Back in “Dash-land”

[Not actually my phone]I recently posted regarding my switch to the T-Mobile G1 phone, the hardware of the G1, and finally the software experience.  In the most recent posting, however, I had decided to switch back to the T-Mobile Dash – my previous mobile phone – to see if my temperament would improve any.  Well, I’ve been back on the Dash for almost a month now, and I thought it was about time to give an update!

 

 

Here goes…

INSTALLING
My brother was kind enough to send his old Dash phone to me.  A wipe and reload was in order, so I grabbed one of the latest and greatest Windows Mobile 6.1 ROMs (NRG Rose ROM v1.7) and started in.  I couldn’t get the ROM loaded via my Win7 Beta desktop machine, so I grabbed a Vista laptop that I had sitting around at work.  Walked through a few steps, the phone restarted a couple of times, and I was up and running with WM6.1 in less than 30 minutes or so.  This ROM already includes some very nice homescreen enhancements, a weather plug-in, Office Mobile, PDF reader, an “auto configurator”, CeleTask, and some other great updates.  To be perfectly honest, the NRG Rose ROM v1.7 is better than my previous ROM in nearly every way.  A number of hoops that I previously had to run through ‘post-install’ are now no longer necessary, which is great.  Pretty much the only major install I made was loading Opera Mini, which is a very good and capable browser.

GETTING ALL ‘DIALED-IN’
One of the beauties of having your contact/calendar info “on the web” is the ability to quickly re-sync your new phone and be all ready to go within minutes.  In my case, I sync’d my phone with our corporate Exchange Server and had my contacts and calendar info back on my phone within minutes.  I love that.  Beyond that, I assigned my speed dial buttons to the folks that I call most often, and finally set things like ring tones, notification sounds and so forth.  That’s about as much “dialing in” as I really need to do.

 gettingstarted[1]

DAILY USAGE
Having migrated from the Dash to the G1 and back to the Dash again, I was really curious about what my experience would be.  Honestly, I was expecting a bit of “oh, yeah… the Dash has this or that problem”, quickly getting frustrated, and ending up back on the G1.  After all, the Dash is about 2.5 years old now, running the (not-nearly-as-schwanky) Windows Mobile OS, and sporting older, slower hardware.  It oughta be a slam dunk in the Android-based G1’s favor, but it really hasn’t been.

screen01[1]

Observe:

  • DIALING: A basic phone call on either device is really pretty easy – assuming that you’re manually entering a phone number.  The Dash is really no better or worse, in this regard.  Finding a contact quickly, however, does seem to be faster on the Dash – primarily due to the ‘right there in your face’ keyboard.
  • SPEED DIALING:  One of my “peeves” with the G1 was the inability to make a quick phone call to those folks that I contact most often.  I would venture a guess that I call the same 10 phone numbers roughly 90% of the time, and I’m guessing that a lot of other people do the same thing.  On the G1, a “speed dial” of this nature required at least six clicks to accomplish.  Frustrating.  The Dash, on the other hand, with appropriately configured “speed dial” keys, is only three clicks to perform the same function.
  • CALL QUALITY:  I didn’t have a lot of complaints about call quality on the G1.  The earpiece on the Dash, however, is a bit quieter, and seems to vary somewhat depending upon how you’re holding the phone.  I would say that the G1 is better for outside use, and either phone is acceptable indoors.  Using a Bluetooth headset, of course, makes the point moot.
  • RECEPTION:  Strangely enough, I noted a *very* nice increase in phone reception when I first got my G1.  My house is in a bit of a deadzone, but the G1 really seemed to get “more bars in more places”, if you will.  I was fully expecting that the Dash would again suffer in this area, causing me much grief and heartache.  Thankfully, this hasn’t been the case!  I don’t if the new WM6.1 ROM I’m using has better radio code, or if it’s the physical phone itself, but I’m really not seeing a discernable difference in reception – it’s quite good with this Dash.  What I have noticed, however, is a huge decrease in dropped calls since switching back to the Dash!  I don’t know if it’s a 3G network issue (which the Dash cannot use) or something physically wrong with the G1 I had, but it would drop calls without fail in certain places.  The Dash has not done this.
  • RINGING:  As I had reported with the G1, I was quite consistently missing calls when I didn’t have the phone physically on me.  Basically, the phone was quieter and (especially at home) I often couldn’t hear the phone ring at all if I was in another room.  This hasn’t been an issue with the Dash, thankfully, and I’m hearing the phone ring much better than before.  Also, the Dash has a “vibrate first, then ring” setting for your ring profile.  The G1 did not offer this, nor do many phones that I know of.  I’m happily using this setting again, and I much prefer it for office-use.  If the phone is in my pocket, I’m usually able to answer (or “silence” it) before my co-workers ever know that a call came in.
  • CALL LOG:  Since I mentioned it in my “software” review of the G1, I should probably counter here.  Quite frankly, the G1 did not offer much in the way of full-featured call logging.  It’s all well and good to know that so and so called me yesterday, but at what time?  How long was the call?  The Dash gives me this information, and I appreciate that.  Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s important to me.
  • TYPING:  Although the keyboard on the G1 is much larger, it’s not necessarily better, as I quickly found out.  I never quite got “used” to the G1’s keyboard – even after 2 months.  It’s not horrible, by any means, but the keyboard on the Dash is clearly easier to type on – at least for me.  Also, the ability to ‘hold a key down and get the alt-press symbol’ is a real time saver.  I do wish that the Dash had both right and left Shift keys, but aside from that the Dash is a better device for typing on.  Lastly, the fact that you had to “slide out” the G1 keyboard made me want to go to the keyboard less.  Take that for what it’s worth.
  • TEXT MESSAGING:  Both the G1 and the (WM6.1-enabled) Dash allow for threaded SMS text messaging – a “must have”’ for cell phones these days, in my opinion.  The G1 is probably better for managing my text messages, but the typing (as I’ve mentioned) somewhat negates any improvements there.  The text messaging app is certainly much nicer to look at on the G1, however.  No contest there.

