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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.

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HTC Imagio gets Hard-SPL


The HTC Imagio just received a seat at the kitchen table to enjoy some home cooking. Home cooked ROM's that is.

PPCGeeks member cmonex has released a Hard-SPL that will enable custom ROMs to be installed on the Imagio.  And it didn't take long for a cooked ROM to surface.

NRGZ28, a popular chef in the cooked ROM community, has already released a Beta version of his popular EnergyROM for the Imagio. The Rom is based of of Windows Mobile 6.5.5 with the option of Sense 2.1 or 2.5.

While custom ROMs aren't for everyone, being able to customize the ROM on the Imagio will only add to this very nice Windows Phone.


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Android spotted on the Imagio

Well, look at this little surprise.  Looks like PPCGeeks forum user drellisdee managed to get Android 2.01 to boot up on his Verizon Imagio (see full review) using the HaRET linux bootloader.

While porting Android to our WinMo phones is not that new, nor still far from perfect (most are plagued with hardware integration issues), progress is still creeping along.

We'll just let Drellisdee summarize: 

I've gotten android 2.01 to boot on Imagio based on the topaz work on xda. After changing the the startup config's I've got the touchscreen responding properly but the hardware keys arent mapped right. The latest kernel noted in post 602 on xda didnt boot but the original pkg did. PS vol down is for vol and backup key as its mapped currently and the bottom right onscreen button on the press the android to start will let you change the lang to english.

Of course now comes the areas that "still need work," which are numerous:
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Hardware key mapping
  • CDMA radio
  • GPS

Baby steps, baby steps.  Hopefully within a few months we'll all be dual booting the latest Android doughnut-thingamajigger on our WinMo devices.  Why? The same reason WinMo users always innovate: because we can!

PS  Here's the TP2 bounty thread with their bootable version, still in early stages.

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It's pretty well known that the HTC HD2 (Leo) had a wee camera problem with some odd colors showing up in the center.

That has been addressed via a patch, which is available now.

Of course, what would be the fun of having a patch for one device and not trying it out on another?  Not very much.

Turns out if you apply the .cab'd version to the Verizon Imagio (see review) it greatly speeds up the auto-focus -- as in cuts the time in half as well as just general quickness of the camera app. Image quality is said to be the same and no one is reporting any negatives, so if you've done a fresh backup give it a go.

And for the record, we did try this on our Sprint Touch Pro 2 and saw no difference ;-)

Download the .cab here.

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Let's play our favorite game: Guess the carrier. For those of you who don't work in cell phone stores, the photo you see above from Phone Arena is of a CelleBrite unit, which transfers info from one phone to another (presumably) pretty seamlessly. Note the "source model" here is the Toshiba TG01 (See our latest hands-on), and it's said that this one's from a Verizon store. Far-fetched? Not really. Remember that we've already seen a CDMA version slide through the feds.

If this pans out, it would give Big Red a pair of black slab Windows phones -- the TG01 and the HTC Imagio. That could be a tough call for VZW customers. On one hand you have the TG01 and its 4.1-inch (resistive) touchscreen and 1GHz Snapdragon processor. On the other hand you have the HTC Imagio, and all the custom ROM hackery that goes along with it.

This also probably all but rules out the HTC HD2 hitting Verizon first, but anything's possible, we guess.

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Tekzilla looks at the Imagio, HD2

It should come as little surprise that the boys and girls at Revision 3 have a cool job than you. Look no further that this episode of Tekzilla in which Patrick Norton and Veronia Belmont go hands-on with the Verizon Imagio as well as ... wait for it ... the HTC HD2. As if we needed another reason to want that phone. Head in to about the 28-minute mark for the goods. [via pocketnow]

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That's right, folks. For $199 after two-year contract and rebate, you, too, can have your very own Verizon Imagio, with it's 3.6-inch screen and Windows Mobile 6.5 goodness. Act now, because if it's anywhere near as popular as the Touch Pro 2 has been for Verizon (it's currently out of stock), you could find yourself waiting for a while. And if you want to pick one up in a Verizon store, you're going to have to wait until Oct. 20 anyway.

Verizon Wireless

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More video of the Verizon Imagio

That last video of the Verizon Imagio too little, too dark for you? Check out this one from Wirelesszone, where we see it put up against the BlackBerry Storm for a size comparison and 8 minutes of video goodness. We were hoping for a better look at the on-screen keyboard, because we've been told it's as good, if not better, than any on-screen keyboard out there. Of course, there's only one way to test that ...

