Software

AT&T Tilt

Smartphones are everywhere, but not all mobile phones are equally effective e-mail and messaging devices. Is there a smarphone that stands out as an e-mail workhorse, Bill Detwiler thinks there is. Check out his Product Spotlight on the AT&T Tilt.

Smartphones are everywhere, but not all mobile phones are equally effective e-mail and messaging devices. If there is a smarphone that stands out as an e-mail workhorse, it is the AT&T Tilt.

Specifications

  • Tri-band UMTS/HSDPA & Quad-band GSM
  • Windows Mobile 6 Professional
  • Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
  • Stereo Bluetooth 2.0
  • Push to Talk
  • 3-megapixel camera
  • Dual Core 400MHz Processor
  • 256 MB Flash ROM/128 MB SDRAM
  • 2.8" 240x320 color QVGA screen
  • Integrated GPS
  • Lithium Ion battery
  • Talk time: up to 4 hours
  • Standby time: up to 8 days
  • Dimensions: 4.4" (l) x 2.3 (w) x 0.7" (d)
  • Weight: 6.7 oz
  • Cost with no commitment $449.99
  • Cost with 2-year contract $299.99
  • Additional information

Who is it for?

The AT&T tilt is designed for mobile business users who send lots of e-mail and text messages while on the go. The Tilt lacks the iPhone 3G's elegant, finger-driven interface and BlackJack II's pocket-size design. However, the tilt's solid QWERTY keyboard and ease of integration with Microsoft Exchange make it an excellent choice for enterprise road warriors.

What problem does it solve?

The problem with many smartphones, particularly when considering them for business use, is that they excel in one function but fall short in another. The iPhone 3G is stylish and the touch interface is truly innovative, yet it lacks of a physical keyboard, a must for heavy e-mail users, and it can be difficult to synchronize with Exchange. The BlackJack II has a physical keypad and is more easily synchronized with Microsoft Exchange Server, thanks to its Windows Mobile OS, but it lacks a touchscreen interface, the keys are a bit small for large fingers, and the screen's fix orientation makes reading long e-mails and documents difficult. The AT&T Tilt is designed to solve this problem by combining many smartphone features needed by business road warriors into a single package.

Standout features

  • QWERTY Keyboard - As with the AT&T 8525, the Tilt's solid QWERTY keyboard makes entering text (even multiple sentence e-mails) a quick, comfortable process.
  • Tilt screen - The Tilt's screen tilts up 40 degrees--giving the devices its name. Initially I didn't think the feature was very useful as thumb-tying with the screen flat was more comfortable than with it tilted. But, the tilting the screen does make viewing the device easier when it's placed on a flat surface.
  • Integrated GPS - Combined with Microsoft's Live Search for Windows Mobile the Tilt's integrated GPS radio is a handy feature if you find yourself trying to find your next business appointment or the closest sushi restaurant in a strange town.
  • Integrated Wi-Fi - If you subscribe to AT&T's unlimited data plan, you may not use the Tilt's integrated Wi-Fi very often--I didn't. If you don't have the data plan, the tilt's Wi-Fi support makes syncing with your e-mail server/service.
  • microSD expansion slot - The microSD slot allows you to significantly expand the Tilt's storage capacity. The Tilt will accept up to 4GB microSD cards.
  • Direct Push synchronization - The Tilt supports Microsoft's Direct Push technology, which provides real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with Exchange. If your organization uses a VPN that has a Windows Mobile client, there's no need for a third party messaging solution, such as Good Mobile Messaging. Just fire up the VPN and the Tilt acts like almost any other VPN connected device. You can even access Intranet Web pages.

What's wrong?

  • Windows Mobile 6 Professional Interface - Let's face it, current Windows Mobile UIs lag behind the iPhone's touch-based GUI. You shouldn't need a stylus to quickly navigate through your e-mail folders, and on a Windows Mobile device you do. Don't even get me started on browsing the Web with Windows Mobile Internet Explorer. To Microsoft's credit, they are trying to improve their UI--HTC's TouchFLO is a good example. But for now, going with touchscreen Windows Mobile device still requires you to that stylus handy.
  • Poor talk-time battery life - The Tilt's battery life depends on how heavily you use the device. When continuously connected to your company's network through a VPN connection, I was lucky to get more than 1 1/2 days of battery life. Add a persistent IM connection and I got less than a day.
  • Problematic GPS acquisition - Although the Tilt's integrate GPS feature is a real plus, the radio regularly had trouble acquiring a GPS signal--often requiring several tries.
  • IM client requires AT&T data network - The Tilt comes preloaded with AOL, Windows Live, and Yahoo instant-messaging clients. You can even be logged on to multiple services at the same. Unfortunately, you can't use any of the IM service over the Tilt's Wi-Fi connection. If you want to use the IM client, you must buy AT&T's data service.

