Gaming laptops are traditionally full of compromises.
HP iPAQ hw6965
- Native Wi-Fi and GPS, Included flip screen cover, Connectivity options, Good build quality
- Keyboard design, Display, Battery life
Packed full of features, HP has added native Wi-Fi and Windows Mobile 5 to its top of the line hw6965 smart phone. But there aren't enough improvements over its predecessor for our liking.
Price$ 1,199.00 (AUD)
The Hewlett Packard iPAQ hw6965 is a jack of all trades mobile convergence device. A mobile phone, PDA, GPS receiver and a plethora of multimedia and connectivity options are all combined in a single unit. Bearing a remarkable resemblance to the previous model, the iPAQ hw6515, the hw6965 is a solid unit, but perhaps could have used a few more improvements over its predecessor.
For a device with so many features, the hw6965 achieves a fair balance between size and functionality. Measuring 118 x 71 x 18 mm it is quite large and wide but this is to be expected from a smart phone, particularly one that is packed with this many features. The hw6965 also weighs a hefty 179 grams, so be warned that it's not the easiest phone to slip into your pocket or bag. The advantage of this design is that the phone feels remarkably solid and well built.
HP has made good use of this space, with a full QWERTY keyboard sitting underneath the display and controls. However, like the previous iPAQ hw6515, the keys are poorly designed - they are a strange circular shape and are not very responsive. We struggled when writing long messages or emails on this phone. As for the controls, HP has kept it simple with two selection buttons, answer and end call keys as well as a somewhat stiff five-way joystick.
The hw6965 display is a touch screen and it offers handwriting recognition. We were disappointed to learn that HP hasn't upgraded its specifications, as it's exactly the same screen seen on the iPAQ hw6515. The unusual factor about this display is the resolution (240 by 240 pixels). Its odd shape means that many applications require extra vertical scrolling. It also struggles a little in direct sunlight, although it does have a particularly good viewing angle. HP includes a handy screen flip cover to prevent scratches and fingerprints. In the end, the hw6965 screen doesn't really reflect the capabilities of this device.
Other design features include an SD card slot on the right hand side (although no SD card is included in the sales package), with a small, thin power button on the front right. There is also a difficult to grasp volume slider and dedicated camera button on the left. Two flashing indicator lights sit next to the power button, showing whether you are charging the handset or have Bluetooth activated.
Performance and Features
The hw6965 is packed full of connectivity options, including Bluetooth, infrared and native 802.11b Wi-Fi. We connected to a wireless network in our office and experienced no problems. The connectivity options of the hw6965 can easily be managed using the iPAQ wireless application, which by default is accessible on the standby screen. This displays the status of each function (Phone, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) and enables you to turn each of them on and off to preserve battery life. In the end, we were impressed with the connectivity of this device, but were left a little disappointed that the hw6965 doesn't offer 3G support.
The hw6965 runs the Windows Mobile 5 OS. This isn't the fastest smart phone on the market, but its speed and loading times didn't pose any serious problems, except when running multiple applications. The Intel PXA270 processor has been upgraded from 312MHz to 416MHz. The jump sounds significant, but you have to factor in the operating system upgrade. This means the hw6965 isn't much quicker than the iPAQ hw6515, despite the better specifications. You will find that switching between applications can result in some hefty loading times. In addition to the upgraded processor there is now 64MB of RAM, increased from the previous models 44MB.
Being a Windows Mobile 5 device, the hw6965 comes with a range of applications including Word Mobile, Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile. Like the O2 Xda Atom Exec, the hw6965 includes the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0. This adds push email to the device, and it worked without any problems during testing.
A GPS receiver is also included but just like the iPAQ hw6515 there is no included in-car charger. Most in-car GPS units offer this as a standard accessory, so if you are planning to use this frequently, you'll most likely need to purchase one. It also unfortunately retains its predecessors signal problems, struggling with satellite acquisition time. With clear skies, the hw6965 took up to four minutes to acquire a GPS signal. The unit ships standard with a one month free trial of WhereIs navigational software, after which time a yearly subscription will cost you $149.
The hw6965 also includes the same 1.3 megapixel digital camera as its predecessor. The camera application is slow and takes a few seconds to start up. The photos it captures are fine for wallpapers and MMS messages, but they aren't of a good enough quality to print. The image writing time is a significant three of four seconds.
There is a voice recorder, built-in speakerphone, microphone, and a 2.5mm stereo headphone jack. You'll need an adapter if you want to use a standard set of headphones with a 3.5mm plug.
Battery life has improved according to HP figures, with up to four hours of talk time and seven days standby time. Be warned though that constant use of the GPS function drains the battery much quicker, so we'd advise to turn it off if you aren't intending to use it. We found ourselves charging the hw6965 every two nights or so on average, with moderate use. If you tend to use a lot of functions though, you'll most likely be forced to charge every night.
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