T-Mobile Shadow first impressions; HTC and Microsoft reveal a refreshing UI

T-Mobile Shadow first impressions; HTC and Microsoft reveal a refreshing UI

Summary: After checking out the BlackBerry Curve for a couple weeks I scheduled a time on my calendar to visit T-Mobile and pick one up for myself. However, the sun came out before my appointment and revealed the T-Mobile Shadow so I now had a choice to make at the local T-Mobile store. I went on 31 October, the release day for the Shadow, and the T-Mobile store in Seattle was packed. I checked out both the brown and green Shadow, as well as the Curve again, and a few minutes later I walked out of the store with a green T-Mobile Shadow. I have 14 days to decide if I am going to stick with the Shadow or go back and get the Curve so if you have any thoughts on why one is better than the other, feel free to leave a comment. My thoughts, video, and photo gallery below are my first impressions after about 6 hours of using the Shadow. I plan to post a more detailed review prior to my 14-day trial period expiration.

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After checking out the BlackBerry Curve for a couple weeks I scheduled a time on my calendar to visit T-Mobile and pick one up for myself. However, the sun came out before my appointment and revealed the T-Mobile Shadow so I now had a choice to make at the local T-Mobile store. I went on 31 October, the release day for the Shadow, and the T-Mobile store in Seattle was packed. I checked out both the brown and green Shadow, as well as the Curve again, and a few minutes later I walked out of the store with a green T-Mobile Shadow. I have 14 days to decide if I am going to stick with the Shadow or go back and get the Curve so if you have any thoughts on why one is better than the other, feel free to leave a comment. My thoughts, video, and photo gallery below are my first impressions after about 6 hours of using the Shadow. I plan to post a more detailed review prior to my 14-day trial period expiration.


 Image Gallery: The T-Mobile Shadow brings a refreshing UI to Windows Mobile 6.  Image Gallery: Retail box Image Gallery: Shadow in hand 

Out of box experience: Windows Mobile users seem to have generally been the mobile enthusiasts, techy people, or business people who are more into spending time with their devices and seeking more than just a phone. I have been evangelizing high end devices to family and friends for years, but they still seem satisfied with the free phones their carriers give them. That is fine for many people, but I still think that many others could really use these higher end devices. The prices for the higher end models are now dropping to within a reasonable consumer price range (US$149.99 for the Shadow for a new subscriber), but there is still the issue of the phones being too complicated for common users. HTC and Microsoft worked together to create an experience on the Shadow that I think will significantly help with this impression and improve the out-of-the box experience. I covered much of the UI in my video above and will write a bit more about it below. You can check out more details regarding this cooperative effort and know that HTC really does care about the end consumer. Like the HTC Touch packaging, HTC has made the unwrapping of the HTC Shadow a special experience with solid packaging and presentation that helps give people a sense that they purchased a premium product.

Specs: The HTC Shadow is a Windows Mobile 6 Standard smartphone (non-touch screen) that runs with an OMAP 850 200 MHz processor, 256 MB ROM, 128 MB RAM, 2.6 inch QVGA 320x240 display, quad band GSM radio (850/900/1800/1900), 802.11 b/g WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0 (A2DP stereo support), 2 megapixel camera, microSD card slot, 920 mAh battery, and 20-key QWERTY keyboard/keypad. The ROM and RAM are quite impressive for a Standard device and it is great to see Bluetooth stereo support since the Shadow uses the HTC proprietary port for headphones. There is no HotSpot @Home UMA support or 3G radio in the device, which would have really put the device over the top.

Home screen and plugins: The Home screen UI is the first thing you will see when you power up the device and the major differentiating factor in the Shadow. If you compare the standard Windows Mobile 6 Standard home screen with the T-Mobile Shadow you will see a MAJOR difference. MyFaves is heavily customized on the Shadow and I added this service to my family plan to see if it reduces some of my minutes for calls to my home and others. One thing I learned is that you lose the free T-Mobile to T-Mobile functionality if you have MyFaves so there is definitely a bill history review that you should conduct before making the switch. The MyFaves feature is fun, which I think is an important aspect that may help sell the Shadow since people want an enjoyable experience with their mobile phones.

Counting the MyFaves plug-in, there are eight home screen plug-ins designed by HTC and Microsoft. These include Notifications, Message Center, Appointments, Internet, Music, My Photos, and Settings. I run through each one in my video above and as you can see it brings the most common functions of the device to a simple UI.

Hardware features: HTC included a new navigation wheel that rotates 360 degrees. You can use your thumb to move the wheel around and around, but I found it to be a bit of a novelty since my thumb kept slipping and not causing it to rotate consistently. There are slight cuts in the wheel, but it is slick and not easy to manipulate. It is a good directional pad though and the left, right, up, and down works well. The center action button lights up and has great feedback.

There are two small soft keys integrated into the display with a Home and back key below these. The black display is glossy and face grease shows up and means you will be wiping it down regularly. The back of the device has the cool rubberized covering seen on other Windows Mobile devices, like the Dash.

Fonts appear very clear and crisp, but many of the icons are pixelated and look a bit sloppy. The UI is attractive and it is a shame to see these funky icons. I read online that the display may actually be VGA, but that graphics are downgraded to QVGA because there was too big of a hit on battery life. I'll try to see if this is true, but it seems to make sense given that the icons look so poor.

I have only had the device for 24 hours, but I have already seen the battery drop down to a very low level twice and had to recharge it twice. It doesn't appear to last that long, but it may take a couple of charges to condition the battery and I'll have to do more testing over the next two weeks.

New subscribers can purchase the Shadow for US$149.99 after a US$150 instant discount and US$50 mail-in rebate. The full retail price is US$349.99. I had a small upgrade allowance so I was able to pick up the Shadow for US$269.99 with a contract extension. I have been with T-Mobile now for over 5 years and have no plans to leave so I went with the savings.

Final first impressions: HTC and Microsoft did a great job on bringing common functions to the home screen and the UI is fun to use. Using the iPhone is also fun and I think much of its success is due to making a device that is enjoyable and fun. The T-Mobile Shadow is also a full Windows Mobile 6 device so you can still get a lot of work done too with Office Mobile, ActiveSync Exchange Server support, and much more.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, HTC, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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36 comments
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  • Just another Windows Mobile Phone...

    Yuck!!!!
    mrOSX
    • Thats like saying...

      Just another guy walking on water...
      No_Ax_to_Grind
  • RE: T-Mobile Shadow first impressions; HTC and Microsoft reveal a refreshing UI

    Two types of users, two different phones. For me a phone first. I use HS@H all day and the BB CURVE (8320) is super. Shadow has no HS@H now so as the previous poster said it's just another Windows Mobile Phone. Remember the WING?
    rdc1@...
  • RE: T-Mobile Shadow first impressions; HTC and Microsoft reveal a refreshing UI

    Ordered mine and it's still in transit via UPS. Hope it's all that I believe it will be. The UI looks gorgeous from the screens and videos I've seen.
    sportsunit
  • I thought this was something special, then I saw

    that it's just a Windows Mobile phone. I thought it was something useful like the Nokia S60 or cool like the iPhone.

    I'm sticking with my DumbPhone prepaid at T-Mobile...
    jacarter3
  • Yeah, just another phone...

    ... like the Nokia smartphones, the overhyped and underperforming iPhones, but with a useful operating system that just works.

    I will take HTC products anyday over the Motorolas, Apples, etc. of the world. I have the Dash right now and when my contract ends, I will be getting another HTC phone.

    Like I said, it just works.
    Confused by religion
    • Nice MS/HCT advert, Milly

      Get paid for these?
      jacarter3
      • No more than you get paid for your ABM drivel

        ... and I have used the HTC, have you? Or what is your basis for saying that I am a paid advertiser for HTC or for Microsoft? Or is any opinion other than your own one bought and paid for?

