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T-Mobile phone lineup gets smart

New Dash smart phone will be able to connect to the carrier's more than 7,000 Wi-Fi hot spots. Photo: T-Mobile Dash

After months of anticipation, T-Mobile is adding a new smart phone called the Dash to its lineup, the company said Wednesday.

The Dash, made by High Tech Computer and known as the Excalibur Communicator overseas, is a compact Windows Mobile-based QWERTY keyboard smart phone. The phone runs the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system and is similar to Research In Motion's , Samsung's upcoming and .

T-Mobile Dash

The Dash, however, comes equipped with Wi-Fi, a feature that sets it apart from many of its smart phone competitors. This feature will allow Dash users to connect to any of T-Mobile's 7,836 hot spots around the country.

Other features offered on the phone include an embedded instant-messaging client that supports all four major IM services: AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger and ICQ. It also has a built-in digital music player that can synchronize with the music collection on a PC, a 1.3-megapixel camera for capturing still images and video, MicroSD expandable memory for storing personal multimedia, and speakerphone and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free use.

Other than the Wi-Fi connectivity, the phone is limited in terms of accessing high-speed wireless networks since it doesn't support 3G wireless technology. This isn't a problem out of the gate, since T-Mobile doesn't have a 3G network. But the mobile operator said last week it plans to build a 3G network, with some cities getting 3G service starting in 2007.

The Dash will also be one of the first T-Mobile phones to use the operator's new MyFaves service, which allows customers to place unlimited calls to their five favorite people in the U.S. The user interface also has a menu that allows users to easily text and instant message each contact.

The retail price for the Dash is $349. T-Mobile is offering it for $199 with a two-year contract and $249 for a one-year contract.