MobileTechReview.com PDA, Notebook and Phone Reviews and buyers guide

PDA Phone Notebooks Gaming Gadgets iPhone & iPad Shop Discussion

Advertisement

Pocket PC Phone Reviews

UT Starcom / Verizon XV6700

Editor's rating (1-5):
Discuss this product

Note: Verizon and UT Starcom issued a ROM update for the XV6700 in July 2006 which adds several new features including simultaneous use of the phone radio and WiFi. If you bought your phone prior to August 2006, be sure to download and install the ROM update available here. Units sold after July 2006 have this update pre-installed.

Reviewed Jan. 25, 2006 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

Who said Verizon has boring phones? Since the Fall of 2005 they've added an impressive array of feature and PDA phones to their lineup, along with some serious expansion of their high speed 3G EVDO data network. The UT Starcom XV6700, released in mid-January 2006 just after the Windows Mobile Treo 700w, is their latest PDA-phone offering. The XV6700, like its nearly identical cousin the PPC-6700 on Sprint, is a branded version of the HTC Apache Pocket PC Phone. Hence you'll see a great deal of similarity between our XV6700 and PPC-6700 reviews. HTC in Taiwan is a leading designer and manufacturer of Microsoft Pocket PC and smartphones and they supply many companies with products including HP, Palm, UT Starcom (formerly Audiovox), T-Mobile, Orange and more.

XV6700 phone
back of XV6700

The XV6700 is a compact Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC phone with a standard QVGA display, 416 MHz processor, 64 megs of RAM, 128 megs of flash ROM, EVDO, WiFi, Bluetooth and a 1.3 megapixel camera. Quite a few features for the relatively modest $399 new contract price! Its unique (well, unique to the HTC Wizard and Apache designs) side-firing slide out keyboard is roomy, easy to use and backlit. Unlike most Pocket PCs, but like MS Smartphones, the XV6700 has a minSD rather than SD card slot. And unlike its predecessor the Audiovox/UT Starcom XV6600 it's compact, reliable and has good battery life.

XV6700 with keyboard open

In the Box

The XV6700 comes with a Lithium Ion battery, two styli, cradle, USB to mini-USB sync cable, world charger, stereo headset with mic, leather slip case, software CD and a printed manual. One thing we particularly like is the XV6700's single mini-USB port. You can plug the charger or sync cable directly into the device and need not take the cradle with you on the road. Of course you can plug both the cable and charger into the two ports on the rear of the cradle when at home or work.

Design and Ergonomics

Pocket PC phones have left the Jurassic period when huge devices like the PPC-6600, Hitachi G1000 and even the large-ish Samsung i700 ruled. The Verizon XV6700 is compact, and is in fact dwarfed by those models. Like the Samsung i730, Treo 700w and i-mate JAM, the phone is small enough to fit in a roomy pocket and you won't feel like you're holding a brick to your head when in conversation. While its width and length are only 4.3" x 2.3", the device is thick at 1", though not that much thicker than the Treo 700w. The simplicity of the 6700's design is refreshing, but at the same time, its generally thick rounded-rectangular form does remind one of a soap bar. It lacks the Treo's comfy curves and looks more like a big brother to the i-mate JAM (another HTC designed PDA phone). The phone has a matte black finish which seems to be all the rage lately, joining the likes of the E-TEN M600, black Motorola RAZR and the i-mate JAMin. The center section and keyboard are silver, giving the XV6700 an oreo-like look from the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

side of the XV6700 and Treo 700w PPC phones

Comparing the Treo 700w and VX6700 Pocket PC phones from Verizon Wireless.

Treo 700w and XV6700

 

On the front you'll find a mini-joystick with rubber tip that functions as the device's directional pad. The joystick is small but works well in all applications. Handy Windows Start Menu and OK buttons surround the joystick, easing one-handed operation, and the two soft keys flank those. The volume slider is located on the phone's left side, as are the voice recorder and Internet Explorer buttons (reassignable). The IR port is on the left, the miniSD card slot up top and the camera button, which you must press and hold to run the camera app, is located on the lower right corner. In the interest of preventing accidental button presses from dialing folks, launching apps and so on, use the Buttons settings applet to allow only the power button to turn on the phone.

