HTC Salsa: a good Android to dance with

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The HTC Salsa is a mid range Android device that offers solid build quality, a flash of class and Facebook integration

Like the Cha Cha, the Salsa is a dance-titled phone with a special Facebook button. Where the ChaCha had a neat QWERTY keyboard and a slightly cramped touch-sensitive display, this one is all screen.

HTC is known for its outstanding industrial design and especially for the way it has promoted the unibody – a chassis built from one piece of metal that provides strength and lightness,
not to mention cool styling.

Sometimes the unibody makes up the back half of the phone, but here, as on the beautiful HTC Legend, it forms a sleeve that the screen, electronics and battery are slid into. Well, almost.

There’s a slight cheat in that, at the bottom of the sleeve, there’s an extra bit on the front where the Facebook button sits, but it still looks good. The nature of metal casing on mobiles is that it’s difficult to get a phone signal out through it.

So the Salsa has rubber-finished bits on the back. The bottom one slides off and reveals metal contacts that link the inside of the phone to the outside and ensure good signal strength. Certainly the Salsa had strong call-quality and always found a signal.

The bottom of the phone is also the access point for the battery, which slides out alongside the SIM-card and microSD memory card, all held in place by a flip-out clip.

The aluminium has a gentle lilac hue, which won’t be to everyone’s taste, but is discreet enough to look stylish. And this is not a premium-priced phone, though it both looks and feels classy. Build quality is excellent, with no creaking as you use the handset.

Buttons, as this is a touchscreen, are few. While some handsets have physical buttons for Home, Menu, Back and Search, here these are touch-sensitive areas at the base of the screen. And there’s no trackpad. In fact, apart from the power button and volume rocker switch, the only physical buttons are a camera-shutter trigger and that Facebook icon.

Facebook

Like the HTC ChaCha, the home screen is tweaked to build Facebook into it. So the digital clock has the latest updates, which change as you watch – a simple and highly effective way of effortlessly staying current with the latest news from your Facebook friends.

It’s neatly done and works much better here than on the smaller ChaCha screen. This phone has a 3.4-inch screen and the extra real-estate makes all the difference.
The dedicated Facebook button works much as it does on the QWERTY-toting ChaCha. Press the button and the display switches to a virtual keyboard and message screen, so you can update your status instantly. But it’s context-aware.

So if you press the button while you’re looking at a photo onscreen, it automatically offers to upload it to Facebook; you just pick where you want it: wall, profile pictures or wherever. It works very well, though it would have been good if you’d been able to do more than just post. A one-tap press to get to Facebook messages would have been neat. And like many smartphones, to wake it you need to reach to the power button on the top.

Full article in Mobile News issue 500 (October 24, 2011).

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