Possible HTC Driver Issue Spurs User Activism, Update: HTC Responds

We here at WMExperts have a bit of experience with users organizing around a tech support issue and petitioning the company to just fix the darn thing already. After all, over at our sister site TreoCentral just such an effort was successful last year. This time around, it's HTCClassAction.org, a group of users who aren't actually suing anybody (yet), but trying to get HTC to fix what seems to be a persistent problem.

Update: After the break, the rest of the original post, HTC's response, and a couple closing thoughts.

Drivers Missing?

At issue, several of HTC's devices run on a certain type of Qualcomm chip that has the ability to speed up graphics, but it seems like HTC hasn't developed the drivers to take advantage of it. The result? Sketchy video playback, mainly, but also mysterious slowness on devices that shouldn't be all that slow. AT&T Tilt, we're looking squarely at you.

The drivers (small pieces of software that govern your device's hardware) in question are responsible for all drawing operations. This means absolutely everything having anything to do with putting something on your screen is affected. This includes normal programs, video playback, games, taking pictures, etcetera. If it's on your screen, it's affected. This makes the devices feel really slow and unresponsive. For more details about this, see the Drivers in detail page.

HTC hasn't officially responded, but there have been pitter-patters of email suggesting they're looking into it and may release a fix concurrently with Windows Mobile 6.1 updates.

For our part, we would be equally surprised and not surprised to hear that HTC isn't using the full potential of its processor chips from Qualcomm. On the one hand, HTC has its stuff really together, so it would be odd if they didn't take full advantage of the chip. On the other hand, manufacturers regularly ignore chip features for reasons of development costs and the like. Many phones, for example, actually have GPS built into them that will never work because there is no antenna to take advantage of it. Others (like the Mogul) do have the necessary hardware for GPS but not the drivers (yet!).

If you want to join up, the site has all sorts of petition options, a list of affected devices, and the like. Meanwhile - do you agree that the Tilt feels a might bit slower than it ought to be given its stupendous specs?

HTC Reponds

Here's what HTC has to say about the whole thing:

HTC is committed to delivering a portfolio of devices that offer a wide variety of communication, connectivity and entertainment functionality. HTC does not offer dedicated or optimized multimedia devices and can confirm that its Qualcomm MSM7xxx-based devices do not use ATI’s Imageon video acceleration hardware.HTC believes the overall value of its devices based on their combination of functionality and connectivity exceeds their ability to play or render high-resolution video. These devices do still provide a rich multimedia experience comparable to that of most smartphones and enable a variety of audio and video file formats.HTC values its customers and the overall online community of mobile device enthusiasts and fans. HTC plans to include video acceleration hardware in future video-centric devices that will enable high-resolution video support.

A few things. First, although we knew it already it's nice to hear HTC say “yep, we don't use that part of the chip.” Second, it's a bit of a bummer, but pretty much what we expected. As we said in the original post, there are all sorts of phones out there with chips that could theoretically do more than the phone takes advantage of. I'd much rather have a phone that's well thought out in terms of hardware and software integration and overall design than one that has every possible feature known to man thrown at it. That's why my current phone is a Motorola Q9h (despite the lack of WiFi).

Third thought: “future video-centric devices” sounds pretty tasty.

WC Staff