Telstra HTC Desire – Introduction

Telstra HTC DesireThe short story is that Telstra gave me a free phone to play with. In return, I’m going to use it, read with it and talk about it—the good and the bad.

I debated whether or not I should post my phone reviews here, and in the end I sensed enough interest in people who follow me on Twitter (or their family members!) to think that this may interest blog readers, too. I’ll explain why in a sec.


Last week, Telstra selected me to be one of their 25 ‘social reviewers’. We were given a new Telstra HTC Desire to play with, test, break and otherwise treat it as a customer might normally use the phone.

To be honest, when I entered the contest, I didn’t even know what was so great about his phone Telstra was giving away. But I had some idea that it was one of those newfangled handsets with big screens, and I wondered if it would be useable as an ebook reader. This was my focus when I filled in the entry survey.

When Telstra contacted me, they told me that my ebook focus stood out from the other applications, and it was part of the reason they wanted me to try the phone.

So yay for readers!

This is also why I decided that my thoughts on the Telstra HTC Desire belong in this blog.

The nefarious things I want to do with my new phone

I have three main goals as a social reviewer:

1. To test how comfortably I can read ebooks on the Telstra HTC Desire

2. To explore the different (if any!) ebook-related apps that run on Android (the phone’s operating system)

3. To talk about non-book-related characteristics of the phone that have an impact on my ability to use the handset and the apps

My last goal is really a catch-all, but it’s important because I think it’s fair to say that most readers wouldn’t buy a smartphone just to read ebooks. Some people might also be looking to compare it with, say, the iPhone.

Yes, okay, there was nothing nefarious about that at all. But maybe if I read an erotic romance ebook it can, at the very least, be notorious.

If none of these goals interest you, it’s probably best to skip these posts. They’ll be clearly marked with ‘Telstra HTC Desire’ in the title.

Where it’s all happening

Telstra is driving this campaign, and the central meeting place, as it were, for the social reviewers is at the Telstra Exchange blog.

You can check out the list of social reviewers participating in the campaign here.

You can also follow and join in our Twitter comments and conversations via #TelstraDesire.

You can find a list of all related Book Thingo posts here.


Telstra gave me a free HTC Desire and two weeks’ worth of free calls, messages and data. I also got a free trial of Mobile Foxtel for three months.

Telstra’s Social Reviewer Campaign runs from May 14 to May 29, 2010. Unless I specify otherwise, all my experiences with the phone during this time will be based on the pre-paid plans provided by Telstra. What I write here and on Twitter may also be used by Telstra in their campaign.

I’m not obliged to say positive things about using this phone. I want to be very explicit about this. Telstra stated clearly and repeatedly that they expect the social reviewers to express honest opinions about actual experiences.

At the end of Telstra’s Social Reviewer Campaign, I get to keep the phone, but the pre-paid calls and data expire. After three months, Mobile Foxtel automatically reverts to a monthly subscription.

After the Social Reviewer Campaign ends, I may end up posting further thoughts on the HTC Desire or its apps and functions, but they won’t be part of the Telstra campaign unless otherwise specified.

Do you have a smartphone? What do you like or dislike about it from a reader’s point of view? Do you have any burning questions or bookish things you’d like me to try on the Telstra HTC Desire? Let me know!


  1. Kerry says:

    I have an iPhone and I love reading on it.

    I’ve had PDAs in the past and was at the point of needing both a new PDA and a new phone so DH suggested I try an iPhone to have everything in one place. I love that and the fact it fits in my pocket for me to carry around (which is the main thing that puts me off ereaders/iPad/whatever) is that they sound a bit to big and heavy for me.

    I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME. This means that even the phone can get a bit heavy to hold and I do a lot of reading lying down (I do really, really, really hate auto-rotate as the phone views lying down with it as turning it sideways and I will go to extreme measures to turn it off). This – reading lying down – makes paper books inconvenient. And I’ve lately found myself struggling to read paperbacks but the phone is easier.

    I finally worked out that the reason the iPhone screen works so well for me is that I can control how much text is on it. There’s so much text (often printed small) in a mass market paperback that my CFS/ME affected brain yells out “too much information” and proceeds to freeze and refuse to work. Having the smaller sized screen means less text on it which actually works for me. It’s a managable size that my brain copes with far more easily. (Plus the whole carry a library in my pocket with my phone (and alarms and reminders which again the CFS/ME brain needs) thing.)

    I’m not an Apple fanatic. I don’t really care who makes my phone if it will let me do the things that the iPhone does, but I do like that the iPhone makes things pretty simple and easy for me. So I’ll be really interested in hearing what you think of the Telstra Desire .

    Oh as for what I’d like to know about – probably how it deals with DRM and that kind of crap and if you need to convert files first to read them. And how easily you can get books on and off it. I’ve just set up Calibre with a Dropbox cloud and Stanza can now download my books any time I’ve got internet access. Which is great as I don’t want to carry my entire library in my pocket all the time, but it’s nice to know I can access it whenever I want to.

  2. Kat says:

    Kerry, what app/s are you using to read on the iPhone? I think the choices in Android are much more limited, but I’ll try what I can find.

    The HTC Desire is pretty intuitive (after the initial hump when I thought of it too much as a phone and less as a multifunctional device). The screen is just gorgeous and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how readable I’ve found PDFs and web pages. The real test will be to read an entire ebook rather than just excerpts. Watch this space. :-)

  3. Kerry says:

    I mostly use Stanza, with Calibre on my laptop to organise and convert files.

    I have a bunch of other readers as well, but rarely use them. I have the B&N eReader for DRM’d ereader files if required, Kindle for iPhone (used it for samples but not a whole book), Kobo for iPhone (haven’t used at all) and one called Txtr that will read DRM’d epubs. I’ve loaded a book into that one and looked at it, but haven’t read the whole book yet.

    I’m glad you’re having fun with yours. I’ll be reading your upcoming posts as they turn up.

  4. Justin says:

    My HTC Desire purchase was mainly on the desire to create apps.
    I use a notebook PC for just about everything else, and an el cheapo $50 mobile.
    So it’s development all the way.
    Don’t like bloatware so 8gb is all I will ever need, and is the size of my PC.
    Am accustomed to Win2002, use Firefox and it’s apps quite happily.
    Use Javacool software with no firewall, antivirus and never get stung, touch wood.
    Now with the HTC I’m flying totally blind.
    My kids are teaching this 40+ year IT professional how to use HTC. I’m 71 and sweating.
    I want to get the mission critical things done first:
    1. To have as much data off-line as possible, just in case I leave the HTC on a bus.
    Usually I use a U3 usb smart thumb drive (8gb) with it’s portable apps, I can use any other host PC to call home.
    My other must, is a Western Digital Essential, which mirrors every activity on my PC. As soon as I plug it in, it begins a mirror update. fantastic technology, and I get 300 gb for just over $100. It’s slightly thicker and heavier than the HTC I hope to be able to sync it with the HTC (any ideas?). My other smart Comsol thumb drive uses BartPE to restore my entire PC OS, (any ideas?) about how I can do that with the HTC. I’m a complete stinge when it comes to internet usage and rarely use more than 3gb a month (thanks to my off-line mirror). WD now has solid state drives at reasonable prices. Now how do I translate all that into Android-speak.
    2. ….

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