The wide side-opening keyboard is the XV6700's claim to fame. Like the PPC-6700, the Verizon version's QWERTY thumb keyboard slides out to the left and the screen automatically rotates to landscape orientation when the keyboard is pulled out. The keys are large and lightly domed with good tactile feedback. The XV6700 keyboard offers a better typing experience that the Treo 650 and Treo 700w both of which have small and cramped keyboards. Though the Treo's keyboard is ever-ready while you must slide open the 6700's.

XV6700 slide-out keyboard

 

The dark letters contrast well with their light silver background so they're easy to see. The letters illuminate in a contrasy bright blue which compares well to the Sprint version's white backlight against pale silver keys. Two soft keys flank the keyboard so you need not tap the screen or use the front face buttons to activate soft key functions. We like the dedicated Windows Start Menu and OK keys on the bottom row, again reducing the need to whip out the stylus and tap on screen. Should you need to turn on caps lock, press the shift key twice in quick succession. To turn on Fn lock, press the red dot key located in the lower left hand corner. When you're in the phone dialer screen, the XV6700 automatically switches the top row to numbers rather than letters so you need not press the Fn key before punching in a number.

Phone Features, Data and Reception

The XV6700 is a CDMA phone that runs only on Verizon Wireless' network in the US. It supports both the PCS (1900 MHz) and cellular (800 MHz) bands, and has both 1xRTT and EVDO for data. EVDO averaged 550k for us in the San Francisco Bay Area where EVDO coverage and signal strength are generally very strong. That's very fast data transfer by wireless phone standards and makes surfing the web and downloading email with attachments a dream. In fact, it feels like WiFi, given the processing speed and rendering ability of Internet Explorer Mobile, which can't squeeze much more out of WiFi's greater bandwidth. Mobile versions of Internet Explorer and Outlook are standard on Windows Mobile devices and as you'd expect Messaging (the email component of Outlook mobile) supports POP3, IMAP, SMTP and Exchange servers. Though Verizon hasn't yet rolled out a tethering package, the XV6700 can be used as a wireless modem for a notebook using the USB cable and Windows driver on the included CD ROM. Bluetooth DUN is not enabled. Since EVDO's speeds are higher than Bluetooth's, you want to use USB rather than BT should you use the phone as a modem.

Like all Windows Mobile Pocket PC phones, the XV6700 has a large on-screen dialer suitable for finger dialing, or you may use the keyboard to dial. When the phone app is open, the device will automatically use numbers rather than letters on the keyboard (no need to hit the Fn key to turn on num lock). Again, like all Pocket PC phones, the 6700 has speed dialing, call history, call muting, speakerphone (press and hold the green call send button to turn on the speakerphone), dialing directly from contacts as well as other built-in applications and you can take notes while in a call using the Notes shortcut in the dialer screen. The phone doesn't come with voice recognition or dialing software, though you can purchase MS Voice Command separately. Voice Command worked well for us and did not slow down the PDA or cause any instability. Note that MS Voice Command does not support giving commands over BT headsets: this is a limitation of that application and not the phone hardware. The speakerphone is not terribly loud, and is adequatein all but noisy environments. Call volume through the earpiece is quite good, as is call quality and volume through the included wired headset and Bluetooth headsets we tested.

While reception wasn't the Sprint PPC-6700's strong point, the Verizon XV6700 fares better with middle of the road reception compared to other Verizon phones. Using FieldTrial.exe (a hidden file in the Windows directory that provides phone reception info) the device got -82 dB with 2 bars of reception, and up to - 50 db in 4 bar areas, which is very good. Both incoming and outgoing voice quality are excellent.

Horsepower and Performance

The XV6700 runs on the 416 MHz flavor of Intel's PXA 270 XScale processor. That's a pretty fast CPU which has been the sweet spot for PPC performance for a few years now. Yes, you can get 624 MHz Pocket PCs (non-phone models), but the resulting shortened battery life would leave much to be desired. Currently, the Samsung i730 from Verizon is the fastest Pocket PC phone in the US, running on a 520 MHz processor. The PPC-6600 which the 6700 will eventually replace, runs on the same processor as the 6700.

