12:35 PM

AT&T's Tilt Combines GPS, Windows Mobile, And BlackBerry

The smartphone has a slide-out Qwerty keypad and a 2.8-inch color screen that tilts up, making it more convenient to write e-mail, browse the Web, and play videos.

AT&T on Thursday said it will begin selling its new Tilt smartphone this week, which is the first AT&T device to run Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile 6 operating system.

The Tilt, manufactured by HTC, is packed with features for both consumers and businesses, including high-speed data access, several mobile e-mail options, location-based services, expandable memory, and a 3-megapixel resolution camera.

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The AT&T Tilt smartphone.

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The smartphone has a slide-out Qwerty keypad and a 2.8-inch color screen that tilts up, making it more convenient to write e-mail, browse the Web, and play videos. It also includes Bluetooth 2.0 technology, which allows up to six Bluetooth devices to be simultaneously connected to the smartphone.

A feature that any mobile user will enjoy is the Tilt's GPS-enabled mapping software from TeleNav, a provider of mobile location-based services. TeleNav GPS Navigator provides turn-by-turn audible and on-screen driving or walking directions in addition to 3-D maps and traffic alerts.

Businesses can use the TeleNav Track mobile workforce management application for locating their employees and wirelessly updating timesheets while away from the office, among other capabilities.

Location-based services and mapping technology are becoming a big selling point for smartphone makers. Earlier this week, Nokia announced an $8.1 billion acquisition of mapping data and location-based services provider Navteq. The deal is expected to transform Nokia into a provider of Internet-based services and applications, including mobile mapping services. Also this week, Garmin, a maker of navigation devices and applications, rolled out software that can turn a smartphone into a GPS device. The software provides turn-by-turn audible directions and the ability to see the exact position on a detailed moving map.

One AT&T customer, the Johnson City Police Department in Tennessee, plans to deploy Tilt smartphones to its workforce later this year. "The embedded GPS will help us track officers' whereabouts, identify the fastest route to incidents, and download mapping data for onsite traffic reports," said John Hames, a sergeant at the police department, in a statement.

The Tilt uses AT&T's third-generation high-speed cellular network to connect to the Internet and has tri-band UMTS/HSDPA capabilities, which means it can work in other countries. Alternatively, the smartphone's built-in Wi-Fi provides access to hotspots and wireless local area networks (WLANs).

For IT departments that support a mix of Windows Mobile and BlackBerry smartphones, the Tilt would make a smart choice. Windows Mobile 6 comes with Microsoft's "direct push" technology for automatic delivery of e-mail from Exchange Servers. The Tilt also includes Research In Motion's BlackBerry Connect 4.0 software, which offers features found in BlackBerry smartphones such as push e-mail, security, and device management. As another option, users can choose to access their e-mail through AT&T's Xpress Mail service.

AT&T said the Tilt will be available in retail stores and online starting Friday, Oct. 5. The smartphone costs $299.99 with a two-year subscription to AT&T and a mail-in rebate. AT&T's unlimited monthly data plans, including business e-mail, are $44.99 with a voice contract, and personal data plans begin at $29.99 a month for 20 Mbytes of data.

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