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Smartphone Round Robin: CrackBerry Kevin Tries Out the Tilt

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 (opens in new tab).” 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 (opens in new tab)). 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?

WC Staff
WC Staff
12 Comments
  • official round robin contest thread
  • Win in the Round Robin.
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    Seems like it might be quite hard to win this competition :)
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    Seems like it might be quite hard to win this competition :)
    Nah, I think the post you made is good... ;)
  • I consider the BBs to be very straightforward but narrowly focused devices. Very stable, quick operation, but in the end, they're limited in what they can do.
  • Link returns:
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    Seems like it might be quite hard to win this competition :)
    fixed.
  • Yeah, WM Pro can be a bit complicated, which it looks like our BB user has picked up on. WM Standard might have been a better choice-- you gotta walk before you can fly :).
  • I actually find pro to be a bit easier to get than standard - it's like what I said with the 680 - for new users you can just tap what you're looking for rather than scrolling around the screen trying to find what you're looking for.
    ...or it could just be that I learned Pro before I ever used a standard device. ;)
  • I consider the BBs to be very straightforward but narrowly focused devices. Very stable, quick operation, but in the end, they're limited in what they can do.
    They may be limited in what they do, but what they do is everything that a bb owner is looking for, nothing more, nothing less, take a look at the Tilt, for me I would liken the Tilt to say a new computer from say HP, full of bloatware and stuff you will probably NEVER use...My BB has everything that I want, and is extendable and if something is on there that I really don't want, just remove it, the tilt in this case requires much more, possibly downloading some ROM from some guy, who sat up all night HEX editing CAB files to make it work the way he wanted and then released it, now personally I would'nt mind that cause I love to tinker around with my toys, but the average user will not do that, and really you shouldn't have to..just to get the device to work the way you want...plus run the risk of voiding warrentys and such for loading a ROM not sanctioned by your carrier, with BB devices installs are easier, use the apploader, or just simply point your browser to the OTA download and your done, don't like the installed app, no problem, just access the application list press menu key and choose delete, voila gone..and since the BB will only run on sanctioned OS's no worries about warrenty voids.
  • They may be limited in what they do, but what they do is everything that a bb owner is looking for, nothing more, nothing less, take a look at the Tilt, for me I would liken the Tilt to say a new computer from say HP, full of bloatware and stuff you will probably NEVER use...My BB has everything that I want, and is extendable and if something is on there that I really don't want, just remove it, the tilt in this case requires much more, possibly downloading some ROM from some guy, who sat up all night HEX editing CAB files to make it work the way he wanted and then released it, now personally I would'nt mind that cause I love to tinker around with my toys, but the average user will not do that, and really you shouldn't have to..just to get the device to work the way you want...plus run the risk of voiding warrentys and such for loading a ROM not sanctioned by your carrier, with BB devices installs are easier, use the apploader, or just simply point your browser to the OTA download and your done, don't like the installed app, no problem, just access the application list press menu key and choose delete, voila gone..and since the BB will only run on sanctioned OS's no worries about warrenty voids.
    I think what you're basically saying is plainly obvious - everybody has their needs and since there are a variety of smartphone form factors and OSes right now, everyone is capable of finding the right device for them. I personally feel that the Blackberry OS is just limited for MY needs. No 3G on GSM devices, lacking multimedia support, no slingplayer (not that it matters due to my first point, but I do know they're working on a BB client), no feature that is nearly as customizable, flexible, and powerful as the Today screen on WM Pro devices (the Today screen is probably one of the main reasons why I love Windows Mobile so much), not as customizable overall, etc. I do think they're great devices, but they're not the be all end all. Blackberrys have their strengths (email and stability) but that's where the advantages remain.
  • Yah, I think the only phone you might be happy with in the long run besides the BB is the iPhone ... POS and WM phones seem to just have "enough" but with the required love of a tweaker, turn into dream phones.
  • I wonder if you'd find a different hardware form-factor would leave you with a different impression. For example, the TMobile Shadow is designed for 1-handed operation, and features a shure-type keyboard similar to the Pearl.
  • Hehehhee. I love the impressions in this one. Mainly because I've been saying the same thing for years myself about WM. Nice writeup.