While the Sprint version of this phone felt a bit sluggish (though benchmarking nearly the same), the Verizon XV6700 feels reasonably responsive for a Windows Mobile 5 device. Windows Mobile 5.0 runs applications and data from the slower (but persistent) flash ROM rather than speedy RAM, hence they feel a bit slower than 2003SE OS models. The upside is that your data will survive a complete battery drain, thanks to persistent flash memory.

The phone has 64 megs of RAM, which is used in the same way as PCs use RAM: to run programs but not for storage. 49.42 megs are listed as available but the OS and related programs use 16, so there are 33 megs free. That's on par with other WM5 devices and is enough to run several applications simultaneously or demanding games. Though the XV6700 has 128 megs of flash ROM, the unit shows only 43.5 available to store programs and data. If you're a power user, invest in a mini-SD card to store more. Where did all that flash ROM go? WM5 and its related applications use approximately 50 megs of ROM in other devices we've reviewed, so we can't tell you.

For expansion, the XV6700 has a mini-SD card slot rather than the full sized SD slot found on other Pocket PCs and Palm PDAs. Mini-SD cards are half the height of regular SD cards and come with adapters so they can be used in the SD slot on a card reader, notebook or other PDA. Mini-SD cards have been popular in Windows Mobile Smartphones (the ones that look like phones, don't have touch screens but can sync to Outlook on your PC) and are available in fairly large capacities.

Display, Multimedia and Gaming

Verizon's 3G data connection and the XV6700's very bright, clear QVGA 240 x 320 transflective color display mean the device is perfect for web browsing and video playback. The display supports 65,000 colors and both portrait and landscape modes. The screen has sharp contrast, pleasing color saturation and is plenty bright at the 50% setting. Indoors it looks great, though outdoors glare is noticeable. Like most recent Pocket PC Phone Edition models, the XV6700 has a 2.8" LCD rather than the 3.5" one found on older PPC phones and non-phone PPCs. Text looks sharper on the smaller screen, and is quite readable.

Sound out through the included stereo earbud headphones is good when listening to MP3s using the included Windows Media Player Mobile 10 with support for DRM. Likewise movie soundtracks sound good, and certainly much better than the mono speaker, as is the case with all PDAs. The PDA does well with video playback using Windows Media Player and the excellent free TCPMP video player and can handle up to 600 kbps smoothly. Volume for both PDA audio and ringtones isn't terribly loud through the built-in speaker, though to our ears it sounds a bit louder than the Sprint version.

If gaming is your thing, you'll either love or hate the very small joystick and two available front buttons for gaming. The joystick didn't win our hearts and our games editor proclaimed it "Bad!", but it is usable. Games ran well on the unit, with nary a hiccup with current titles.

Benchmark Results, comparing Windows Mobile 5 PPC Phones

 
i-mate K-JAM (HTC Wizard, 195 MHz)
Verizon XV6700 (416 MHz)
Spb Benchmark index
258
344
166
CPU index
934
1669
1264
File system index
108
138
63.4
Graphics index
1439
2178
1765
Platform index
288
375
221
Write 1 MB file (KB/sec)
570
692
679
Read 1 MB file (MB/sec)
3.13
4.27
1.99
Copy 1 MB file (KB/sec)
660
612
495
Write 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec)
115
265
235
Read 10 KB x 100 files (MB/sec)
1.83
2.16
1.04
Copy 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec)
206
246
223
Directory list of 2000 files (thousands of files/sec)
0.992
1.23
0.521
Internal database read (records/sec)
592
1611
1225
Graphics test: DDB BitBlt (frames/sec)
35.1
204
330
Graphics test: DIB BitBlt (frames/sec)
12.3
33.1
40.5
Graphics test: GAPI BitBlt (frames/sec)
509
266
185
Pocket Word document open (KB/sec)
5.72
7.77
6.33
Pocket Internet Explorer HTML load (KB/sec)
7.37
6.55
5.81
Pocket Internet Explorer JPEG load (KB/sec)
86.2
109
113
File Explorer large folder list (files/sec)
335
449
277
Compress 1 MB file using ZIP (KB/sec)
165
197
185
Decompress 1024x768 JPEG file (KB/sec)
244
516
364
Arkaball frames per second (frames/sec)
145
157
112
CPU test: Whetstones MFLOPS (Mop/sec)
0.032
0.08
0.059
CPU test: Whetstones MOPS (Mop/sec)
25.9
57.8
43.1
CPU test: Whetstones MWIPS (Mop/sec)
2.2
5.12
3.83
Memory test: copy 1 MB using memcpy (MB/sec)
62.2
107
73.6

