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Audiovox PPC-6601

Audiovox PPC-6601
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A performance-enhancing drug scandal can end your pro sports career, but if youre a phone, it only adds to your allure. Slider phones have come a long way from the early days of the puny Kyocera V5, and the muscle-bound Audiovox PPC-6601 has clearly been juicing — bulking up with a built-in keyboard, Bluetooth, and 192MB of storage to beat down the competition. Though its battery life could use a little more oomph, the PPC-6601 is an all-around powerful smart phone.

If youre put off by large handsets, youll want to avoid the PPC-6601 — just stick to your Zoolander micro-keychain phone and leave the serious hardware to the pros. The Audiovox is nearly 5 inches long and weighs in at a husky 7.4 ounces, meaning it can cause shirt pockets to sag and will crowd out keys or anything else you keep in your pants. To alleviate this problem, Audiovox provides a dorky belt clip, which holds the unit sideways at your midriff.

Audiovoxs earlier PPC4100 suffered from a paucity of buttons, but the PPC-6100 gets a hyphen in its name and a boatload of buttons to go with it. Traditional Send and End buttons gird the five-way nav pad. And above that sit four more, including a menu button, a shortcut to Pocket Outlook, an Internet Explorer button, and an odd OK button (which only closes windows that have an “OK” in the upper right corner). For good measure, Audiovox also tosses in Contacts and Calendar shortcuts above the screen and a hold button on the top of the device. Not enough, you say? Two more buttons on the right side of the phone launch the voice recorder and Windows Media Player.

The screen is a luxurious 3.5 inches diagonally, but it measures only 320 x 240 pixels, no match for the expansive VGA screen that the latest Pocket PCs have. Still, the screen is bright and legible.

The integrated keyboard is easy to use. The QWERTY keys spread out in a crescent shape that hugs the rounded bottom of the phone, and the keys have little raised nubs to help your fingers find them in the dark. When you hit a key, a cool blue backlight illuminates the pad evenly, making all the keys legible in any light (a feat many cell phones have yet to accomplish).

As a phone, the Audiovox is full-featured and plenty functional. Dialing with the on-screen keypad is easy, and the slide-out keyboard works just as well. Plus you have the option to scroll through contacts and dial with a quick tap. Voice quality is loud and strong for a CDMA handset. And when the phone is in its cradle, it can double as a pretty respectable desktop speakerphone.

The PPC-6601 charges through USB, so as long as youre connected to a desktop, youre constantly topping off the battery. You also get a charging dongle with the Audiovox, so you can leave the cradle behind on trips. However, theres no syncing dongle; if you want to sync while youre away, youll have to pack the cradle, too.

Aside from browsing the web, you can set up your Audiovox to work with your desktop Outlook account or use a POP3 or IMAP4 account. You can also sign up for Sprints Business Connect for even more features.

Performance, however, is a mixed bag. The PPC-6601 earns a solid, high-average Spb Benchmark score of 1,345, with a pronounced aptitude for ActiveSyncing. Battery life is a different story. Though the Audiovox gets decent run time as a Pocket PC (four hours and 53 minutes), it provides only three hours and 26 minutes of talk time — merely average for a phone.

Yes, its bulky and expensive to boot. But if you want to can your notebook and travel lighter, the Audiovox does a decent job as an all-in-one computing device. â€“Roger Hibbert

Best Feature: Can act like a speakerphone in its cradle
 Worst Feature: Sumo-wrestler size makes it hard to pocket

SPECS: 
Audiovox PPC-6601
$630
Weight: 7.4 ounces
Size: 4.9 x 2.8 x 0.7 inches
Specs: 400MHz XScale processor; 128MB of RAM; 64MB of ROM; 320 x 240-pixel, 3.5-inch TFT; CDMA2000; Bluetooth; SD slot; integrated QWERTY keyboard; lithium-ion battery; Windows Mobile Pocket PC 2003 Phone Edition
www.audiovox.com; www.sprintpcs.com

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