Saturday, January 23, 2010


Sometimes we take things for granted with our technology gadgets, especially after they've given us years of reliable service. Such was the case with my nearly 3 year old T-Mobile Wing, which I bought in May of 2007. The phone has been flat out fantastic with contacts, maps, and even as a backup live TV monitor with my Slingbox. It has been reliable and durable, but I forgot how good it was until I almost lost it recently.
I am a TV News Reporter for CBS 5 covering San Jose/Silicon Valley and for the last week, we've been covering the powerful storms that have been hitting our area. Thursday night, I was about to do a live shot in a rainy downtown San Jose for the 6pm news. A few minutes before air (I was the lead story) my cameraman, Bob, noticed that my phone was causing interference with my wireless mic. I unhooked it from my belt and and placed it on the hood of our live van near the windshield to do my report. It was still in its holster (which does not cover the device completely since it's built with several large openings for the USB and whatever). You know of course where this is heading. As soon as my liveshot was over, I went home, tired and happy to be finished for the night, but leaving my device on the hood of the news van.
The next morning, Bob called. "You missing something?" were the first words he said and I instantly knew that my phone was gone. Bob explained that when he went out for work that morning, the phone was still on his hood. It had somehow stayed in place during the ride from downtown San Jose to Bob's home in Fremont. "I'll give it an A for grippiness." It was the only thing I could say, feeling stupid and irresponsible. While I was amazed the phone had stayed in place, I just knew it had to be dead. If swerving, curving 65 mile-per-hour speeds didn't kill it, raindrops, freeway muck, and a freezing night of drizzle surely would. Bob said it was soaked and the screen was black. It seemed to confirm my worst fears and I began to think of which new device I would be getting to replace it: Touch Pro 2 or wait for the HD2 with Windows Mobile 7? I admit I was a little thrilled at the thought of getting something new, but I was also sad that I let my reliable workhorse die a undignified, senseless death.
True story about what can happen when we put a phone down on the hood of a vehicle. We've all done it, but this phone came back from a near certain death to snap it's own survival photo.

Bob said he would hand the phone off to another cameraman, Don, who was headed to the South Bay that day and could drop it off. At about 6pm on Friday, my phone arrived, still feeling damp to the touch. Another cameraman Vince and I were working on a story about Tesla in Menlo Park. There in the parking lot of a company that builds cars that are powered by lithium ion batteries, I cautiously turned my Wing on, hoping its own power system would some how work a miracle.
And it did!
The phone fired up immediately, and still had 28% of it's battery left. First the T-Mobile screen, then Windows Mobile booted. I smiled and showed it around to Don and Vince, who were also amazed, asking again "You left this on the hood?" "Yeah, and it spent the night in the rain" I added, still unsure of how it all happened. I quickly opened the camera app and snapped a re-enactment photo of where I left the camera and case the previous night. Everything on the phone worked perfectly. Vince said "I don't think an iPhone would have made it" and he's probably right. The Wing has a rubberized coating that I'm sure helped keep the water out. Even though the outside of the phone was wet, the battery compartment was completely dry.
I've recently updated the phone with the SPB Mobile Shell interface so this phone feels and acts like a cool, modern device. But not wimpy cool. This phone has proven to be very tough and it seems to have a will to survive whatever its sometimes absent-minded owner throws at it.