Why the AT&T Tilt/HTC Kaiser is awesome

So many reasons, so little time but here goes...

  1. Built-in GPS. This has prevented me from getting lost so many times in the past few months that I can't imagine living without it. This is especially helpful in downtown atlanta where lots of streets are closed because of construction. Since I'm still not all that familiar with the streets a detour would normally mean me getting lost OR pulling over, pulling out the paper map and trying to get my bearings. Since I bought the tilt I just start Windows Live Search, bring up a map and wallah! An alternate route becomes obvious. Downtown Atlanta IS mostly a grid but there are enough deviations that it's easy to go far out of the way while trying to find an alternate route.

    1. QuickGPS speeds up initialization.
    2. A suction cup PDA holder on the front windshield makes using this while driving much less dangerous :)
    3. GPS requires a clear view of the sky so no luck indoors ;(
  2. ActiveSync. I have no idea what iPhoners have been using but I probably rely more on the Tilt for meeting notices and reminders than my work laptop now. Calendar, Contacts, Email, Tasks and Notes all constantly available!
  3. 3G. This phone is so awesome that it even worked on a recent trip to South Korea! 3G isn't as fast as DSL but it definitely feels like high speed internet access. With a little hacking it's possible to share the Tilt's 3g internet connection with a laptop (both by USB AND by bluetooth!) - this is really handy in airports and other places that don't have free wifi.
  4. Bluetooth. I didn't have a single bluetooth device before getting this phone but it's so useful that I have since added bluetooth dongles to my home laptop, a bluetooth headset (sony dr-22) and plan on getting bluetooth speakers and a bluetooth receiver. If your music collection is entirely on a PC or other device, bluetooth is the missing "link". Windows Media Player even has built-in support for the advanced profile so I can pause and skip from the headset while listening to a playlist.
  5. Pocket IE. Despite all its shortcomings (and they are many), Pocket IE is wonderful for plain and simple text + graphics browsing. There are even some old plugins (e.g., flash) that still work. Just being able to browse the web from anywhere at anytime is a godsend if patience isn't exactly your strong point. I don't mind waiting in line any more since I can use the time to pull up google reader and catch up on internet browsing or send off a short response to an email. IT'S GREAT!!!!!
  6. Office Mobile, Adobe Reader LE - for obvious reasons.
  7. The HTC Audio Manager application. This is probably one of the best designed apps that I've seen for the Tilt. It takes advantage of the touch screen interface in all the right places. The buttons are large enough to use without fumbling. It is so well designed that it doesn't require a stylus to create a playlist on the fly or edit an existing playlist. In my opinion this app works so well because it compensates for the lack of screen space by using context. No screen has very many options (hence there is enough space to make the options available with large buttons or fonts) but when you click an option that requires more input the entire screen switches into that context. And they didn't forget to always provide a way to 'back out' of the current context. At first this was a little counter-intuitive to my desktop-centric expectations (e.g., to switch from 1 artist to another you touch the artists name at the top of the screen - this sends you back to the full artist listing where you can select another artist) but it only takes a few minutes of getting used to.

    1. I have to comment on the playlist editor. It is, hands down, light years better than the Windows Media Player mobile playlist editor. To change the order or delete tracks you switch into edit mode (a single, large button) at which point you can touch-drag tracks around or touch-hold-delete any track. To commit the changes you click done (another single, large button). If your browsing tracks, touch-hold-add to playlist takes you to the list of playlists where a single click on the target playlist adds the track. And the next time you try to add to playlist the last selected playlist is selected by default!
    2. The Windows Media Player Mobile playlist editor requires the use of a stylus (unless you happen to have really long nails). Modifying a playlist is a real pain especially if you're listening to a playlist WHILE modifying it. On the plus side, it will display the album art if it's available, something the HTC Audio Manager doesn't do. And it's playlist format is accessible to the desktop version of Windows Media Player. Still, given that I listen to music more often than not while on the go, I would readily trade playlist sync for a UI that I could use without a stylus!

  8. MicroSDHC support. Right now the biggest card I can find is 8GB but 16GB should be out soon. The manual suggests that it'll support as much as 32GB. 32GB on a mobile phone!!!
  9. The slideout keyboard. After getting used to this I don't even bother with the predictive input/text completion; it's more than fast enough for small to medium sized email messages.
  10. Voice Recorder. With a little hacking you can assign the voice recorder to the "Push To Talk" button. This came in handy in South Korea where an overeager-to-speak-english cab driver regaled me, my boss and a coworker with "Amazing Grace" and "Jingle Bells". Without the Tilt I couldn't have captured this hysterical moment for posterity ;)

Oh and for you Microsoft haters out there - I DO have google maps installed but as of the last update of Windows Live Search it is way easier to get directions with Windows Live Search than with Google Maps. Windows Live Search remembers previously entered addresses and allows you to choose from this list when setting the start and destination. This can be done in the span of a traffic light. Whereas with google maps I have to type the addresses - not possible for me unless the traffic light is really long. Windows Live Search uses an arrow for it's current location which I find helpful in getting oriented while in slow moving traffic. Windows Live Search also makes it much easier to find information on nearby restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters, etc... because of it's categories listing. This is another case where the ease of use is much greater because of large buttons + context; I can browse predefined categories by switching from the map context to the home context (via a big "home" button) then quickly browse to the category of interest. Google's search oriented interface is too cumbersome for use while driving.

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