The HP iPAQ is one of those electronic gadgets that you may feel is essential to modern life.The ability to keep track of dates, appointments, contacts, even the odd bit of tortuous editing in Word, are all grist to its 21st century mill. Well now take that standard iPAQ configuration and add MP3 playability through Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, integrated Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b) wireless capability, Bluetooth v1.2, tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE wireless radio, a 2Mp HP Photosmart Camera, and you have pretty much everything you could possibly want, all in one small device. It means that you can take pictures with the 2Mp camera, then send them via the phone to friends. Unlike some other devices, the phone doesn't use a numeric keypad, it puts the numbers on the screen to be clicked on with the stylus.
Depth – 19.5mm, Width – 58mm,
Height – 102mm
Microsoft Windows 2000/XP, 12-65Mb HD space, Infrared or USB port, CD/DVD drive
Here's what you get:
The front view of the iPAQ with flip-up plastic cover and decent quality stylus.
- Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 Phone Edition with Messaging and Security Pack
- Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, PowerPoint Mobile and Internet Explorer Mobile
- Windows Player 10 Mobile
- Microsoft Voice Command
- 2.7” 240 x 320 QVGA TFT display
- Up to 116Mb available user memory
- Integrated 2Mp PhotoSmart camera
- Dual stereo speakers
- Mini SD slot for expansion cards
- Wallet to keep it in
Build and handling
The first thing to note is that it's a little chunky, so that if it goes into a wallet type protector, the iPAQ is likely to create quite a bulge in the pocket. Because of this it comes with a flip down plastic, transparent lid to keep fingers off the LCD screen. The finish is nice with silvery plastic, a high quality stylus and two stereo speakers on the front panel. The control buttons on the front are organised into a joypad style four-way controller, with a selection button in the middle. Around them, four buttons activate functions, though two are marked for use by the phone. The screen is just 2.7”, which might sound like a decent size, but its actually smaller than flatter, thinner, iPAQs that have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but not the phone. This makes it a little more difficult to read than you might be used to on an iPAQ. As software like Pocket Excel uses the same size for cells, regardless of the space on offer, it means you get very few on the display at once. Pocket Word and e-mails are thus usable, but only a masochist is going want to look at spreadsheets here.
The 2Mp camera is located on the back of the gadget.
The main point of interest for photographers on the go though is the built in 2Mp camera. This is obviously camera-phone standard, and when the light gets dingy, instead of using a flash and rapidly draining the battery, it shines a bright and horribly harsh light instead. This really isn't pleasant and instead of simply lighting a face for example, usually results in the subject squinting and shrieking for it to be turned off. The image quality is pretty good, but that's for a camera-phone. Colours are generally bright and vivid, and people do actually look nice and healthy. There are neat options to e-mail and attach and transmit the images – with the requisite subscriptions. The PhotoSmart software is fairly basic and doesn't even do stuff like automatically rotate for optimal viewing.
As this is a phone you'll need to provide your own SIM card to plug in and use it. Phone numbers can be saved to the built-in memory and Outlook contacts database, or onto the SIM card itself. Dialling uses a neat phone number display, so it's electronic rather than physical buttons.
The general layout of the opening screen is actually good in terms of the information it provides, making it easy to check on battery status and whether any of the connectivity functions are active. There are coloured LEDs near the top to indicate that the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi options are working. On the subject of those, the Wi-Fi found the local wireless network but simply reported that it was connecting, without ever doing so, while a wireless laptop connected automatically. Equally, the Bluetooth signal found another device with no trouble, but failed to exchange the passwords correctly. So, expect to spend time configuring these for you local networks and devices.
Battery life is prominent on the front display, and this is no real surprise as with all these extra transmission devices built in it gets drained very quickly. After one hefty session of wireless/radio communications you'll be looking to plug it in again for a recharge.
The screen is small, but the information well presented.
It handles nicely, but the screen is definitely on the small side, and iPAQs don't get big screens to start with. It also feels chunky, but then that's hardly a surprise considering the amount of connectivity and features built into it. The 2Mp camera is surprisingly good, but obviously it isn't a replacement for a good quality compact, it's just there as an extra for pictures of friends, family and cats. As the rw6815 is quite costly, at over £300, the value depends on how much you need those extra features like the phone, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. For the person on the go who has to communicate with varying environments and likes to be able to snap and record where they have been, it's a little technological marvel. For everyone else there are other, better iPAQ options.
2Mp camera is good
Information easy to access
Connectivity not as easy as it should be
Screen too small