Synchronizing my Outlook data on my laptop with the T-Mobile MDA was relatively easy. Knowing that the T-Mobile MDA uses Windows Mobile, and that I already had ActiveSync installed on my laptop (because I used the Treo 700w and the Motorola Q earlier in the 81-day-experiment--see day #10 to day #27), I just had to connect the T-Mobile MDA to may laptop using the USB cable, and as soon as I did that, ActiveSync recognized the new device and went through the setup process which ended successfully (except for one error message about a file that wasn’t synchronizing, and which I wasn’t able to resolve yet, but didn’t seem to affect the rest of the synchronization). So now I have my contacts, my calendar, and my tasks with me on the go.
Setting up e-mail
To setup e-mail, I went to the T-Mobile website, and registered. Apparently I need a temporary password to register. So I clicked on the link to generate a temporary password (which supposedly gets sent to the device via a text message). However I didn’t receive the text message. So I clicked on the link again. I still didn’t receive the text message, so I clicked on the link for the third time. I thought persistence might pay off. Nothing happened however. So I decided to give up on setting up e-mail for now, and try again later or call technical support. Well, about 5 minutes later, the first text message with my temporary password arrived. I tried to use it to register, but I got an error indicating that it is invalid. So I am assuming that I should wait for the third text message to arrive and then use the most recent password. So no e-mail on the device yet, until I finish this process probably tomorrow or the day after, knowing I will be out of the office tomorrow.
Browsing the web
The T-Mobile MDA is able to connect to the internet using the EDGE network which, as I mentioned when I was working with the BlackBerry Pearl last week, is 2 to 4 times faster than GPRS. However, browsing the Internet with the T-Mobile MDA seemed much slower than what I experienced with the EDGE network before. This could be just one of these temporary situation, but it was quite noticeable.
Filling out the Web survey form
I proceeded to fill out the same Web survey form that I used with the previous smartphones (Treo 700p, Treo 700w, Motorola Q, and BlackBerry Pearl). Filling out the form presented a number of challenges. I am sure some of them are associated with the fact that I am a new user of the T-Mobile MDA, and not used to the device yet, but they are still worth mentioning because they might give you some insights into usability.
The sliding keyboard and text entry
I switched to the keyboard by sliding it out and then started to type. First of all, it wasn’t easy to see which field I am in. So I had to use the stylus to click on the field to see the cursor. As I started typing, I noticed that I had a typo, so I wanted to use the backspace/delete key to erase the letters I just typed. But the delete key doesn’t seem to work unless I highlight the letters first, which required using the stylus. This was surprising because the backspace/delete key worked as expected when I was filling out a new appointment in the calendar application earlier.
Then I wanted to copy text from one field to another in the Web form. I highlighted the text and then pressed the menu key searching eagerly but unsuccessfully for the copy command. I will need to research this further, but it didn’t seem obvious how you would copy and paste simple text.
Then I got to a free form text field in the Web form in which I am supposed to enter a comment. Again, I had to use the stylus to get in and out of this field. Finally, after filling out a few option buttons and checkboxes, I completed the survey form and was able to save it successfully.
Count on using the stylus
I am starting to realize that with the T-Mobile MDA, it seems that using the stylus is not a choice, but more of a necessity. This felt inefficient at times especially during typing when I had to take my thumbs frequently away from the keyboard to use the stylus.
The T-Mobile MDA is Wi-Fi enabled. This means when you have a Wi-Fi network nearby such as a hotspot at a local café, the T-Mobile MDA detects the available networks and allow you to connect to the Internet. This seems to be desired especially for users who don’t want to have a data plan and rely on Wi-Fi networks instead. In addition, the Wi-Fi networks are likely to be faster than EDGE.
So back to Starbucks and back to Wi-Fi. I went through the process of enabling Wi-Fi on the T-Mobile MDA and entered my user name and password. However, I got an error message indicating that the login failed and the potential cause being that I may be already logged on to the account from another computer or device. I realized though that I used the wrong password, and after searching diligently for the screen where I can adjust the password, I was able to login to the T-Mobile Wi-Fi network.
However I had another challenge when I tried to open a new webpage. Basically I was taken back to the T-Mobile hotspot webpage and I couldn’t find a way to bypass that and get to the desired page. I will have to find out more about this.
Finally, I took the first picture above using T-Mobile MDA camera and decided to end the day!