These days the PDA marketplace is full of PDA crossed with cell phones – when you look at the main manufacturers (the likes of Palm, RIM etc all have products aiming at the this marketplace) indeed in a few years we doubt that they’ll be too many standard non phone PDA’s left as the “mobile communicator” device takes hold. The Hewlett Packard hw6510 iPAQ is part of the mobile messenger series aimed squarely at this marketplace – it’s rather unique though as it’s one of the first devices to integrate GPS into the PDA and therefore it truly is a smart phone for the person on the move.
The design of these devices seem to play to a common theme and the 6515 is no different – features such as a Qwerty keyboard, Phone and navigation buttons sitting just underneath the color screen and settings buttons (i.e. volume etc) along the side of the device. Notably iPAQ in appearance the device looks smart and notably a little more squarer than the competition – not so many rounded edges. Specifications wise it comes in at 4.65 x 2.8 x .71 inch and a little over 5 ounces – so it’s relatively comfortable to hold and stows away nicely in pockets etc.
Running Windows Mobile 2003 (Second Edition) the usual Office Lite creDw are all there (Excel, Word Powerpoint etc) – HP have bundled in a few apps of there own here – but to be honest if you seen Windows mobile before theres little surprise. What it does it does well but for the basic software don’t expect bags of new features.
Next up is the 3” 240 x 240 TFT with 64k color LED backlight display – the smaller display does irk some and although the office “lite” apps (Excel, Word etc) have been tuned to the lower resolution the smaller screen size does become annoying after a while.
One of Windows mobile’s strong points is it’s good support for Multimedia – in the 6515 this is handled by Windows Media Player 10 and sound and video playback is solid enough and if you don’t hanker after the Ipod’s functionality then it’ll cope well enough to negate the need for a dedicated player.
Camera wise – the HP 6515 is equipped with a 1.3 MP camera that also incorporates a LED “flash”. The lens and flash are situated on the rear of the device . As to be expected the flash is pretty useless in most circumstances (when will smart phones get a flash that truly works!) but the camera holds its own against others in the market. Resolution is upto 1280 x 1024 and the camera is capable of shooting MPEG4 video too. It’s certainly not the most powerful camera in the cell phone market though but is comparable to those equipped to the Treo etc – the iPAQ’s direct competition. Don’t’ expect fantastic quality – nevertheless it’s a handy addition.
Bluetooth has been added via a Broadcom Bluetooth 1.2 implementation – this works really well and integration with modern Bluetooth devices (eg. Headsets) works without a hitch and rates upto 700Kbps transfer can be achieved. One annoying factor with the comms is the lack of onboard WI-Fi - whilst this could be solved with appropriate use of the SDIO slot – we would’ve liked an integrated solution.
As we said in the introduction the key differentiator for the 6515 against the likes of the Treo is the device is one of the first of it’s kind to feature Integrated GPS. With the right software and a car kit the 6515 makes a nice budget sat nav system – again the display is a little on the small side but as one of the first to market HP should be applauded – expect the industry to throw a lot of development in this area over the coming 12-18 months and expect smart phones and digital assistance to have this type of software as standard before too long – it’ll be interesting to see how the HP 6515 compares against the competition in a years time – for now – it’s a little slow but functional nonetheless.
Phone wise – the sound quality is more than a match for it’s peers – at the heart of the system is a Quad Band Edge based receiver – which provides a truly excellent audio experience. The onboard software caters for the usual “phone application” requirements and the usual contacts, phonebook etc are present – navigation is a little finicky though and the UI can take it’s time to catch up with what’s going on but they are minor niggles. Another bonus is that the HP software allows the user to set profiles based on location (office, meetings etc) to enable the phone to perform differently according to requirements which is a welcome boost. Battery life is average for the device providing around 4 hours talk time.
At the heart of the device is an Intel PXA270 312 MHz processor with 64MB memory – this isn’t the fastest on the market – it runs most applications well enough - but we’re a little disappointed that despite integrating some great features (GPS and great phone) the processor lags behind others in the market. Connectivity options include a USB slot and the usual IrDA port – synching with your desktop is via the usual Active Synch connection. There is also a headphone jack socket on the base of the device which comes in especially handy if your going to use the device for multimedia
The device can be expanded via the two memory card expansion slots on the device - firstly a SDIO and secondly a mini-SD memory card slot - this should provide enough expansion for most users and the SDIO slot can cater for any hardware expansion (Wi-Fi!) that’s required.
The HP 6515 offers a well rounded functionally rich PDA with the right mix of features to keep the modern business person satisfied – the GPS (whilst not the best GPS on the market) is a timely addition to the smart phone marketplace and the other applications provide a cohesive mobile toolset – our biggest gripes are the screen which could have been better and the performance (the processor should have been faster) but we’re sure that HP will look at this with subsequent revisions of the product – above all with it’s level of features and the expandability – the HP 6515 should hold its position with the likes of the Treo 6400 series and latest Blackberry incarnations.