HP iPAQ rw6815 review: Small communicator for the pretentious

Jiří Kuruc, 23 January 2007. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IrDA

iPaq offers the classical combination of wireless technologies Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and IrDA. The Infrared port is located on the right side of the communicator. Even if already an old communicational interface, in iPaq it still comes in handy when data transfers are made. We recommend you to deactivate the Infrared port in the Beam menu. It is also here where you can activate it back, if necessary. This relative discomfort is worth as it saves energy for your communicator.

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You would do better if you deactivate the Infrared port

As to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, they are not presented in iPaq in their best known versions. For example, Bluetooth 1.2 transfer speed is lower than the one of 2.0. On the other hand, the improvements in 1.2 in comparison to 1.1 are more significant. Besides, Bluetooth 1.2 may result to be fully sufficient, unless you transfer big amount of data. To our surprise, Bluetooth works through a Microsoft interface. It is a pity, indeed; we were used to the brilliant Broadcomm manager offered by HP in previous models.

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Microsoft interface offers limited information

iPaq works seamlessly with both a wireless earphone and a GPS receiver communicating via a virtual serial port. Synchronization with the program Missing Sync in MacOS X worked out at the first try. Surprisingly, synchronization via Bluetooth in Windows XP SP2 and ActiveSync was not as difficult to make as we had expected. What iPaq did not manage was file transferring. To verify that it was not MacOS X to blame we tried out transfers between two communicators (with Qtek S100) as well as with a common PC on Windows and Bluetooth USB – all in vain. Anyway, the entire problem might simply be a defect in the communicator we have tested, as other reviewers mention that files are transferred seamlessly.

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Options of the Wi-Fi network card

The Wi-Fi connectivity is not one of the best one could have nowadays, either. It runs at the standard 802.11b, that is, at a maximum transferring speed of 11 Mbit/s. The absence of a faster Wi-Fi technology in iPaq hw6815 is not so crucial, though. Neither surfing the Internet, nor VoIP communication via Skype requires higher transfer speeds. Wi-Fi works without problems. In the application Wi-Fi Utility you can set up the output of the wireless card, which consequently has impact onto the signal cover. iPaq hw6815 is not able to achieve the speed or the level of its competitors, but – as we already mentioned – this con is not crucial for the overall functionality of the device. If you are at home, iPaq hw6815 will communicate with any device behind up to four walls. Outside the communicator sends signal to up to hundreds of meters. The Wi-Fi reach in devices like iPaq hw6815 is more or less identical to the one in notebooks with integrated card or PCMCIA Wi-Fi card. Bear in mind, however, that Wi-Fi is able to use up the entire battery of the communicator within a couple of hours.

SMS typing for experienced only

As the previous paragraphs show, the serious drawback of iPaq hw6815 lies in certain insufficiencies of its practical functions – a problem not so small as iPaq has no hardware keypad like HTC Wizard or its forerunner iPaq hw6815 for example. Its only option is its touchscreen display and the four modes of text insertion mentioned earlier: a virtual QWERTY mini keypad and three different fonts written with the stylus. We do not mean that these four modes are bad (both typing on the virtual keypad and decoding of written characters are fast, should you have the patience to get used to them); they simply feature a common limitation, that is, they require a stylus, two hands, and most of all – standing still. If you like typing SMS while walking or in the means of public transport, you will not have success with iPaq hw6815 due to the lack of a real keypad (one like in Qtek S100). Some readers may find typing on virtual keys weird, but we assure you that it is both as comfortable and fast as on a standard mobile phone. It simply requires more tries and patience. If you want, you can additionally install a virtual keypad in iPaq hw6815, but - as we already wrote once – it should have been done by Microsoft and HP respectively.

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There are four modes for typing text

In all other aspects, SMS typing is rather standard. Message length is virtually unlimited as well as the memory available for received and sent messages. Inside the multimedia editor you will find the useful option to create multi-page messages containing more than one melody, image or text. The only limit in this aspect comes from the mobile operator you work with.

Hardware

After the flood of 200 MHz processors from Texas Instruments mainly installed in HTC communicators, iPaq hw6815 brings along the classical Intel xScale PXA 270 working at 416 MHz. It is not possible to make this processor slow down or speed up; it runs in a preset mode and adjust the frequency automatically. It is fast enough. For example, it managed the application iGo without any delays.

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The Intel processor also manages desktop quality video

Video tests came out as expected. As we saw in previous communicators and pocket computers, the 400-processor from Intel meets no difficulties in running videos in a resolution of 640 x 352 pixels, with a bitrate above 8000kbps, and accompanied by a stereo sound at 128 kbps. In other words, you can play entire full-screen movies without the need of conversion into lower resolution or lower data type – unaffordable comfort in the case of Texas Instruments OMAP850 200 MHz. To be precise, there were few cutouts in the picture during the playing, which made it clear that an entire film will hardly ever fit into the internal memory the device. On the other hand, it is also possible that the memory card in the testing piece is defective.

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Details on the size of both the entire and the available memory

If you are uncertain about which communicator to choose – HP or HTC, the “speed” element might be decisive. The processor from Texas Instruments is not slow, but it does not reach the performance of Intel. The iPaq hw6815 processor comes with ROM with a capacity officially stated at 128 MB; if you take a closer look at the memory details, you will find out that 116 MB out of the overall 128 MB are for your personal use! The hint lies in the fact that ROM usually stores the respective OS as well. Most devices with 128 MB ROM offer users about 70 MB. Here, there are two options: either the OS in iPaq hw6815 has the mere 10 MB, or the manufacturer has integrated additional memory especially for the operational system. Since Hewlett Packard has failed to praise itself for having implemented this extra user memory, let us do it instead. Although most users get themselves an additional memory card, system applications seem to “feel more comfortable” in the memory of the communicator. Running applications use RAM of 64 MB (less than 52 MB available in reality, of which only 30 MB remain once the communicator has been restarted).

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