main

The HTC Tattoo's interface is all about the Sense UI. While some users will be confused with the apparent lack of Google-related options on the initial home screen, it's not that they are not there; it's just that HTC by default has loaded up its own widgets instead.

At the top of the screen is the already mentioned digital clock, complete with location-based information.

It's a nice touch, but a somewhat inaccurate one. As the HTC Tattoo uses A-GPS (Assisted GPS) for this function, which uses a weaker signal than GPS, it puts your location to around a mile of where you are. The main Google Maps application uses the full GPS chip, but to conserve battery this isn't used on the home screen.

weather

So, when we were in London Bridge, the HTC Tattoo informed us we were in Camberwell. This can be a tad annoying but the technology is warranted nonetheless. Underneath this are visual icons for: Message, Mail, Browser and Camera.

Although the interface looks identical to that of the HTC Hero, the major difference between the phones is the screen: the HTC Hero's is capacitive 3.2-inch HVGA, the HTC Tattoo is resistive 2.8-inch QVGA.

Essentially, this means that the HTC Tattoo's touchscreen is nowhere near as responsive as the Hero's, and the quality of media playback on the Tattoo is not as good. This is what makes the HTC Tattoo a (slightly) cheaper alternative to its Android brethren.

If you don't like the look of this interface then the HTC Tattoo has a great little option called Scenes. This was first found in the HTC Hero, and can be accessed by clicking on the Menu button below the phone's touchscreen.

scenes

Select this and you can choose from a number of different skins, labelled as: HTC, Social, Work, Play, Travel and Clean Slate.

This is a fantastic way to re-skin your phone's interface. Although it takes a while for the HTC Tattoo to re-skin (as it has to essentially re-boot the OS) it works a treat.

The Menu button is also where you will find other customisable functions, like changing the wallpaper, adding widgets to the home page and it's also a quick link to the phone's settings.

What you will notice with the HTC Tattoo is that the inclusion of the Sense UI does mean that you don't actually have one home screen, rather seven – each catering to a specific need.

The original landing page is set for all the everyday stuff you may need (the widgets can be changed to suit your preferences). Flick the screen to the left and you get a screen for your mailbox.

Again, if you don't want this app to dominate the screen, simply hold your finger down on the mailbox, bin it via the trash icon and choose which app you would rather have there. Flip to the left once more and a big-screen version of your messages appear.

One last flick to the left and by default a screen dedicated to the world's weather is present. Flick your thumb up on this widget and you can scroll through the weather of seven (this must be HTC's magic number) different cities.

A nice touch here is that each city you flick to, the weather icon dissolves into the weather for that area. It's not as fluid as it should be, but it's impressive to watch.

The three screens on the right-side of the home screen are dedicated to your favourite phone numbers, web bookmarks and the final one is left blank. Again, each one is easily customisable, all you do is press the screen for a few seconds and the option to add extra apps appears.

The idea of having seven separate home screens may seem like a daunting one, but it really isn't. What it does mean is that there is less clutter for you to wade through to get to the application you use most. It may well be that you end up using just three of the screens, but the option of expansion is there, and with phones being used as multimedia hubs these days, it's most definitely welcomed.

And if you do get lost among the myriad home screens, press the Home button (handily emblazoned with a picture of a house) and the phone will transport you back to square one.

What we did find to be a problem was the length of time it took for the screens that relied on information from the web to load up.

We were waiting a full 20 seconds for the weather app to 'warm' up, and then when it did it told us what the weather was like in New York, London and Tokyo but had trouble finding what was happening weather wise in our home town.

The bookmarks home screen was a good deal quicker, however, with around a five second wait for the four visual bookmarks to appear.

By default these are: Google, eBay, Facebook, MySpace, BBC (mobile), CNN, Wikipedia and Amazon. Again this can be easily changed. When we chose to look at Google, it took around eight seconds to load the web page up.

internet

Drilling deeper into the HTC Tattoo's interface is simple. On the screen, there are three virtual button options: a circle with a triangle in it, one labelled Phone and one that houses a '+' sign. Click the circle icon and you now have full reign of all the programs that the phone has to offer (for more see the 'battery life and organiser' page).