The HP iPAQ h6365 (or h6315 in the US as sold by T-Mobile) should be available in New Zealand, from Vodafone dealers. At the time of this review the device is undergoing network tests, and the official word is that it should be available soon. HP tells me around November, Vodafone says "before Christmas". This is not the first Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition in this part of the world (we already have the i-mate Pocket PC on GPRS, and the Falcon on CDMA), and is not the last. Vodafone has already announced a few new models that will certainly compete head to head against the HP.
The h6365 is a converged device, integrating a quad-band GSM/GPRS mobile phone (GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, GPRS Class B multi slot class 10) with a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition plataform. In addition to the WAN (wide area network) capabilities, it also includes personal area networking based on Bluetooth, and local area networking based on wireless LAN (802.11b). The device runs on a Texas Instruments OMAP1510 chipset. Texas Instruments presented a PDA platform integrating the three types of networking standards a while ago, called Wanda. It seems the h6365 is a successful implementation of this concept. It supports network services like Multiparty Calling Line Identity, Call Waiting and Call Hold. The Pocket Inbox software supports SMS and MMS (both ways).
In terms of phone, it uses the standard Phone application, common to all Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition, but it adds a very interesting functionality, called HP profiles. It works exactly like you'd expect from the cheaper mobile phones, where you can define profiles for each situation, including sound, backlight, even wireless connections. Very handy, and makes changing configuration a breeze.
Standard phone application
Quad-band phone, with manual selection
Send MMS directly from the Pocket PC
The device itself is not heavier than most PDA, but certainly not light as some mobile phones, at 190g (6.7oz). It's also not bigger than any other Pocket PC Phone Edition currently in the market: 137.64 x 74.6 x 20.8 mm (5.42 x 2.94 x .82 in). It fits nicely in the hand, and the rubber grips on its sides help holding it. It also comes with a very functional plug-in keyboard, with 26 alpha-numeric keys with 2 application buttons, and send/end buttons. It fits firmly and holds very well. Use it with your thumbs to type e-mails, documents, enter web addresses on the web browser - it's very handy. But it's also a problem. Some other Phone Edition models are now coming out with a slider keyboard (check our i-mate PDA2k review), which is there, but not always there. The keyboard that accompanies the h6365 may be useful but in some circumstances it is just something else to carry.
Using the thumb keyboard
Without the keyboard
The support to the wireless LAN (802.11b, up to 11mbps) specification is very good, supporting WEP 64/128-bit, LEAP and WPA. An interesting feature is the automatic connection to the fastest network available. Users close to a wireless LAN access point will benefit of the speed of this interface, but as soon as the connection drops, the device will attempt to connect to the GPRS network. The current connection status is indicated by an icon in the top bar.
Select what wireless feature you need. Note the icon indicating connection via wireless LAN
Bluetooth 1.1 is implemented by using the Widcomm software for Pocket PC Phone Edition (BT-PPC/PE version 1.0). The software suppors a long list of profiles: General Access Profile, Service Discovery Application Profile, Serial Port Profile, Generic Object Exchange Profile, File Transfer Profile, Dial-Up Networking Server Profile, LAN Access Profile, Object Push Profile, Personal Area Networking Profile, Basic Printing Profile, Hard Copy Replacement Profile (printing), Headset Profile, Handsfree Profile. It worked well, but sometimes the Bluetooth Manager just refused to start, and a soft reset was needed.
Good selection of Bluetooth profiles available, cleaner interface
User your Bluetooth headset for everything!
The Bluetooth support for handsfree is important, since most in-vehicle Bluetooth kits support only this profile, while the headset support is very nice. It not only allows the use of the headset while in a phone call, but also for all system sounds. It means users can playback via this wireless connection all sorts of sound files, like music, books, and of course system sounds like alarms - even speech-recognition and text-to-speech programs like 40664 Fonix Voice Central 2, which can read your e-mails back to you and accept commands from the headset, even phone calls. The h6365 can also be used as a GPRS connection for a laptop if needed, but it can even be used by itself, with a very capable Pocket Internet Explorer.