Camera

HTC isn't known for their integrated camera image quality. That's changed with the XV6700 and PPC-6700 whose 1.3 megapixel cameras actually take nice photos. Colors are fairly accurate with a shot of added purple to magenta which can make skin tones overly pink and the blue car below turned purple. Light balance is good unless the subject is in strong sunlight in which case it will white out, and noise is at a minimum for well-lit outdoor and indoor shots. The camera can take photos in JPEG and BMP format up to 1280 x 1024 resolution, and has an LED flash that helps low light shots a bit, but not much. Turn on the flash and it stays on until you turn it off, and thus it works with photos and video- in fact it makes a great impromptu flashlight. The camera has a macro mode slider switch that surrounds the lens and it helps a bit when taking close ups. In addition, the phone can shoot videos with audio at a maximum resolution of 320 x 240 in MPEG4 (best choice for quality, compatibility with Windows Media Player and small file size), Motion JPEG AVI and 3GPP2 formats. Videos aren't too jerky but do show noise even in well lit settings and audio volume is low.

Sample Photos, JPEG mode taken at full resolution at medium quality setting.

costo

Outdoors: good overall color balance, saturation and exposure.

crossfire

The Crossfire looks purple but is actually blue.

odwalla

Odwalla bottles under florescent light in the market.

 

WiFi and Bluetooth

The PPC has integrated Bluetooth 1.2 and WiFi 802.11b wireless. To control these radios as well as the phone's radio, you'll use the Wireless Manager, accessible from the bottom navigation bar on the Today Screen and in the Programs group. Wireless Manager allows you to turn the radio(s) on and off and establish new connections. Wireless Manager is a front end to the Windows components that actually handle establishing new and managing existing connections.

Yes, like the Samsung i730 on Verizon, turning WiFi on will turn off the phone's radio. This limitation doesn't exist on the Sprint version of this phone and we're not sure why Verizon is doing this with Pocket PC phones, though a firmware update released in the summer of 2006 fixes this issue. All phones sold after July 2006 have the upgrade pre-installed and thus you can now use WiFi and the phone at the same time. WiFi worked reliably for us, with good range. Bluetooth uses Microsoft's spartan software which gets the job done but doesn't help you through the process or give you a clue what profiles are supported. The XV6700 has Bluetooth 1.2 for better interference rejection and backward compatibility with Bluetooth 1.1. It supports Hands Free, Headset, HID and Serial Port profiles. We tested the phone with a few Bluetooth headsets including the Motorola HF800 car kit, Plantronics Discovery 640 and the Palm Treo Wireless Bluetooth Headset and it worked reliably, with average incoming and outgoing call volume. As mentioned earlier, it doesn't support voice dialing over a BT headset out of the box.

Software

All Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PCs come with the operating system, Mobile Office suite including Outlook Mobile and desktop Outlook, Windows Media Player Mobile 10, Terminal Services, Pictures and Videos, Pocket MSN (Hotmail, MSN Messenger), File Explorer, handwriting recognition (print and cursive), Solitaire, Bubble Breaker (the game formerly known as Jaw Breaker), Calculator and support for secure certificates and VPN connections. As with the PPC-6700, the GPS applet (driver, not mapping or navigation software) included on other Windows Mobile 5 devices was not on our device. Outlook on the PDA has calendar, contacts, tasks, notes and email (called Messaging), which you can sync to a Windows desktop running Outlook. In addition you get Clear Storage (wipes out the device to factory settings), Text Messages Retry and Verizon's Wireless Sync (you must pay for the service if you wish to use Wireless Sync) pre-installed on the device.

