Posts tagged Verizon

Cellphonius Terminus

12

You may recall my c-Net styled review of the HTC Touch Pro; if not, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to hop over to that page and read it now.

Assuming you have the time. Which, if such is not the case, then I really don’t understand why you visit this site in the first place. I mean, verbosity is our thing; it’s what we do! To say that we, in the writing of our bloggings here, are anything other than overly verbose would not only be redundant and senseless, it would be downright unnecessary and devoid of wit.

Oh, you’re one of those that are just here for the pictures, aren’t you???

Silly maggot …

Ok, are the rest of you back from reading the review?

Yum, yum … you can just taste the bile, can’t ya?

Well, that was was November 5th, a mere 64 days after I’d acquired that fetid work of the underworld. The adventure had only just begun …

It is now late February and I have continued to endure this … this …

the non-profane eludes me at this moment

I am still the “proud” owner of this little marvel and it still is — lucky me — my primary communication device, of the portable electronic variety, of course. I have, though, attempted to change that on more than one occasion.  I guess I should probably address the matter of why it is that it has taken me so many months to finally change my fate:

I visited the local purveyor of Verizon phones at a franchise storefront here in town  several weeks after I’d made the fateful mistake of committing to this “smart” phone. My first visit saw me dealing with the younger gentleman that Ron, the owner, has in his employ. I forget his name at the moment, but I walked in, introduced myself and set my phone on the counter.

He furrowed his brow a little and asked, “First gen Touch Pro?”

“Uh … yeah.”

“Ouch!”

I chuckled, “And as if that weren’t bad enough, this was the ‘upgrade’ to my previous phone which was a first gen Chocolate.”

“Seriously?”, he asked.

“Yeah … am I not just the luckiest dog on the porch?”

We proceeded to talk for a brief few minutes before he said that I really needed to talk to the boss-man. It took me a few days to carve out the time to make it back to the store in the hopes that his boss, Ron, was there. Because the Spousal Unit and Ron have a history, I tend to drag her along with me on these visits. I mean, what can it hurt, right?

We returned  a few days later …

I opened the door for my lady and as I followed her in I put on a big smile on my face and nodded, “Heya Ron! How’s things?”

He smiled back, “Goin’ good, man! How have you guys been?”

In total Matrix / Neo style, I mentally dodged the small-talk bullet and cut to the chase: “Dude, I really … desperately and seriously … need your help.”

He shot me a surprised look; not surprising given the opening lob of drama, “Well, we’ll see what I can do. What’s the problem?”

“This,” I said in a playful attempt at feigned anger as I slammed The Brick on the counter.

“Oh,” he said, seemingly unaware that this device was any different than any other PDA / Smart Phone in his inventory, “and what seems to be the problem with it?”

As it turns out, the explanation I gave was actually the germination phase of what would eventually become the cNet styled blogging about this same device that I linked you to earlier. To say that he was a little taken back would be an understatement, but he did laugh with me along the way a few times. The Spousal Unit, however, seemed a tad exasperated at times. Seems my occasional outbursts of manic energy are a touch uncomfortable for her sometimes. I hope it’s not that I embarrass her; that’d be sort of a bummer.

But we don’t have time for such musings this morning. I have a house I need to finish packing and a move I need to make the final arrangements for.

At the end of our pleadings he intimated that he was powerless to do a thing. He did, however, explain that if we took it to a corporate store they would most likely just declare my unit defective and give me a replacement model.

I smiled, as this was my desired outcome.

Ron shook his head, and not in the affirmative, “No, I mean they’ll send you the same model.”

“Oh no,” I blurted out, “No, no, no, no, NO! Dude, that will not do!”

He shrugged his shoulders in a way that I would soon suspect was a calculated and learned trait possibly passed down through corporate sales training sessions at Verizon.

. . .

We all shook hands and said our goodbyes. Seeings how we frequent the same watering hole it only makes sense to keep things on the up and up. And besides, Ron’s actually a hell of a nice guy.

As we drove away I resumed my irritable ramblings.

“Oh my god, what is it with me? Will foul luck and misery follow me all the days of my life?”

.. and …

“Are you shitting me? I cannot believe I am stuck with yet another piece of shit phone for two years!”

