Since my ThinkPad is still broken (it actually came back from the service depot worse than when it left; I will write a proper entry about the entire experience once it is over), I am forced to use my cell phone to browse the Internet (and, by extension, write this message. Please excuse the lack of pictures and fancy HTML - neither would be particularly easy).

It is not as horrible as it sounds. Unlike the Samsung smartphones I have been forced to use through the Sprint Ambassador program, my Cingular 8525 is a PDA phone. Since it has both a touchscreen and a QWERTY keyboard, navigating websites and entering in URLs is not an exercise in patience (consider how many keys you have to press to enter using only your phone's keypad).

Like other phones made by the Taiwanese company HTC, the 8525 runs Windows Mobile. While the upgrade for Windows Mobile 6 for the model has not been released in North America, I am currently running firmware on my phone that purports to be an prerelease of AT&T's version of Windows Mobile 6 for the 8525. It might just be the Asian firmware modified with customizations for AT&T Wireless (although probably not, since the thread on the forum where I got it was mainly concerned with removing the AT&T specific sections so that people in other countries could use its upgraded radio software), but it fit my needs pretty well - which were primarily to not use the default mail client in Windows Mobile 5.

The version of Mobile Outlook that is a part of Windows Mobile 5 can only be described as an abomination. Imagine a version of Outlook with all of the limitations of Outlook Express, plus some truly crappy design decisions. You could get more standards-compliant IMAP support by manually connecting to your mail server and typing in random strings of letters.

In Windows Mobile 6, the Outlook client is usable. Unfortunately, it is still a very simplistic email client (all too often there are bad defaults and no visible option to change them).

Similarly, I stopped using Internet Explorer the first time I realized it was a horribly broken product (I tried logging into Facebook, and IE refused to properly redirect me). I initially tried Minimo, a stripped down version of the Mozilla browser for cell phones and PDAs. Alas, Mozilla products generally become useful around version 0.7. Minimo is at version 0.2.

As a result, I find myself forced to use Opera. While it has tabs (unlike Mobile IE) and renders pages well (unlike Minimo), the lack of user-configurable options in its interface disturbs me. The Mozilla developers generally have a philosophy that you, the user knows best. If you do not like a design choice that one of the developers made, you can create an extension to change it. Opera, on the other hand, does not allow for plugins. Their latest version (8.65 beta) is not compatible with Windows Mobile 6 (despite the fact I found several threads on their community forums about how to fix the issue, I did not find any feedback from an Opera employee suggesting a new version would be released anytime soon) and expires on October 1 (I am not sure whether this is to make sure I do not receive a bad user experience from an outdated version or so they can wring cash out of me in case they want to charge for version 9).