AT&T Tilt Review

by Reads (95,625)

The AT&T Tilt is a high-end Windows Mobile smartphone that debuted a week or so ago. This device offers a built-in keyboard, 3G support, a 3 MP camera, and a GPS receiver.

The Tilt uses a new variation of a fairly standard design. It has a landscape oriented QWERTY keyboard that can be hidden by sliding it behind the screen. Unlike similar models, though, this smartphone’s screen can be tilted up, making it look something like a miniature laptop.

There are many people who like to have their mobile device on their desk displaying some useful bits of information, like the time, the number of unread emails in the inbox, weather conditions, or even family pictures. The Tilt’s flip-up display makes this easy.

You’re probably not going to want to actually use the device much in this mode, though. When the display is tilted up, it partially covers the two keys that correspond to the two soft buttons on the bottom of the screen. These make using the device without touching the screen much easier, and on the Tilt are already too small to begin with, so you don’t want anything in the way.

HTC Tilt
(view large image)

The keyboard’s relatively large keys are easy to use. You just hold the smartphone between your two hands and type with your thumbs.

A Workhorse

This device is just loaded with features. If you’re in the market for a smartphone that might take the place of a laptop, you have to give the Tilt some serious consideration.

It runs Windows Mobile 6 Professional on a 400 MHz processor, and has 128 MB of RAM and 256 MB of ROM, about 100 MB of which is available to you as storage.

If you need more space for files and applications, you can plug in a microSDHC card. These are currently available with up to 4 GB of capacity, and will eventually get up to 32 GB. I tested Kingston’s 4 GB microSDHC card with this device with no problems.

Naturally, the Tilt comes with everything you’d expect in a business-class smartphone running an operating system from Microsoft, like mobile versions of Outlook, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, and Windows Media Player.

You can connect to the Internet over a Wi-Fi connection when you’re in the office or at home, or over AT&T 3G cellular-wireless network when you’re on the road. It offers the frequencies you need to function on wireless networks all around the world.

As phones go this device is a bit hefty (4.4 x 2.3 x 0.73 inches and 6.0 ounces) so you’ll be happy to hear it works with Bluetooth headsets. If you want to listen to music it also supports wireless stereo headsets.

If all that wasn’t enough, the Tilt even has a built-in GPS receiver. You have the option of signing up for the TeleNav navigation service ($10 a month) or use another one of the software options on the market. I tested it with the free Google maps program and it performed beautifully, always location me very accurately.

Drawbacks

The main drawbacks I’ve seen with the Tilt can be summed up with two words: big and heavy. It has much of the functionality of a mini-laptop, but that comes at the price of size and weight. If you’re looking for something light duty, and similarly light weight, then you should look elsewhere.

On a device this powerful, though, the QVGA screen feels just a little bit cramped. I hope the next generation of this design includes a VGA display.

A minor complaint is the headset jack. It doesn’t have either a 2.5 mm or 3.5 mm one. Instead, you plug your headset into the mini-USB port. Fortunately, this device comes with a headset with the necessary plug.

But this brings up an important point with the Tilt. Although the overall design is very good, there are plenty of small problems with it, like the one I mentioned earlier with the tilt-up screen interfering with the buttons.

Another nagging problem is that the Power button is directly opposite the PTT button, so it’s very easy to accidentally open a PTT session when you just want to turn the device on. And the fact that there’s no easy way to re-configure the PTT button doesn’t help. 

In addition, the stylus slot is located opposite of where it should be, so if you’re holding the device in portrait mode, the stylus has to be removed from the bottom.

I don’t think any of these problems are severe enough to hobble this product, but they are irritating.

Battery Life

The Tilt’s battery life isn’t one of its drawbacks, but it isn’t one of its best features, either.

Its 1350 mAh battery is easily capable of getting you through a day of average use, but you have to go to fairly light use to get through two days.

Part of this is the result of this smartphone’s many features, most of which require extra power to use. Wi-Fi and the GPS receiver can both be hard on the battery, for example.

Conclusion

The AT&T Tilt is a smartphone that can handling pretty much anything you throw at it. It can be your portable email device (including support for both Microsoft and BlackBerry push email systems), phone, scheduler, navigator, word processor, or MP3 player.

At $300 with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate, the price is reasonable too.

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