I recently upgraded from our MDA specimen here, to a Blackberry Pearl (LIKE IT!), and I thought a dutiful dissection of my former friend would be in order.
When I first bought the unit, it was the one to have (in my mind) if you did not want a Blackberry. The keyboard on the Cingular sister unit was better, but I wasn't going to switch service for that. It had all the bells and whistles, and certainly earned its "PocketPC" title. It came with all of the Mobile MS software, which I thought would be very useful, but didn't turn out to be very easy to use. It also had built-in Wi-Fi and bluetooth, but I found the IE browser to be a little troublesome (imagine that).
Overall, the unit proved to be reliable, but I have to say that the thing I like the least was the touch keypad for the phone. I cursed seven devils every time I had to use it. It's saving grace was the voice dial, which I used often, and was really quite reliable compared to my current Blackberry.
As a whole, I believe that the downfall of the devices such as the T-Mobile MDA, its twin the Vario, the Cingular 8125, and others like it, had to be that accursed touchpad.
New units such as the Instinct from sprint seem to have addressed that problem with a tactile touchscreen. Sprint has a
very cool promotion for the Instinct on its website.
The T-Mobile MDA and its bretheren, were originally engineered by the Taiwanese company, HTC. They also designed the iPAQ, back in the day, and its similarities can been seen in the Wizard-type units such as these.
Our specimen has a Texas Instruments OMAP850 195Mhz cpu, 64Mram ( 45 available after the OS ), a 2.8' QVGA display - 65k colors, and stereo sound ( very good stereo when using headphones), 1.3 Mp camera, and WindowsMobile 5.0. Some have upgraded theirs to a modified version of 6.0, which I may do now that it is not the center of my cellphone life.
Well - on with with it - Lets Crack it open!
The large screen is what I ( and many others I expect) liked about these units.
After unsnapping that, it swung off like so. This appears to be the antennae (?) - I really like to use of spring-loaded contacts here. We find the use of them throughout the device. I think this type of thing shows how well engineered this device was. Probably more cost effective for production and materials cost as well...
Here we see two more implmentations of the spring-loaded contacts - on the right, the vibrate motor, on the left, the camera flash. In yellow circles we see the speakers, which appear to float freely in the unit, save for the wires.
There are a few interesting things here - notice the ribbon (red circle) that allows the sliding keyboard, and the silver protective mesh on the mainboard that rests on top of it. Another good bit of forethought there. Also notice all of the shielding for the chips - those will have to come off.
The yellow arrows point out the only connection between the "screen half" and the "keyboard half".
Here we have the keyboard itself, in the red square. The small yellow circle points out one of the 12 leds that provide the blue backlighting for the keyboard. The yellow arrow points out the back of the rubber keyboard membrane.
Since I planned on using this unit later, I had to be careful here, but this gives us a good view of how simple the keyboards are. It surprised me that the bi-metallic contact cups are just held in place by what is effectively a big piece of tape, but most keyboards are much more simple than one would expect.
Also note two of the leds in yellow that poke through the square holes in the membrane.
Once the screws were out, the black plastic backing needed to be separated from the silver front. A close-up view here of one of the clips that I broke when splitting them. It survived, however, and was still able to keep it together when it was re-assembled.
These are the two metal sliders that the lower unit (keyboard half) screwed into. They were held in place by the same screws that held these two pieces together. Another example of the fine engineering that went into this device.
And the upper set of buttons - though upside down here so you can see the speaker - for your viewing pleasure. I did not add any graphic for this, but they wisely employed the use of the spring/contact method for the speaker/earpiece here. If you look back two frames, you can see how they lined up.
...My grandmother used to complain about trouble with her uppers - not sure what she meant...