Competitive products

Bottom line for businesses

The AT&T Tilt is a mobile e-mail workhorse. If your company is running Microsoft Exchange and a VPN solution with a Windows Mobile client, you'll be hard pressed to find a more robust mobile e-mail device. The Tilt isn't the most chic smartphone and it doesn't have the best UI. Yet, traveling business users who want a powerful, all-in-one mobile device should seriously consider the Tilt.

User rating

Have you used and AT&T Tilt? If so, what do you think? Rate the unit below and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review of the AT&T Tilt in Comments or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review above.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

19 comments
jdev1
jdev1

Own HTC TyTN II WM 6.1 (previously Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 5). I daily run multiple concurrent programs, (Pocket Quicken, TomTom GPS Western Europe, USA and Australia. Phone, Messaging, Internet, Calendar, Tasks etc,. I have not identified how what I use is bettered by an iPhone

languru
languru

Got the Tilt the day it was announced, free as a replacement for a non-functional 8525. Updated the ROM with fixes, new Radio, and the 6.1 image. Missed the IR of the 8525, but the GPS more than made up for it. Erratic reception and too frequent call drops forced AT&T Customer Service to ship me a Fuze as a replacement. Long business trip convinced me the carrier was the problem, not the 8525 or Tilt. Prefer the Fuze although I miss the external GPS connector of the Tilt. Should be noted that all three, 8525, Tilt and Fuze are USB 1.1 only, due to this bizarre HTC connector they use. If you have a 4GB or larger SDHC Micro, plan to sync it and back it up using a separate USB adapter or over Bluetooth, or even WiFi. Like the FM Radio in the Fuze, too.

james.graham
james.graham

The biggest problem with the tilt is AT&T. They charge Tilt users more for text plans than other phones and try to lock users in to AT&T services such as data plan. The Tilt has good media capabilities such as playing MP4 video files but, lacks some of the basics like the ability to play Youtube content.

bonjo
bonjo

I've had my AT&T Tilt for about 8 months and love it. I also have the earlier version by HTC the 8525 which is almost identical but does not "tilt". I love the slide out keyboard and rarely ever need to use the stylus (I'm female but don't have long fingernails so I just use my fingertips). One of the features I particularly like about the Tilt and the 8525 is the ability to use either phone as a modem for my laptop via Bluetooth using the Internet Sharing option on either phone. Both work beautifully, especially at the 3G Broadband transfer rate. I am an adult learner with only one more class to go for my MBA so I use my Dell 1420 laptop with either phone every single day to connect to class. I pay an extra $30 a month for unlimited data/PDA connect which is well worth it. I have no trouble at all with using the touchscreen to access everything on the phone and opted to Not get an iPhone which I have absolutely no regrets doing. I am not aware if the iPhone can act as a bluetooth tethered modem, however, I still would not have gotten one. bonjo@aol.com

baalpeteor
baalpeteor

Only missing the darn video drivers. If it had that it would be the best thing since sliced bread, but right now its the best thing since bread! I have the real att tilt (htc kaiser) orange branded (UK) but i'm with ATT (USA), so I have the one with 2 builtin cameras and card reader. I took the original rom off for a hacked special windows mobile 6.1 based off the htc iolite with touchflo and all. I keep up with 7 email accounts on there.

Animal13
Animal13

I've had the 8525, then the Tilt (8925) for 3 years and I cant imagine living without it. Anyone using the Tilt needs to use KaiserTweak. It solves many of the little annoyances that require registry tweaks. Its a free program. GPS, Bluetooth and Wifi are serious battery drains. I would not even think of using the GPS without external power. There is a bug where the GPS does not turn off even though it says it is off. You need to power down the phone in order to really turn off the GPS. I had a bear of a time getting it to sync with Windows Vista. It was easy to get ActiveSync working on XP but the Vista Sync was really hard to get working. That said, once it started syncing, it has been syncing without issue. I've also had some success with SkyFire as a browser. PocketIE needs to be updated, big time... I'm Curious; What apps do you buy/install on your Tilt?

LarryD4
LarryD4

Well I have had the Cingular 8125 for about 3 or four years now and I love it. Its basically the tilt but without the tilt! :) I has everything I could need, I can terminal serv in to my servers, It has built in wifi, their is pretty much nothing I can't do with it. What I hate is the size, I was going to replace it with a tilt this year but I was annoyed that they haven't figured how to make it slimmer. My 8125 is still working great on the 3G network so I'm holding off right now. But I have to agree overall with the article, its a great all in one device. It just needs to be lighter with a better battery life.