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What do you do when you see HTC's Eric Lin at the GDGT New York launch party? You corner him and make him show you some of the latest HTC goodness, of course. On Thursday night, he had none other than the Verizon Imagio on hand, and the guys at Pocketnow got a bit of video of the beast. We get a good look at the UI and the MediaFLO TV feature -- the uber-cool kickstand doubles as an antenna, apparently.

This is easily being heralded as one of the top devices of the year, at least short of anything with a Tegra or Snapdragon next-generation processor. And we're starting to see what's causing all the hype.

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Hot on the heels of our getting some inside info that the HTC Imagio (Whitestone) is still on track for an Oct. 6 release on Verizon, Big Red goes ahead and confirms it, officially announcing the phone this morning. Here are the dirty deets:

  • Launches online Oct. 6 for $199.99 after two-year contract and $100 rebate.
  • Available in stores on Oct. 20.
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional
  • World Phone: EV-DO Rev. A and 850/900/1800/1900/2100MHz GSM.
  • WiFi b/g.
  • 3.6-inch resistive touchscreen at 480x800 pixels.
  • 3.5mm headphone jack.
  • 1,500mAh battery.
  • 5MP camera.

There you have it, folks. The first U.S. carrier to launch the Whitestone (or call it a follow to the Touch Diamond, if you want, even if it's from a different fork in the tree.) But our question still stands: Is this your thing? Or are you holding out for the Omnia II?

Which upcoming Verizon phone most tickles your fancy?(polling)
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Okay folks we have some info that regarding the much anticipated Samsung Omnia II on Verizon, which has been evidently arriving for what seems like months now. (June, anyone?)

We're hearing from our source:

  • Verizon is waiting for Samsung to officially launch it first.
  • Verizon is looking to launch sometime in mid-October.
  • It will launch on Verizon with Windows Mobile 6.1.
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 will be in a ROM update, but not for a while.
  • The Omnia II is launching elsewhere with Windows Mobile 6.5.

Of course Verizon is also launching the HTC Imagio aka 'Whitestone' on Oct. 6, which we hear is still on track. That device is launching with Windows Mobile 6.5, giving a slight advantage over the Omnia II, at least initially.

Then again, the Omnia II has that swank custom UI, which is just a tad more impressive than Windows Mobile 6.5, so it's probably a wash. See it in action here.

Now knowing this Verizon-ers, which device are you holding out for? Hit the poll, and leave your reasons in the comments.

Which upcoming Verizon phone most tickles your fancy?(polling)
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Looks like PhoneArena got their lucky mitts on some shots of the Verizon Imagio, which were hearing is still slated for a release on October 6th. We also know something else "launching" October 6th, ahem--not coincidence.

We finally learn that the "Media" button links to VCast MobileTV, part of the Qualcomm MediaFLO network, which till now hasn't been used by US carriers (to our knowledge).

Nothing else has changed:

  • WM6.5
  • Qualcomm 7600 @ 528MHz
  • 512MB ROM/256MB RAM
  • 3.6-inch WVGA touchscreen
  • 5-megapixel autofocus camera/Anti-handshaking
  • gpsOne (aGPS and full GPS)
  • GSM/CDMA World phone
  • Kickstand
  • 3.5mm Headset jack
  • Manilla 2.5

Check out the two other diagram shots from the user manual after the jump.

[via PhoneArena]

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Two juicy nuggets emerged this morning from the Boy Genius Report's ninjas regarding the HTC Whitestone, the sort-of-but-not-really successor to the HTC Touch Diamond (insofar as it's a black slab sans keyboard):

  1. Henceforth it shall be called the Verizon Imagio. (Sounds more like a "Harry Potter" spell, but whatever.)
  2. It'll be released as part of the Oct. 6 Super Duper Windows Mobile 6.5 launch day.

Specs remain as we first reported:

  • Qualcomm 7600 @ 528MHz
  • 512MB ROM/256MB RAM
  • 3.6-inch WVGA touchscreen
  • 5-megapixel autofocus camera/Anti-handshaking
  • gpsOne (aGPS and full GPS)
  • GSM/CDMA World phone

Can Oct. 6 come soon enough for you guys?

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