Battery Life

Pocket PC phones aren't known for their keen battery life, and in fact the Samsung i730 and the XV6600/PPC6601 were real power guzzlers. How pleasant then that the XV6700 can last a few days on a charge with light to moderate use. If you set the device to check mail every 15 minutes throughout the business day, surf the web for an hour or more over EVDO and talk more than 30 minutes per day, then you'll need to charge nightly. But if you use the PDA for PIM lookups, surf an hour or less per day and check email hourly, it will likely last you two days on a charge, even when using a Bluetooth headset. The XV6700 ships with a 1350 mAh battery which is a reasonable capacity for a device with a 2.8" display, dual wireless and EVDO. It supports USB charging and you can plug the phone directly into the charger rather than cradle if you wish.

Conclusion

Windows Mobile Pocket PC phones have come a long way, as has Verizon. The phone is compact, has a great slide-out keyboard, a fast cpu and plenty of RAM. EVDO makes this device sing, and once you try it, you'll be addicted to fast email downloads and zippy web browsing. Though not a true desktop experience, Internet Explorer Mobile beats feature phone browsers hands down and is faster than the Palm OS Blazer web browser used on the Treo. Third party alternatives such as NetFront 3.3 and Opera 8.5 (both tested in beta versions on the XV6700) work well too. . . web browser choice is a good thing . Messaging does a great job with POP, IMAP and Exchange email and it can check mail on a schedule if you like. WiFi is great for those not in an EVDO area and for those who don't wish to spend the money on a data plan. Bluetooth range and reliability are good, something that we couldn't say of 1st and 2nd generation Pocket PC phones. If you're a power user, this phone is a great choice.

Pro: EVDO speed makes this the perfect data device along with Verizon's strong coverage in metro areas. Fantastic keyboard! Blue backlighting makes it easy to type in dim locations and bests the Sprint PPC-6700. Very compact, albeit not thin. Attractive and innovative design. Nice screen, runs the latest Windows Mobile OS and has both WiFi and Bluetooth. Camera still shots are very good by phone standards. For power users considering the Treo 700w, the XV6700 has more memory which helps when running multiple apps and a full QVGA display. The phone is stable, even with a good selection of third party programs running.

Con: miniSD rather than SD slot on a Pocket PC phone is a surprise-- if you've invested in SD cards for your prior Pocket PCs, you won't be able to use them with the XV6700. The keyboard is excellent but you won't be able to use it unless you slide it out and wait that second or two for the screen to switch to landscape mode. Not a biggie unless you're fond of quick one-handed operation where devices with ever-ready keyboards like the Treo 650 and 700w win. Turning on WiFi turns off the phone portion of the device, though you can prevent that with a simple registry edit.

Price: $399 with 2 year contract

Web Site: www.verizonwireless.com

 

Specs:

Display: Transflective TFT color LCD. 65K colors, screen size diag.: 2.8". Resolution: 240 x 320, supports both portrait and landscape orientations.

Battery: 1350 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. Claimed talk time: 4.7 hours, claimed standby: 200+ hours.

Performance: 416 MHz Intel XScale PXA 270 processor. 64 MB built-in RAM (~ 30 megs free at boot). 128 MB Flash ROM with 43 available for your use.

Size: 4.3 x 2.3 x 1.0 inches. Weight: 6.6 ounces.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 2.5mm stereo headphone jack. Stereo earbud headphones with integrated mic included. Voice Recorder and Windows Media Player Mobile 10 included for your MP3 pleasure.

Phone: CDMA 800 /1900 MHz bands, all digital. 1xRTT and EVDO for data. Qualcomm MSM6500 chipset.

Networking: Bluetooth 1.2 and WiFi 802.11b

Camera: 1.3MP camera with flash and self-portait mirror. Can take still photos up to 1280 x 1024 resolution and video with audio.

Software: Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Phone Edition operating system. Microsoft Mobile Office suite including Mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint (view only), Internet Explorer, and Outlook. Also, Terminal Services, MSN Instant Messenger for Pocket PC, Windows Media Player 10, Solitaire, Bubble Breaker (game), Voice Recorder as well as handwriting recognition. Additional applications: Camera, Wireless Manager, Wireless Modem (use the phone as a modem for a computer via the USB cable), Clear Storage (wipes out all data and resets unit to factory defaults). ActiveSync 4.1 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.

Expansion: 1 SD (Secure Digital) slot supporting SDIO and SDIO Now!.

 

Back to MobileTechReview.com Home Questions? Comments? Post them in our Discussion Forum!