I've been using a T-Mobile Dash for a couple of weeks now, and I have to admit it's something of a revelation to me: out of all the Smartphones I've ever used, the Dash is the first one I've used that has had a built-in keyboard, and I'm shocked at how much I'm enjoying using it. I'd been using an HTC StrTrk as my primary Windows Mobile device for a while now because it was a clamshell and thin enough to fit in the front pocket of my jeans. It was my phone, it was my hosted Exchange [affiliate] mobile device, and it did what I needed. While I certainly used it a lot for email, it was mostly deleting spam, reading submitted news, or composing very short replies. I've never been particularly good at T9 text entry, so the HTC StrTrk was more of an email and Web reading device than anything else.
What about other Smartphones with keyboards you might ask? As much as I wanted to get my hands on a Motorola Q, with them only having the CDMA version, I was unable to use the early ones I had access to. Then when Telus released the Q in my area, it had (and still has) a ridiculously expensive data plan. I just can't stand being locked into a single device, so I always stick in the GSM world with my trusty Fido SIM card. Sure, that means I never get to see the rocking speeds of EVDO (or even 1xRTT), but I'd give that up any day to keep the freedom of being able to switch phones whenever I want.
With the Dash having a great keyboard, I found myself sending far more email than normal from the device when I was at CES. I also found myself sending text messages. You may not think that's a big deal, but here's a little secret about me: prior to January 2006, I probably send a total of 20 text messages in my entire life
. Being in my 30s now, I wasn't from the era when text message use exploded in North America (later than Europe of course), so most of my friends around my age don't send text messages much either. I tended to call someone if I needed to get in touch with them immediately, or send them an email if it wasn't urgent. In Vegas I figured out something that was news to me: people often can't hear their phones, or it's too loud to have a conversation, but a quick text message is an effective means of communication. Yeah, I know that 90% of the planet already had this figured out - I guess I'm a slow learner.
The keyboard on the Dash made text messages amazingly quick and easy for me, so I found myself sending them all the time - I probably pounded out 50 text messages during my five day stay in Las Vegas.
Because the Dash isn't a touch-screen device, it has a tough screen that I don't need to worry about damaging - I don't use the Dash in a case, which keeps it nice and thin. I haven't touched my HTC StrTrk since, and I think I've found the perfect Smartphone for my needs in the Dash (until I get my hands on a Cavalier of course).