… and it continued along similar lines …

Being the fearless, 6 foot tall Scandinavian woman that she is, the wife interrupted me at one point, “If you can handle keeping it long enough, maybe they’ll discontinue it and you’ll get an upgrade to whatever replaces that one.”

I stopped and nodded at the obvious wisdom of her rhetorical question. The image of the two Monty Python-ish cartoon characters from the semi-recent Guinness commercials popped into my head as I blurted out one simple word in a poor Irish accent: “Brilliant!”

Later that evening I visited the Verizon Wireless website. I had been there several days earlier and there were scant few customer reviews on my particular phone (HTC Touch Pro, just in case you forgot). Now there were suddenly hundreds of them! Evidently, there were a whole buttload of those pending approval / moderation and someone must have just clicked on “release/approve all.”

I dare say I cannot ever recall seeing a lower customer rating than what I was staring at. The fact that I did NOT grab any screen captures ticks me off! It was absolute pandemonium! Apart from the rare comment / review by a customer who had obviously just crawled out of a cave and left these comments the same day they purchased this phone, the rest was one angry, vitriolic response after another.

This served as the watering phase of the aforementioned germination process that ultimately blossomed into the blogging that was my own review of the HTC Touch Pro (linked above).

If it was named T H C instead, I’d like to think that all of this would at least make a little more sense …

Anyhow … I came back to the Verizon Wireless website some days later to grab some of the fresh vitriol to use as fodder for my own blogging.

But it was all gone! All references, except for the most benign tech support issues, were completely purged from the site! Not a single customer review. Not a single link to a Discontinued Model, which was still their habit.

Nossir, this sucker just up and disappeared like a thief in the night!

Several months pass and, man, have I got to tell ya … it has been downright nightmarish dealing with this damnable device.

One thing that I will say to its benefit is the fact that it is amazingly durable! My take on this being an effectual weapon was spot on!

Hey, don’t be hatin’ … if you were paying the insurance and you KNEW that you were — some how, some way — getting that thing eventually replaced because it was not only a lemon of a product as a whole, but your particular unit was clearly defective beyond that … yeah, you tell ME you wouldn’t occasionally fling that thing across the room or into a cement wall!

But anyhow …

Along comes February, and the insane back-to-back blizzards! While visitations of the various beasts of the snow migration were a wonderful distraction, everybody around me was growing increasingly impatient with the same words constantly bursting from my lips multiple times an hour: “I hate this fucking phone!”

I printed a copy of the blogging I’d done about the Touch Pro, grabbed it, jumped in the truck and made our way across town to once again beg of Ron’s mercies. I handed him the print out and said, “After I leave and you’ve got some dead time on your hands, you ought to give this a read; I think it’ll give you a decent laugh.”

He nodded as he glanced at it. “So, how can I help you two today?”

“Dude, is there anybody that you can call at corporate to put in a good word for us as a preferred customer?”

He shot me a look that almost hinted of, Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis?

“Dude, after more than ten years as customers and my wife’s insistence that we primarily deal with you? I think that just about makes anyone in my shoes a preferred customer.”

“No,” her interrupted, “no, that wasn’t it at all.”

“So,” I said with an exasperated sigh, “there’s nothing you can do, not even put in a call on our behalf?”

“Naw,” he said as he shook his head and shrugged his shoulders, “that’s really something that just has to go through corporate.”

We clarified which locations closest to us qualified as “corporate.” He suggested that I go to the one in Ashburn as he’d had some really pleasant dealings with some of the staff there.

As we shook hands and said our goodbyes he added, “Good luck, man. You may have to press the matter pretty hard if you want anything more than an in-kind replacement.”

“If those assholes want to keep my business — and I assure you, our monthly bill is more than ample — then they better do something more than offer me another Touch Pro or even the Pro2. I’d rather step back down to a simple flip-phone, demand a refund for the wasted monthly data-plan charges, and give that to my son until my contract is up and just go get an iPhone.”

He nodded sympathetically as he tapped on the print-out I’d handed him earlier, “And I promise to give this a read! See ya at Spanky’s some time, alright?”

“I look forward to it,” I said with a smile, “you know where to find to me!”

He chuckled, “By that stupid video golf game!”

“Yes,” I smiled even bigger, “the claws of the monkey that is that adult video crack machine are dug deeply into my soul.”

