Wing Crashes and Burns?: T-Mobile Wing

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Well, you lucky ducks, Hal just gave me permission to post a my review of the Wing that will appear in the next issue of the magazine. So, below you'll find a slightly edited copy...As always, your feedback is welcome. Enjoy!

T-Mobile is on a roll, recently announcing a Windows Mobile 6 Standard upgrade program for its Dash Smartphone users and then North America’s first ever WM6 Professional device—The T-Mobile Wing. T-Mobile’s focus on style is evident in the devices it sells, and the Wing fits in with the Nokia 8801, Blackberry Pearl, and other smartphones it offers.

Wing1

A stylish device

The T-Mobile Wing is a slim, royal navy blue device with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard similar to but larger than the one found on the HTC S710. Tipping the scale at about 6 ounces, it’s about average for what we used to call a “Pocket PC Phone Edition†device, but a little heavier than a Smartphone. You won’t want to use it for extended conversations without a Bluetooth headset, but its fine for quick calls.
The Wing incorporates an EDGE-capable quad band GSM/GPRS phone, as well as Wi-Fi (802.11 b and g) and Bluetooth 2.0.
The face of the Wing is fairly uncluttered. Centered below the display is the D-pad flanked by the Call and End Call buttons, the two soft key buttons, and the Start menu and OK buttons. The Messaging button is located next to the Voice Command button on the right edge of the device.
(TIP: Press and hold in the Messaging button on the right edge of the Wing to record a voice note.)
The mini-USB port located on the bottom edge of the device is covered by a rubber protector that must be removed every time you plug in the sync cable. (If this wasn’t a review unit, I’d probably remove it permanently.) The microSD card slot and soft reset hole are located on the left edge of the device, along with the volume up/down slider and the camera activation button. The power on/off button is on the top.
The Wing was designed and manufactured by HTC. Missing from it and some other recent HTC devices is a scroll wheel. This is unfortunate because it makes one-handed use of the device more difficult.
I was also disappointed that HTC chose to use a 200 MHz OMAP processor on the Wing. When you nudge the keyboard slightly, it pops out with an impressive snapping action, and the screen display will rotate to a landscape viewing mode. However, due to the slow processor or other factors, this can take several (1-3) seconds, which is unacceptable on a WM 6 Professional phone. Carriers should insist on 400 MHz processors for the devices they sell.
The QWERTY board is remarkably comfortable to use; its keys are spacious and well arranged and the tactile feedback is just right. There are also two mini LEDs just above the keyboard to indicate if the CAPS/Function mode is active, which is more useful than you may think- my old problem of occasionally being unsure of what mode I’m in is no more.
Finally, the Wing is powered by a 1,130 mAh replaceable, rechargeable battery rated by the manufacturer as giving you 3.5-5 hours of talk time and 150-200 hours of standby. The battery is located underneath a removable cover on the back of the device. The SIM card slot is located underneath the battery.

Wing2

MyFaves and other add-on software

As mentioned, the Wing incorporates the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile OS and application suite for touchscreen phones—Windows Mobile 6 Professional. This software was reviewed in the April/May issue (pocketpcmag.com/_archives/Apr07/windowsmobile.aspx) and again in June/July (pocketpcmag.com/_archives/Jun07/wmsix.aspx).
Carriers and other device vendors differentiate their devices with the add-on software they include, and T-Mobile did a fair job with this. The usual applications HTC includes on its devices were present, including Adobe Reader LE, Bluetooth Explorer, Internet Sharing, SIM Manager, and a ZIP utility. But perhaps the most significant addition to the Wing’s built-in software was Microsoft Voice Command (v. 1.6), which allows you use spoken commands to control the device, look up contacts, place phone calls, and more. With the exception of Palm, other vendors have decided not to include Voice Command. It can, however, be purchased separately for $40 and installed on other devices.
The Wing also includes an IM client, which lets you connect to AOL, ICQ, and Y! Messenger. Other programs included on the device are a music player, Today screen plug-in, and the very cool Handango InHand, which allows you to purchase software OTA (Over The Air). They also included a copy of Windows Live Search and Windows Live Messenger, which I reviewed on page 38 of the last issue. For some reason, they also included a WAP browser (WinWAP), rebranded as “t-zonesâ€. I can’t figure out why anyone would use this over Internet Explorer Mobile, and frankly, it seems to be an obvious attempt at getting people to use less bandwidth. Additionally, T-Mobile removed some of the less-used buttons in Phone Dialer, making the number buttons larger. I am constantly fielding requests for a larger Dialer pad—it’s good to see someone finally implementing it.
T-Mobile also includes a myFaves application on the Wing. MyFaves, a feature T-Mobile adds to its voice plans, offers unlimited dialing to any five phone numbers you specify, and the new application allows you to interface with the service. The device also a Today screen plug-in that lets you tap on photo of one of the myFaves contacts to place the call. It was pretty easy to add new contact to the myFaves list, and the UI (User Interface) is pleasant and easy on the eyes.

First Windows Mobile 6 phones to market

T-Mobile gets a big high five for bringing the first WM 6 handsets to the market. Also, their selection of add on software is better than any other North American carrier. Unfortunately, it won’t be easy to remain competitive once other WM 6 devices become available in a couple of months. When the Wing has to compete against devices like the yet-to-be-released PPC-6800 (similar form factor but with 3G data capability, faster processor, and a scroll wheel) the limitations of the Wing will become more obvious. For their next device, T-Mobile needs to focus on providing an edge over the competition—a high resolution camera or integrated GPS might help.
For now, the Wing is the only horse in T-Mobile’s WM Professional stable, and, in an effort to appeal to masses, they’ve kept the price low ($300 with two year contract). Because of its limitations and the fact that new and better devices are on the way, however, I’d have to give this one a no-go.

Bottom Line Score: (Out of 10)
Decent looks, but dated hardware- 5.9.

Other reviews and looks can be found at PPCT's review here, Pocketnow's review here, and EngadgetMobile's pix here.

Disclaimer: Many of the units/applications I review are sent to me at no charge. Sometimes I keep these, and sometimes they are loaner unit/trial applications. Whatever the case, I do my level best to remain impartial- however, we are all only human- me included:).

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