HTC Evo 4G

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HTC's Evo 4G
SEATTLE: HTC's Evo 4G phone is fast, powerful and fun to use,as long as your heart isn't set on tapping into the speedier new network it was designed for.

The Evo 4G, $199 with a two-year contract and rebate, is the first smart phone made for Sprint's fourth-generation wireless network, which is available in Seattle and a few dozen other cities today. But the vast majority of the time, the phone was connected to the current-generation 3G network. It turns out there are gaps in the coverage area, and my house and my office are both in that 4G-free zone.

That means I usually couldn't surf the Web and chat on the phone at the same time. It also wouldn't let me upload a large video file over 3G, waiting instead to be connected to a Wi-Fi network. The upload did work from my car once I got a 4G signal a few blocks from home.

Another disappointment was that the video-chat feature wasn't set up on the review unit from Sprint. I used the program, called Qik, to stream live video to a website, which seemed to work well over 3G without too much of a lag. Sprint says once the feature is working on the phones, I would have been able to chat with my parents, say, after they downloaded a desktop version of Qik.

All that said, I wouldn't pass on the Evo 4G completely.

It's a very good 3G phone. It's also a really big 3G phone, almost too big to fit in the back pocket of my jeans comfortably. It has a massive 4.3-inch screen, noticeably larger than the iPhone's 3.5-inch screen and the 3.7-inch screen on the Droid Incredible, which HTC recently launched through Verizon Wireless.