Some days later I reached my absolute and final boiling point with this phone. This time it was a solo venture. Being as irritable and as driven as a I was to finally get this situation resolved, regardless of the outcome, I thought it was best if I didn’t have my wife’s sensibilities and her distaste for public confrontation to interfere with the divine mission which was mine to undertake.

As I pulled in to the parking lot of the strip center within which the corporate Verizon Wireless was located, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes for a brief moment. Politeness, directness and calm were the order of the day. All the same, visions of a massive pyre and Viking warriors chanting at the tops of their lungs filled my mind.

(as always, click to enlarge)

I opened my eyes quickly so as to not drift too far astray with in imaginations.

As I walked into the store, I was greeted by two young ladies seated at small receptionist station-like stations. The younger one shot me a broad smile and the lady who actually greeted me directly seemed to not be having a great start to her day. She asked tersely but politely, “How may I help you, sir?”

“I really need to talk to somebody about this phone.” I gently set it on the counter in front of her.

The younger lady, to her left, leaned over and asked as she curled her nose, “Touch Pro?”

My left eyelid twitched a few times, “Yeah,” I said as politely as I could, “seems like you’re familiar with it.”

She shook her head back and forth as she raised her hand and with a smile said, “I’m not even getting started.”

I turned my attention to the lady who was waiting to assist me and went on to try and describe why this thing was not only a defective unit, but possibly the most evil thing to have cursed humanity in centuries.

She finally interrupted me, “I’m sorry, sir. You’re going to need to talk to someone in tech. Someone will call your name in a few minutes.”

As I stepped aside it suddenly occurred to me that this woman had probably pressed some sort of panic button to inform the manager on duty that a possibly irate customer was in the building. If they had a special, emergency-use-only button for the potential “postal” types, I’d imagined that that was the once she chose to press instead.

I took another slow, deep breath to once again regain my focus.

And I made the mistake of closing my eyes again …

A young man’s voice brought me back to the store / present reality, “Good morning, sir!”

I blinked my eyes a few times to shake the images out of the frontal lobe. “And a good morning to you, dude. Are you the tech guy that I’m waiting to talk with about this … this … phone.”

He shook his head, “Oh, nossir, I work with the Fios side of things here. I’d overheard you say you were in the process of moving … ?”

With a grin and a nod I cut him off, “Actually, we’re very, very happy Fios customers and — lucky me — the place we’re moving to is already wired for Fios.”

Alex — I believe that was his name, but it might have been Adam — continued to chat for a few minutes about some of the really cool new features and upgrades that Fios had recently began to roll out. As we were talking I heard my name being called from behind me, albit slightly mispronounced as usual.

It’s a stupidly simple Hungarian name, I’m surprised it gets mangled as often as it does.

Anyhow … as I turned around, I was somewhat disappointed to have gone from dealing with such a pleasant, broad smiled young man to being greeted by a perfect sour-puss of a mildly effeminate young man. Seated to his left was a young black man who, as I would learn, was recently employed by Flextronics and was under the tutelage of my fussy little tech support representative.

“My name is Shea, what seems to be the problem with your phone?”

I went on to re-explain to him the same things I had been enumerating to the young lady I was first greeted by. He was perfectly disinterested in hearing me out and continually interrupted me. The third time he interrupted he simply said, “Sir, if you would like me to take a look at it, it sounds like it easily qualifies for a replacement.”

“I realize that, Shea. I am fully and unquestionably aware that this particular unit is defective. Have you worked here for very long?”

He nodded, responding in the affirmative.

“And you are familiar with this phone,” I tapped on it a little less than gently, “the infamous HTC Touch Pro?”

He nodded his head in agreement again, “Yessir, we stopped carrying that model last fall and HTC stopped manufacturing it shortly after that.”

“I appreciate the history lesson, but surely you’re aware of what an epic failure this … this … thing was and still is?!?!”

Once again, I was confronted with a look and a tone that was chock full of red flags that had the words “bull shit” written all over them. It does not take a PhD in psychology or any of the other behavioral sciences to tell when someone is patently lying to you.

And it was impossible to ignore the fact that it was done in the same trained, rehearsed demeanor that I had encountered with other Verizon employees over the years.

