T-Mobile MDA Vario II SmartPhone

Smarthome enthusiasts love to control and monitor their homes remotely. I’ve found nothing is as well suited to this as a Smartphone. Whether you communicate with your house via SMS text messages or email, or view your CCTV cameras remotely, nothing beats the screen size, data connectivity and portability of a Smartphone.

My last three mobiles have been Smartphones. I started off a couple of years ago with the O2 XDA 2s which I kept for a year and was a major leap forward from a “normal” phone, if a little buggy. For the next ten months I used an O2 XDA Exec. It’s a truly excellent piece of kit. Its keyboard and screen are pretty much unparalleled in my experience and I could even use it to remote desktop to my server. However it is a large device and can take some getting used to. The battery life can be very short too, if you work the phone hard you may run into difficulties by the end of the day.

So my Smartphone Mark3 is the T-Mobile MDA Vario II. Based on the Hermes / TyTN model from HTC, the phone has many guises including the Vodafone 1605 VPA Compact III and the Orange SPV M3100. However, the T-Mobile “Web ‘n’ walk” package was what moved me away from a lifetime with O2. Web ‘n’ walk gives “unlimited” data for £7.50 per month. There’s a fair use limit of 2GB but compare that to £2.50 per MB I was paying O2!

I’ve had the Vario II for almost three months now. Internally the phone is very similar to the XDA Exec, but with a QVGA screen instead of VGA. The Vario 2’s slide out keyboard isn’t as nice as the Exec’s either, but it is still very usable. I have actually typed a couple of hundred word article on mine whilst unexpectedly detained in a retail environment (that’s code for shopping with the Mrs).

The size of the device is it’s huge advantage over the Exec. Overall it’s not much bigger than a Nokia 6600. It’s battery life is a huge improvement too, and I regularly get around 3 days out of mine with light use. Windows Mobile 5 is much more stable too, I have gone for a couple of weeks without having to reboot this phone, which is a major improvement.

It’s hard to imagine not being able to receive email or browse the web anywhere at anytime now. I have every contact in my phone, every phone number, postal address, email address, birthday, anniversary, website, to-do list and note I need. On top of all that I have TomTom GPS which, in conjunction with a little Bluetooth GPS receiver, has taken us round France the last two summers. On the Vario’s 1GB micro SD card I have various podcasts, music, TV shows and even a movie to keep me amused when I need them.

So, the Vario II is the second device ever to win the Automated Home Top Tech Award. Even Captain Kirk never dreamed of a communicator like this!

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