(If you’re not a gadget whore, you may be bored to death by this post. 🙂
Lately I’ve been itching to upgrade my phone (a Blackberry Pearl) to something with a bigger screen and more geek potential. Basically what I want is something for websurfing, checking email, and maybe enjoying the occasional video or some music. I’d like to make phone calls too, of course! For a brief moment I was tempted by those $249 refurbished iPhones on the AT&T website, but the iPhone has a lot of red flags that put me off: no removable battery (you have to send it in to Apple for replacement), no GPS, no 3G connection, no memory expansion, no stereo Bluetooth audio, no proper Flash/Java support (both are rumored to be coming someday), no access to the file system, can’t use non-Apple headphones without a special adapter (WTF!), lack of 3rd-party apps, high adoption rate among smug hipsters and
cultists fanboys, and it’s unbelievably expensive for what you do get. Some of these may be remedied in future models, but these are things that early adopters are grumbling about. So what what else is there, if I want to stay with AT&T (evil though they may be)?
Well, I did notice that AT&T is selling the HTC Tilt refurbished for $149. Now, that’s something I can get into! The Tilt is a $500 phone, so picking one up for that price is a steal. I’m not afraid of refurbs, either — my Blackberry Pearl is a refurb and it works & looks like new. There’s only a 90-day warranty vs. the usual one year, but oh well. So I took the plunge, and two days later I had a Tilt in my greedy little hands. Here are some of the nicer features:
I’ve had it for just over a week now and it’s too soon to tell whether or not this is my “ultimate phone” or whatever, but so far I’m really digging it. To quote a review I found somewhere online, “I’ve had about 5 hours with this phone now and for lack of better terminology I will just simply state that I have been half erect for the entire time.” It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot of bang for the buck, even at full price. Here are some first impressions, good and bad, for anyone who gives a swut:
Windows Mobile – It’s basically a shrunk-down version of Windows, which is good or bad depending on how you feel about regular Windows. The default interface is a little on the “meh” side, though, not very finger-friendly (a stylus is included) and obviously unconcerned with pretty looks. However, I’ve got it customized with a snazzy interface and now I can get around with just a few taps and swipes of a finger. But the stylus does come in handy for some stuff.
Audio/Video – The other day I rode the bus to work playing streaming internet radio with my Bluetooth headphones on, and browsing the web on top of all that. It was practically a nerdgasm! It sucked about 10% of my battery in only 20 minutes, though. Ouch. The video kinda sucks, because HTC didn’t include the drivers to take advantage of the snazzy Tilt hardware, and it’s quite the mobile phone scandal if you read any reviews about it online. But hackers are working on fixing it themselves, so we’ll see. Also, HTC pulled an Apple and didn’t include a standard headphone jack — you have to use an adaptor ($5) which plugs into the USB sync port. It’s not that big a deal, but it’s still kinda silly.
Email/IM – Instant messaging is really nice on it, because of the slide-out keyboard. When you slide it out, the display rotates 90 degrees so you can type in “widescreen” and you can tilt the screen up to a more pleasing angle. Email is good as well, I’ve got Pocket Outlook hooked into my Gmail account so I don’t even have to use Google’s special Java app for it. The biggest problem I had was getting my contacts onto the phone because the sync software was misbehaving, but when I figured out the problem it synced everything just fine.
Web Browsing – Let’s face it: nobody can touch the iPhone’s web browsing. It’s simply the iPhone’s killer app, assuming it has one. The Tilt does fairly well, though, especially if you install the fantastic Opera web browser. It makes it far less painful than using the Pocket IE that it ships with.
GPS – AT&T wants you to use the Telenav crapware preinstalled on the phone, which requires a monthly subscription. Screw that, I just grabbed the Google Maps applet and it works like a charm. I assume the Microsoft Live Earth thing works too, but I haven’t tried it.
Phone calls – Oh yeah, those! The phone part works fine, I get good reception and the sound is good. People say I sound good on the other end too, so that’s a plus. Or maybe it’s just my sexy stud voice, hard to tell.
Camera – The 3-megapixel camera has lots of settings and options, but the picture quality is only so-so. I’ve seen better, but it beats my Pearl’s camera.
Misc stuff – I’ve installed some fun things so far: PocketVCS (Atari 2600 emulator), Core Media Player (which claims to play lots of video formats), PocketPlayer (plays music files and streams audio from the web), Palringo (a chat client which lets me use all my chat accounts as well as send voice/photo clips during chat), and MobiPocket (an e-book reader). All these are excellent and definitely keepers. I haven’t messed with the Pocket Office apps yet, like Word and Excel, but I’m sure they work fine.
ANYWAY, blah blah blah. If you’re in the market for a smartphone and a bargain, this phone should be on your list of possibilities. It’s not as light and cute as a Blackberry Pearl or Curve, but does a hell of a lot of things for the price, especially for business users (which I’m not).