T-Mobile HotSpot @ Home may not be ready for prime time
The T-Mobile Dash is available now for a good price and with a small tweak the side bar can be made to be much more functional. The T-Mobile HotSpot @ Home service is also available for customers in Western Washington. As a beta tester I had to purchase the full release service to see how it performed and so far it is disappointing. The Samsung phone has been a very poor performer so the Nokia device will be tried next before giving up on the UMA service.
I just returned from my week long Hawaii business/pleasure trip and stopped by my local T-Mobile store. They did not have any Dash devices on display, but they did have them in stock so I purchased one for myself for US$199 with my US$50 upgrade discount and have 14 days to make a final decision on whether or not I am going to keep it. I have been using the T-Mobile Dash now for almost two days and am very impressed with it. The device has a rubbery feel back that helps grip it and while the photos look ugly it is actually very professional looking. The battery life is blowing away the Samsung i320 I recently gave away. The camera quality is the best I have seen on an HTC device, which really isn't saying a whole lot, but it is good enough for quick shots. Even though the keys are closer together than they are on my Nokia E61, I am actually able to type quickly and the keys have good tactile feedback. HTC included the ability to press and hold a key to enter the alternate character so that is a small time saver. So far I don't really like the predictive text input, but found this utility that disables it and also improves the functionality of the JOGGR. I'll post a more extensive review and lots of pics after I have had a chance to play around with it a bit more and you'll be able to read if I decided to keep it in my mobile arsenal.
The Dash wasn't the only purchase I made that day at the T-Mobile store. As I talked about last week T-Mobile launched their @ Home service in select areas of Washington State. I was a beta tester and couldn't resist trying out the release version of the service so I purchased the T-Mobile branded D-Link router and Samsung t709 UMA phone. The Samsung phone had extremely poor battery life during the beta test and I was hoping that this was improved for the release and since I was buying the service primarily for my wife's use I had to get the phone she desired.
During the beta test I used a Linksys router that performed pretty well, but many times the Samsung phone would not connect automatically. The Linksys router is no longer offered as part of the program (but it still appears on the rebate form) and the T-Mobile rep I talked with stated that there was issues with the router and Linksys didn't fix them so T-Mobile dropped them from the program. The D-Link router is free after a US$50 rebate and I was able to set that up in a couple minutes at home.
After a day and a half of use, I now have to stop by the T-Mobile store today and change out the Samsung t709 for the Nokia 6136 due to extremely poor battery life and dropped calls. My wife can't even go a day with the Samsung phone with only occasional use of the WiFi functionality and that is just unacceptable. My wife also had 8 calls cut off when using the Hotspot @ Home router and phone and since she is using it for her small business that won't work out either. If the Nokia 6136 can't cut it either then I'll be cancelling the service and looking for another phone for her that provides good reception at our house. I personally use Windows Mobile and Nokia smartphones that get something like 3 out of 4 bars at the house, but she hasn't given any of them a chance. If the 6136 doesn't work out though I may finally get her to use a smartphone like me :)
I think there is a market for this HotSpot @ Home type of service, especially for those people like my wife who run a small home business where they can make and receive an unlimited number of calls when connected to the WiFi router for only US$19.99 per month. This alone would allow us to reduce the voice plan minutes we currently subscribe to and even allow us to discontinue the long distance option we have with our landline carrier. However, if the service drops calls and the phone only last a couple of hours then it just isn't worth it.