Well lookie what I found on my way to the FedEx place. The T-Mobile store I passed in downtown Berkeley, CA had a bunch of ads up for the new Shadow handset, so I popped in and there they were: Two Shadows, one in each color, all set up and working on a display unit.
A rep at the store told me the phones won't available for purchase until Halloween day (as per the T-Mob press release), but the display models were fully operational, so I set down my packages and played with one for a few minutes. Color me impressed.
While it seems odd to equate the slogan "The Official Phone of Fun" with a Windows Mobile device, T-Mob and HTC have (at first glace) done an excellent job of burying as much Microsoft nastiness as possible beneath a very simple icon-driven user interface. The first and second level menus were easy to understand and easy to use, and choices and active settings were generally clearly marked with text and icons. Screens were simple - imagine that!
Also, while the SureType-style keyboard on the recent T-Mobile Blast was too crowded for my tastes, a similar layout is made comfy and usable on Shadow thanks to larger buttons and a wide (but not too wide) overall footprint. The combination of a QWERTY style layout with a nifty jog dial/D-Pad combo controller makes for some real usability options. And the phone as a whole is quite stylish, with that 20-button keypad tucked out of sight when the phone is slid shut.
Good it be that T-Mobile is making good on their promise to launch a new line of easy to use devices with all kinds of features and goodies? At $149 with contract, the WiFi-packing Shadow definitely looks to be a promising start.