The T-Mobile Dash has been a fixture in the carrier’s smartphone landscape since late 2006. After years of dedicated service, the Windows Mobile device can finally pass the torch to a new generation. Meet the thin and sleek T-Mobile HTC Dash 3G. The Dash 3G boasts a host of advanced features, of course among them, as its name suggests, support for T-Mobile’s 3G network. With the Dash 3G, HTC has squarely taken aim at BlackBerry’s Curve lineup.
Look and Feel
The Dash 3G is a sleeker version of its CDMA counterpart, the HTC Snap for Sprint. While the Snap feels plasticky and isn’t anything all that special to look at, the T-Mobile Dash 3G looks chic and attractive. At just 0.4 inches thick, the Dash 3G is strikingly slim. Measuring 4.5 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide, the phone is seemingly built for comfort in your favorite pair of tight jeans.
The T-Mobile Dash 3G’s glowing white trackball and eye-catching circular, slightly rubberized navigational buttons replace the relatively bare and basic feel of the Snap’s four-way navigation key. From the front, these stylized buttons immediately convey a sense of sophistication and quality. The trackball has a great feel, and placed in a tasteful silver setting, also looks great.
The T-Mobile Dash 3G features the same 2.4 inch non-touch screen found on the Snap, with support for 65k colors and 320×240 pixel resolution. The T-Mobile Dash 3G’s screen is bright and fairly crisp, but not as high resolution as some of its competition, making images and video appear somewhat duller.
The backing of the device is a comfortable, lightly rubberized plastic with slight silver speckling that gives the casing a quality look and feel. The back is also home to a 2-megapixel camera. On the left of the device is a volume rocker. A mini-USB port can be found on the right, and served as the synching and charging port. Unfortunately, there is no built-in headphone jack, but the mini-USB also accepts a headset adapter (included).
While the Snap’s keyboard presented some problems for users with larger thumbs, HTC managed to squeeze a QWERTY with substantially larger keys into the T-Mobile Dash 3G. The keys are nicely curved so they are easy to press, and use the same slightly rubberized plastic as the navigational buttons. This provides for a comfortable, if not superior messaging experience to that of the Snap and even Blackberry Curve.
User Interface & Performance
The T-Mobile Dash 3G is running Windows Mobile 6.1 standard edition. Although powerful, Windows Mobile has long been plagued by mediocrity in the realm of aesthetics. While HTC’s attractive custom home screen interface provides a nice respite, the Windows Mobile menus and graphics are beginning to feel pretty dated.
The T-Mobile Dash 3G's home screen is composed of multiple sliding panels, and does a good job providing quick and easy access to the most frequently accessed information, applications and settings. There is a panel for the time and date, T-Mobile’s myFaves, missed calls and voicemail, appointments, messages, email, weather, the browser, and settings.
Clicking right or left in a panel offers further options. In the browser panel, for example, you can scroll through bookmarked web sites. Similarly, the appointments panel allows you to scroll through upcoming appointments, or add a new appointment. You can also browse through new emails in the email panel.
Not surprisingly, the T-Mobile Dash 3G was as quick to load applications and jump between windows as the Snap. The Dash 3G performed well, even when intentionally trying to phase the device by opening multiple applications in quick succession. While the trackball was usually a pleasure to work with, especially when compared to the Snap’s four-way key, it sometimes appeared not to register a movement.
Phone & voice Commands
The Dash 3G’s phonebook is only limited in capacity by the device’s internal memory. Phonebook entries have space for lots of extra information, including multiple phone numbers and email addresses, physical addresses, instant messaging addresses, and personal information such as birthday and spouse. Of course, you can also set a custom ringtone and picture for each contact. To dial a number or contact, just start typing the number or contact’s name from the home screen.
The device also includes an impressive voice commands feature, launched by holding browser shortcut key on the bottom of the QWERTY. After being prompted by a tone, you can command the Dash 3G to do any number of things from dialing a contact or phone number to launching an application or asking what time it is. The voice command utility worked decently well when speaking slowly and clearly with minimal background noise.
T-Mobile’s Dash 3G is, first and foremost, designed for messaging. With Microsoft’s Direct Push Technology, Windows Mobile’s email functionality, and a great QWERTY keyboard, the Dash 3G delivers an impressive messaging experience. I was able to easily synch the device with my corporate Microsoft Exchange account, receiving push access to my work email and automatic synchronization with my contacts and calendar.
Of course, you can also add personal email accounts as well, including POP and IMAP accounts. I had no trouble adding my Gmail account. For many popular email services, just enter in your username and password and you will be on your way to mobile email bliss. There’s also support for reading Word, Excel and PowerPoint attachments.
The T-Mobile Dash 3G comes pre-installed with 5 instant messaging clients, including AIM, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, MySpace IM and Yahoo! Messenger. Unfortunately, the Dash 3G does not include HTC’s helpful Inner Circle email prioritizing feature. For those keeping track, that’s one check in the Snap’s column.
The device has the latest version of Microsoft’s Mobile Internet Explorer. The browser was able to outperform many other full HTML mobile browsers, usually rendering even complex pages accurately. The browser also supports Flash content. Navigation is performed using the trackball to guide an on-screen cursor. You can also use the cursor to zoom in or out on an area, although the zoom function is a bit clunky. Overall, the browsing experience isn’t as intuitive or feature-rich as on some smartphone devices, but still impressed.
Media & Entertainment
The T-Mobile Dash 3G uses mobile Windows Media Player for music and video playback. Windows Media supports the usual, including playlists, shuffle and repeat, ratings, and album art. The Dash 3G only has 256mb of memory onboard, but supports up to a 16GB microSD for plenty of space for music and video. The device is also equipped with a YouTube app for watching videos on-the-go.
The on-board camera offered decent image quality. The camera can be set in several modes, including Contacts Picture, Picture Theme, Panorama, as well as Video and MMS Video mode. The brightness, white balance, and resolution (128x96, 176x144, 320x240, or 352x288), and capture format can be adjusted along with several others options. There’s also an effects option to take images in grayscale, sepia, or negative. Video quality was mediocre.
Wireless & Extras
Unlike the Snap, the Dash 3G boasts WiFi. It also is equipped with Bluetooth 2.0, with support for profiles including headset, hands-free, phonebook, dial-up networking, object push, personal area networking, human interface device, A/V remote control, and advanced audio distribution.
The device also includes GPS, with TeleNav for turn-by-turn directions. Google Maps comes pre-installed, along with Microsoft Live Search. Pre-installed games include Bubble Breaker and Solitaire. There’s also a calculator, alarm clock and voice memo recorder.
The Bottom Line
T-Mobile's sleek and stylish T-Mobile Dash 3G offers an impressive feature line-up, including WiFi, an updated camera, GPS and more. While it's lacking HTC's Inner Circle feature, the T-Mobile Dash 3G's QWERTY keyboard and Windows Mobile email abilities makes for a powerful messaging experience.
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