The Surround is another solid smartphone offering from HTC. If you like the Windows Phone 7 experience (what's not to like?) this handset will not impede that experience in any way.

The Surround is meant to be a WP7 smartphone built to play music out loud. It features a pull-out speaker console with a pair of small speakers inside where you'd normally expect a physical keyboard to be. From the promo material: "the HTC Surround blurs the line between home and mobile entertainment." HTC even goes so far as to call it a "boom box." Really?

The Surround goes a long way design-wise to do something you just can't do in a form factor this size: make it sound good without headphones.

The pullout console has a little button on the side that changes the sound from "tinny radio sound" to "super-tinny radio sound". That's two modes of high-fidelity sound power! HTC has another name for these modes: Dolby™ or SRS WOW surround sound. Of course if you like annoying people on the bus, torturing dogs or ridding your basement of roaches, this innovation might be for you.

HTC Surround

That said, Surround owners will have plenty of music and video available to them at the Zune service, which you access through a dedicated hub on the phone's home screen.

Other than the surround sound gimmick I found the Surround to be a solid phone, and very much in the HTC design tradition, which we like. The phone at 5.82 ounces (with battery) felt sturdy in my hand, and it had a nice, substantial weight to it. Its measurements are 4.71 inches tall, 2.42 inches across and just a hair over half an inch thick. The phone has a brushed metal housing around the front, and is backed with black matte plastic. A standard headphone jack can be found on the top left edge, while up and down volume buttons sit on the right edge, with the camera button below, near the bottom. On the bottom edge you'll find a standard mini USB port.

The three hardware buttons that Microsoft requires on all Windows phones: the "back", "Start (home screen)" and "search" buttons. I barely used the search button, and the other two buttons, which I used extensively, seemed to cover my navigation needs just fine in combination with the onscreen navigation features provided for in Windows Phone 7.