After looking at the video for the upcoming (I hope!) Google Glasses, I was in the mood for something really interesting and different when I wandered over to today's HTC/Sprint product introduction in Manhattan. Unlike HTC's very laid-back introduction of its three upcoming phones last February -- the HTC One X (sold by AT&T), the HTC One S (T-Mobile) and the HTC One V (for the prepaid market) -- this media event started with the usual bells & whistles that accompany a media announcement, such as a DJ playing deep-bass music, a large screen and a secrecy meant to add an air of expectation.
Once the first pyrotechnics were over, however, and the company reps got down to brass tacks, it turned out that the new Evo 4G LTE will have a lot of the same aspects of the HTC One X. This isn't a bad thing -- these features include an 8-megapixel camera with some snazzy accompanying software, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS overlaid with HTC ImageSense, and Beats sound enhancement. It also has a 1.5GHz dual processor, 16GB storage along with a slot for an SD card and 1 GB memory.
It's got several differences, though. For one thing, it has a great design, black with red accents (including the now-restored kickstand). In addition, the battery is slightly better: a 2000mAh battery (the One X has an 1800mAh battery). All in all, the new Evo looks to be, in general, a fine device (which we'll test out when review units become available).
However, what I was most interested in was the fact that one of the things that HTC was really touting was increased voice quality for phone calls.
Yup. They've recognized that people still do make phone calls on their smartphones.
What was talked about this afternoon was a new network using a technology called HD Voice, which will employ a new codec in order to increase the range of the voice spectrum and help noise reduction. The new Evo also has two microphones to enhance the noise reduction, not dissimilar to the way many higher-end headsets reduce extraneous environmental noise.
At the press event, Sprint took journalists into a booth where they compared the quality of making a call with an older EVO phone and the EVO 4G LTE. It was, as you might imagine, a vast improvement -- but it was a very controlled demo by the vendor. The HD Voice network isn't going to start being rolled out until late in 2012, and both parties will have to have an HD Voice-capable device to use the new network.
But the two microphones will help dampen external noise with or without HD Voice. And whether or not the new technology is as promising as Sprint and HTC say it is, it's nice to know that somebody is paying attention to what is, after all, what these phones were originally designed to do.
The HTC Evo 4G LTE will be available the second quarter of 2012 from Sprint for $199.99 with a two-year contract. Presales are expected to start May 7th.