Do we really want to be carrying around a PDA and a mobile phone? Of course not. We want a device that can be all singing and all dancing, all the time. For most, this means the Blackberry or the PalmOne Treo 600, however T-Mobile, not wanting its customers to lose out, has launched the MDA III.
The third in the series, the phone updates a number of elements missing from previous versions, as well as adopting RIM's push email technology to keep you informed with emails when out and about.
Aside from the option of using RIM's push email service, this Tri-Band PDA phone aims at the same office market as the O2's XDA, but boats a slide out full Qwerty keyboard. For PDA traditionalists there's a stylus as well and text entry options supported by the Windows OS.
Like the XDA, the MDA III supports all the usual connection options including WiFi, GPRS, GSM and Bluetooth capabilities.
Any users of PDAs such as the HP iPaq or Dell's Axim Series will be familiar with the MS Pocket software. Its easy to use and the calendar, Outlook, Word and Excel software easily talks to your desktop Microsoft PC via the included ActiveSync software. The slide down, almost touch sensitive keyboard remains hidden, but is ideal for SMS and email on the move.
Making calls is easy, via a graphical keypad represented on screen, easy to use with fingers or the side-mounted stylus however our suggestion is to use the included in-ear headset rather than putting the unit up to your head every time.
The handset feels comfortable, with a more complex button layout than the original MDA. The bottom of the unit is squared off, to house the keyboard, but the antenna is now internal, saving pocket space and improving the overall look.
Below the screen are four programmable keys, with call buttons and a navi key below. The right side of the unit has hotkeys for in-built digital camera, voice recorder and a volume slide control.
The block recogniser, freehand recogniser and on-screen keyboard mean there are almost too many ways to enter data. Oh, and don't forget the voice dialling too.
The main difference between the PDA MS Pocket software and the version used here is the Pocket Phone edition- this features added connectivity options, such as hyperlinks and pulling caller details from the phone book. While there is no card included, there is a slot for an MCC card.
Its worth mentioning here that the MDA3 is an ‘always on' device, so the charging dock is essential. Unfortunately, the charging cable plugs only to the dock, not the phone itself and this means you can't take the charger alone, without the dock. Expect 3-4 hours max talktime, 15 hours PDA time, 168 hours standby and 72 hours data retention time. A back up battery is in place for emergency and battery removal.
Even if you don't subscribe to a mobile internet account, the MDA 3 is ideal as a PDA and a mobile phone. The functionality you'll find on a Blackberry is supported here too. T-Mobile push this one under their ‘Mobile in your pocket' banner, so expect full mobile call and data transfer with ease on the right tariff.
This is bulkier than 2.5 and 3g handsets and bigger than the Blackberry too, but no larger than a standard PDA. The included cradle is a bonus (never had one for my PDA). The obvious downside is the MS compatibility- no support for Mac users here- but for Windows users, this is perfect for business professionals happy to sign up to the T-Mobile network. PDA users looking for a converging camera phone/PDA device should consider this unit.