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T-Mobile Wing Second Look

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When T-Mobile began shipping the Wing (made by the good folks at HTC) just the other day, they earned bragging rights for being the first provider to give us a Windows Mobile-6.0-loaded phone.

So how does the gadget hold up? I’ve spent a good deal of time playing with the brand-new T-Mobile Wing, and am now ready to pass judgment on it. Click the jump for a full review and lots of up-close photos.

-The rubberized finish is incredible, and definitely gives what could be a business-only device a more “lifestyle” feel. The advantage to this is that if you want to use this as a media player (using the included Windows Media Player app) it actually feels decent in your palm.

-It is surprisingly thin. Much thinner than the MDA and only a few millimeters thicker than the RAZR. Lets say this is about as thin as an LG Chocolate. As a result, this phone actually holds up well in the back pocket of pants (my phone holster of choice), and is accessible to people who absolutely shun their belt clip (which comes included.)

-The 2-megapixel camera takes decent photos, as long as the lighting is good (sorry–no flash!) And I know other phones do this as well, but it makes great use of the touchscreen for quick adjustments while an image is being previewed. This is definitely the sort of thing that stand-alone consumer cameras should use, instead of forcing you to dig through endless menus.

-The Quick Menu, as they call it, is a nice little WM6 feature that lets you keep tabs on what programs are running. This is especially important since Windows Mobile has a tendency to trick you into thinking you’ve shut down a program, when you’ve merely closed the window. Thankfully, that problem is greatly diminished in this iteration, as the Quick Menu also features easy access to a check box that lets you set the upper-right corner “X” to kill the whole program.

-When you slide out the keyboard, it takes a second or two for the display to automatically switch orientation (vertical when the keyboard is docked, landscape when you’re ready to type.) While not a huge hassle, it definitely is not a seamless transition, with the screen hiccuping annoyingly.

-The keyboard looks and feels great, and the illuminated keys look neat in the dark. Kudos!

-As John pointed out in his review, the IM client does not automatically send messages when you hit Enter. This can be annoying for the fast-paced converser.

-If even one program is running in the background, the camera may not be able to conjure up enough system resources to load. I tried to load it while Internet Explorer was running, to no avail. This can be tragic if that once-in-a-lifetime photo op passes you by while you are frantically trying to close whatever programs you left open.

-The Windows Mobile e-mail client still earns an Incomplete. While BlackBerry users are used to their device instantly pulling their email from the ether, Windows Mobile STILL needs to “send/receive” in order to get your latest messages. Unless you manually click “send/receive” every minute, the smallest amount of time you can set the device to automatically fetch messages is every five minutes. Lame. What if I needed that message four minutes ago? And, to make matters worse, the whole sending and receiving process is slooowwwwwww, taking a few seconds. Argh. Come on Microsoft!

-When you set up email, the Wing automatically merges the address books from any and all email accounts you set up. This is incredibly useful for people with many accounts, as it makes finding their contacts a snap.

-The speakerphone works well, but sounds slightly muffled at a high volume.

-The Wi-Fi scavenger worked like a charm, pulling up our local network and letting us type in the encryption code.

-The battery life on the Wing, like all Windows Mobile devices, sucks.

-The media player works well, and is a major reason this device is more of a “lifestyle” product than the MDA. Unfortunately, the only headphone jack is through freakin’ USB! It doesn’t even have the tiny jack that most cell phones have (and which piss us all off), much less a full-sized one. The new BlackBerry Curve got it right in this department — if somebody invests a decent chunk of change into a pair of headphones, they want to be able to use them on all of their devices.

-The default “Today” screen is easily customizable, prominently displays your T-Mobile myFaves (neat!), and looks great. You can easily chose your favorite programs or features and have them instantly accessible, which is enormously useful. However, going deeper into the menu system can be cumbersome, with the menu organization resembling a Windows 95 computer in terms of intuitiveness. Basically, it can be pretty difficult to find your files sometimes.

-You still can’t enterprise sync with Macs.

-You can set up Gmail, but it takes a few minutes, and even then may not work the first time (it didn’t for me). Hotmail and Yahoo are built into the menu, and are thus seamless and instant.

-I’ve used Windows Mobile 5.0. I’ve had Windows Mobile 5.0 phones freeze, stall, and even brick under Windows 5.0. I’ve wanted to kill Windows Mobile 5.0. While still a bit slow at times, Windows Mobile 6.0 is FAR more stable, and actually lets you get your work done without fear of losing it all to the whims of a funky OS. It still can use some improvement (particularly in the battery department), but it is a VAST improvement over its predecessor, which felt like a beta pushed to market long before it was ready.

OVERALL:

The Wing is a pretty great phone, especially if you are a T-Mobile loyalist (or merely under contract) and the limited software support for the Sidekick fails to satisfy your program hunger. It is also an enormously complex device, and takes a lot of playing around with to get used to if you aren’t migrating from another Windows Mobile device. However, the payoff is big: This really is a phone I can see myself using to get work done on the road. It is also enormously customizable in every sense of the word. The most amazing thing, of course, is how they’ve managed to disguise just how business-savvy the phone is. The rubberized finish (which simply begs to be touched), media player, and thin profile really do add much-needed life to the gadget.

FINAL TAKE:

If you are a T-Mobile user and not bound to a BlackBerry, this is quite simply the best business PDA phone out there, reaching a nice middle ground between the childish connotations of the Sidekick (you can’t see yourself bringing that thing into a boardroom, can you?), and the fun-less feel of the MDA.

Related: The Biggs T-Mobile Wing Review

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