While there are some unique features in the 6500
series it is the combination of features that separate the 6500 series
from other smartphones in the market.
The combination consists of:
in GPS receiver
small physical size (Relative to 6300 series or XDA series)
band with EDGE
memory slots both SD and Mini-SD
Phone Performance - To
me, a smart phone that does not work well as a phone is an over priced,
over weight PDA. I am always
amazed at how many manufacturers donít get this.
As a result, this is the first thing I evaluate and look for.
It is the one MAJOR shortcoming I find in the Blackberry line of
smart phones. We all know
that there are high quality phone chip sets because we all have
experience using good cell phones that work well as cell phones.
It seems that many smart phone manufacturers either ignore that
fact, think that is the place to cut corners so they can squeeze a lousy
camera on the phone or just donít care.
There are at least three aspects that make a phone good.
How well it receives and locks on to a signal, how clear and
clean the audio is and the volume achievable for the audio (ability to
hear it in a loud and noisy environment like an airport).
The radio receiver/transmitter, the D to A and A to D components,
the audio amplifier, the speakers and microphone all determine this
ability. So how does the
6500 fare? The radio appears
to be very good at locking on a signal and holding it.
In actual use I have only had it drop a call once.
Where it dropped the call, is an area that is very dead, signal
wise, and every phone I have has dropped the signal at that location.
Call clarity is also excellent with no background noise, hissing,
crackling or pops and only with a very weak signal does the audio break
up. It can sometimes be
difficult to ascertain when you do have an audio problem whether it is
your unit, the other personís cell phone, a weak signal or the headset
being used by the other party. My
comments are based on calls to a land line phone so that I can eliminate
as many of these other variables as possible.
Volume is where this unit falls down.
Both earpiece and speakerphone speaker volume need to be capable
of greater levels. In a
quiet room they are more than adequate but in a noisy environment you
will strain to hear the other party.
Of course, this leads you to shout because when we canít hear
we tend to assume the other party canít hear us.
My suspicion is that the problem is a software issue that may be
fixed in a subsequent release. I
say this because the volume of the media player playback and Mapopolis
software directions produces is more than adequate.
The speakerphone speaker being in the back of the unit doesnít
help either. On a scale of
zero to ten I would rate the phone a seven and if they improve the audio
I would up it to a nine. I am dropping my
rating to a 6.5 for several reasons. Among them, is the fact that
it has now been 2 months since the phone was released and not a single
fix or upgrade for any of its deficiencies has been forthcoming from
HP. In fact, just the opposite with HP finally confirming that it
will not be releasing an upgrade to WM5 (that might have solved some of
Having a quad band phone means you can use it almost anywhere in
the world but for us
users having EDGE really
makes the wireless connectivity a viable and usable function.
Web pages load pretty quickly (I consistently saw between 105kb
to 135kb) throughput. This
puts it ahead of 1XRTT but behind EV-DO.
The browser actually becomes functional and usable.
I was amazed that I could load my PKI certificate and use web
mail with its frames from this device.
Downloads are pretty quick too.
I use Microsoftís Voice Command with the unit and with the
exception of not being able to use VC through the Bluetooth headset; I
find it works very well for dialing the contacts in my phone book or
digit dialing. I also tried Fonix
and found equally good results.
I stayed with VC because of its caller ID voice announcement.
Since I often carry the unit in a case on my belt, not having to
take the unit out to know who is calling is a real plus.
Then, I use a Bluetooth headset to answer the call. The
Inability to initiate a voice command over the Bluetooth headset and
interact with Voice Command or any of the alternatives is another reason
for my downgrading of the unit. It is too large and cumbersome to
have to take the unit out of the holster every time you want to make a
call and have to hold a brick to your head.
while better than the keyboard on the Treo 600 (maybe even the Treo 650
though I donít have as much experience with it) falls far short of the
keyboard on the Blackberries (72XX, 75XX and 77XX series).
Blackberry keys form a frown rather than a smile.
This causes the upper right and left keys to be closer to the
thumbs rather than further away. The
Blackberry keys are shaped more like tear drops than circles thus making
it easier for thumb contact to a single key and the lettering and
numbering is larger and bold faced making it easier to read the keys.
Finally the backlighting is better on the Blackberries because
the blue light is very hard on the eyes.
The blue function characters are almost unreadable.
