Slider phones have become increasingly popular; but until now, they've been limited to handheld devices that are best used in two hands. That changes with HTC's newest Windows Mobile device the HTC T8925, now available in the US as the AT&T Tilt.

You can either hold the HTC T8925 in your hands or rest it comfortably on a surface.

The HTC T8925 is aptly named as the Tilt, because it has a hinged display designed to accommodate various viewing scenarios. When open, the roomy adjustable screen gives the HTC T8925 the look of a a tiny laptop, complementing the phone's use for computing or entertainment.

(In the US the phone costs $400 - £200 - when purchased along with a two-year contract from AT&T; unlimited data plans are priced at $45 a month.)

Good design isn't the only thing the HTC T8925 has going for it. It's a quad-band GSM world phone compatible with EDGE/GPRS and with high-speed 3G UMTS and HSDPA broadband networks. This makes the Tilt a great phone for travellers, especially if they can take advantage of high-speed networks.

Specifications

The HTC T8925 measures 112x58mm, but the product's maker, HTC, scaled down its depth by nearly 5mm and its weight to 0.2kg. It also has 256MB ROM and 128MB memory. The display remains the same - a generous 2.8in, with 320x240 resolution and 64,000 colours. The processor is still 400MHz, too, but now the unit uses a Qualcomm MSM7200 instead of a Samsung CPU.

The HTC T8925 is rated to support up to four hours of talk time and up to eight days of standby time.

Pros and cons

In our informal tests, we found the HTC T8925's audio quality over AT&T's network pleasing. We heard a faint (but not disturbing) hissing noise in the background, but the other person's voice consistently came through loud and clear. Another positive: the people we called could discern little background noise, even though we were in a noisy locale.

The volume wheel helped augment the HTC T8925's sound considerably. When we used the wheel, our voice sounded louder when we spoke than it actually was. We still sounded clear enough to the other party, but this unadvertised amplification caught us by surprise. The effect diminished when we reduced the volume to its minimum level. The speakerphone, meanwhile, sounded tinny to my ear, and audio became distorted at higher levels.

The HTC T8925 can handle up to six Bluetooth pairings simultaneously - a good thing, since you may want to use it with a Bluetooth headset and an external keyboard at the very least. No headset - wired or wireless-and no keyboard are included in the package.

Let's tilt

Although HTC is a popular manufacturer of other Windows Mobile devices, the Tilt's subtle and not-so-subtle design improvements - including the tilting screen - help distinguish it from the rest of the pack.

The hinge permits a tilt of 40 degrees, making the HTC T8925 far more functional than competing handhelds are. The design makes it feel a bit like a smaller cousin of the Psion Series 5 PDAs of a decade ago. Thanks to the tilt, we could rest the unit on my desk and type more quickly using our index fingers, instead of having to hold the HTC T8925 in our hands and use our thumbs. The tilting screen also makes the device more conducive to use with a Bluetooth keyboard, as well as for hands-free sessions of video or TV watching (the MobiTV 2 app comes pre-installed).

The HTC T8925's spring-loaded screen feels slightly sturdier than the screen on the T-Mobile Wing, another HTC slider phone of similar size. The tilting hinge appears to be relatively strong: we could hold the HTC T8925 by the screen and not feel as though it might detach from the phone at any moment.

We don't know how the HTC T8925 would withstand a drop with the screen in its tilted position, however; and when in its flat, fully open position, the screen exhibited a slight give on the right side, causing me to wonder about the Tilt's long-term durability (a similar problem plagued the Wing - but there, the give was evident on both sides of the screen, and much more pronounced).