If you haven't already, you really need to go read this: Smartphone Round Robin: Goodbye BlackBerry, Hello Windows Mobile and the ATT Tilt | CrackBerry.com.

See, it's a die-hard BlackBerry's guy's take on the Windows Mobile AT&T Tilt (Video First Look of the Tilt here). We chose the Tilt for the Smartphone Round Robin for a couple reasons - the main one being that I've said here many-a-time that it is a very good contender for the “best damn Windows Mobile smartphone ever.” That said, I was a little nervous using a “slider” in this Round Robin, as it's the only entrant that isn't a very good two-handed device. Well Kevin definitely picked up on that as well as picking up on a whole bunch of other issues with the Tilt.

We'll post some of our own reactions here after the break. More importantly, you should post your reactions in the comments here for a chance to Win in the Round Robin.

Form Factor

Kevin writes:

Holding the device in my hand I was impressed by the Tilt’s build quality. I can now see why HTC enjoys the reputation that it does. I do think maybe the heaviness of the phone bolsters this feeling  of quality (I’m pretty sure the gadget world associates lightweight electronics with being ‘cheap’ and heavy electronics with being ‘well-built’) but either way the device seems well constructed and put together.

You durn-tootin it's a solid device. Earlier in the review it's called a “brick” and - honestly - that's fair. The point stands, though, that there's something to heft and weight that feels awesome. I'm stealing the image at right from intomobile's excellent post on that very subject because it's hilarious and because it's exactly right: heavy ain't always a bad thing.

The bigger issue, though, and one I was worried about was the input thing:

But with the Tilt I honestly did not even know how to begin using the device. Should I pull out the slider keyboard? Should I pull out the stylus? Should I try tapping the screen with my thumb? Or index finger? Should I keep the keyboard slid ‘in’ and use the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen? I am coming over from a BlackBerry… maybe I should use the trackwheel?

Yeah, one thing you have to say about Windows Mobile is that there are a myriad of ways to get around the device and manufacturers keep trying different methods in order to find the “right way.” We have 5-ways, scroll wheels, styli, track-wheels, and so on. I personally like that I can often hunt down just the right input style for myself, but it's confusing.

Also check out his notes on the “Two-handed thing.”

On Windows Mobile

When I think about the Tilt as a 'communications tool' and compare it head-to-head with the BlackBerry I pretty much want to throw the Tilt and Windows Mobile out the window (pun most definitely intended). The Windows Mobile OS is not very mobile user friendly compared to the BlackBerry OS. Its user experience is more akin to a computer that’s been downsized into a phone instead of starting with the demands of a mobile user and building an OS around the way a mobile user actually works (yes, that is what RIM has done with the BlackBerry).

Two thoughts about this issue. The first is a gripe I've long had that people assume that “Windows Mobile” is “just like Windows.” This is actually a gripe against Microsoft, in a way. I can't really blame them for leveraging their brand (and the “start menu”) to try to grab new users - but the bottom line for me is that Windows Mobile has a completely different UI philosophy to Windows - or at least different enough that I've had to help people through mental blocks like “On Windows I do X, why can't I do X here?”

The second thought is that, yes, Windows Mobile can be slow and that, as I said early and often about the Tilt, it requires some customizing to get it to work efficiently (read How To: Customize Your Tilt). That “customization required” is probably a bad thing on the whole, but the silver lining is hugely important for me. Out of the box, a Windows Mobile device is often not as user-friendly as a BlackBerry -- but once you have it tweaked, you can do things with a WM Smartphone that would make a BB user's head spin.

...Or so I assume, I have the BlackBerry 8310 (which is currently in Phone different's hands, read Mike excellent overview here) during week three. I'm on record as of this moment that I will eat my words if I'm wrong about the above.

Last thoughts

CrackBerry Kevin is annoyed by having to use the power button to make the device active. Agreed. As for the data loss thing - the Tilt won't actually lose data if it powers off, it just might lose whatever particular thing you might be doing the moment it shuts down -- just saying.

He's also annoyed by the battery life. Well, them's the breaks with a device as loaded with radios as this one. Maybe we should have sent him something with better battery life -- any suggestions for next year?

Anyhow, those are a few brief thoughts. What do you folks think? Tilt getting a fair shake so far from our BlackBerry fanatic?