Windows Phone 7 has been with us since last October, where the first flurry of handsets came quickly with a trio from HTC, the HD7, HTC 7 Mozart and HTC 7 Trophy being joined by the Samsung Omnia 7 and LG Optimus 7.

Since then, things have been a little quiet on the hardware front, with the Dell Venue Pro only just surfacing.

However, we anticipate the arrival of an update to the Windows Phone software very soon, and of course Nokia's recent announcement that it is joining forces with Microsoft on the smartphone front has turned heads.

Now we've a new piece of hardware to gawk at too, the HTC 7 Pro. This is the first Windows Phone 7 smartphone to have a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and, as such, it is an obvious candidate for the businessperson. But if it's well designed and sleek enough, it might be a surprise consumer success too, just like the old HTC TyTN II was.

HTC 7 pro

In fact the HTC 7 Pro draws on the TyTN II's very clever hinged design. Slide the QWERTY keyboard out from underneath the screen and a mechanism automatically kicks in that raises the screen a few degrees so it sits at a nice angle for viewing in the hand and on the desk.

HTC 7 pro

On the old TyTN II you had to tilt the screen manually, so the automatic tilt here is nice to see. The mechanism on the review unit was initially a little sticky, but quickly became smooth and snappy, albeit slightly wobbly at times.

Size-wise, the HTC 7 Pro isn't too much of a beast considering it packs a full keyboard. The overall weight of 185g is a bit hefty, but the dimensions of 117.5 x 59 x 15.1mm aren't too bad.

HTC 7 pro

And the general build quality, aside from that sticky hinge, is good. There's a metal backplate and solid plastic elsewhere with a nice chrome edging to the screen.

HTC 7 pro

Side buttons run to the camera button that all Windows Phone 7 handsets sport, a volume rocker, micro-USB port and, on the top edge, a 3.5mm headset connector.

HTC 7 pro

HTC 7 pro

HTC 7 pro

And under the screen there are three buttons you'll find on all Windows Phone 7 handsets. There's a Start button, Back button and Search button. These are all touch sensitive rather than being physical buttons. It's nothing fancy, all very utilitarian.

HTC 7 pro

Specifications are standard – within the OS' confines. Like all Windows Phone 7 handsets we've seen to date, there's no microSD card slot to boost internal storage. In this case that runs to 8GB, a storage capacity that is bettered by the 16GB LG Optimus 7 and HTC HD7.

HTC 7 pro

The five-megapixel camera has been bettered by an eight-megapixel shooter in the HTC 7 Mozart. But there is a 1GHz processor, Wi-Fi with b, g and n support, GPS and Bing maps, and HSDPA supporting 7.2Mbps download speeds and 2Mbps upload.

The screen is not huge, but adequate, being a 3.6 inch, 480 x 800-pixel capacitive offering. The HTC 7 Pro is very similar in spec to the rest of its Windows Phone 7 brethren, but lifted by the presence of that keyboard.