“Sir, if you would let me take a look at your phone I can at least determine if this unit is defective and, if so, we can have it replaced with a new or refurbished one.”

I blinked a few times before asking, “Are you shitting me?” It was the first time I’d let a hint of my own frustration or irritation show.

“That’s all your warranty covers, sir.”

“Yeah, and I not only pay $45 a month for a data service plan that does me absolutely no good, I also pay another $5 per month for the protection / replacement plan thing. Hell, I’d almost rather downgrade back to a stupid clam shell phone than put up with this … this …”

He interrupted me again, “Do you have an old phone in a drawer at your house?”

“Excuse me?” as I tried to figure out how he knew about the veritable black holes we call “drawers” in our kitchen.

“I can see what Verizon can do in the way of a refund and you can go back to using an old phone until your contract is up in May.”

I was on the verge of losing it; and dealing with this prancing little priss of a man across the counter was not making matters any better. “Look, Shea, we’re obviously having some communication issues here … is your manager or supervisor here in the store this morning? I really need to talk to somebody who is capable of making decisions. If I can’t get around having this … this … DETESTABLE THING replaced by pretty much anything other than another anything from HTC … then I may as well just say ‘screw it all’ and go get myself an iPhone.”

I sighed as I tried to look him square in the eyes, “Please?”

I say “try” because he averted the direct eye contact; that pansy.

Shea turned around and stepped through the door to take the matter up with the manager.

It was at this point that I got better acquainted with the young black man who was working under Shea’s wing yesterday morning. He was a perfectly pleasant guy and, as it turns out, he’s worked with a close friend of my family for quite some time (at Pohanka Lexus).

Several minutes later a short, another black gentleman about my age, perhaps a few years older, stepped out through the doorway and introduced himself. He looked as if he was possibly from Kenya or another African country, and carried a slight accent to match. His name was Jack.

Jack calmly and patiently allowed me to once again re-tell my tales of frustration and woe. He finally said, “Well, if we can show that this is a defective unit we can have Verizon send you a replacement or a refurbished one if there are no new ones left in stock.”

I stood there silently, flabbergasted beyond words.

“Sir,” I pleaded as I stared into his eyes, “I really need some help!”

It immediately occurred to me how that could have easily been taken an entirely different way by him or anybody else witnessing this exchange.

“What would you have me do?” Jack inquired.

“This thing is a freaking lemon, sir! All I want is relief from this insufferable piece of shit! Anything that does not have the name HTC on it would probably do; I’m dead serious.”

“For free?” he asked.

“Yes,” I nodded wildly, “of course for free! I’ve been dealing with the most miserable, unusable, frustrating phone ever conceived by man or demon for 6 months now, and I pay an extra $45 dollars month for data services and internet access for a phone that does me no good! Come on, Jack … I really need your help.”

“But we cannot give you a phone, sir. If you would like, I can see if we can reset your contract and you can get a new phone that way.”

I nodded towards the business phone immediately beside us, “Could you please just call someone at Verizon and put in a preferred customer request or something? We’ve been loyal customers for over 10 years now, and all I want is just be free from this hideous phone.”

Jack picked up the phone and started dialing. As he was logging in to the call center, he got past the point of typing in my account number and password. It was at this point that I learned about a balance due of proportions I was not prepared to confront.

“EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS?”, I burst out, “Are you kidding me?”

“Yes sir,” Jack said quietly, “I noticed that as I was looking at your account before I came out to speak with you; until you get that paid up you will not be able to talk to anybody at Verizon about this problem, even if you just wanted it fixed.”

I spent the next half hour or more with the extremely pleasant young lady whom I met at the beginning of my visit to the store. She and I went through the last couple months of detailed statements, one account at a time. Suffice it to say that some command decisions were made at this point regarding a number of things and a number of services were blocked.

But I digress …

Once we were all paid up, I was finally put back on the phone with Verizon. After a short exchange the lady I was speaking to informed me that we first had to transfer my call over to tech support. After being on hold for a few moments, a very pleasant, soothing voice greeted me, “Good afternoon,  my name is Lauren, how may help you today?”

I proceeded to, yet again, detail my tales of woe. When I finally paused she jumped in, “Sir, before we can do anything I first have to confirm that this unit is defective and is something more than just a ROM or other software upgrade.”

