New smartphone allows video conferencing

Microsoft News Sprint last week announced the HTC Evo 4G. It's the first phone to run on Sprint's next-generation 4G high-speed mobile broadband network. Sprint offers 4G service in 27 markets with plans to roll it out to more markets later this year. The phone is expected to be available this summer.

One thing interesting about this phone is that it has two cameras. Like most smartphones, there's one on the back that the user controls from the front of the camera to take pictures or video of others. The back-facing camera on the Evo has an exceptionally high-resolution 8 megapixels and the ability to capture high definition video.

But the phone also has a 1.3-megapixel camera on its front, so it can easily take a picture or video of the phone's user. Aside from being able to take vanity pictures of yourself, that feature — when combined with the phone's high-speed network — allows live video conferencing. You could also use the camera in the back to broadcast whatever is around you.

The HD2 is all about entertainment and comes pre-loaded with two movies: "Transformers" and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." These are not my favorite flicks but they do demonstrate the quality of the screen and the fact that viewing movies on a smartphone can be a reasonably OK experience, thanks in part to that 4.3-inch high-resolution screen, which T-Mobile says is the largest of any smartphone sold in the United States. A mobile version of the "Guitar Hero" game is also pre-loaded. And the phone comes with a GPS and turn-by-turn navigation from Telenav.

To its credit, HTC layered its "Sense" user interface over Windows Mobile 6.5, which makes it more user-friendly than most Windows mobile phones. Also, the faster processor makes up for the otherwise sluggish performance I've experienced on other Windows phones. However, Windows did raise its ugly head twice during my test of the phone.

Microsoft last month unveiled an entirely new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7 Series, which was rewritten from the ground up. The new Windows mobile won't run existing applications, so anyone who buys a Windows phone today is buying into a dying ecosphere.

Microsoft News: Smartphones keep getting smarter and more useful. Now they're turning into mobile TV broadcasting stations.

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