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HP iPAQ 6315 Pocket PC Phone

Editor's rating (1-5):
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Posted Sept. 12, 2004 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief
Page 2, continued from page 1

Gaming and Multimedia Performance

Though the iPAQ doesn't win in the speed race, it's surprisingly pleasant to use for gaming. Bust 'Em 2, Blade of Betrayal, Handmark Trivial Pursuit, Sim City 2000, WarFare Inc. and EverQuest ran well, but Metalion 2 would not launch (it seems to only run on Intel ARM and XScale processsors). Unless you're running game emulators (which are very processor intensive) or games that require four front mappable buttons, the iPAQ should suffice.

As with all Pocket PCs, you can use the included Pocket version of Windows Media Player for MP3 and Windows Media format movie playback. There are several other MP3 players on the market you can also use (reviewed here), and I do recommend the free Pocket MVP if you're a video buff. PocketMVP (Pocket Music and Video Player) plays DivX, MPEG, AVI and MP3 files. In addition, PocketTV is an excellent app for MPEG1 movie playback and it integrates with Pocket IE for MPEG1 movies you might find on the web.

Using PocketTV Enterprise Edition to play "The Chosen" (a neat BMW flick with Clive Owen) which is a 4:26 minute long, 10 meg MPEG1 file recorded at 320 x 240, 308 kb/s, the iPAQ managed a respectable 24.13 fps. PocketMVP played "The Chosen" at 23.46 fps, and dropped 144 out of 6394 frames. The 6315 played the Spider Man trailer file commonly found on the web (240 x 136, 452Kb/s encoded MPEG 1 file) at 22.06 fps and dropped a more lackluster 214 out of 2640 frames, though the film looked good during playback. My own test MPEG1 file burned from a DVD at a whopping 700 Kb/s didn't look smooth in playback and suffered a high percentage of dropped frames. It played back at 8.5 fps. PocketTV did a better job, playing back at a watchable 16.7 fps. In comparison, the XDA II (currently the fastest Pocket PC phone) played the same movie at 23.97 fps using PocketTV Enterprise and PocketMVP. The XDA II has an ATI graphics chip for which both PocketTV and PocketMVP have optimizations.

If you're a video fan using PocketMVP, I'd recommend playing movies encoded at 300 Kb/s-- if you go significantly higher, playback quality will suffer. Using PocketTV Enterprise, you can go higher, but I'd say that 300 Kb/s is the target for fast and smooth playback for all players and movie media types. If you burn your own DVDs to Pocket PC format and love watching high quality videos encoded at 600 Kb/s on the PDA, the iPAQ 6315 might not be the best choice since its video playback isn't superior.

Display and Sound

Score another big point for the 6315: it has the most outdoor viewable display I've seen in years on a PDA. Like other Pocket PCs and many Palm OS PDAs, it has a transflective display that offers very good color saturation, contrast and indoor viewability. It's a standard Pocket PC 240 x 320 QVGA resolution display with a 3.5" LCD. While many have noted how viewable the display is outdoors, some have described their displays as "milky". Ours is not milky in the least and looks great when viewing photos and videos. It's very bright, and at 50% brightness, should be bright enough for most folks. The iPAQ's display isn't as stunning as the XDA II's, but it certainly looks great and nothing beats it for outdoor viewing, which is important for a device that's also a phone.

Sound on the other hand, isn't impressive. The 6315's volume level is surprisingly low for a convergence device, and that's a big minus because we need to easily hear the phone ringing and hear conversations. It's a mystery why HP didn't go for a loud speaker on a device that doubles as a phone. If you're in a room that have average noise or less, you'll have no trouble hearing phone conversations with phone volume set to max or one notch below.The Samsung i700 and XDA II are much louder using the internal speaker. If you're in a very noisy environment, consider using a headset (wired or Bluetooth) which offers much better sound volume. Call recipients had no trouble hearing us, on the other hand, and the mic is more than adequate.

 

 

 

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Read our Review of Cases for the iPAQ 6315

The problem with sound volume seems to be software related, since I used an audio editor to increase the volume of my ringtones and alerts, and now I never miss the phone ringing or an alarm. Perhaps HP will offer an updater to improve sound volume. 

The iPAQ has a rear firing speaker for alarms and system sounds, so you won't be deafened by these should they go off when you're in a phone conversation. The phone speaker is located above the display in the black plastic cap, and the mic is located on the bottom, next to the Contacts button. The snap on keyboard has a hole for the mic, so you can use the phone with keyboard without degrading sound. The iPAQ has a vibrate function.

Like other iPAQs, the unit has an iPAQ Audio control panel applet that allows you to adjust treble and bass output, use AGC (automatic gain control) for the mic or set gain manually. When listening to MP3s and videos through a set of stereo headphones, sound is excellent and the volume is more than adequate. Unlike other smartphones, the iPAQ has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack commonly found on non-phone Pocket PCs, so you can plug in your favorite set of headphones to listen to tunes. HP includes a 2.5 to 3.5mm adapter in the box so you can use standard mobile phone headsets and they also include a mono cell phone headset with earbud and mic (but no call send and end buttons).