“Don’t you realize what a perfectly useless, miserable piece of crap this thing is?”

“I can only imagine, sir, but we have to prove it’s defective before we can do a thing.”

My shoulders fell and I sighed, “I understand that; I’m just beyond frustrated with this whole debacle of a phone.”

“I appreciate that sir. Are you willing to erase everything on your phone now?”

“Excuse me?”

“Do you use ActiveSync to back up your phone?”

“Oh, that! Hell no … that was just the beginning of my troubles 6 months ago. I never got that software to install properly.”

She proceeded to inform me that our only solution was for me to head home and she would have a set of links awaiting me via email. I was to email her to let her know I was ready to have Lauren walk me through a number of things over the phone. I finally got home, frustrated beyond belief that I was leaving the store empty handed.

Between my email to Lauren and her return call to me, I went ahead and started installing the latest version of ActiveSync. While waiting for the call, I then went ahead and launched the program to go ahead and do the back-up myself. I mean, hey … I’m technically adept, right?

Well, as it turns out, ActiveSync decided to synchronize with my local copy of Outlook, a new installation with no contacts, no appointments, no nothing on it … and, as fate would have it, the default setting was to give preference to the data in Outlook rather than what was on the phone.

Did you notice the past tense reference there?

Yeah, I lost my entire contacts list as well as a few other items of lesser importance.

A few moments later Lauren calls me back on my wife’s phone, just as she promised she would. As it turns out, she was skipping her lunch break to try and get things resolved for me.

After almost an hour of fiddling around, installing various software upgrades and settings changes, Lauren sighed an almost happy sounding sigh and said, “Okay, sir … your phone is definitely defective! Now I can finally talk with you about your options.”

“It’s about time!”

“While I was waiting to hear back from you earlier I went ahead and briefed my supervisor about your situation.”

“Thank you,” I said quite enthusiastically.

“And he gave me some options, so bear with me, okay?”

“Yes ma’am,” I said with a huge smile.

“Okay,” she paused, “I think I already know the answer to the first one; we can ship you a new HTC Touch Pro tomorrow morning.”

“Are you @#$%ing with me?” I exclaimed!

“I kinda thought that might be your answer,” I could swear she was stifling a chuckle as she hurried along to option number next, “which brings us to option number two: we can downgrade you to a regular phone and refund a month’s worth of the data plan charges.”

“Okay,” I said calmly, expecting the next option to be more appealing.

“Would you be interested in that, sir?”

“Well, perhaps as a last resort. Is there an option number third?”

“Yes sir,” she said, “there is. My supervisor also said that you can upgrade to any device you would like for the one year contract price.”

“And what exactly does that mean?”

“It depends on which Smart Phone you are interested in. If you were to get any phone you wanted from Verizon, which one would it be?”

“Well, The Droid, of course.”

“I take it you’re not referring to the HTC model.”

“Correct, my dear … the Motorola Droid. If I never see another anything from HTC for the rest of my life I will not be disappointed.”

She gently asked, “So, you would like the Motorola Droid?”

“Of course! Sounds like that’s the only thing out there that begins to hold a candle to the iPhone.”

“Okay, my supervisor said you can upgrade to one at the one year contract price.”

“And what does that mean to me, Lauren?”

She hesitated a little and then answered, “The one year contract price for the Droid is $369 with a $100 rebate.”

“So, they want me to pay them another $269 to be free from this piece of crap phone?”

“Uh,” she hesitated again, “would you be interested if I could get him to approve the two year price?”

“Which is how much?”

“That’s $299 with a $100 mail-in rebate, sir.”

“Wow,” I said, clearly dejected, “that’s something I’m going to have to think about, Lauren. I mean, I was sold an absolute lemon here and now I’m being told that my options are to live with a replacement lemon, go back to the relative stone age, or pay even more of my hard earned money for the type of device I expected when I ponied up a bunch of money 6 months ago.”

“I understand, sir,” she said with a lot of empathy in her voice, “it’s probably easiest to contact me through the email address we were using earlier this afternoon.”

“Alrighty then,” I sighed, “We have some errands that we have to run and I’ll think more about it and will get back with you before the end of the day.”

“I look forward to it, sir.” and we hung up.

