Tools Of The Trade; The T-Mobile MDA Pro handheld

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The MDA Pro breaks new ground in several ways: it is one of the first machines to be powered by Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system; it is one of the launch devices for T-Mobile's new Web'n'Walk tariffs, which include 40MB of data use a month; it is the first PDA that works on 3G data networks; and it is the first to combine a clamshell design with a workable touch screen.

Open it up and there is a large Qwerty keyboard, ideal for using a lot of text. Swivel the screen and fold it over, though, and the device works as a pen-based PDA, with the keys concealed. In both modes, the screen is bright and responsive. There are also two cameras: one for video calling, facing the user; and one on the rear, for conventional shots.

The MDA Pro also works happily on T-Mobile's 2G and 3G networks, as well as WiFi.

Downloading email and surfing the web on the Web'n'Walk service is satisfying, with sites loading quickly. There are, though, some compatibility issues to be ironed out. Microsoft's Pocket Internet Explorer does not work with some popular websites, such as travelocity.com, and in tests, Google searches defaulted to the company's German-language site.

T-Mobile is working on compatibility, and is also looking to develop some extra email options, including the ability to use BlackBerry email (due next year).

Add Bluetooth and pocket versions of Word and Excel and the MDA Pro is a very effective package. The drawbacks are minor: the screen could be larger and battery life is limited: the MDA Pro really needs charging daily. But at a price of either £99.99 or £149.99, depending on the contract, it is excellent value.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5.

PROS: 3G, WiFi, Web'n'Walk.

CONS: battery life.

PRICE: from £99.99 with a contract.

CONTACT: www.t-mobile.co.uk

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