First Look: The AT&T Tilt Smart Phone
The carbon-gray Tilt has multiple design points--both positive and negative--worth noting. On the negative side, the array of buttons beneath the Tilt's screen have a shiny metallic veneer that makes the button labels difficult to see; the etchings are faint, and the colors are too muted to stand out against the sheen. Also, the shiny buttons pick up fingerprints all too easily, much like the shiny back plate of an iPod. On the positive side, once you figure out which buttons are which, they provide convenient dedicated controls and shortcuts to key functions, including Send/End, OK, Mail, Internet Explorer, and the Windows Mobile Start menu. At the center of the array is a five-way navigation pad.
Slide the display to the left to reveal the QWERTY keyboard. The unit automatically reorients the screen so you can use it horizontally with the keyboard. The reorientation takes a couple of seconds, though, with a momentarily broken-up graphical display marking the transition from one orientation to the other. Another gripe: The lip on the outer rim of the keyboard (along the side with the spacebar) is a hair higher than on the Wing; those fractions of a millimeter make typing on the keyboard slightly harder when you hold it in your hand.
AT&T had its version of the device customized to emphasize the keys that double as the keypad. Unfortunately, however, the light blue numbers get lost in the silver paint used to distinguish the double-duty keys. If you choose to use the on-screen keypad, you'll appreciate that the buttons are slightly larger than those on the Cingular 8525.
I liked the button for accessing the 3-megapixel camera. When you hold the camera vertically, that button is situated on the lower right side of the unit; in contrast, the Wing put its camera button on the upper left side, where it interfered with the Wing's slide-out screen. Among the camera's numerous features are easy touch adjustments for changing resolution and white balance; in my tests, however, the camera seemed slow to adjust and focus, and it got significantly blurrier as I panned about a room in low-light conditions than the Wing did
The volume wheel on the upper left side conveniently doubles as a navigation wheel; the SIM card is located under the slider screen for uber-accessibility (a boon to world travelers who frequently interchange SIM cards); and the microSDHC card slot sits just beneath the screen near the USB port (the slot accepts optional high-capacity cards of up to 32GB, when available).
Admittedly, all of this just skims the surface of what you can do with the AT&T Tilt. The device can function as a full-featured mobile computer, from the mobile versions of Microsoft Word and Excel it contains to its multimedia playback (via syncing with Windows Media 10 on your desktop) to its built-in GPS for use with the TeleNav GPS Navigator (an extra-cost service priced at $10 a month for unlimited routes). All in all, it's quite a package.
It's a bit costly, and perhaps less elegant looking than some competing PDA phones, but it will serve you well if you're looking for a device that fits in your hand and offers maximum flexibility.
$400 with two-year AT&T phone service agreement
Current prices (if available)
Product mentioned in this article