To wrap up the Microsoft NYC Open House this week, we got to play with some of the latest and greatest Windows phones featuring Windows Mobile 6.5.  It was all the usual suspects if you will: AT&T Touch Pro 2 (aka Tilt 2), Pure; Verizon Imagio. (Toshiba TG01, Sprint Intrepid & the LG GM750 were covered elsewhere).

All in all we came away very impressed. All the manufacturers present have really stepped up their game and we think customers win out in the end with this years crop of WM6.5 phones.

Read on for some great photos and our thoughts on these three devices.

AT&T Tilt 2 (Touch Pro 2)

The good: The AT&T Tilt 2 came off exactly like the Sprint/Verizon version--that is excellent. Sure the keyboard layout is a bit different, there's some unique software on board, but the device was hot with WM6.5 on it and I don't mean over-heating.  All in all, you AT&T folks are in for a treat.  The chrome detailing gave it a nice "cool" feel to it and overall it just feels so ergonomically good.

The bad: No 3.5mm headset jack to be seen!  Sorry folks, you'll be using the adapter like the Pure users. TouchFlo, while fast and nice looking suffers from the usual AT&T bloatware.  Of course you can remove that so no biggie--to be honest I prefer WM6.5 Titanium more.

Availability:  Now in some business channels; wide October 18th for $299.

AT&T Pure (Touch Diamond 2)

The good: The Pure is a heck of a device.  I've been using it for the last few days consistently and just love it.  The size is perfect and just feels so right in the hand.  The screen is very high contrast, bright and just beautiful to look at. The ability to lock the screen by holding down the End key is a treat as well as Voice Command set up to the Send button. 

Audio is great and WM6.5 fits like a glove on here.  Really great Windows phone if you receive a lot of messages, tweets, etc.  Oh and the camera is outstanding. (See George's full review of the Pure and watch for his follow up on the camera).

Image Quality Test (Thanks to Rob Alvarado from Sleeperhit for posing):

The bad: Like the Tilt 2, no 3.5mm headset jack.  In addition, the keyboard while usable is tough on 2.8" vs a 3.6" Imagio or Tilt 2.  It works, but it take some time to get used to and is not for the message-fanatic out there.

It's also missing some cool features of the Touch Pro 2 like the sensor to turn off the screen during a call or the ability to just put down the phone face first to turn on speaker phone. Not deal killers but I would have thought these were now standard HTC features on these devices.

Small quibble: While I love the camera, at 5MP it seems to be too much for the default Pictures & Video app to handle, meaning no quick-edits or crops, which I use frequently.

Availability: Now in stores for $149.

Verizon HTC Imagio

The good: Verizon did a good job here, landing what is truly a unique device--it's like a mix between a Touch Pro 2 and Touch HD but with a twist. The device is fast and nimble, looks great with the "grill" on the front and has a great thing going with Qualcomm's Flo Network for streaming TV.

The screen is outstanding and WM6.5 works very well on here and touch-typing is much, much easier than the AT&T Pure with that extra real-estate.

The bad: While the kickstand/antenna combo is a neat trick, it does worry one that it could just as easily snap off, so be careful! And where is the Power button?  Most Windows phones have a separate power button to turn off the device--not the Imagio!  Even I was flumoxed on this account though we assume it is there somewhere.

The button layout with that 5th "media" button is nice, but it throws off the traditional HTC layout.  I found myself a few times hitting that button instead of the Windows flag and that is a costly mistake, as loading the Verizon media player will set you back 20-30 seconds.

Availability: Online now, in stores October 20th for $199.

Conclusion

Microsoft and their partners have done a great job with this next-gen hardware for their current line-up.  These devices are a huge step up from 1 year ago and WM6.5 goes a long way in making up the visual deficiencies of the aging OS.  HTC, Toshiba, LG and even Samsung are all offering compelling devices right now, with each featuring unique hardware and software tweaks.

Overall we have to be excited about these new changes and you can clearly tell Microsoft and their partners are working more closely than ever, allowing a near universal experience that only Windows Mobile can offer.

Now can someone send over the Toshiba TG01 already?