Vette95
Vette95

My experience with the tilt has also been a love/hate relationship. Loved, mostly because it is my first smartphone. Hated for several, the most nerve grating one, is probably not the Tilt's fault. I suspect that AT&T has lackluster 3G service in our area, because an iPhone user that purchased his 3G phone at the same time i got my tilt also mentioned that he frequently uses the EDGE network instead. What a sham, er, I mean shame! My Tilt also loses its settings for Exchange Server, (Active Sync). I have set it up for both wired and unwired connections, to see if it made a difference. It still loses its settings about every 6-8 weeks. Frustrating really. Also, beware of your IM choices with the Tilt. Even if you have AT&T's unlimited data plan, they will charge you messaging fees for IM use just like text messaging.

zbatia
zbatia

It's the best MicroPC I ever had. After replacing two units that were defective due to manufacturing problems, I received the one that I cannot imaging to live without. It's my schedule secretary, telephone with pictures of callers, iPhone-type scrolling (with added software), MP3 player that can entertain 10-12 people (it's so laud!), one-touch voice dial; it's my game heaven, Audio manager with audio books, excellent video player (I can watch movies converting the AVI files to a compatible format), and with 16GB microchip you can load several movies, audio books, or simply files to store. I also have the password-protected and encrypted list of all my web sites' login info. I wish the camera would be better on locating the image because it's smashing it unless you fixed the position of a camera, but the resolution is excellent (3Mpx) for taking any picture with 2x zoom, panorama shots, or even video. I love built-in GPS. Even without the data plan, you can load Google Maps and see the dot where you are located! The wireless capability is a nice addition to Bluetooth. I wish the sensibility would be better, but it still performs very well were the signal is strong enough. I have no problem with battery at all. If anyone complains, the battery must be changed since the second unit I had before was quite hot due to the battery problem. No smart phone is perfect. Sometimes I have to soft-reboot the phone since it's Windows-based device. It could load the apps faster. Overall, I LOVE MY SMALL BUDDY! Batia http://www.rtek2000.com

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Battery life is listed as one of the problems - I have found this to be an issue with the iPhone 3G as well. If I use it moderately it is pretty much dead at the end of the day. I don't dare go more than a day without charging. From my experience if you want good battery life go Blackberry. To borrow a phrase - they just keep on going and going . . .

ChrissyNghiem
ChrissyNghiem

Our company uses the Tilt with OneBridge and Lotus Notes. As stated in the article, my clients are always complaining about GPS signal loss. Using OneBridge only makes it MORE cumbersome! I agree that it should be easier to navigate within message folders. I get all network/helpdesk messages via text. Popping in and out of folders having to utilize a stylus is a pain.

robare
robare

I think it is 'RvBCrS HTC Streaming Media' --free I think-- that allows my Tilt to do YouTube. Been a while since I installed it, but I think this is the app that does it.

elk
elk

HiCalc, TCPMP, PhoneAlarm, BeCrossword, Opera, MS Reader and Mobipocket, TotalCommander, AdvancedConfig, Batti, PHM Regedit, Quick GPS, TomTom, Cyberon Voice Speed Dial, and my little girls love Pocket Sand. I put all I can on my 8 gig card to save device memory.

elk
elk

I've lived with one for about a year now and it's a love/hate relationship, although more love than hate. First off, I unlocked it and use it on the T-mobile network, no complaints with receprion. I use the GPS a lot and once it's locked, which takes less than 3 minutes, it stays locked for me unless I go into a tunnel. Tom Tom is quite good. It's a big battery drain. The wi-fi works well and there are many hot spots to allow email transfers. The Bluetooth is good for listening to music, especially with good stereo headset. It's a big battery drain though. Web browsing is adequate using Opera, much better the IE. The speakerphone could be louder. I started reading ebooks on my Sony Clie and do so now on the Tilt using MS Reader and Mobipocket. With the 4 gig card you can have a hundred or more novels on there,a real library. The tilt screen is quite good for emailing, and reading books. You can easily add programs and change themes once unlocked, easily done all the info you need is on the XDA-Developers site, an excellent resource. I do charge it daily, probably it's worst feature.

robare
robare

Get Quick GPS, a free app. Requires updating weekly, but makes the Tilt GPS get a fix much more quickly.

mgilbert
mgilbert

SPB Mobile shell, SPB Wallet, HTC Home customizer. with HTC home and Mobile shell the interface becomes very finger friendly. Home customizer allows you to have the info and tools you want handy on the home screen. SPB Wallet is a great encrypted "card" based interface for storing all manner of info. the "computer" card is great for IT admins you have all your servers ip info and log in account info in your pocket and safly encrypted. Check out http://forum.xda-developers.com for windows mobile applications, Hacks, skins etc.

randy_scadden
randy_scadden

By far the Tilt is the best WinMo Smart phone that I have personally used on the market. It has twice as much memory as any of it's cousins which makes for a lot more responsive unit crash free unit. I will admit though that I did trade in my Tilt for a 3G iPhone and haven't regretted it since. The iPhone is by far the best phone I have ever owned in terms of features and capability. In terms of battery life I have never owned any Smart phone (I'm on my 7th or 8th) that I didn't charge on a daily basis. That is just the nature of owning a smartphone when you have more computing power in your pocket than the Apollo NASA Lunar missions had what do you expect?

robare
robare

Get IFONZ for win mobile. It takes a while to set up to operate all the apps and frequent contacts, but it is a nice way to operate the Tilt and the Tilt looks just like an iPhone screen.

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