Archive for May 13th, 2008

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HTC P6500 review

Not the prettiest PDA phone ever made the HTC P6500 aims to fill the gap in the market for rugged PDA devices but is there a market in the gap?

The 10 second review:

  • Device: HTC P6500
  • Cost: SIM free only: £449 (£527.58 inc VAT)
  • Available from: Clove Technology
  • Summary: Large and ruggedised Windows Mobile Pro device with excellent connectivity and expandability makes it an ideal device for business and industrial applications.
  • Best of: Rugged build and high-end specs.
  • Worst of: Size and weight mean this certainly isn’t a device for your back pocket.
HTC P6500

HTC P6500

What’s in the box?

  • HTC P6500 device
  • 1500mAh battery
  • Slip Case
  • Manual & Getting Started Guide
  • Application CD Rom
  • Screen protector
  • Warranty Card
  • AC Adapter
  • Spare Stylus
  • Wired headset
  • USB Sync/Charge cable

You can see more of the device and what’s included in Matt’s HTC unboxing video.

HTC P6500 Specification:

  • 400Mhz 32bit Samsung SC32442
  • 1280Mb ROM, 256Mb RAM
  • Windows Mobile 6 Professional
  • 3.5″ QVGA (240 x 320) TFT display
  • GSM850, GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS850
  • CSD, GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA
  • Built in NMEA 0183 GPS
  • Biometric fingerprint reader
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • WiFi: 802.11b, 802.11g
  • 3.1MP Camera
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • 2x Full sized SD Card slot

Just a final word on the specification. There are a few different version if this device and each have slightly different ROM and RAM capacities so it’s worth checking the exact spec. with the supplier before you purchase.

 

GENERAL

The HTC P6500 is a fairly large device but has the benefit of a large 3.5″ QVGA display, similar to the one found on older devices such as the Orange M1000/HTC Blue Angel. Directly below the screen you’ll find a number of controls including two soft keys, send/end phone keys, d-pad, Windows Button and ‘OK’ button. You’ll also notice a gold looking strip right at the bottom – this is the biometric fingerprint reader that can be used to secure the device.

HTC P6500 keypad

HTC P6500 keypad

The left side of the device has a scroll wheel and a simple ‘OK’ button.

HTC P6500 left side

HTC P6500 left side

The right side of the P6500 has more controls. The camera button, comm manager and power buttons can all be found here. There is also a cover over a full-size SD card slot. The slot is SDIO and SDHC compatible.

HTC P6500 left side

HTC P6500 left side

The bottom of the device holds the stylus reset button and the Extended MiniUSB connector for sync/charge and audio connections.

HTC P6500 bottom

HTC P6500 bottom

On top of the device you’ll find another rubber cover which hides the second of the SD card slots. Again the slot is SDIO and SDHC compatible.

HTC P6500 top

HTC P6500 top

Lastly, the back of the P6500 is where you’ll find the built in camera. This is a 3.0mp camera with built in autofocus and also has a ‘flash’. The battery also sits under a compartment on the back and it’s also worth noting that the battery cover has a fairly secure locking mechanism.

HTC P6500 back

HTC P6500 back

Highlights

  • Dual full SD (sdio/SDHC) slots
  • Built in GPS
  • Dust proof /splash proof casing
  • Fingerprint reader

Lowlights

  • Not the prettiest device
  • Quite heavy
  • LCD Screen poor

HTC P6500 REVIEW

The first time you see the P6500 you’ll be surprised at just how big it actually is. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as many people out there don’t want a tiny screened pocket device. I had a lot of messages about the iPaq 214, seems that lots of you want devices with larger displays but the draw back of the 214 was that it wasn’t a phone. The P6500 however has the best of both worlds then as it has Windows Mobile Professional and so can make and receive calls as well as being able to connect to the internet over GPRS, 3G or HSDPA and even has built in GPS.

HTC P6500 vs HTC TyTN II

HTC P6500 vs HTC TyTN II

The P6500 fits firmly in the industrial workplace as a workhorse PDA, you can visualise a delivery person passing you this device to sign for your latest goodies, using it for stock take in a warehouse or using it for data collection when out and about. This is where the larger device with a larger screen come in to its own and despite its larger size and increased weight the shape of the case and the rubber finish means that you can hold it comfortably in the palm of you hand.

