Smartphone Thoughts: T-Mobile's Dash: Powerful, Slim, and QWERTY

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Friday, October 13, 2006

T-Mobile's Dash: Powerful, Slim, and QWERTY

Posted by Janak Parekh in "HARDWARE" @ 06:00 AM

The Dash as Phone, and Other Tests
At the press event announcing the Dash, it was made clear that T-Mobile was looking for this to be not only a flexible Smartphone but also an exemplary phone. I was only briefly able to test the phone functionality, but the quality of both the earpiece and microphone were excellent. Reception seemed fine. I didn't get a chance to test in noisy/windy environments; hopefully one of the other SPTers will be able to carry it for a few weeks and give the device a full walkthrough.

I also didn't test GPRS/EDGE, as the SIM I borrowed wasn't provisioned for data. I did test WiFi though, and found both reception and bandwidth were solid. I don't think Skype will run on this 200MHz processor, but any other WiFi application should work just fine on this device without any issues. Note that the Dash does not have 3G; T-Mobile doesn't have much of a 3G network at the moment, and the device is geared for their $29.99 all-data plan that offers unlimited GPRS, EDGE, and T-Mobile HotSpots. In my opinion, that's a pretty good tradeoff for casual use. Finally, this unit apparently has Bluetooth 2.0, but unfortunately I didn't have any stereo headphones to see how well that would work. We'll have to wait and see how others find the profile featureset to be.

Speaking of the processor, the device is reasonably responsive. When I first set it up, it seemed slow, but that slowness disappeared shortly thereafter. HTC devices often do a "preinstall" in the background the first time the device is set up; that's the only guess I can make, as subsequent power cycles did not yield any slowness. I did not have a chance to test battery life, so I can't really comment on it.

The camera on the phone is not revolutionary -- it's standard 1.3 megapixel fare -- but is decent even with indoor lighting. Click on figure 29 to see the original-resolution image. (This picture was taken with default settings.)

User submitted image
Figure 29: Picture of the animals sitting on top of my Dell 20" LCD in my office, with standard fluorescent lighting. Note the reasonable sharpness of the background features. Can anyone identify: a) the product in the poster on the very left; b) the source of the images on the posters in the middle; c) the teams pictured on the calendar? And no, I don't normally buy stuffed animals... these were gifts accumulated over the years. ;)

My two gripes aside, I really, really like this device. If I was living in good T-Mobile coverage, I'd be sorely tempted to switch. It's not necessarily the flashiest or most insanely powerful Windows Mobile device on the market, but it matches an excellent feature set with a fantastic form factor. The unit fits so comfortably in your hand, the screen is to die for, the thumbboard is solid, the unit's WiFi works seamlessly, and the device just feels well-executed from start to finish. Alas, I'm going back to my brick of a 700w and its correspondingly expensive Verizon service. I'd never have called it a brick before now, but that just goes to show you what a svelte little Smartphone the Dash is. If you walk past a T-Mobile store starting on October 25, do me a favor -- walk in, hold it in your hand for a few seconds, and let me know what you think. I think you'll have the exact same response I did.

Janak Parekh is finishing up his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Columbia University in the City of New York. When not frantically performing last-minute research experiments or writing device reviews, he can be found catching a baseball game or hanging out in New York City with his friends... or, most likely, catching up on sleep.

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