Having said all of that, the unit can be typed on and once you
get use to its deficiencies you can type at a reasonable speed for short
messages. I would not like
to type a long email with them. The
poor integration of the keyboard with the OS contributes to making it
more difficult to use than a Blackberryís.
A double space after the end of a sentence doesnít
automatically add a period and capitalize the first word.
Holding a key down doesnít cause it to become upper case.
However, it will insert an apostrophe into a contraction.
It will not convert shorthand abbreviations into the spelled out
word. When you are in
numeric fields in a form it doesnít automatically put the keys into
numeric lock and you canít hold down a number key when in phone mode
to get a long tone (like holding 1 to get voice mail).
Windows Mobile 5 (WM5) is supposed to address many of these
Contents of box with some extras to make it more
usable (Leather Case, Nylon Case, Extra Stylus, SD Memory, Screen
Protectors, Mini USB cable)
The square 240x240 screen
is bright and large enough to be readable under almost any conditions
from inside to bright sunlight. While
a higher resolution would be nicer to get more on a page, I found the
240x240 adequate to the task with fonts appearing relatively smooth (not
like 320x320) but good enough for work usage, photo viewing and web
browsing. My one big gripe
with the screen is that HP removed from the software the ability to
rotate the screen. Iím
sure that they thought, ďThe screen is square so we donít need to be
able to rotate it.Ē However,
if you want to use the unit on its side in a stand like the Think
Outside keyboard you need to be able to rotate the screen.
If I had purchased the HP Bluetooth keyboard this might not have
been an issue since the stand on the HP unit would probably support the
unit vertically just fine. The
Think Outside stand does not hold the unit adequately except in the
sideways position. Compared
to the screen on a Blackberry 7100t it looks gigantic.
It is also more readable under a variety of lighting
conditions. I finally found a third party
software application that makes it possible to rotate the screen or see
a virtual 240x320 screen for those applications that don't support the
240x240 format. The application is NYDITOT and it works very well
but uses up your memory when it should have this capability built in.
on this unit shines in all but two areas.
There are profiles for headset, headphones, hands free,
ActiveSync, serial, file transfer, information exchange, personal
network server, Dial-up networking server, and keyboard.
The hands free profile using a Bluetooth headset is the best I
have seen. Pairing is quick
and easy and the sound quality and volume are great!
I tested this with three different headsets, the Flamingo, the
Plantronics M3000 and the Plantronics V510.
All work exceptionally well on range, sound quality and volume.
The functional limitations such as controlling volume from the
handset (doesnít work) are problems related to Windows Mobile 2003 SE.
The basic functions such as answer call, end call and control
volume from the headset all work perfectly.
Active Sync via Bluetooth also works very well although getting
it set up can be a little tricky. By
the way, I conducted all tests using ActiveSync 4.0 developers release
available on the Microsoft web site.
As I understand it, version 3.8 has a limitation on the serial
ports it can use whereas 4.0 does not appear to have that limitation.
The Bluetooth keyboard from Think Outside works very well with
the built in software (minus the ability to assign special keys).
It is quick and a key press materializes almost instantly on the
screen. I did not type ahead
of it ( a faster better typist might).
The software that comes with the keyboard and the latest version
on their web site does not work on the unit.
I tested using the keyboard and ActiveSync and the headset all at
the same time and it worked with no problem.
It did fail to work 100% on my Lexus RX330 (2005).
It pairs up without a hitch but when you go to make a call there
is a loud squeal that emanates from the speakers until the call
connects. Once connected it
works fine except it never shows the signal strength on the dash
memory slots it has more than adequate storage and expandability.
While it lacks built in WiFi, you can easily add the capability
via an SD or mini-SD card. True,
it does stick out to the right and isnít as desirable as an internal
unit. On the other hand,
WiFi radios tend to suck up power and that has to be a consideration.
Iím not sure how many people would use that feature although I
read all of the complaints if a device doesnít have that.
I must be missing something.
When I am at home or in the office I prefer to do my Internet
work from a real computer with a large screen, full keyboard and mouse.
I can connect via Bluetooth ActivSync to my Internet and use the
higher performance of my home internet connection if I really needed it.
With EDGE I have adequate connectivity for most of what I do on
the road with a browser in a small screen.
I suspect it will be adequate for most users and while WiFi for
Skype usage may be nice to have it isnít a deal killer in my book.
I know many of you will disagree with that assessment.
The built in GPS receiver is a real plus.
