I spent the last two days with the Pantech Duo, a new 3G Windows Mobile 6 smartphone available from AT&T for $199 (with a two-year contract). Do you need a Helio Ocean-like smartphone that's ready for business?Before I turn to my review, I'll give you the basics:
The Pantech Duo is a Windows Mobile 6 version of the Helio Ocean that is both smaller and a little lighter than its older sibling. The Duo is a slider handset that slides both upwards to reveal a basic phone keyboard, and to the left to reveal a qwerty keyboard.
While I appreciate the small size and the lightweight frame, the Duo feels a little flimsy, especially the sliding function that reveals the qwerty keyboard.
Accessing applications on the Duo was easy. As was downloading apps like Google Maps and setting up access to my Gmail and AIM accounts. Navigation was easy enough -- the Duo uses a central control pointer and menus (it's not a touch screen). I found WinMo 6 familiar and easy enough to use -- then again, I have spent a lot of time with Windows Mobile devices, so maybe this isn't a fair assessment. If any of you WinMo novices out there try the Duo, let us know if the menus make sense.
I also tried MobiTV on my review copy of the Duo. MobiTV worked well -- I was impressed by how much easier the program navigation was since the last time I used it. But I doubt I would pay for it if this were my personal device.
As for the two keyboards, the standard phone keyboard is great. The qwerty keyboard, however, is only adequate. The keyboard is very small and the buttons are quite shallow, making typing mistakes easy. Then again, given how small the Duo is, it's amazing it even has a qwerty keyboard to begin with.
The duo would a suitable device for some mobile workers, especially office workers who really only need messaging and light application support. But for those who type longer e-mails or who need to create new files, a bigger smartphone, like the BlackBerry Curve, the Nokia E-series, or the Palm Treo, would be a better fit.
All in all, I personally liked the Duo. It's a solid device for mobile office workers who need a lightweight, messaging-centric smartphone. For those of you power-mobile users, though, I'd stay away. The Duo just isn't big enough or robust enough for your needs.
And for another take on the Pantech Duo, check out this video review from Phonescoop: