Pros Stable OS (I've used about every feature extensively), easy to use keyboard, 802.11G, Bluetooth
Cons Wish screen were physically larger (most people like the 2.x", I'm used to 3.5" however), color
Summary I've been using the T-Mobile MDA Vario (USA) for a couple of weeks now, and it's much, much better than the iPAQ 6315 introduced by T-Mobile more than a year ago. This is so far the BEST Pocket PC Phone I've owned (out of four others from different US providers). Most people will like the physical size as it is a small but useful form factor (I prefer a physically larger 3" OR 3.5" display personally), features an easy to use slide-out keyboard, and runs the latest Windows Mobile 5.0 software. Coupled with Microsoft Voice Command (which blows any and every voice recognition software out of the water), this is a near-perfect device as stated by one of the first reviewers.
I have used it for nearly two weeks now, and it has NEVER crashed on me, syncrhonizes flawlessly, has good battery life, and not to mention, many of my friends who are Blackberry owners have ALL stated they want this as their next device.
Excuse the reviewer who gave it a 2, as it appears he mearly read the negative reviews about a manufactuer who sells these types of devices OUTSIDE of the official consumer rhealm. Even with that I have seen 85-90% reviewer satisfaction with imate.com's version of the T-Mobile Vario, dubbed the K-Jam.
So far I am very happy with it, despite the fact that I am using it in pre-consumer release form. I expect T-Mobile to add a few software cosmetic changes before actual release, but overall it is a solid device.
My only cons are cosmetic related, such as the color of the device (how come we can't have a sleek black color???), and the look of the phone dialer software. But these aren't important compared to the FUNCTIONALITY of the Vario.
Not perfect, but great device!
Pros Multiple connectivity options; Good email and browsing experience; Many application choices
Cons Phone performance is average; Battery life; Bulky; Onscreen phone keypad is unweildy
Summary The t-mobile MDA is a device that will beg you to ask the question: "Do you need good voice and phone performance or do you need data connectivity and mobile applications". If your answer leans toward phone performance, choose the smaller sister device, the SDA. If you need applications and data connectivity, with fair (to poor, occassionally) phone performance, the MDA will probably be a good fit. Either way, you will not be able to get both from this device.
I beta tested the MDA and have subsequently bought the production model. I am pleased that T-mobile implemented some of the more egregious problems with the beta units (wifi configuration being the primary) and have rolled out a stable product. Overall the unit performs well and requires far less soft resets then I remember.
The heart of the MDA is its multiple connectivity options including the t-mobile EDGE network, wifi and bluetooth. This gives the user a virtually constant connection to both private and public networks and makes the included browsing and web applications worthwhile. The connectivity is somewhat seamless and usually switching from edge to wifi is as simple as turning the wifi on (generally you will want to keep the wifi off as it drains the battery). On those occasions where you need to do some advanced IP configurations you can input custom detail for the connection (IP address, gateway, dns, etc). I do wish they included the ability to save different network profiles, but you can download the IP dashboard application from omegaone to take care of this.
Bluetooh connectivity is good and easy to configure. I paired the Thinkoutside Stowaway bluetooth keyboard and a bluespoon bluetooth headset with no problems. Especially convenient is the ability to voice dial the phone from the paired bluetooth headset.
The MDA is a good PDA and mobile computing platform. All the usual office applications (outlook, word, excel, powerpoint) are miniturized and optimized for the unit. A plethora of other applications are also available for free or for sale. Overall the Windows Mobile 5 OS is (finally) a stable and efficient platform. The only low point is the included IE browser. It is slow and has trouble with some sites. Best to download an alternative browser such as Opera for mobile or the new minmo firefox browser.
The included keyboard is sufficient for limited pecking and a significant bonus over the T9/numeric keypad game you play with smartphones. Key feel is good and there is sufficient room for your fingers. The backlighting is a muted blue and is not as effective as the strong Palm backlight. If you are going to do any serious typing on this unit, I would recommend the Stowaway bluetooth keyboard I mentioned above.
The screen is large and bright but can be difficult to see in strong, direct sunlight. The layout will rotate automatically between portrait and landscape when you slide the keyboard out.
Button layout on the unit is good. There are four application buttons on the front of the unit along with a four way nav pad (with center action button) and two keys for activating/deactivating the phone. Small buttons on either side provide access to the connectivity configuration screen, the voice recorder and the photo applications. A single power button is on top.
The memory and speed on the unit is good. While you may look at the low processor speed and be alarmed, it is actually quite peppy for most applications and should serve most people well. Memory is sufficient and is much better managed then in the beta unit I had. Storage expansion is a practical necessity and can be made by mini-sd card. One drawback is that the mini-sd slot is on top of the unit is a spring loaded alcove. It is easy to accidentally pop the card out with the right pressure and I have lost a card this way. Perhaps a little clear tape would prevent such an accident.
Now for the one drawback...the phone performance. This unit is no where near the phone that the sister SDA unit is. It has less range and more dropouts and the sound quality is adequate at best. The unit itself has a bulky feel when you try to use it as a headset and necessitates the use of a good bluetooth headset. The speakerphone is average quality and needs a quiet room to be used. If you are looking for a good phone, look elsewhere.
