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Preview: T-Mobile Dash

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Microsoft has released an updated version of Windows Mobile 5, called AKU 3, with a few new features and many improvements. The Dash is the first device to launch with this updated OS. Since it is just a small update like a feature pack and not a whole new release, we will only cover the changes as we have previously reviewed a number of Windows Mobile 5 devices.

First - as mentioned above - the Wi-Fi has been vastly improved. When you turn it on, it scans all available access points. If you've connected to one before, it automatically tries to connect again. If not it displays a list of available hotspots and lets you know which are open. Once connected to a Wi-Fi network all data is transferred over Wi-Fi instead over the cell network. That's how Windows Mobile is supposed to work, but the Dash is the first device we've used that works as advertised.

T-Mobile also did a neat trick with the Dash so that you no longer have to sign in to T-Mobile hotspots. The Dash automatically connects and logs you in securely as long as you subscribe to the smartphone data plan that includes Wi-Fi.

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Unfortunately the Bluetooth experience is not nearly as pleasant. Getting the Bluetooth to pair with anything (even a headset) was a challenge. First, you have to have the "secure OBEX" option checked in order to even pair the Dash with anything. Once a headset was paired it worked properly, but that was the only thing that worked well in our experience. The Dash could send vcards, events, pictures, movies or almost any file to our computer, however it could not receive anything except for single contact vcards. Anything else had to be moved to the Dash by Activesync or the MicroSD card.

This is not a problem with all Windows Mobile devices - just a problem common to Windows Mobile devices made by HTC. Unfortunately, HTC makes the bulk of Windows Mobile devices.

The Dash is among the first generation of phones to include the My Faves app. Using the application you can choose up to five phone numbers which you can call for free if you subscribe to a My Faves calling plan. The application allows you to choose from your contact list or enter a fave by hand. If the contact has more than one phone number in the entry, you are prompted to choose just one. The application also asks if you want to use the contact picture as the icon if there is one. or you can select a picture separately.

Once contacts are registered, you are sent a confirmation message, and then you can use the home screen plugin or the My Faves application to choose a fave and contact him or her. If you press the call button with a fave selected, that person is dialed. If instead you press select, you are given a choice to call, text or send an MMS to that person. Only calls are free, the application warns you a few times that you will be charged for messages to your "faves".

The rest of the changes to the Windows Mobile software are small but kind. For instance the option to add a new messaging account has been moved from deep in the menus to the account list shown whenever the application is launched, making it easy to find. Also, the contacts application now sorts SIM contacts alphabetically with the rest of your contacts instead of hiding them at the bottom. Finally, the Dash has a new camera application with a full screen viewfinder and an excellent status overlay.

If you need more information on Windows Mobile 5 for Smartphone, you can get up to speed by checking out our review of the Motorola Q for Verizon.

To see the Dash in action, click on to check out our video.

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