The h6365 is running Windows Mobile 2003 for Phone Edition, and it's not available with the Second Edition version. HP has released a new series of devices based on this updated OS version, but the h6365 is not in the line with these new models. It's not a big deal, but having the landscape functionality, added to the new One Column layout on Pocket Internet Explorer would be nice. Also, even though this device is a champion on connectivity, it will not support the newly announced Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, which requires the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. It's a shame, because all other HP devices seem to be leaning towards a multimedia experience (some Pocket PC are even called Media Companion).
One of the major problems with mobile devices is battery life. While most mobile phones have low impact LCD screens to keep running, and therefore can keep going for days without recharges, most PDA suffer the impact of large LCD screens, wireless network power draw, plus the mobile phone capabilities. To make sure the h6365 could provide users with a longer battery life, CPU speed was kept to the minimum. It works, and the device can last for a few days, although the specifications don't tell us exactly the expect standby or talk times. The cradle has space for a spare battery to be charged while the device is in the cradle - always good to have a spare one. The battery and the back cover are actually a single piece, held in place by a latch. A second latch ensures that this device will only be turned on if the battery is securely held in place.
Don't expect this to be the fastest Pocket PC you will ever see. It was actually slow sometimes, but it seems to be a combination of RAM size and CPU speed. Closing some programs always brought the device back up to speed. How does it perform on a benchmark against other machines? I've used Spb Benchmark to collect performance information, and if you click in the chart you can have access to our Performance Centre, with other Pocket PC reviews and charts:
Since we're talking about memory, it's again important to note the power requirements versus the memory capacity. While using SDRAM, Pocket PC manufacturers will always have the problem of battery requirements to keep the memory active. Increasing the memory from its 64MB SDRAM to 128MB SDRAM could impact negativelly in the expected battery life. Again, a balance and design decision. Of course users can always expand the memory a bit by using memory cards. The h6365 supports MMC and SD cards (with SDIO support on its interface). Also, there's a 20MB storage available to users on the flash ROM, where some applications can be installed.
The screen is a transflective type TFT color with LED backlight, supporting up to 65,536 colors (16-bit), with touch screen. The Resolution is QVGA (240 x 320 pixels). It also comes with built-in digital camera, VGA resolution (640x480 pixels). It does a pretty decent job, and images can be sent as attachments on e-mails, or directly via MMS (click the image below for the full size image). There is a model without the digital camera, which may be required for some applications. For example some areas do not allow camera devices within their perimeter, like defence force users, or some plants. There's no indication that this camera-less model will be available here in New Zealand.
Click the GEEKZ1 car to see the full picture
In terms of applications it brings some important titles. Since this is a (mostly) business tool, it comes with two programs that can certainly be of some use. The Clear Vue PDF and Clear Vue Presentations. Clear Vue PDF will allow you to read Adobe Acrobat files, directly downloaded from the internet or even received as e-mail attachments. The downside of this program is that it seems to fail to read some PDF files. Luckily Adobe has just announced the Adobe Acrobat Reader 2.0 for Pocket PC, which does a better job, and it's free. Clear Vue Presentations, on the other hand, is great and can work with a big variety of Power Point files with no conversion required. It also supports external video adapters, so you can present your proposals without having to carry a laptop around.
Clear Vue PDF is a good application...
When it works ok
Clear Vue Presentation: Power Point on the go
Clear Vue Presentation will show your slides in landscape orientation
Clear Vue Presentation supports external video adapters
The h6365 also comes with other applications, some standard like Pocket Word, Pocket Excel and Jawbraker, and other bundled in the package, like iPAQ Backup, a special edition of Sprite Backup for Pocket PC.
Certainly HP will appeal to the business users with this feature packed Pocket PC, but it will probably find its way to the consumers' market. Its good battery life can be a decision factor, when comparing it with the speed provided by other similar Phone Edition devices. However, if you're looking for a Pocket PC with more power to pump your multimedia collection, than this is not for you.