By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney today hosted the Australian launch of the HTC Touch Diamond smartphone. The Taiwanese company was eager to leverage the artistic nature of the venue, with speakers at the media event making repeated reference to the modern design of the phone.

The backing of the phone features stylised diamond triangles pieced together like a jigsaw falling into place – which was the motif used in the video presentation to characterise the integration of eclectic features into the handset.

HTC CEO and president, Peter Chou, opened his talk by announcing that the Touch Diamond represented the future in mobile technology, though it is not the touch interaction that paves the path. HTC believes that user-friendly and well-integrated internet browsing will be the defining feature of the next generation of mobile handsets.

The web browsing on the Touch Diamond is impressive, with the device able to intuitively wrap text to fit the screen. Partnership deals with popular social networking sites enables one touch access, while the YouTube rebroadcasting capability was described by HTC chief innovation officer Horace Luke as, “the best YouTube use amongst any device.”

In order to show-off this capability, Luke projected his own handset onto a big screen and proceeded to access YouTube and play videos for the room to see. Also exhibited on the big screen was the Touch Diamond’s marquee weather feature, which graphically displays the weather, either where you are or around the world, in a style which recalls the enchanted ceiling in the Harry Potter books.

Luke surmised the phone that his team designed and built as being, “worthy of a museum of modern art.”

The handset includes a 2.8 inch LCD touchscreen; 256MB internal flash memory and 192MB RAM, with 4GB internal storage; Bluetooth and USB connectivity; Li-ion battery with up to 396 hours standby and 5.5 hours talk times and a 3.2 megapixel camera. The operating system is Windows Mobile 6.1.

Chou was very enthusiastic about HTC’s ongoing partnership with Microsoft, with the CEO exclaiming, “If it wasn’t for Microsoft, HTC probably wouldn’t exist.” (sic)

Despite this relationship, the Windows OS is dwarfed on the Touch Diamond by overlay, evidenced by Luke not using the Start button during his 10 minute functional presentation.

Representing the operating system at the launch was Microsoft communications sector director Kevin Brough, who predicted the handset would “permeate the market”. Speaking directly about the Windows 6.1 OS, Brough called it a “panacea”, implying that this operating systems has been able to cure the bugs and ailments that have affected both Windows and other operating systems in the past.

“We’re always trying to respond to the needs of customers over all product standpoints,” said Brough. The panacea approach to the compartmentalisation of modern living was reflected in his synopsis of Microsoft’s approach to development. “We’re obsessed with helping [individuals and businesses] to meet their potential,” said Brough.

Telstra executive director, product manager, Ross Fielding confirmed the price of the Touch Diamond, which is an exclusive Telstra Next G handset, would be $999 outright or $80 on a subsidised plan over 24 months. Although no exact release date was given, Chou opined that it would be in either late July or early August.