Hardware wise there aren’t too many surprises however, that said it is the first device that I’ve come across with two SD card slots, one on the side and one on the top. Both of the readers are SDIO and SDHC compatible to it’s easy to imagine installing an SDIO Barcode Reader in the top slot and a large memory card in the side slot for warehouse and data collection jobs.

The button layout is similar to the HTC Blue Angel and ipaq’s of old, with buttons buttons both above and below the screen. These buttons provide shortcuts to the most used apps, mail, web browser, 2 soft keys, send/end phone keys and the Windows/OK combo (which I suspect will be remapped for the custom apps this phone is built to run). The lower portion of the device also holds the 5 way action key, which is the same as on the HTC Touch/Touch Dual. Under this is the fingerprint scanner (more on this later). On the right side you have the camera and ‘secondary’ SD slot, on the top you have the power and ‘primary’ SD slot, on the left is the scroll wheel, voice notes button, and on the bottom you have the now standard extusb socket and reset hole.

The HTC P6500 joins the ranks of the increasing number of devices that have a built in biometric fingerprint reader. This reader is the same as the one installed on the HTC Shift. Set up and fingerprint enrollment is straight forward using the installed software but actually using it day-to-day is a bit hit and miss to say the least requiring multiple swipes and a moistened (licked) finger in order to get the unit to unlock. In a truly industrial environment I suspect that the finger print as a security method may not be practical as dirty fingers and/or finger print readers yield unreliable results.

Software wise we have the standard Windows Mobile apps but in addition the special settings for the fingerprint reader and Opera 8. I like opera as it does render web pages in a slightly more sensible way compared to Pocket Internet Explorer, but I cant wait to try Opera 9 when that’s released.

The P6500 feels like a reasonably fast device, over my 2 weeks testing it didn’t feel sluggish and performed well, even with lots of applications open. I even subjected the P6500 to some extensive durability testing (a 7 year old and bubble breaker) and still no complaints!

A few things I noticed that need mentioning, the screen on the P6500 is quite poor. Similar to the screens we saw several years ago on on HTC devices this one it very washed out and over bright from the default settings. There is also a yellow colour cast over the screen which is more obvious on the right than the left.

I was also expecting much more from the 3.0MP autofocus camera thinking that it would be at least as good as the camera on the HTC TyTN II, however, in reality the camera doesn’t perform very well but I suppose the P6500 isn’t designed to be a discrete camera phone!

The battery life is excellent, on average I got three days usage out of the P6500, more than I get from my Vario3 which is another surprise when you consider that the battery is ‘only’ 1500mAh which isn’t huge for a device of this size with a big screen and power-hungry CPU.

Signal reception is good on this device maintaining a signal even in the tricky places where you expect to lose signal. Call sound quality is also good which is again probably thanks to the size of the device and larger than average loudspeaker.

The GPS built in to the P6500 is an NMEA0183 which is pretty common at the moment. I haven’t a great deal to say about the GPS, it works perfectly with Google maps and acquires a signal quite quickly. It does struggle in the city where you have tall buildings on either side but that’s a pretty common GPS problem. There isn’t any GPS software preinstalled so you’ll have to buy TomTom or similar software if you want to use the handset as a sat-nav device.

CONCLUSION

I actually enjoyed using the HTC P6500 which is perhaps a little odd when you consider that I really don’t fall into the target demographic for the device. Sure, it’s not the best looking phone, but you can see that it’s been built to withstand more than the average knock or scratch. Once you get past the size everything else falls in to place and just works as it should.

If you are looking for a device to put in your pocket for occasional use then don’t even consider the P6500 (which you probably aren’t anyway). If, however, you are looking for something that can take a bit of abuse then this might do the trick.

The HTC P6500 is the ‘builders phone’ of the Windows Mobile world!

Review by: Owen/Matt

[Post tag(s): smartphone blog, Pocket PC blog, HTC, P6500, Tracy & Matt]

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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