Battery life is OK conidering the size of the unit and all of its connectivity. Standby of a couple of days and talk time of 4 hours is a good estimate in my experience. If you kickup the unit with a wifi and bluetooth connection and some agressive browsing your battery will drain much more quickly. A spare battery is recommended.
Overall I think that this is a good unit for the data centric crowd who also need an occassional phone. In my experience it can substitute for a basic laptop 80 to 85% of the time for the mundane browsing, email chores. However if your business relies on a good phone, you may want to look elsewhere, such as the SDA unit.
"Near perfect"on by tricuspid
Pros WiFi, Bluetooth, Keyboard, Size, WM 5
Cons Sound quality, Speed of prosessor
Summary I have the i-mate K-Jam (same as T-Mobile MDA and Qtek 9100), and so far I love it. I love the size, screen and the amount of connection options. I have no problems with connecting to my router @ home and to my TomTom bluetooth GPS system. Typing e-mails is a zipp with the keyboard, which is perfect in size for my small fingers. The only thing I don't like is the sound quality and the sound volume. The other more annoying thing is the slow prosessor. At only 200 MHz it's very slow. I had a 400 MHz PPC prior and it's beyond my comprehension why they would choose such a slow prosessor. But it's still a great device that I highly recommend!
Pros Great bright screen, Windows Mobile 5, Camera, Voice recorder, True wireless functionality, Full QWERTY keyboard, Easy to use with included stylus or with keyboard, Great call clarity and quality
Cons A little bulky
Summary After looking at the Blackberry 7105t, 7290, and T-Mobile SDA, I decided to choose the T-Mobile MDA based on its Windows Operating System and on C-Net user reviews. After having this for two weeks, I am left wondering if C-Net editors had the same MDA that I do. This thing is great! One of their chief complaints was the keyboard, but I think the backlighting is more than fine. Furthermore, their review states that you have to press the shift key each time you want to type a number (like a phone number). If you tap the shift key twice (fast), it converts the keyboard to default to the #'s and symbols. Tap it twice again and it goes back to normal. Call quality is great and it synced easily with my Motorola bluetooth headset. If you're on T-mobile and thinking about getting a great Smartphone, get this! You won't regret it.
Pros Good size, nice screen, decent heft, QWERTY keyboard, Microsoft applications
Cons So-so battery life, WiFi is twitchy, occasional stalls/lock-ups
Summary I have to be honest. I'm a toy junkie. An early adopter and a fiddler. Until I replaced it with this phone, I had used a BlackBerry 7100t, the HP6315 and my wife uses a T-mobile Sidekick II.
I work for a small company where several of us use BlackBerries (7100t/7105t/7290) and with the impending BlackBerry shutdown (I question the existence/validity of their "work-around") I was instructed to evaluate replacement technology. We have offices in two countries and projects running across Europe and in China. I needed an E-mail machine with world-wide wireless capability. We haven't been using the Blackberry Enterprise software because of the additional cost.
The MDA was chosen because it uses the new Windows Mobile 5 and we have an Exchange server with Server 2003 SP2 capable of doing the remote ActiveSync. The unit powered up nicely out of the box, and after the usual Windows Mobile hoop-jumping of the initial set-up, I found it remarkably easy to use.
I connected two Motorola BT headsets quickly and they connect and disconnect easily with no additional handset fiddling. With the help of our IT manager, I got the Server Activesync working rapidly (we had a hard time figuring out exactly what server name the software wanted), and it syncs beautifully on the GPRS network.
Then I activated the WiFi, and this is where the handset started to stumble. It didn't switch smoothly between the data networks. The Wifi seemed to cut in and out despite the fact I was standing 5 feet from the wireless router. It has some issues connecting to encrypted networks, it doesn't like 128bit encryption keys and won't connect to WPA. It locked up twice as I tried to jump around to various wifi hotspots, but this has always been a problem with Windows Mobile. Plus the WiFi kills batteries.
However, you get a free T-mobile hotspot account with the service, and as you can tell, I'm a Seattle dweller which means I'm never more than 30 seconds from a Starbucks. There's a Hotspot finder/connection tool that works pretty well. It took a couple of tries to find the Starbucks (while I was standing in the coffee shop), but once I did, it walked automatically through the login process.
Overall, it's a solid piece of hardware. It's shorter, but thicker than my 7100t, it's smaller than my wife's sidekick II with a similar screen size, and the weight/size are better than most full-size blackberries.
It sends e-mails through my corporate account like no one's business, it works with POP accounts perfectly and the PIM features are great. Ironically, the MSN features (messenger/hotmail), the stuff that Microsoft should make the most best, have had the worst performance.
The keyboard slides out with a solid click, the buttons have nice motion and you can feel when they've engaged, but the backlight goes out WAY to quickly (yes, I know there are settings, but they don't seem to do much good).
It works well as a phone, isn't too bad to hold against your head and responds well with a BT headset. The speakerphone is horrible. The included 2.5mm headset for listening to MP3s and talking on the phone is awful.
Generally, if you need Windows functionality (I've been editing Word documents all day, and it works well, except on tables), PIM functionality and a QWERTY keyboard and your service provider doesn't use the Treo 700w, give this one a try. I was surprised and impressed.