T-Mobile MDA Compact with CoPilot Live Pocket PC 5 review

Price when reviewed
One of the reasons PDAs with phones haven’t taken off is that you do look as silly as you feel trying to talk into a PDA. They’re just too big and clumsy to hold against your head, leading most people to keep separate devices.

T-Mobile’s MDA Compact (known elsewhere as the i-mate JAM) is the first PDA/phone we’ve found small enough to eliminate that feeling. It’s not much bigger than a smartphone, yet the screen is significantly larger (2.8in diagonal) and it’s touch-sensitive too. Besides making phone calls and sending messages, you can access data services and the Internet with GPRS, as well as catch up with email using Pocket Outlook. With Bluetooth integrated as standard, the only omission is wireless LAN, although this can be added via the SDIO/MMC slot relatively cheaply.

T-Mobile supplies the MDA by itself or bundled with a Bluetooth GPS receiver and ALK’s CoPilot Live Pocket PC 5 software. The Bluetooth connection is easy to start, and we had no problems with satellite reception. You might want a proper car cradle to replace the rudimentary air-vent clip though. PC synchronisation and charging is via the supplied USB cable. You also get an AC adaptor, a belt-pouch and a wired hands-free headset.

Intel’s 416MHz PXA272 processor gives the MDA snappy performance. There’s 64MB of RAM (57.4MB user-accessible) and 64MB of flash ROM, and PIM information can be backed up to 7.6MB reserved in the flash space. The SDIO slot at the top of the device is fitted with a 256MB SD card containing 100MB of CoPilot data.

You have to take care when pressing the power on/off button on the right, as squeezing the device also activates the camera button on the opposite side. The 1.3-megapixel camera’s lens at the back shoots still images and video. But the best aspect is the device’s 240 x 320-pixel TFT display. It’s bright with strong colours and, although text is tiny, the clarity and contrast make the characters very sharp.

When you consider that this MDA bundle is a phone, camera, portable computer and satellite navigator that fits in the palm of your hand, it’s an impressive device. It’s a shame it doesn’t have Wi-Fi as standard, but build quality is high and the screen is excellent. If you’re on the road all the time, it’s highly recommended.

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