By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: In a bizarre piece of telco chicanery, Telstra today refused to give any details regarding the availability of the new HTC HD7 on its plans, even though this model will be available on Cap and Business Mobile plans from Tuesday next week (29 March 2011).

At the launch today at the Telstra Experience Centre in Sydney, the focus was put squarely on the outright RRP (which is $768), with executives refusing to be drawn on how much it would cost for those looking for the traditional $0 upfront, monthly instalment payment option.

Due to this stonewalling, we are left to assume that these Telstra executives hadn’t yet finalised how much the instalments would be, with three working days left to finalise this somewhat important detail.

As for the phone itself, this journalist was left underwhelmed by the HD7, which is replacing the Mozart as HTC’s premier WinMo7 handset, although the Mozart will remain in the range indefinitely.

The good points of the phone are its 4.3-inch WVGA touchscreen, which is brilliant for video applications such as home movie playback (the camera HD 720p) and YouTube; the keyboard, which is so good it demonstrates just how bad some touch mobile keyboards are; and the Xbox Live gaming capability, which could be the one great advantage of a WinMo7 phone.

The new HTC HD7, available exclusively through Telstra from Tuesday next week.

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Letting this phone down are some basic shortcomings: there are no out of the box clients for must-have programs such as Twitter, with users having to waste data downloading it ; there’s no memory expandability, with users stuck with 16GB for the life of the product; and there’s no protective case in the box, with users forced to shell out to buy one should they want to protect their smartphone from scratches and falls.

And this might be a minor point, but when you want to make a call, the HD7 does not recognise names in your contact book based on the letters corresponding to the number keypad. For example, on the HTC Magic, if you enter 5-2-6, all your contacts names James will come up.

Listed specifications of the HD7 include 1GHz processor, 162 gram weight with battery, 5-megapixel camera, up to 380 minutes talk time on optimal settings, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro-USB for charging and data transfer, 3.5-millimetre headphone jack and internal GPS antenna.

HTC Sense is built-in, giving users location and weather details, share market info, calculator, notes, currency conversion and a flashlight.