I've carried Windows Mobile devices for a long time now. When I started at Microsoft back in 2006, I was able to get a Treo (officially known as a Palm Treo 700w) with Verizon. Enjoyed the coverage of Verizon and the Windows Mobile 5 on the Treo. It was a good time but there were a few issues that I had with my mobile environment:

  • Verizon and SIM cards. Verizon chooses devices that are SIM-less. Working for Microsoft (and being in DPE and connections with the Windows Mobile group), I get to see a new device on an at-least annual basis. I asked Verizon if there were some options here, and there were not. This is a problem - liked my service, need to change phones whenever I want to.  Sometimes, I'd like to demo a phone and every once in a while I'll show a different phone.
  • Lack of Tethering - Under that plan that I had with Verizon, I could not tether legally. This is a problem when I'm traveling. Yes, I get my email when I'm traveling, but sometimes it nice to sync up the laptop (when getting on an airplane), grabbing a document from our corporate network, entering data into corporate portals, etc. I could have bought a second plan to get a data card and/or tethering - but that's just more expense. (My employer pays for this, but it goes against a budget that I manage).
  • Verizon was not showing any upgrade path for the Treo to Windows Mobile 6. It's been in OEM hands for long enough now.

And then comes a free device from AT&T. So, this this forced me to reconsider my current issues above. I'm not to the end of my contract, but I'd sure like some relief on a few issues - tethering being the biggest issue for me. Then I started asking around about people's experience with AT&T - mostly good news there. Then I asked about about information on this device I received, the Blackjack II (made by Samsung and called the SGH-i617), and I've heard nothing but good reviews. I was concerned about moving from the touch world (PPC Mobile, then WM5 Professional) to WM6 Standard.

So, I made the plunge - including that early termination fee by Verizon.  But, it's been a good investment so far. And it took me about 5 minutes to forget about a stylus.

Here's a list of features that I like about my phone and experience:

  • QWERTY keyboard. Although not big enough for my fat fingers, it's a reasonable experience. I also like the extra keys - email, camera, Fn (special characters).
  • Jog wheel, over a regular directional pad. This has been really cool.
  • A nice camera (2 megapixel)
  • 2.4" display, bright colors, 320x240
  • small, but large enough device (12.8 mm thin)
  • 3G - I can receive emails while on the phone. I can tether, and receive emails on the phone.
  • Built-in GPS. Now Live Search for Windows Mobile can just tell me where I am. (I'm running a new version (internal) that has some cool new capabilities.)
  • Tethering - is great! got this plan for just $2 more than my previous plan. Thanks AT&T. More on this in a subsequent post.
  • WM6 has so many nice features - as I've already mentioned. There are a bunch of little things here that make the mobile experience nice - Outlook mobile, nice home page, freebies from Windows Mobile, etc.
  • When I hold the home key down, a task manager fires up.
  • There are extra keys for starting the camera and mail, as well as some AT&T specific functions like Cingular Video and launching the browser to an internal AT&T page.
  • There are some great home screen layouts that come with the device.
  • The one time that I called AT&T for support, they were great.

I do have some issues that I don't like.

  • The AT&T setup is not perfect. For example, they remove Internet Connection Sharing(ICS). Fortunately, on Vista it loads a driver that allows me to use my phone as a modem. I just add a dial-up entry and it just works. I do need to compare speeds to someone who has ICS working. (Just remember on the BJ to toggle the USB port to run as Modem and switch back to ActiveSync as appropriate.
  • When selecting mail from the menu or from the mail button, I get prompted to select which mail store that I want to. It's just one keystroke but it's annoying.