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HTC Hurricane - megapixel camera capabilities
Now a digital camera is an integral attribute in today smartphones. The quality has been improving gradually, and photos already can be printed and sent to friends via e-mail. A digital camera is to offer several functions, they are a photo-notepad (just in memory, everything is shot, the quality is not very important), photo for a contact or MMS or a replacement for a usual digital camera. As for the last task, only Nokia last models among all the smartphones really manage it. And other companies are overtaking. But really not only taking a photo matters, then you need to edit it and send to a printing device, which is also important. However we usually forget about it. As we have repeatedly written, the camera improvement has its own reverse of the medal. Cameraphones owners face restrictions in public places and work more and more frequently (company security is strengthened by forbidding integrated cameras). The manufacturing companies realize it clearly and provide two modifications of their devices - with a camera and without it. Today we speak about an integrated camera of HTC Hurricane smartphone. That is one of the best smartphone of 2005, and that is why much attention will be paid to it (we will publish three articles devoted to the smartphone, they cover the camera, software and the smartphone itself).
HTC had products with a 1.3MP camera before, but they belonged to another subgroup with a touchscreen (HTC Alpine, HTC Magician). The company spent a lot of time to improve the integrated camera and partly succeeded. HTC Hurricane will be launched under various trademarks of operators and other companies (Qtek, I-mate, Orange, T-mobile, O2 and so on).
Now the 1.3MP resolution is typical. And very soon autofocus 2 and 3 MP integrated cameras will replace 1.3MP ones. The next stage is using an optical zoom. The HTC Hurricane's camera will be compared with the one in Nokia 6681 in our review, since that is a standard among the ones currently sold.
The camera gap is placed on the back and protected with nothing. No flash, only a mirror for self-portrait. On the one hand, the camera is not protected with a cover (unlike Nokia 6681 having a protective slider) and may be scratched, but on the other hand, it would increase the size of the body.
Pressing a corresponding button on the top of the page you start the "camera" application. The program may be also run from the menu. It will take you a second and a half. The screen serves as a viewfinder, and the picture looks better on the screen than in the Nokia 6681 (more detailed, the colours are more natural) due to the resolution (320x240 pixels). The image is shown with no delay. The maximum resolution of the photo forms 1280x1024 pixels, which gives 1310720 pixels, that is 1.3 effective megapixels (against 1.23 by Nokia).
Four picture resolutions are available:
Like in Nokia's models you can select one of the photo compression types - SuperFine, Fine, Normal and Basic. The size of the picture depends on the compression level. If you have a memory card with high capacity, you'd better set SuperFine. A picture with the maximum resolution and the maximum quality is saved for about 3-4 seconds, that is completely alike the Nokia's model. However, we noticed a functional disadvantage. You can't use multishooting or set a timer. No doubts the shortcoming is significant, and Nokia 6681 provides both possibilities.
The available settings we mention are the following. You can set black and white balance: automatic mode, daylight, incandescent lamp, fluorescent light, night mode. Also you can apply the following effects at once. They are white and black photo, sepia, icy-cold tints (a "cool" mode). The following parameters are available for manual adjustment. These are a colour spectrum, brightness, hue, saturation. Also you can switch a shutter sound off, show a data and time stamp on the photos, and change the prefix in the photo-file name. The number of extra settings exceeds the one of Nokia 6681and is comparable to Nokia N70. The reason is Nokia has quite another concept. You can edit already taken photos and apply various effects, that causes this camera settings constraint.
The quality of the photos taken in daylight (a sunny day or a bit cloudy) is quite good. But even with a naked eye we can surely say the quality looses to Nokia 6681 (here and further we are speaking about all the modes). However that is the best quality among HTC's models (that concerns both touchscreen devices and not). The disadvantages of the photos are they are insufficiently clear, light tones merge in one white tint at bright light.
Some more good pictures by HTC Hurricane in good light:
Indoors photos are not bad: good brightness, not very degraded, insignificant noises.
Like Nokia 6681 the camera copes with shooting in the dark, however, the photos are not so clear.
A great advantage is you can take photos even at night and make out details. It is possible to see that is done with the help of software.
We can't say macroshooting is good due to the absence of autofocus. The optimal distance is 1 - 1.5 meters.
A Photo ID shooting mode is provided for contact photos. The resolution is 240x266 pixels then. And one more mode is Picture Theme, then a colour frame is applied to a photo (or photos).
The quality of the video is comparable to Nokia 6681. Due to the low resolution the clips look grainy and slow down on the screen (let alone a big computer).
The clips are saved in one of the three formats, they are MP4, H.263, Motion-JPEG AVI. The duration of the clips is limited with free memory of the device or a memory card (you can set volume restriction and turn video recording off). The resolutions available are 176x144 pixels and 128x96 pixels. Let's compare video samples by Nokia 6681 and HTC Hurricane.
Processing the taken material
After the photos are taken and clips are recorded we edit the material, send it to a computer and print.
Multimedia Album. That is the only preset utility for working with the shot material. You can view photos, video, start a slide-show, but can't edit photos.
That is the end of the list of such programs. This scarcity of the programs contrasts with a long list of Nokia 6681: Photo Editor, Video Editor, Movie Director, Kodak Mobile. On the one hand that is a disadvantage, and on the other gives an opportunity to ODM-partners (O2, T-mobile and others) to distinguish against the others, since the list of preinstalled third party programs depends on them.
The developers should think about such capabilities as PictBridge (direct printing), printing via Bluetooth. With the photo quality improvements the need in these functions will grow.
The quality of the HTC Hurricane's camera is one of the best among Windows Mobile devices, it only looses to Samsung i300 that will be launched several months later the HTC's model. Indirect rivals are Nokia 6680 and later models. The pluses of the HTC Hurricane's camera are stable quality under any shooting conditions; the photos look very good on the phone screen. The minuses are the absence of a flash, unprotected objective, the lack of photo editing software.
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Published - 25 July 2005
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