By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: HTC this morning announced the new HD2 mobile phone handset at a press conference in Sydney. The release of the new Windows phone was met with a lively press conference, which almost overshadowed the very phone it was supposed to promote.

Fortunately, was able to touch and play with the phone, which has a formidable 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen, a raft of in-built Telstra apps and Foxtel.

HTC sales and marketing director Anthony Petts said the phone was designed to be the complete solution for the business consumer. It has push email and web email functionality, intuitive user control through HTC Sense, 5-way conferencing capabilities and a consolidated contact book.

During the question and answer portion of the release, Petts and Telstra executive director Ross Fielding  fielded a series of diverse and at times difficult questions.

The main points/official opinions from this session was that Microsoft Windows is not slipping in the mobile phone operating system charts; although the handset is ‘exclusive’ to Telstra at launch, it can be purchased outright and is not locked into a carrier; end users can now customise all the apps except for three permanent frontscreen apps; HTC isn’t conflicted by having close relationships with rivals Telstra and Google; and DNLA is the next big thing in mobile phones.

Perhaps the most interesting development during the press release was the reduction in price from the official press kit. Although originally listed as RRP $979 outright, the price quoted during the presentation was RRP $829. Plans for the phone start at $0 upfront at $80 per month for 24 months. This does not include data packages, which were recommended by the supplier and carrier.

The Foxtel capabilities of the phone are impressive. Users can access 31 channels on the handset, which does come at an additional cost – $15 was the non-binding quote offered by an HTC representative. Where there is a shortfall in the Foxtel offering is its absence of the three Fox Sports channels. Fielding said this was simply a rights issue, with Foxtel not releasing the channels for use. He denied this omission was strategic, so that the carrier could continue to sell NRL or AFL packages for mobile devices.

The key specifications of the HD2 are: Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system; 157-gram weight; 5-megapixel camera; audio support for all major formats; 16-gigabyte microSD memory card. Battery life is listed as up to 380 minutes talk time and up to 490 minutes standby time.