        Look up megalomania - you can even use that POS wikipedia if you like.

        However, here, I will get you started:
        http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?megalomania
        Confused by religion
        • That's funny!

          Milly you don't know me well enough to call me names and who put salt in your coffee anyway.

          I have used Windows since I bought Windows 1.03 on 5-1/4 disks shortly after its release. I have been a staunch MS advocate right up to about 2002 when XP came out.

          I still use MS products. But I am smart enough to know when I am being p|ssed on and no longer buy into their hegemony. If you happy as a pig in the poke with MS, that's your right. If I am not, that's mine.

          I actually make a point of buying into as many "ecosystems" as possible because diversity is great for competition and innovation, something distinctly lacking from MS these days and I actually wish that this wasn't so.

          I hope MS gets their clock cleaned in the market place and all of their anti-competitive practices cease because they once again actually have to compete. Then they can get back to writing good software and selling value not that POS Vista. With the looks of things, that day may be coming but then Google will be the new naked emperor.

          No go and write some more glowing stuff for and about your megalomaniacal corporate sponsors.
          jacarter3
          • The proof is in your post

            NT
            Confused by religion
          • And...

            ...you just proved her right.

            Carl Rapson
            rapson
          • You're both too funny!

            If you feel vindicated in some way, great! My opinions are my own and they are based solely upon my experience.

            My experience is that I have been exploited enough by MS. My job involves development of advanced technology that DOES NOT include software run in any PC ecosystem. Maybe having to deal with real software development for a variety of processor architectures (including microprocessor, DSP and ARM cores) in new instrumentation for space and the battlefield gives a broader perspective than either of you will ever be able to grasp or appreciate.

            If you feel that I am ABM, you're both quite mistaken. I do and will continue to use MS Office 2003, XP ad Win2K. I will also use the best OS and tools for the job at hand on a case by case basis including Linux, OS X and occasionally Solaris.

            But I will not buy into the latest issue of bloat from Redmond nor the lame attempts to compete in consumer electronics as these are completely tied to the bloat they would have me buy. IF you want to label that, you could try ABV. That's much more appropriate, if your pigeon-holed thought analysis can reach that far.

            Now you can figure my position out while trying again to apologize for Redmond and find some other way to prove you're superior as this must be important to you (and I estimate that there must be financial incentives for your adamant vitriol as neither of you hacks as ever denied it). In the meantime, I'll just enjoy the humorous attempts to inflate your egos by calling me names.

            You're so lame it's funny - LOL!!!
            jacarter3
          • Wow!

            And to think you choose to display your bias so publicly and then deny it!

            So, did you answer my question? Have you used an HTC phone from T-Mobile? Have you used any Windows Mobile smartphone in your "all platform ecosystem:?

            No? Then the complete response that you have posted is irrelevant, as is anything else you have to say.

            Me, lame? Sorry dude, but you own the picture next to the definition of lame, as well as the one next to the one defining stupid.
            Confused by religion
          • Milly, this running thread is NOT ABOUT

            the stupid phone from MS. It's about your unfettered and unwaivering praise for all things MS. Subsequently it turned to your need to call me names when I called you out for the MS paid shill that you are. In this thread, I never made any claims about the phone.

            You keep claiming bias and all I said was ABV. That's my choice which naturally you claim is a "bias." No matter how hard hard you try, these are not the same thing. OTOH, your bias is quite apparent and we all know why.

            Can't even follow the dialog in this thread...

            Lame

            Must resort to name calling and ad hominem attacks to attempt to prove a point...

            Lame

            Resorts to an irrelevant point to make an irrelevant point...

            Lame

            Give it up cause I can't take the laughter much more - LOL ;)
            jacarter3
          • PS - I am not buying into the

            GPhone either as I don't need a "Smart" phone, just a phone to make infrequent calls that costs less than $14 a month (which is what I have now).

