T-Mobile MDA Review
The processor of the MDA is a Texas Instruments OMAP 850, clocking at 195 MHz. That appears to be enough for a device like that, so that it would be functional and responsive while still giving decent battery life. Actually the MDA felt very responsive at first, but when more than 5 programs were running at once it started to become anemic, and sometimes just wouldn't open some programs. So it's a good idea to keep track of all the programs that are running at a given moment and exit the ones that are not in use anymore. As long as that is done the phone will be working flawlessly with few complaints. Skype actually can run on the MDA even though its minimum requirement for the CPU is 312 MHz, it is a little sluggish, and voice quality was not the greatest, but it worked.
Using the MDA as a phone was overall a good experience. The reception on T-Mobile's network around Southern California was above average, and sound quality was excellent. It actually was able to hang on to a call through spots where many other phones would actually loose reception. That's way better than most PDA phones, and is above average for mobile phones in general. T-Mobile got this one right. One little annoyance could be the speakerphone - it's not as loud as most other cell phones and is virtually unusable if you're in a noisy environment. When you use it to play music or audio on a video clip volume is a bit louder, but the sound gets distorted at its higher levels. For that purpose the best thing is to use the earpiece, it's louder and distortion is lower. Even on a call if you are unable to hold the phone we recommend the earpiece over the speakerphone.
All in all, the MDA is a very good phone, and is light years ahead of T-Mobile's previous offering - the HP h6315. Even if you didn't want to use the PDA functions, you'll still be happy with the MDA as a phone. Just like that one, the MDA is also quad-band, so it will work pretty much any civilized place on earth with the exception of South Korea and Japan.
As far as the data connectivity is concerned, the MDA was pulling its weight very admirably. Speeds of about 130-150 kbps were common on T-Mobile's EDGE network. That was enough to make the internet surfing a comfortable experience. EDGE coverage was stable enough to stream internet radio to the MDA while out and about. Once connected to a WiFi network things got even better and speeds went up to 1.5 Mbps. With T-Mobile having close to 7000 Hot Spot locations in the US, and almost 30 000 in the whole world it's like taking your DSL line at home with you anywhere you go.
Now with all these connectivity options you need a battery strong enough to
match. And the MDA doesn't disappoint. Talk times were upwards of 3 hours,
depending on the signal strength and whether or not there was a Bluetooth
headset. Standby time was about a week. In normal usage the MDA should last you
at least 2 days of emails, internet surfing, some music and 30-40 minutes of
calls a day. Actually we got 7 straight hours of internet surfing on WiFi, which
is excellent considering the fact that 802.11 connections are a pretty big power
consumer. Again, the MDA did better than most phones of its class.
The MDA felt great throughout the testing process. It didn't take long to get used to the size, especially considering that it's smaller than most PDA phones. The setup was beautiful and the only real complaint is the necessity for the constant use of the stylus. But that's something that could be expected from a device like this and is not really a huge problem. In all other areas it was near perfect, and was a worthy competitor to any Treo or Blackberry. If multitasking is a priority, then the MDA is pretty much the only device on the American market that's affordable enough and sophisticated enough to handle the job. It's a step closer to the perfect hybrid device (PDA, phone, MP3 player, digicam in one), and is a bright promise for things to come. Bundled with T-Mobile's affordable voice and data plans, they have a winner on their hands and they know it.
Bundled with their affordable data and voice plans T-Mobile have a winner on their hands and they know it. There's no perfect phone, and there probably will never be. But the MDA should be near the top of the list for every mobile professional.
- Small size for a PDA, fits very well in the palm of a hand
- Except for 3G, which is not available in the US yet, it has all the
- Excellent software bundle - great for both business and entertainment
- Sliding QWERTY keyboard
- Requires the stylus too often, not all that great for use with one hand
- Buttons on the QWERTY keyboard could be better designed
- Sluggish OMAP processor, but that can easily be cured with overclock programs available for free
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