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Preview: T-Mobile Dash

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Oct 11, 2006, 7:50 AM   by Eric Lin

A look at the new T-Mobile Dash messaging smartphone from HTC.

When the Motorola Q launched, it set a standard - maybe not for performance, but certainly for features and size. Never before had their been such a small device with a large screen, full QWERTY keyboard and fast data. Ever since, every smartphone with a keyboard is touted as a Q killer. Even though it does not have 3G data, the Dash is the first Windows Mobile Smartphone (and quite possibly smartphone in general) that finally could dethrone the Q as the device by which all others in the category are judged.

The Dash is only slightly smaller than the Q, but it has a more human feel that makes it feel much smaller than it is. The edges are rounded so that it fits nicely in the hand. This smooth, round edge is only interrupted by one side button and a small, well covered port on the bottom. Even those with small hands can get a good grip around the Dash; not just a solid grip, but a comfortable one.

All of the plastic surfaces have a soft-touch finish that adds to the Dash's comfort. Like the soft touch finish on the PEBL and KRZR, the finish on the Dash is addictive to the touch. With such a large expanse of plastic, you find yourself stroking the back side of the Dash with a somewhat disconcerting regularity.

When held in one hand, the well-laid-out navigation keys are right under the thumb. When held in two, it is surprisingly easy to type on the Dash, despite what looks like a small, tightly spaced keyboard. It's actually much nicer than it looks and excellent for accuracy. The keys have a nice solid click to them when pressed, so it is easy to tell that you have hit a key, and it is also likely that you have hit the right one. Though they are not terribly large, the keys are organized in distinct rows with a large gap between each row. This seems like it would make typing difficult, but it does just the opposite. It allows a tiny keyboard to feel much larger than it actually is.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Better than improving on the Q's keyboard, the Dash bests the Q in battery life by a long shot. Average battery life was 3 days, even with long bouts of Bluetooth use and a few quick hops onto Wi-Fi networks. However, extended Wi-Fi use - or even just leaving the Wi-Fi radio on all the time - quickly shortens battery life to about 1 day. Considering its size and the battery performance of competitors, this is still quite impressive.

The Dash does a pretty good job of holding on to a signal. In our vault test, the Dash could send messages and make calls from all but the furthest corner. However as soon as the Dash lost the signal in that corner, that was the end of the story. It was unable to recover a signal in a better location, and even took about 30 seconds or more to recover once outside with full coverage. It's not as slow to recover as the Sidekick, but it's among the slowest devices we've tested.

We also experienced a new frustration with the Dash which others have been reporting is common to many new T-Mobile smartphones - a lack of data signal. There were times when we could not hop on the Internet even though there was plenty of signal strength to send a text or even make a call. We were typically able to recover from these outages fairly quickly, and the excellent Wi-Fi implementation helped to overcome a lack of data signal as well.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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Subject Author Date
Dash for Cingular? mac Oct 11, 2006, 10:26 AM
Gmail Freak! sound Nov 25, 2006, 3:46 AM
Does TMO "require" data plan with Dash fzz Oct 26, 2006, 9:23 AM
Word Documents cobaltpi Nov 1, 2006, 8:50 PM
TM Blackberry? smg1062 Oct 12, 2006, 3:14 PM
differences in sidekick 3! ebaydan777 Oct 21, 2006, 3:45 PM
Charging?? rossman Oct 11, 2006, 11:46 PM
New photo added Rich Brome Oct 12, 2006, 6:36 PM
 
 
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