Battery Life

The iPAQ has an 1,800 mAh Lithium Ion battery, which is a large capacity for a standard battery. A 3,600 mAh extended battery is available for purchase separately, and that battery slides in place of the standard battery, increasing the phone's thickness. Most folks probably won't need the extended battery because battery life on this device is truly exceptional for a Pocket PC phone and even for a Palm OS smartphone both of which require nightly charging. The iPAQ runs twice as long as the powerhouse XDA II (aka i Mate Pocket PC Phone), and with light phone use with all wireless features turned on, can achieve 7 hours of continuous usage.

To test battery life, I made approximately 10 calls lasting 30 minutes total, left both WiFi and Bluetooth turned on all day, used the device frequently for PIM lookups, playing four ~ 8 minute movies and surfed the web using WiFi for an hour. The 6315 still had 65% charge at day's end. To top it off, I used a Bluetooth headset for one half of those calls, which drains more power than using the internal speaker and mic. I did another WiFi test session, with the battery level starting at 68% and I surfed the web using NetFront 3.1 for an hour and the battery level dropped to 55%. That's miraculous! Using other Pocket PCs and WiFi, an hour generally consumes 40% or more power, even with CPU power savings (drops the clock speed down) enabled. I have no idea how HP has managed this feat, but it is indeed liberating! For all tests, screen brightness was set to 55%, which was bright enough to suit us at the office. No Pocket PC comes close to standard feature phone runtimes except the iPAQ. Though the average GSM camera phone with Bluetooth can still make it to three days between charges if you're a light phone, camera and PIM user while the iPAQ will likely need a charge every other day with light use. Comparisons between smartphones and feature phones aren't that straight forward because folks tend to use the PDA functions several times a day on smartphones while feature phones don't even offer these functions.

Keyboard

HP includes a snap on thumb keyboard, which is ingenious. Prefer a smaller phone and have no need for the keyboard— leave it at home. Need that keyboard all the time for emails and instant messaging, keep it clipped on the phone. Sometimes need just the phone and need a keyboard at others? Carry the phone keyboard-less, but keep that keyboard in your purse or pocket for times when you need it. A very versatile design that will suit most everyone. Thankfully, the keyboard is larger than the Treo 600's, which is as small as a keyboard can go while remaining at all useful. The keyboard is a bit smaller than most accessory thumb keyboards sold separately by 3rd party manufacturers, so it doesn't add that much bulk yet it is quite usable. HP hit a good middle ground with this design.

iPAQ with keyboard
side view

 

The keyboard driver is pre-installed, so you need only snap the keyboard onto the iPAQ and begin typing. You can turn the driver off if you wish, turn on key clicks and adjust repeat rate. This driver also works with HP's Folding Keyboard, though when detaching that keyboard, sometimes the iPAQ thinks it's still there, so disable the keyboard driver before disconnecting the HP Folding Keyboard (this isn't necessary with the thumb keyboard).

The keyboard has round, domed keys that don't require a great deal of pressure to push and click lightly when depressed. It's a standard QWERTY layout with an embedded number pad and the number keys are a darker shade of gray. The keyboard's blue function key enables numbers, punctuation and foreign symbols which are masked in blue on the keys. You don't have to hold down the function when entering a phone number. Instead you can turn on Fn key lock by pressing the blue key twice so you can dial a phone number in the phone app or enter a long string of numbers in Excel. To disable Fn lock, simply press the blue key once more. The keyboard also has embedded arrow keys, buttons for call send and end and Contacts and Email buttons. Unfortunately, the keys aren't backlit, so you won't be able to type in dark or dimly lit rooms.

 

Next-> Go to Review Page 3 (WiFi, Bluetooth, camera, software, comparisons and conclusion)

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Specs:

Display: Transflective TFT color LCD, 64K colors, Screen Size Diag: 3.5", Resolution: 240 x 320.

Battery: Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1000 mA. 1800 mA extended battery available for purchase.

Performance: Intel XScale PXA 255 400 MHz processor. 64 MB built-in RAM (55 megs available). 32 MB Flash ROM with 2.85 megs available in File Store for your use.

Size: 4.47 x 2.78 x .53 in. Weight: 4.67 oz.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 9 included for your MP3 pleasure.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b (also supporting LEAP) and Bluetooth.

Software: Pocket PC 2003 Premium operating system (aka Windows Mobile 2003). Microsoft Pocket Office suite including Pocket Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and Outlook. Also, Terminal Services, MSN Instant Messenger for Pocket PC, MS Reader and Voice Recorder as well as handwriting recognition. 3rd party software: Westtek ClearVue Suite, F-Secure FileCrypto Data Encryption, Colligo Personal Edition, Adobe PDF Viewer, RealOne Player for Pocket PC, iPresenter PowerPoint converter, MobiMate WorldMate. ActiveSync 3.7 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.

Expansion: 1 SD (Secure Digital) slot, 4 bit data bus, supporting SDIO and SDIO Now!. Can NOT use iPAQ expansion sleeves.

 

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