This is the first unit to offer this feature and it works very
well. The nice thing is you
can use it with software other than the Tom-Tom software shipped on the
unit. Sadly, this company
has got to have the worst support I have seen.
First, there is no phone number to call.
Second, it is pure torture to send an email to the company as you
must jump through more hoops than a government bureaucracy.
Finally, it takes them forever to respond with nothing.
It is saddled with activation keys for maps and other such
customers it is a night mare to be avoided.
Maps are priced at ridiculous amounts and are for such small
areas that it takes at least a dozen maps to get around an area like
. Fortunately, there are
other navigation packages available that work well with the unit.
I tired Mapopolis and it
works very well. I compared
my handheld maps tracking and display to my unit in the Lexus and they
were right together. The
handheld doesnít lock on to the satellites as quickly but it is pretty
quick with the built in helper software.
version will include Tom-Tom or some other application is not known at
this time. Tom-Tom version 4
is preloaded into the extended ROM and automatically installs after a
hard reboot. I only performed a limited test
initially on the GPS and subsequently I have found the unit does not
perform as well as I originally thought. With TomTom I had noticed
a severe lag between the display and my actual position and I attributed
this to TomTom however when I later tested it with Mapopolis I didn't
see the lag. More testing has shown me that I was mistaken and the
lag is still there though not quite as acute. Acquiring the
satellites is not very quick and can be painfully slow at times.
In a plane the lag is really visible yet my Garmin handheld is dead on.
The extended ROM in the unit is 12MB and there is an additional
12MB or ROM called IPAQ file storage available to the user.
I bring this up because the unit comes with applications that
load themselves automatically after a hard reset and these applications
reside in extended
It is significant that this
unit is built by HTC. The
reason is that a major hack site (XDA-Developers.com)
exists that provide many tools to hack HTC built devices.
For example, there are tools to edit the extended ROM,
save/backup the extended ROM to an SD card and convert the extended ROM
to a single large user ROM space. Playing
with the ROM in any way is not for the inexperienced user and there is
always the risk that you will render your unit into a paper weight so
PROCEED WITH GREAT CAUTION. Backup,
backup, backup your ROM before you do anything to it so you have a
chance to recover if you make a mistake.
What I have done is to use the extended ROM as a means of auto
installing applications I want to have after a hard reset.
I also removed Tom-Tom and a few other applications that I donít
use. The best source of
information on hacks for this device is www.davesipaq.com.
This web site is full of good information on the 6500 series as
well as other IPAQ handhelds. Here
is the link to the extended ROM editor information and here
is the info for "big ROM'.
Applications, there are still many applications that do not work
at all or do not work right because they lack support for the square
screen. Again the forum at davesipaq
is the best source of this information.
This is a rapidly changing situation as many software companies
are changing their products to support the 6500.
You will note that I did not mention the camera, a 1.3 Mega-pixel
unit. The reason is two
fold. I did not purchase the
6515 (the unit with the camera) but purchased the 6510 (camera less).
And, I have not tested it myself; however, reviews on the forum
tend to give it pretty bad marks. I
canít take a camera phone into work so I donít purchase phones with
a camera if I have a choice. There
are times when it would have been handy.
Given the small increase in price, if you are allowed it I would
purchase it, otherwise it isnít a big loss.
Battery Life is only what I would call adequate with the normal
battery a 1,200 ma unit. It
will last through a day but needs to be recharged daily if you are a
heavy user of polling email and Bluetooth like I am.
However, there is a 1550ma battery available from Lion that works
really well and gives you that extra charge the unit needs.
It is the same physical size (perhaps slightly thicker but hardly
noticeable) and fits in where the standard battery goes without a
problem. You then have
closer to two days of charge available before you must put it on the
charger. I only use the 1550
now and carry the original as a spare for an emergency.
I highly recommend it and HP should make it their standard.
The plastic holster that comes with the unit is a real pain and a
poor design. It sticks you
in the side and it is tricky to remove the unit without risking dropping
it. I have now tried the HP
vertical nylon holster the HP horizontal leather holster.
I am not crazy about either one but both are better than the
plastic one that comes with the unit.
I find the vertical holster is the easier to remove the handset
but is thicker than it needs to be and is not very attractive.
It says geek instead of professional.
The leather holster is nicer looking but much harder to remove
the handset and it too is thicker than I would like.
Both add too much bulk to the unit.
I hope the new holster from Krusell is thinner.
I have owned their cases in the past and I love the nice thin but
close fit they provide.