As it turned out, the events of the day and the allure of a quick couple rounds of Golden Tee kept me from getting back to my computer until later that evening.

The next morning I shot Lauren an email thanking her for all of her time and her kindness. I expressed my frustration in being offered a “solution” that was no better than what any schmuck walking in off the streets would get. In fact, I told her that I felt the options given were downright insulting, but again assured her that it was not her I was frustrated with, but Verizon. I also made it a point to say that she could feel free to forward my email to her supervisor, or preferably someone above him.

Later in the morning I received an email from Lauren thanking me for the kind words.

As my friend, Fuku, and I finished our round of Golden Tee, the rest of the Friday Happy Hour crew was showing up. I looked down at my watch and it was just a little after 5:35. Well, I thought to myself, Lauren’s off for the day. I guess Verizon’s content to lose another customer.

As Oren and Fern started playing their first set of the Friday happy hour, my freshly reset phone lit up with an incoming call. The screen read “Unknown Caller”, but the area code looked familiar. It was the same one that Lauren had called me from earlier in the day.

I picked up my phone and as I made my way out of the pub I looked at Billy and said, “Tell the guys to give me a couple minutes before we start, I need to take this call.”

I tapped the Answer key, “Hello, this is Tom.”

A familiar voice greeted me, “Good afternoon, sir, this is Lauren from Verizon Wireless, we spoke yesterday.”

“Why yes it is, and how are you doing this afternoon?”

“Uggghh, it’s been one of those days; I was supposed to be out of here a while ago but I wanted to give you a quick call before I left for the day.”

“Oh, okay, that’s cool! What’s up?”

“Well, as you requested, I forwarded your email to my supervisors and a little while ago my boss came to my desk to tell me that he had read it and told me to go ahead and send you a Droid first thing Monday morning.”

I was slightly taken aback, “The Motorola unit?”

“Yes sir, I didn’t think you would be very interested in the other one.”

“Holy smokes, Lauren … you are my hero!”

She laughed and said, “Well, I don’t know about that, but I did want to call you before I left work for the day to let you know that there was a good outcome from all of this.” She went on to explain that she had to come in Saturday to get some other matters taken care of and assured me that she would also get everything processed so the new phone would be ready to ship first thing Monday morning.

The smile on my face stayed there until I fell asleep many hours later.

So, there ya have it. It’s been a long, wild ride these past 6 months, and what did I learn in the process? Well, for starters, no more sight-unseen purchases. From now on, when it comes to electronic devices, I want to handle the device and use it before making any decisions. I also intend to do much more homework in the future as well. Had I spent some time doing a little research, it would have been readily apparent that the early generation products from HTC have been notoriously slow. Of course, with the underlying operating system being a Microsoft product, how surprising is that?

Hopefully the next two years will be pleasant ones, at least as far as smart phone usage is concerned.

Check it out! The dude is getting a Droid!

Now it’s time to get back to packing this house for next weekend’s move!

Peace off!

(tech review) HTC Touch Pro (Verizon)

8

As a freak-turned-geek of over 20 years now, I thought it was about time I start taking some of my tech’spertise and put it out there for the betterment of mankind.

Yay me!

So, let’s just dive right in, shall we?

As the title states, this is a review of the HTC Touch Pro, as provided by Verizon Wireless …

33408745-2-440-PALM-3

Notice anything odd about that picture? (apart from the wrinky hand …)

Actually, hold on to that thought … we’ll get back to that shortly.

Product summary

The good: Hmmm, the “good”? Tough call … there’s a full QWERTY keyboard and a touch screen. Wait, I have one! It’s heavy enough to double as a personal defense device.

The bad: To call it buggy and incredibly slow would be a compliment. It has less onboard RAM than a 1970’s calculator, the battery drains more rapidly that an infant with dysentery, there is no standard headphone jack, and it arbitrarily locks up more frequently than Hillary Clinton comes unglued at uncomfortable questions.

The bottom line: Billed as a “full-featured smartphone for business users”, it is painfully slow and not worth the frustration or money. Unless, of course, you want a conveniently sized weapon (of the blunt variety) that won’t be confiscated by airport security.