            However, if the need arises to be accessible 24/7 and waste time watching videos on my phone, you can be sure that I WILL buy into the most open mobile modem platform. Probably a GPhone, but we'll wait and see as I don't trust Google anymore than MS or Apple.

            How's that for an unflinching lack of bias...

            Have fun and try to get those twists out of what you sit on.

            LOL :)
            jacarter3
          • You're missing the point

            Your reply didn't give an opinion on the item at hand, it only served to insult a poster that didn't do anything to get insulted, but simply offered an opinion. I find it funny that you are upset (or appearing to be so) because she shot back at your "opinion" when that's exactly what you did to her. At least she offered some information about the actual phone. All you did was bash someone who has experience with a family of products that likes them.

            Why do you feel attacked when you are the attacker? You're being very hyporcritical.
            laura.b
          • You're missing the name calling.

            I never called Milly a name and my post, while flippant, was not an insult or an attack. In fact, it was addressing the very same lack of content you wish to accuse me of.

            Further, if you feel it was an insult, then I guess being known as a paid blogger and apologist for MS must be real bad as you can't bear to see anyone labeled in that way no matter how true. If Milly is not paid by MS then I would just love to hear her say so.

            You should note that Milly said nothing about the phone except that "useful operating system that just works." And that she would buy one. Milly gave no impression based on actual experience as she clearly doesn't have one to base any opinion upon but you didn't bother to mention that when you lambasted me for the same. Milly didn't even mention a feature; just praise for MS and HCT. How was that different from my lack of mentioning the phone (which I did mention in the post just before hers)?

            When I replied, I was pointing that out. Her response was to call me names. Had I called Milly any names? No. But I did after she called me a megalomaniac and wrongly assumed that I am an ABM zealot.

            But thanks laura.b for posing in the same light as Milly. BTW you're not funny. :(
            jacarter3
          • Still not getting it

            The point is not who called who a name first. The fact that she called you a name is not really relevant as you are the one that started the argument, therefore she has a right to feel attacked. Nor is it that she didn't include the appropriate amount of information about something. She posted an opinion and you accused her of being bought and paid for. That [i]is[/i] insulting, regardless of who you are referring to. My post was simply asking why you felt so attacked. You are replying like someone who has been harassed by people over a similar situation and I just want you to look inward and think "Why did I lash out at this user? She is not the only poster than said good things about the phone...yet I chose to lay into her...Why?"

            And, btw...it wasn't supposed to be funny.

            Calm down, and have a nice day.

            :)
            laura.b
          • So laura.b...

            Posting "Get paid for these?" is an insult, starting an argument AND attacking Milly?

            Whew, talk about sensitive.

            And I still claim, with no one contesting or disclaiming this, that Milly is a paid MS employee. I don't consider that an insult any more than I consider her opinion to be anything other than market speak. But if being a MS employee has such a detrimental connotation, then there must be a lot of people hiding in Redmond. And why has Milly never stated that my hypothesis is untrue anyway?

            Are you a MS employee too, perhaps? The odds of this being true are increasing with each of your posts; otherwise I can't understand why you working so hard to spank me just to defend Milly (or you are Milly posting under another handle?)

            Never mind laura.b, you don't get it and never will. By the way I am calm as I have no stake in this. But you should try to be more funny. Maybe you will understand a form of humor called sarcasm a little better.
            jacarter3
  • Nice and sleek! This is even with the display off!

    I love to have that HTC Shadow, but I already own the PPC6700 from Alltel (Windows Mobile 6 makes Windows Mobile 5 looked crappy to me, but still love it).

    I hate to bring up Apple iPhone, but I love the look of HTC Shadow better than iPhone, although the iPhone looks a bit better than HTC Touch (if only HTC Touch has a glossy black bezel with glossier black buttons that gives more reflection than a bezel and a screen).

    But what I do prefer is HTC Tilt, from AT&T. :)
    Grayson Peddie