.

The htc hero

Music is OK, with playback sounding nice through the 3.5mm headphone jack (thanks again for including that HTC) but the Coverflow interface it seems every company has decided they should put on its phone lags somewhat, with the processor probably straining itself to breaking point when we try to flick through our albums.

If you want to make a phone that rivals the iPhone properly, one of the cornerstones of the design has to be centred about beating the iPod too, as Apple has integrated that into the phone admirably.

Video

With music only average on the HTC Hero, it's a shame to see video isn't even that good. While it will play MPEG-4, H.263, H.264 and Windows Media Video 9 formats, AVI doesn't even get a look in, so you could quite easily be barred from half your movies.

There is a download from the Android Market to help fix the problem, but it will cost you, and it's always annoying when you have to shell out to get the phone to do things others do for free.

The htc hero 3.5mm

Colours on the screen look OK too, although we would have liked to see a little better contrast ratio. The screen is also probably a little bit too small to watch a full movie on, with the 3.1-inch effort just a tad on the small side for watching over an hour.

That said, it's still better than the likes of the Nokia N97, although it lacks the crystal-clear punch of the Samsung Jet.

The htc hero

Given there's going to be around 10-20 new Android phones coming this year, we hope there will be some larger-screened versions that will perhaps pack an OLED screen too - we can't help feeling Android is just made for video, it's just HTC doesn't really class that as one of its strengths and hasn't made the effort necessary to properly take on Apple.

YouTube

Mobile YouTube is only so-so; therefore we're always glad when there's an inbuilt client on board a mobile phone to give you direct access to the wacky world of online video.

The htc hero

The level of video quality is of a comparable level to that of the iPhone or previous Android handsets' YouTube portals, with most looking grainy and a bit rubbish, but others looking frankly superb on the 3.1-inch screen. Buffering was minimal thanks to a reasonable 3.5G connection, and obviously over Wi-Fi the whole experience ran without problem.