Long time readers know that, besides being far too interested in weird security protocols, I am kind of a gadget freak.
Well, after much kicking and screaming I finally managed to put my fangs on a brand new Dell Venue Pro: and ho boy, was it worth the wait.
The last phone I bought was an HTC Touch Pro 2, as documented here; after that I got a WP7 LG prototype just last November. As a hardcore fan of wide physical keyboards, I greatly enjoyed those devices: however the Dell Venue Pro (DVP from now on) is simply another planet, both in term of hardware quality and performance. Let’s follow the usual ritual of the unboxing: the pictures do not really do justice to the device, but should at least give an idea.
Here there’s the box, just out of the FedEx package: surprisingly small.
There is the phone right away, apparently Dell does not believe in pleasure delaying in the same sub-box there is the battery, and after that the cables & adapters paraphernalia. Ah, the background is Uwajimaya’s 2011 calendar, I figured it would be more stylish than my bare kitchen counter…
Here there’s the entire content of the package, plus a bluetooth headset that was thrown in for good measure by Dell/TMobile. From the foreground to the back, left to right: the phone itself, the battery cover, the battery, the tiny power supply, microUSB cable #1, car adapter, microUSB cable#2, headset, manuals, the BT headset.
The phone feels really sturdy. Nothing moves if not in the direction it is supposed to, things snap in and out with Swiss precision, and the weight really gives the feeling of an important device. It’s not especially small, but it still manages to be a tad thinner than the LG dev device. Here it’s ready to welcome the battery and come to life.
Detail of the battery cover plaque. I really like both the feel and the appearance of the diamond pattern on the back: it makes the grip feel more stable (also on the friction mat in my car) and makes the surface interesting (in the visual frequency/Shannon sense).
The care for details is almost Japanese: in this picture you can see that they did not forget about the back of the display when they keyboard is exposed (sorry for the horrible pic, low lights conditions). Not many phones can claim the same.
Finally time to boot! After having been spoiled by the magnificent display of the Zune HD, I could not settle for anything less than a fantastic high contrast AMOLED.
And here it is, the lock screen (with the Phoenix wallpaper I drew myself on the tablet during an especially long meeting).
The picture does not render how amazingly crisp the display looks like, and can’t certainly convey how incredibly fast it responds to the touch commands. It is by far the fastest WP7 device I’ve tried, and many colleagues agree with the assessment (and they tried A LOT).
Detail of the phoenix. You really need to see the display in real life, the pictures are simply not giving the idea (not my pictures, at least: maybe I should have waited for natural light, but with the short winter days I am never home when there’s light).
The flash here exposes the display finer structure, but at the naked eye those colors are absolutely, magically uniform. The absolute smoothness of the UI animations completes the effect.
Here there’s a SxS comparison with the LG dev device. Not much bigger, and the display SCREAMS whereas the one on the right whispers.
With keyboards extended. Notice how the DVP gives the impression to be the less bulky of the two, despite being objectively bigger. That’s how a good design can play with your eyes
Detail of the keyboard. I’ve never been a fan of the blackjack form factor, but I have to say that the keys are very well made and typing is very easy despite how tiny each key actually is. As you notice in the picture, the LG dev device has the arrow keys whereas DVP lacks them: but in the end once you know the cursor trick you can easily do without.
Besides the already mentioned speed, construction quality and incredible display, the DVP call quality is superb and the phone stack is rock solid. The mike pick everything up also in speakerphone mode, which works really well for me.
Now, not everything is absolutely perfect: however the only issues I found so far are just a less-than-exceptional camera (who does its job anyway) and somewhat moody Bluetooth (at times the phone connects right away to the car’s handsfree, some other it will do so three minutes into the drive). But those are minor inconveniences, which are dwarfed by the magnificent construction quality of the device and its snappy performances.
I suggest you walk by the nearest Microsoft Store and spend few minutes playing with this marvel: I am sure it will be enough to fall in love with it!
Now, if only I could find the time to code all the WP7 app ideas I have… 😉