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Product spotlight: T-Mobile Dash 3G is a stylish Windows Mobile qwerty

The T-Mobile Dash 3G is a sleek, attractive Windows Mobile smartphone. See the pros and cons of the Dash 3G from a business and IT perspective.

The T-Mobile Dash 3G is a sleek, attractive Windows Mobile smartphone. See the pros and cons of the Dash 3G from a business and IT perspective.

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T-Mobile's Dash 3G provides a solid, across-the-board hardware upgrade to the original Dash, as well as the latest Windows Mobile software, but the biggest improvement is the addition of 3G connectivity. Get a look at the pros and cons of the Dash 3G from a business and IT perspective and see why it is one of the most stylish Windows Mobile qwerty phones available.

For more field-tested reviews of hardware and software in this format, see TechRepublic's Product Spotlight blog. Also, subscribe to the Product Spotlight newsletter, delivered each Thursday. Sign up now with a single click.

Specifications

  • Carrier: T-Mobile (also known as the HTC Snap on Sprint)
  • Price: $169 (with two-year contract and instant rebate)
  • Operating system: Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard
  • Processor: 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7225
  • RAM: 192MB
  • Storage: 256MB + microSD (up to 32GB)
  • Display: 2.4" 320x240 QVGA TFT LCD
  • Battery life: 1500 mAh lithium ion battery; up to 5 hrs talk time; up to 9 hours standby
  • Weight: 4.23 oz.
  • Dimensions: 4.6"(h) x 2.4" (w) x 0.47" (d)
  • Camera: 2.0 megapixel
  • Keyboard: 38-key hardware qwerty
  • Networks: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g; Quad-band world phone (GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz)
  • Tethered modem capability: Yes
  • Official T-Mobile Dash 3G product page; HTC Snap product page
  • Photo gallery: T-Mobile Dash 3G

Who is it for?

For Windows Mobile buyers looking for a sleek, flashy piece of hardware, the Dash 3G is one of the best choices on the market. In fact, the Dash 3G's non-slip back cover is even thinner and more substantial than the plastic back on the HTC Snap (the same phone) on Sprint. This is primarily a business user device since Windows Mobile has strong Exchange connectivity and a fleet of business apps available.

What problems does it solve?

The Dash 3G upgrades the popular T-Mobile Dash with a bump in basic hardware specs (processor, RAM, storage, etc.) but the biggest upgrade is the addition of 3G connectivity, hence the product's name. It's also one of the thinnest Windows Mobile qwerty smartphones, and the most stylish.

Standout features

  • Appealing design - Most Windows Mobile smartphones have a very utilitarian design. Many feel bulky and even cheap -- especially considering they often cost $200 or more. HTC is starting to offer some Windows Mobile smartphones that feature more attractive design, and the Dash 3G is one of them. It feels thin, has a good weight, and a nice feel with the non-slip back cover. The LCD screen is also sharp and clear. It's not as impressive as the screen on the BlackBerry Tour or the BlackBerry Bold, but it is much sharper than the Samsung Jack.
  • Trackball - The Dash 3G is one of the few Windows Mobile devices you'll find with a trackball -- one that is very similar to the trackball on BlackBerry devices. Windows Mobile phones usually have a directional pad, like the one on the Samsung Jack. The trackball on the Dash 3G worked surprisingly well for an OS not designed for one. I liked it. It made most menus easier and faster to navigate.
  • Microsoft software integration - Since it runs Windows Mobile, the Dash 3G easily connects to Microsoft Exchange to sync corporate email, calendar, address book, and even tasks (which aren't synced on most other smartphone platforms). It comes with the mobile versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which makes it easy to view and edit business files directly from the device.

What's wrong?

  • So-so keyboard - The hardware keyboard on the Dash 3G is merely adequate. I actually don't like it as much as the original Dash keyboard, which had raised keys and a more tactile feel. The Dash 3G keys are thinner and more slippery and that makes it easier to make a mistake and just not quite as nice to type on. However, I do like the dedicated camera and mail keys at the button and the customizable "favorite app" key.
  • The Windows Mobile anchor - As I mentioned in my review of the Samsung Jack, Windows Mobile increasingly feels outdated compared to the latest smartphones on the market, like the Palm Pre, the iPhone, and the latest BlackBerry devices. Using Windows Mobile after working from any of those smartphones almost feels like going back to Windows 95 after getting used to Windows XP. Even on a device with a powerful CPU and adequate RAM like the Dash 3G, Windows Mobile feels sluggish -- especially from the Web browser.
  • Pricy - The Dash 3G retails for $399. T-Mobile sells it for $169 with an instant rebate and a two-year contract. That's a little steep for a basic qwerty smartphone with no touchscreen and a mobile OS that lags behind its competitors. This phone feels like it should cost $99, on par with the Samsung Jack and the BlackBerry Curve.
  • Weak camera - The 2.0 megapixel camera is disappointing in an advanced device like this, especially one that costs this much.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

There's a lot to like about the T-Mobile Dash 3G. It's one of thinnest and most stylish qwerty smartphones on the market and one of the best-designed Windows Mobile devices you'll find. It has a very sharp screen (albeit a bit small) and a BlackBerry-like trackball that's unique for a Windows Mobile phone and that makes it faster to navigate than the standard WinMo directional pad.

If you're looking for a Windows Mobile qwerty, this is the best one on the market. However, it costs $169 while the similar HTC Snap is $99 on Sprint and the HTC Ozone is $49 on Verizon. The Dash 3G is better than both of those devices, but it is still overpriced. At $169, it has to compete with higher-end devices like the BlackBerry Bold and the BlackBerry Tour. Honestly, I'd recommend the BlackBerry Tour over the Dash 3G if you're looking for a business-class device with a qwerty keyboard and you aren't tied to Windows Mobile.

User rating

Have you used or supported the T-Mobile Dash 3G? If so, what do you think? Rate the device and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. You can also give your own personal review of the Dash 3G in the discussion thread below.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

2 comments
jck
jck

in relation to your past article: [i]Dash 3G has a digital SAR rating of 1.47 watts per kilogram.[/i] I like the look of it, but compared to my current little Motorola V9x that is 0.61W/kg I will just stay with what I have. I wouldn't worry so much if it was just a text device. But seeing as I have an arachnoid cyst growing behind my right eye near my right ear (my right ear is what I most always use my cellphone on), I would never think to give that to my wife or child. Slick looking device though.

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