The HTC Surround: achieving differentiation through enhanced sound
Brian Dipert, Senior Technical Editor - May 26, 2011
Trumpeting its resurrection in mobile operating systems, Microsoft introduced the Windows Phone 7 operating system at the 2010 Mobile World Congress show. The company followed up with supporting hardware in October 2010. Although Windows Phone 7 uptake has so far been slow, Nokia in February 2011 announced its plans to anoint Microsoft’s operating system as the successor to both Nokia’s Symbian and the Nokia/Intel MeeGo, which should notably accelerate market-share growth. In partnership with iFixit, EDN takes a look at a first-generation WP7 handset, the HTC Surround, to assess both current platform status and future potential enhancements (see “HTC Surround Teardown,” iFixit).
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2. The HTC Surround contains a ribbon-cable-interconnected two-PCB stack. On the back side of the lower PCB, an Audience A1026 audio processor manages the two-microphone setup, as was the case with the Google Nexus One. Additional semiconductor content common with the Nexus One includes Qualcomm’s PM7540 power-management IC and a Skyworks SKY77336 power-amplifier module. The HTC Surround integrates two speakers, one of which is visible here, for “stereo” audio playback.
3. Handsets typically use a hinge-slider mechanism to stow a physical keyboard behind the LCD or OLED (organic light-emitting diode)—as with Google’s T-Mobile G1 Android smartphone (see “T Mobile’s G1: Google’s Android OS emerges,” EDN, Sept 22, 2009, pg 22). With the HTC Surround, however, the slider exposes dual speaker grilles, which combine with a back-side stand to transform the smartphone into an audio/video playback nexus. Support for Dolby Mobile, SRS Wow HD virtual surround, and other audio-enhancement algorithms further ups the multimedia ante, but multiple reviewers’ reports indicate that the speakers still sound tinny or are otherwise acoustically deficient.
4. The upper PCB’s front exposes the camera’s LED flash, vibration motor, headphone jack, and other system speaker (see “CES 2011: Texas Instruments helps touchscreens ‘play’ Stairway to Heaven,” EDN, March 10, 2011).
5. Flipping over the upper PCB, you’ll find the other, upper-array microphone. Note that the metal plate-and-holes structure on each speaker directs the transducer’s audio output to and through the corresponding grille elsewhere in the handset’s mechanical design.
This teardown does not show one key difference between this handset and the Nexus One—the touchscreen controller—because it’s embedded within the display, and tearing down to that level would have damaged the handset beyond repair. The Nexus One uses a Synaptics controller, whereas HTC Surround uses Cypress’ TrueTouch technology (see “Cypress TrueTouch Solution Drives Touchscreens for HTC’s Hot New HTC 7 Surround And HTC 7 Mozart Phones,” Cypress Semiconductor, Dec 7, 2010).
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