    screen13[1]

  • BROWSING:  This is an area that is clearly in the G1’s favor.  The screen is larger, touch screen-enabled, features 3G network support (where available), and uses a much newer browser technology.  I’m not even going to argue that the Dash comes close to matching the browsing-ability of the G1.  It doesn’t.  I will say this, though: using (the free) Opera Mini on the Dash closes the gap a surprising amount.  In my non-scientific guesstimating, I would say that Opera Mini is as fast at pulling up pages on the EDGE network as the G1 is on the 3G network.  I’m not going to bother to explain why, because I really don’t know.  Opera Mini is really a very clever browser, though, and makes using the web on the Dash much more palatable.  Between the two, though, the G1 is clearly a better Internet-capable device.
  • EMAIL:  Much like the Text Messaging report, using Email on the G1 was generally a “nicer” experience, though not necessarily better.  For my Yahoo! Mail account, the G1 is preferable and works well.  For my Exchange mail, however, the Dash is still a better device – and primarily because it has built-in Exchange support, where the G1 does not (yet).
  • CALENDAR:  The calendaring on the Dash is not great to use, though the tie-in functionality with Exchange Server is great.  Purely from a visibility standpoint, the G1 is much better.  I use appointments very often, which both devices handle well, but the basic calendaring viewing is better on the G1.
  • CAMERA:  The photo quality (and interface) on the G1 are definitely better than on the Dash.  The Dash, however, seems to take pictures more quickly – mostly due to the slow auto-focus behavior of the G1.  Between the two, however, I’d rather have the G1’s camera.
  • STABILITY:  The G1 was a fairly stable device, and so is the Dash.  I find myself managing programs on the Dash more than on the G1, but I’m also fine with that.  If I didn’t manually close some apps, I’m guessing that the Dash would bog down a lot more, which would eventually lead most people to simply restart the phone.  Quite honestly, WinMo does not manage memory that effectively, but I can.  The ROM that I’m running maps a key to the CeleTask app which allows you to very easily close apps and free up memory.  I don’t mind doing that, but a lot of people probably do.  That said, I’ve noticed that the G1 has some marketplace apps to “manually close” running programs.  From my experience with the G1, it didn’t manage memory (& apps) all that well either.

FINAL THOUGHTS
At this point, I’m back on the Dash and am staying here until I find a device that is truly better.  The T-Mobile G1, while clearly a nice device, was not better for me, and (as I’ve harped on before) actually made some functionality more difficult.

That said, if you tend to browse on your phone a lot, enjoy downloading apps/games, or need GPS functionality, then the G1 may be a better choice for you.  However, if you use your phone primarily for phone calls, text messaging, and email, then I would argue that the T-Mobile Dash is the better device between the two.

Your mileage may vary, but as for me, well…I’m happy to be back in Dash-land. 🙂

[Click here to view a YouTube clip of WM6.1 on the T-Mobile Dash]

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6 Responses to “Back in “Dash-land””


  1. 1 kevinleroy March 19, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Man…I had horrible experiences with the Dash…I know Craig did as well. I’m on the iPhone right now…love the idea of having a touch screen phone and the Apps are wicked cool. The downside is the lack of keyboard and mms (I’m on the 1st Gen). I’m tempted to switch to a BB next…

  2. 2 yipcanjo March 19, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Yeah…you’ve mentioned that, Kevin, but that was back in the Windows Mobile 5 days. As I’ve mentioned, I would *not* be using this phone still if that was my only OS option. As it stands, though, the WM6.1 update is both “free” and “very good”. There are many out there who agree with me.

    I will not be getting an iPhone.

  3. 3 kevinleroy March 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Yeah, 6.1 is quite stable. My wife has a WM Phone and loves it. I did too but I’m such a Cell Phone junky I had to have the latest and greatest…We’ll see where this ole iPhone takes me. Like I said, I love the idea of a touch screen but the lack of keyboard and mms is enough to turn me to something else. Apple is becoming too much like MS for my taste…I’m moving more toward Open Source now. Ok, I’ll step off my soap box now… 🙂

  4. 4 yipcanjo March 19, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Here you go, Mr. “Open Source”…

    http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Main_Page

    Oh, wait… you could just grab a G1 and enjoy it as much as I did! 🙂

  5. 5 kevinleroy March 19, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    I would do that in a heart beat if it weren’t for that stupid mouthpiece! That is U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi you ugly! And that Openmoko is by far the most lame looking phone I’ve ever seen! Ok, I gotta stop now…I sound like a bitter old man. 😉


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