HTC HD7 review

Windows Phone 7 goes gargantuan - movie-watching the Microsoft way

The definitive HTC HD7 review
The definitive HTC HD7 review

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The HTC HD7 uses the Zune interface to work on the media side of things, meaning the only way to get information on and off the phone is through the Zune software.

This is a little bit of a chore, because we prefer to drag and drop files onto our phone, but sadly that's not an option here – once again showing how Microsoft wants to lock down the experience and force you through its products in the same vein as Apple.

HTC hd7 review

However, the Zune software on the HD7 is just top notch, so that really helps make up for the problems. We like the way we get shown our history of tracks or videos just played, and swiping left and right to get to separate areas feels intuitive.

Sound output through headphones is good to start with, but then massively increases as you use the sound enhancer.

We preferred the power of the SRS Surround Sound for music, but Dolby Mobile was the best for video. Even music videos in our opinion – go figure on that one, as we can only assume that the comparative drop in quality associated with the video was tempered better by the Dolby codec.

One annoying thing (and all thanks to Microsoft and the lack of integration for third-party apps): you have to drop out the media player and open the sound enhancer to achieve this. It's really annoying and highlights the flaw in the system.

HTC hd7 review

The list of audio you can connect to is adequate, and as mentioned the Zune interface is a really nice way of navigating around. The most recently played and history items are all offered up as icons, and the background of the Zune media experience automatically changes to the artist you last listened to on the Zune marketplace.

HTC hd7 review

Being in the UK, we've been a little bit hard done by when it comes to the Zune Pass, which had the potential to be a real game changer for the way we consume music on our mobiles.

Positioned somewhere between Nokia's Ovi Music Unlimited and Spotify for Mobile, Zune Pass offers free streaming of a ridiculous amount of tracks from the marketplace, and then 10 to keep DRM free.

Except keeping the 10 tracks is only for the US, despite that territory's Pass costing the same amount as in the UK (around £26 for three months' use) and we're waiting to hear back from Microsoft on why this is.

Zune Pass also only enables you to stream songs from an album in sequence, not allowing the creation of playlists, so it's not the stellar service it could have been.

The interface for the music player is excellent though, because you get to see thumbnails of the music/albums you're listening to, and then you can simply swipe through them to change tracks, which is a really nice way of doing things and adds that extra 'user delight' we're so desperate for these days.


Video is similarly easy to use on the HTC HD7, and thanks to the large screen, looks really nice and clear – if a little washed out at times.

You can't use the progress bar to slide through songs – instead you have to use fast forward and rewind, which makes us feel like we're using a Walkman from the 1980s or something.

HTC hd7 review

The other problem here is the Zune PC software needed to actually sync stuff up to the phone. We'll come onto this in more depth later on, but some movies will take an age to sync onto the phone due to needing to be converted, and we don't know why.

The file types are listed as being compatible, but in the absence of dragging and dropping onto the HD7, we've only got the Zune software to get media onto the phone. It's not terrible, but the length of time it takes to get movies on there is atrocious.

Other options for the HTC HD7 include a podcast list and FM radio, as well as the opportunity to buy songs from the Zune Marketplace, with the former option only available through the Zune PC software – no searching for podcasts from the phone's screen.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.