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Randomelements :: Blog > Posts > Mini review: T-Mobile MDA Touch Plus.

Mini review: T-Mobile MDA Touch Plus.

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That's right, the question as to which phone I was going to get was answered last night when I picked up my new T-Mobile MDA Touch Plus (aka the HTC Touch Dual).
 MDA Touch Plus
The UK variants of the Dual have 16 keys in the keypad so, with T-Mobile, you get your normal T9 style numbers, * and # keys as well as a dedicated Windows Key, Messaging, back and a Web'N'Walk key which opens IE with T-Mobiles home page.
First impressions.
Coming from the Vario II (HTC TyTN) I was unprepared for how small the Touch Plus is; it's sleek and pretty thin even with the slide-out keyboard. It was a bit strange holding it when you're used to a big brick - feels so much better in the pocket though.
My main fear going from the Vario II to the Touch Dual was losing the QWERTY keyboard but I have been practicing using the onscreen keyboard prior to getting the new phone and am becoming reasonably proficient with it. As the screen on the Plus is not recessed it should also be easier to type two-thumbed.
 Plus keyboard
Although it is the same resolution (240 x 320px) the screen itself is smaller and I have occasionally found myself clicking the wrong thing when going for a scroll bar (like the back softkey in IE). This will take a little getting used to and I will also have to force myself to use the "flick scroll" capability of the Touch Plus to scroll by using a finger on the screen in stead of the scroll bars.
Immediate changes.
Despite being a very well put together phone (and quickly becoming a firm favourite of Windows Mobile officiandos) the Touch Plus/Dual does have a couple of shortcomings straight out of the box:

 - while sliding the phone open answers a call closing it does not hang up
 - the volume up/down keys on the side should be customisable for instances where volume is not relevant
To rectify these two shortcomings I have installed a couple of tools created by the community at XDA-Developers. Slide Actions is a tool specifically written for the Touch Dual to enable you to assign actions to sliding the phone. Why HTC didn't follow this through is beyond me. Hanging up a call is now as easy as sliding the phone closed. The other tool was written for older devices but works on the Dual as well - it is called SmartSKey and let's you remap and assign extra actions to the volume keys among other things. When in File Explorer or IE the volumes keys now do page up/down. Cool.
On the downside, as the Touch ethos is "streamlining" the volume keys are flush against the side of the phone and not very tactile which makes it a bit awkward to change the volume when conducting a phone call. This is one advantage of the wheel on the Vario II/TyTN - it is easy to find and very tactile.
One other change I make is to use QuickMenu which is a Start Menu replacement. I like this as it gives me easy access to my IE favourites without having to open the browser first.
A lot has been said elsewhere about HTC's TouchFLO interface so I won't go in to too much depth but the Dual has the new enhanced version. As with previous Touch devices you can use your finger on the screen to scroll and pan wherever there is a scrollbar.
The real beauty of the enhanced TouchFLO, however, comes in Camera Album and in messaging. When in the Messaging application you can use your finger to switch between messages or accounts. Open a message and scroll left or right to go to the next/previous message - if you hit the end of the message list you will put back to the folder view. When in folder view scrolling left/right switches between accounts just like with the DPad in other devices.
When in the Camera Album application (a great improvement over Pictures and Videos) the TouchFLO interface gets a bit iPhone like. Not only do you scroll side to side to go from one image to the next but you can also use gestures to rotate an image or zoom it
 Touch Zooming
Because the emphasis is on using your fingers the screen is different and feels softer that the Vario II. It tasks a little getting used to but is great once you have done.
One other thing commonly referred to as annoyance with the Dual is that it shows the QuickTasks list when you slide the phone open (New SMS, New email etc.)
You can't stop the phone doing something when you slide it open but you can at least change what comes up. Within the settings you have an open to turn the QuickTasks off and this means that you instead get the phone application appear when you open the phone - perhaps this makes more sense.
 QuickTasks settings
As QuickTasks is simply an executable (HTCActionScreen.exe) you can then create a shortcut to it within your Start Menu and perhaps assign it to a softkey.
After half a day with this phone it is easy to see why so many people love it. It has great functionality in such a small package. The Dual is unfairly criticised for not having Wi-Fi, GPS or a QWERY keyboard but if you want those don't buy it - simple.
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