Full review below …

For the past couple years, my life has been plagued by the electronic debacle — er, I mean: device — known as the 1st generation LG Chocolate.  I was, quite frankly, utterly convinced that mankind had reached its pinnacle of design debauchery … that this industry had, in fact, created the most miserable, useless piece of shit … EVER.

Until I “upgraded” to this “latest and greatest” offering from Verizon: the HTC Touch Pro.

As fate would have it, I was the “lucky” bastard who purchased the very last unit in stock at the local Verizon Wireless store. Unbeknownst to me, the Pro2 was set to hit stores any day and — luckier still — plans were already under way to remove this satanic device from their product line-up. Luckier still, Verizon Wireless had a queue of hundreds of negative customer reviews “pending approval” [cough].[cough] on their website.

So … and I’m sure you must be wondering by now … what is it about this phone that has me regularly spitting up bile?

Beyond the fact that this thing burns through battery juice like a lonely woman jacked up on near-fatal doses of Ecstasy and Spanish Fly, it rarely even works as advertised.

Design

Quite frankly, I’d have to say that this little black brick was designed by a drooling, brain damaged marsupial. The mere fact that Verizon abandoned the sleeker, smoother lines of the same product being offered by Sprint and AT&T, should have been my first clue. Verizon chose to do away the rounded edges and, instead, decided to go with a sharper, harsher brick-like motif.  At a hefty 4.9 ounces, this stately monolith of a phone is a full 4.1 by 2 inches of technological fail guaranteed to subject its hapless user to countless hours of torment and rage.

On its front, you’ll find a diminutive 2.8-inch touch screen with an altogether unimpressive VGA resolution of 480×640 pixels. According to its manufacturer, HTC (which stands for “Hi Tech Computer Corp.” … it just rolls right off the tongue with sheer elegance, does it not?), you’ll enjoy sharper text and images. In my personal experience, the only “sharpness” you’re likely to encounter with this electronic demon seed is the sharp edges of the device itself … or the sharp pangs in your brain as you talk yourself down from the urge to hurl this thing towards a concrete surface with all of your might.

HTC’s TouchFlo 3D interface is nothing short of tragic. Not only does the toolbar along the bottom of the screen border on impossible to use, you are lead to believe that you can launch applications with a single touch. What they failed to tell us was that virtually any and every thing that is accessible via the screen can (and will) be inadvertently pressed and opened as you pull the device from its carrying case. Well, to be honest, that only happens when there was an incoming text message. There is no option to disable this: the phone fully unlocks upon receipt of a text or pix message, but alas … I’m getting ahead of myself.

The four-way, touch-sensitive “navigation toggle” is not merely a joke … it is a tormenting example of complete and utter Design Fail. To compare it to an attempt by the Washington Redskins to get into the end-zone would actually be complimentary. From a functionality stand-point, this thing is the equivalent of putting braces on the teeth of a recently deceased victim of an automobile accident.

To further my opinion that this device is better suited as a weapon than a phone, it includes not one … but TWO … stylus pens. Yeah, you read that right … this thing actually has a f#$%ing STYLUS! This is the evolutionary equivalent of putting webbed feet on a spider. I mean, what the f*&%? Did I just get teleported back to the early-to-mid 1990’s?

Features

According to the media fanfare, “The HTC Touch Pro is built for business users and comes with the features to handle the workload. The smartphone runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition with the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite and Direct Push Technology for real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server.

[cough] …. uh, yeah. Right.

For starters, “Windows Mobile” and “Professional Edition” is about as oxymoronic as “Gay Nazi’s for Christ.”

The promise of Direct Push is not only an empty one, it also comes at the expense of already-precious battery life. Again, the terms “battery” and “life” are yet another painful oxymoron here.

And if by “real time e-mail delivery” they mean anywhere from 2 minutes to 12 hours, then they’re definitely spot on!

On the matter of synchronization … after several days of failed attempts, and several calls to Verizon’s so-called “customer support”, I finally had to resign myself to the fact that this so-called “smart phone” could only hope to sync up with Outlook via a USB CABLE … not wireless via my Exchange Server. I’ve stepped on finer messes while visiting my late grandfather’s farm.

Insofar as web browsing … forget about it. As will be discussed below, the slowness of this device is so far beyond glacial that the mere notion of web browsing is enough to give me an annuerism. Oh, but for the true techy-masochist in all of us, they were goodly enough to offer not just Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as the default browser, but Opera as well … for those who simply cannot get enough bugs and frustration.

