HTC Ozone review

3 out of 5
Dependent on contract

For

Solid, Wi-Fi

Against

Keyboard fiddly, 2-megapixel camera, Windows Mobile 6.1

The beauty of having your roots founded in being an OEM manufacturer is that you can easily make the same handset three times with slight variations and not feel guilty about it.

That's the case for the Verizon Ozone from HTC that on the inside is the same as the HTC Snap and the HTC Dash. The difference, a slight customisation here and there and the pleasure of each operator saying they've got the exclusive.

HTC Ozone is virtually identical to the Snap and Dash in specs, but the biggest difference is the slightly different keyboard layout that it sports.

Get it out of the box and its clear that this is HTC attempting to nuzzle in on the Nokia E71 and BlackBerry Curve market. The design is you typical QWERTY keyboard approach with a 2.4-inch screen at the top, a stack of shortcut buttons in the middle and the QWERTY keyboard below.

The sides are fairly void of buttons and additions (just the volume) and there is a rather disappointing 2-megapixel camera on the rear. No flash.

Back to the front and those shortcuts are easy to use although the rectangle button in the centre is a little "cutting". It would have been nicer if it doubled as an optical mouse like the new 8530 from BlackBerry, but alas it doesn't.

As for the keyboard, Verizon has opted for rounded buttons that are bulbous and a touch tricky to master in a straight line rather than a curved one as found on the Snap.

The bottom row also has more keys making the space bar off centre and overly small, a strange move that will take some time getting used to.

Realising that space is short, most of the buttons have a second alternate and while the keyboard features the usual array of brackets and numbers HTC has come up with a helpful alternative to the space bar - access to the Comms Manager within Windows allowing you switch Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and even flight mode on and off with ease.

You might question why you would want such a shortcut, but when it comes to saving battery this stuff makes a difference and makes managing those connections easy. We like it.

Back to the keyboard's performance and overall, although we struggled, we would recommend a quick play in the shop before you sign on the dotted line just to be doubly sure.

Inside and the handset doesn't really jump out with anything exciting on the spec front. The usual tech acronyms are here and you'll get, being Verizon, the handset with CDMA as well as GSM/GPRS/EDGE support.

Verdict

At $49.99 this is entry-level stuff and it shows with the handset coming through as a good emailer if you are a Windows fan over BlackBerry and Nokia's S60 interfaces.

That said this really isn't that exciting and the thought of being lumbered with this handset for 2 years kind of scares us. Still if work does force this on you, it's not the end of the world, it's just not that exciting.

As for whether it offers anything over the Snap or the Dash? Not really. This is a personal preference option over the operators the three handsets are offered on rather than the hardware giving you better performance.