PermaLink In which Turtle chooses a new phone02/16/2008 05:59 PM
My T-Mobile MDA has pretty much worn out.  I'm tired of Windows Mobile 5.  They reassigned my Blackberry 8700c at work.  Time to get a new phone, I guess.

For the last couple of years, I've used a T-Mobile MDA, better known as an HTC Wizard or a Cingular 8525. For the last couple of months (oddly coincidental with my unlocking the phone) the thing has been freaking out. The slide-out keyboard is basically useless, and the thing can't be allowed to automatically power itself off because the buttons will do strange things or go unresponsive.

At work, they collected up all the Blackberrys from us non-management types, saying, "there's a shortage of Blackberries and the decision was made to give them only to managers." The reason I got one was that I manage an enormous business-critical Domino installation and when something breaks in the middle of the night on a weekend, or when I'm away from the office, I needed to be able to find out what was going on. I guess they decided that having suits talk about their next oh-so-vital staff meeting was more important than not having flames shoot out of the Domino servers, so I gave them the thing back.

Sure, I could go back to my old Sony-Ericsson T610, a decent enough phone, but it doesn't support EDGE (T-Mobile's only current highish-speed offering), the screen is tiny and messaging or email is just asinine. I don't generally use phones for talking voice to humans, I mostly use it for data, so realistically, it was time for a new phone.

What I wanted was something with a flip-out or slide-out full keyboard, perhaps a touch-screen, but also a "real" numeric keypad on the front and maybe a second display that could be useful when the thing is folded up. I didn't much care about cameras, since I have several good digitals that kick the ass of any camera-phone. LG offers one that looked appealing, but it's Verizon-only. The iPhone is a non-option because of its association with AT&T (and a lack of a real keyboard -- I got enough lukewarm reviews from iPhone users at Lotusphere that even an unlocked unit doesn't appeal to me). HTC has a marvelous beast called the S730 that offers just about everything I want, but while I can buy it from carriers in Botswana and Iran, I cannot find a carrier in the United States that offers it. And it's a minimum of five hundred bucks.

I went onto T-Mobile's site and was a little disappointed in their lack of new, cool phones. They still try to push their T-Mobile-branded crap, and I'm sorry, I can't even touch a Sidekick without throwing up. So it looked like I was moving toward a Blackberry. The site offered both the 8700g and the newer 8800. I decided to save some time and go straight to a T-Mobile store. Got there, and of course the store didn't have a single 8700 even on display (though they had every color Pearl and the somewhat disappointing Curve) and said straight out that the stores don't stock the 8800 at all.

Scruit. I went back to the website and ordered the 8800. Support for EDGE, good keyboard, apps I use, and the thing also includes GPS and Blackberry Maps. What's more, Google Maps Mobile now supports Berries, and I've been reasonably-pleased with the battery life. True, though it supports Bluetooth, wireless tethering to a Mac requires a third-party tool called Pulse that someone developed in response to a bounty challenge. Wireless tethering through my MDA is something I've gotten very used to when traveling, though free 802.11 wireless is so prevalent now that I rarely have to use dialup data connections on the laptops when on the road.

It's supposed to show up later this week. Stick the SIM in it, stick a cheap 2Gb microSD in it, and I'll tell you how I like it.

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