Cyberdog Biscuits

Musings and bruisings about Apple, Macs, iPods and everything we love and hate about thinking different.

Friday, August 11, 2006

As you can see from the side-by-side comparison of the hw6915 (far right), h6315 (center) and h4355, I'm somewhat of an iPAQ fan and have been for several years. I started with Newtons many years ago and tried a few Palm devices, but always preferred the iPAQ and the MS Mobile OSes. Being primarily a long-time Mac user, I have to admit that Microsoft does a good job as long as they stick to simple OSes. But, I digress.

Simply put, after using this device for a couple of weeks, this is my favorite handheld device I have ever owned or could wish to own and leaves me for want of nothing, but there are some caveats and a warning which I will get to later.

The 240X240 screen took me about a day to get used to, but it is sharp, briliant and bright and any reservations I had about moving from 240X320 are gone. The Intel PXA270 416 MHz CPU isn't the fastest out there, but it is plenty zippy for all my tasks and web pages, large pdf and Word files load in a snap. The backlit keyboard is amazingly bright and the keys feel great.

Warning: I always encase my iPAQs and have preferred the Piel Lama cases. However, when I ordered one, it looked like the description had the 69xx hastily added to the description of the 65xx/67xx series, but the joystick in the 69xx is slightly taller (and a joy to use, no pun intended) and the leather screen"frame" divider on the case nearly tore off my jostick sliding it in. Additionally, the leather cutout in the lower right corner of the case pressed on the "return" key and would constantly inadvertently insert a return. I promptly returned that case and am using the eNovo case which is just fine.

The integrated GPS is flawless using the pre-installed Tomtom and I had no problems and outstanding satellite through Los Angeles and suburbs with my iPAQ in a PDA cup-holder. I always had a minimum of 3 bars reception through valleys, mountains, passes and in congested urban areas. The Tomtom software itself wasn't as bad as I'd heard and was pretty smart in being able to correct itself even when I blatantly ignored directions or took shortcuts.

The phone component using Integrated quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE technolgies is the best I've used, bar none. I happen to be locked into T-mobile (not because of contracts, but because of the unique plan we must use in our family business) and at my home, reception has always been horrible until now. For the first time I can hear people clearly and distinctly on every call (unless there is a problem on their end, of course. I rely on the speaker phone for 90% of my calls and the nuilt-in speaker is loud and clear enough to be used in my car while driving or when the phone is on my desk with several noisy fans going on in the room.

The 2.5 main caveats include the switch to MiniSD storage which rendered my entire SD card collection useless, but on the upside, MiniSDs have come down in price considerably and I bought a couple of 2GB cards for less than USD 30 with mail-in rebate, under USD 40 before the rebates. The second one is the switch to the 2.5 mm audio jack, which necessitates an adapter to plug into my stereo speakers. The last "half" caveat is that since this unit is still UK-only (you can find the 69xx easily enough on ebay, but I went with mobileplanet and their service was impeccable, as usual), it ships with the giant 3-pronged European AC adapter. I have plenty of compatible iPAQ adapters on hand which is why it only gets half a caveat, but if you don't, be sure to order one if you buy this device.

WiFi, IR and BT work flawlessly and WM5's ability to finally export and send Mobile Word files in a variety of formats is a huge coup.

The 1.3 Mp camera is standard Photosmart fare, but the LED flash amd micro mirror on the back, while not new to PPCs in general, make things a little fun.

Warranty service in the US is standard, world-class HP support and registration over the phone was no problem to my US address.

If you are a Mac user, MissingSync *does* work, but the 69xx series is not officially supported. It took me a few attempts to load the MarkSpace ActiveSync components and a few tries to get all the plugins to work, but I finally did! I can now sync with my Mac!

Since extra expense and hassle is the cost of being an early adopter and I consider myself lucky to be among the first to own this wonderful device, I can't subtract stars for what I consider to be hassles. The pros of this PPC phone far outweigh the cons and it draws lustful stares, oohs and ahs wherever I go.

If you're on the fence about this one and can swing the USD 760 (I saw a new one go for that one ebay recently) to USD 918 (mobile planet's latest price- they seem to have jacked it 20 bucks since I bought mine), I say you won't be disappointed. I'm sure as heck not.

Any questions or comments are encouraged in case (I'm sure I did) I forgot any key points. Here are a few more pics: