Dec 11, 2010

#TelstaWP7: Figaro Takes a Bow

Has it really been two weeks since I first got my hot little hands on Figaro?

It feels like it's flown by; and yet, I feel like I've had the phone for much longer.

Is that a good thing, or am I just bored with it?

I was given the device by Telstra for its HTC Mozart Windows7 "social review".

Here are my thoughts on each of those elements.


Sepia filter on the inbuilt HTC
app "Photo Enhancer".
I like the fact I look a bit dead.

I had never owned a smartphone before receiving Figaro; and apart from the odd play with an iPhone, was a complete newbie to the experience.

I like the feel of this phone; it's light but strong, elegant in shape with a classy aluminium curved backpiece. The touch screen is responsive and bright (although troublesome in full daylight; but from what I understand that's common with these types of phones). The three touch buttons at the base of the phone - Back, Menu and Search - perform well, although I did find I accidentally hit the Search button a lot while holding the phone, sparking a sudden attack of the Bing search page. This was a bit annoying.

The volume button on the phone's left side (as you look at it) is slightly clumsy; and while the camera button is great for landscape shots, I found it awkward to use for portraits as it was harder to stop the shakiness. I also found it problematic in low light, which increased the incidence of blur. The USB and audio jack slots are well incorporated. A battery indicator bar over the top of the screen flashes red when the phone's running flat; it's not offensive but was probably not super necessary.

I'm a fairly clumsy person (hence the nickname), and have managed to avoid dropping it so far. The screen gets a bit fingerprint grubby, but overall, it's coped well with the treatment I've given it - which generally involves being thrown into various handbags and kitbags along with wallets, keys, bits of equipment, bottles of water and other things I suspect I should keep away from expensive phones. I did notice on a couple of occasions when I shoved it in my pocket that it turned itself off - that may not be an issue for smaller-thighed folk.


As noted previously, I found it very humourous that I wound up with a Windows7 phone less than 2 months after getting my first ever Apple Mac computer. Given that I haven't even got my head around the Mac yet, it was no surprise I had difficulties trying to make the two talk to each other. I managed to get the Windows Connector for Mac software working and found it transferred files such as podcasts really well. But I have no other real experience of computer-to-phone docking to write about.

Vintage filter on Photo Enhancer.
Doesn't correct eye bags though.

The Windows7 user interface is very simple. I quite liked it; for someone new, the big tiles are easy to navigate and move around to suit your preferences. I liked the secondary menu being for "everything else", although it would be good to be able to collect apps together in an apps folder (perhaps you can do this; I just haven't worked it out).

The integration with Facebook is very good; hopefully Twitter will be integrated in the same way soon. I found the official Twitter app OK; but it crashed or got jammed a fair bit (may be related to network issues which I'll mention below). The integration meant an instant contact book; however, I have about 50 billion Facebook friends who never actually call or contact me so their numbers aren't very useful; and a bunch of others who, like me, don't list their mobiles on Facebook and so I still have to enter theirs manually. It would be good to be able to delete some FB contacts from my phone's directory; having said that, searching for names is just a click on a letter box, so it's not a massive hassle.

Internet Explorer seems OK for very basic websites; but after a few news sites I visit just refused to download, I got a bit frustrated with it. The grid screen that allows you to flick between open browser windows is a simple but very effective addition. I've downloaded an app called "Metro Web Browser" which seems an improvement.

I don't really game much; and while I managed to give my XBox Live avatar some clothes, I couldn't seem to fully change its name to Girl Clumsy. I downloaded and played a few games of Uno HD and Flight Control; but really I'll need to leave it longer to see if I pick up a gaming habit.

I flirted briefly with the Microsoft Office app, which seemed OK. I've seen many complaints about no copy/paste function, so hopefully that is on its way. Again, I need more time with that one. Haven't reached the "writing documents on my phone" stage yet.

In terms of other apps - I've downloaded some fairly good ones, including Voice Recorder Pro, which I've been using for journalistic purposes with some success. While the Marketplace interface is good (I like the sideways scrolling aspect), it's obviously a very sickly cousin to the Apple or Android app stores.

I've done some initial playing with the Zune music/video player - and I've found it very useable indeed. Apparently due to that ol' Windows/iOS divide, it's unlikely I'll get the full Zune experience. But then, I'm not hugely proactive with collecting music - in fact, after my last laptop died, I still haven't gotten around to rebuilding the meagre collection of songs I did have. Hopefully into the future I'll use this feature more.


Generally the Telstra NextG network was good, with good call quality, fast text messaging, and relatively quick data downloads (remember, I've got nothing really to compare it to!). The payment system for apps through the Telstra billing was easy and efficient. I was surprised to read many other reviewers raving about it; I couldn't believe such a logical idea was not the norm already.

However, I experienced a couple of epic fails with the network - the first being the U2 concert, which many people say is just the result of pressure on the network, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

But on Friday, the last official day of the review, I used the phone to take pictures of the pro-Wikileaks rally and march in Brisbane - and I could not upload them to Twitter for the best part of an hour. I could tweet messages alone, and if you go look you'll see an increasinly desperate series of calls for help (which I was aiming at the Telstra boffins themselves, but they obviously didn't see). Thanks to the fellow reviewers who tried to help; and special thanks to all the Apple fanboys who took the opportunity to say how good their iPhones were. Again, this may have been the Twitter app that was the problem, but it seemed to affect the other Twitter apps too, so I'm just not sure where the true fault lies.


I like the HTC Mozart enough to say I will continue using it. Having said that, I'll need to figure out a data plan that works for me - I've been using a prepaid Vodafone account that only costs me about $25 a month.
I'm not particularly loyal to Vodafone, but I will shop around to try to find the best call/data plan for me.

I will admit that I haven't read the full manual for either the phone or the platform - although I have referred to the Windows Phone website on a number of occasions. Some of the little help, or "action required" boxes that pop up were a bit confusing for me, as a newcomer. It would say "Do X", but not say what "X" was. Sometimes I worked it out after a while, other times I just gave up.

I say this because I am very much a smartphone newcomer, and I suspect there will be others like me. I've discovered that my aunt, and a friend's mother - both women in their late 40s - have recently gotten this same phone. I suspect it may find popularity amongst people who aren't necessarily teched up 20-something geeks. So while it's important not to patronise those customers, simple, clear language is really important to get them really using and enjoying the device.

Thanks very much to Telstra, Microsoft and HTC for including me in the review.


  1. Great review. I like your honesty and the details you include.

  2. I like the finger smudge statement. As an anal person, that is one of my biggest pet peeves about cell phones, and I'm constantly wiping mine off...and I don't even have a touch screen! EEEEP!

  3. Loved the review, I completely agree with everything you said. And may I remark that as lovely as your sepia photograph is I spent about ten minutes trying to rub your beauty spot off my computer screen - what a fool I've been.

  4. I'd check in your phone settings under display and there might be an autobrightness option, to automatically adjust the brightness depending on the surrounding light. least ways mine has that. And I dont know if you have a screen shield or not but I would strongly suggest getting one.

  5. Seems like a very worthwhile and fun adventure. I look forward to reading more!
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