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Monday, June 6, 2011

INQ - Cloud Touch

The INQ Cloud Touch is the long-awaited ?Facebook phone' - so called because of its integration with the social networking site, which goes deeper than in any previous smartphone. Well... yes, it does. But that doesn't mean it's all sunshine and roses - there are plenty of ups and downs with this handset, too.

Facebook integration
The Cloud Touch's Facebook integration comes via one of the smartphone's five Android home screens. The bulk of this home screen is occupied by a news feed. You tap arrows to move from earlier to more recent feeds. This feed is a widget, and you can add four more to sit above it choosing from things like Notifications, People, and Places.

Tap any of these Facebook widgets, and they take you straight to the relevant area of the site, saving you the bother of fiddling about within the site itself. It's clever, but there's a fair bit of waiting around for data to load, which we found quite irritating. We'd really have liked to sweep the big news feed to move around rather than have to find and tap small back and forwards arrows.

And the rest
You'd be wrong to think that Facebook integration is the only novelty on offer in the INQ Cloud Touch. There's Spotify, for example. For the first time this has been integrated into an Android smartphone, and if you have a paid subscription you can stream music. If not, you can sync playlists over WiFi on your home network and use Spotify or the Android music player as your default.

But there's a lot more to attract your attention here. How about the nifty set of gesture controls? Sweep the screen to perform pre-defined actions. And a keyboard whose predictive text system learns the words you like to use. Or INQ Type, which you can call up from the lock screen or by sweeping upwards from the Home button (a stylised INQ logo beneath the screen), and which lets you Google search or start an SMS message really quickly. There's more too, but we lack the space to cover all the nips and tucks.

As we said at the outset, it's not all sunshine and roses with the INQ Cloud Touch. Despite being an Android 2.2 smartphone, it lacks Flash support. The 600MHz processor simply can't handle it - and that under-powered chip also causes some screen lag problems at times, too.

At 3.5 inches, the Cloud Touch's screen is a fair size for a lower-priced handset, but its resolution of 320x480 pixels isn't great - and it's not as sharp or vibrant as many.

The 142MB of onboard memory is on the low side, but our review sample came with a 4GB microSD card to help bump this up, which was welcome. In the end, that sort of sums the INQ Cloud Touch up. It's a handset that includes some star features, but one that needs a bit of rethinking and a second edition to really reach its potential.

The INQ Cloud Touch is a clever idea for those who simply can't leave Facebook alone, but it needs a faster processor to really give you ?speed of light' updating.

BEST POINT: Facebook integration.
WORST POINT: Low screen resolution; slow to update Facebook information.

 View the original article here

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