The Touch Pro’s 3.2-megapixel camera is about as useful as a video operator in the midst of a full-blown grand-mal seizure … and that without image stabilization technology. Every image I’ve attempted to capture on this device turned out blurry, washed-out, and in many cases, completely undecipherable. This includes shots taken on bright, sunny afternoons with the phone being “bench-rested” on a non-moving surface.

Voice dial? Yeah … and I have a family of flying monkeys that have built a condominium complex inside of my ass. If you need to make a call while behind the wheel of your car or truck, PULL OVER FIRST. You will injure/kill yourself or some other poor, unsuspecting schmuck if you even think about originating a call from this phone while in motion.

Performance

Ah … “performance.”

Nothing … and I DO mean NOTHING in my short 45 years on this funky rock we call Earth … I have ever encountered could ever hope to compare to the perfectly miserable and unbearable lags and delays that occur whenever virtually any of the countless, useless “features” of this phone are selected.

As mentioned earlier, an incoming text message automatically unlocks the screen and buttons on this device. If, like most people, you occasionally receive text messages AND intend to keep this phone in a carry case, you’re screwed. Sorry, but there are just no two ways about it. Even IF you don’t have it in a case, merely picking the phone up off the table or bar upon receipt of a text message is almost guaranteed to take you on a psychotic journey of frustration the likes of which you’ve never known. Not only were the makers of this phone “savvy” enough to buffer all keyboard and touch-screen input so you can actually type/select things faster than the phone can react, it provides no means of telling it to STOP.

What does this mean to you? Well, but the time you get the phone out of its case and oriented so you see it, you’ll have moments of sheer “joy” as you watch it flip from one screen to another, sometimes even making random settings changes.

Remember my pointing out how the phone was being handled in the photo above?

33408745-2-440-PALM-3

Yeah … that’s about the ONLY way to handle this phone if you ever receive any text messages.

You might think yourself moderately bright and want to ask, “Buck, why not leave it in the carry case until it goes back to sleep before removing it to check on an incoming text message?”

Because the damnable touchscreen on this thing is so spastically hyper-sensitive that ANY movement or pressure whatsoever will initiate a random series of selections that will not cease until the phone is pulled out and manually shot off.

As if being slow wasn’t enough, you also have instability issues that are so monumental that it is impossible to believe that this thing was EVER released to the public. The operating system is actually less stable than Windows ME, a feat in and of itself!

So, this leaves us with voice calls. Even here we experience something known as “EPIC FAIL.”

I cannot count the number of incoming calls that were immediately terminated when I tapped “Answer” on the touchscreen. In fact, I JUST MISSED a call from my friend Dan who just tried dialing me AS I WROTE THIS SENTENCE!

BUT WAIT … THERE’s MORE!

If that is not frustrating enough, you also get the unmitigated pleasure of having connected calls terminated for no reason whatsoever … and in areas of supreme coverage. The phone sometimes just cuts a call off for no reason and without warning. In fact, I was standing outside of my favorite watering hole one afternoon dealing with what appeared to be a personal situation of extreme gravity and severity (in all seriousness, it bordered on literally being a “life & death” situation) and I have this damned thing terminate TWO back-to-back calls.

Oh yes, please be patient because there IS more …

And when I am lucky enough to have conducted a conversation that is actually brought to a voluntary end, I’ve discovered yet another secret, special “feature”: the device occasionally locks up when after tapping “End Call” on the touchscreen. When I say “locks up” I mean that in the most terminal sense of the word imaginable. This damned thing regularly just “dies” on me … and I don’t mean that in the sense of shutting itself down. Oh no … god forbid something as simple as holding the power button down for a few seconds to turn the phone back on would work. Nossir, when this fucker decides to die, it does so completely. The only hope of recovery is to remove the battery, wait … re-insert it, and wait for a full 2 minutes for the phone to completely reboot.

And even then, it very well may die immediately after re-starting.

Seriously … it did that TWICE yesterday while I was waiting to hear from my wife who was on the road.

In short, there is nothing short that can be said about this phone that can even begin to convey my disgust, anger, and downright hatred …

to be continued (maybe)

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