Audiovox PPC4100 – Our Review
The handheld may have one foot in the grave, but the smart phone is in its robust and rosy-cheeked prime. And one of the latest fresh-faced youths is the Audiovox PPC4100, carried by AT&T; Wireless. Though hampered by a short standby time, the compact Audiovox is a sensibly priced Pocket PC that provides phone capability and ubiquitous Internet access.
The gnomish Audiovox is short and stout, with a 4.4 x 2.7 x 0.9-inch body capped off by a chubby antenna that also houses the stylus. Though a bit thick front to back, the unit is smaller and lighter than most other Pocket PC phones.
Traipsing in the twilight world between phone and PDA, the PPC4100 lacks some common Pocket PC features. There’s no five-way navigation pad or shortcut buttons below the screen, just the two phone buttons (Dial and End). Aside from tapping on the touch screen, the scroll wheel on the side is your only means of navigation. We’re not sure this configuration makes a great deal of sense. After all, why select these two functions for hardware buttons when they could just as easily be on-screen options?
But the Audiovox has a few phone features that we’d like to see more often on Pocket PC handsets. Audio controls by the scroll wheel let you quickly adjust the volume in midcall. Below that, a hold switch locks the system, preventing accidental dialing from your pocket.
Pocket PC phones often use last year’s technology, and this one’s no exception. With a 400MHz XScale processor and 64MB of both RAM and ROM, the PPC4100 would have looked great back in January, but it fails to impress now. But although the 3.5-inch, 320 x 240-pixel screen isn’t one of the high-res VGA displays showing up on new Pocket PCs, it is still nice and bright. Of course, a Pocket PC with higher specs would generally cost about as much as this, without offering phone features at all.
As a Pocket PC, the Audiovox offers moderate performance, with an Spb Benchmark score of 1,269. But its battery life is perplexingly inconsistent. It can play a video in Windows Media Player for an impressive five hours and 31 minutes, but phone standby time is abysmal. Though rated for 100 hours, it generally runs out of steam in less than 72 hours (that is, over a weekend). Its three hours and 24 minutes of talk time, however, is a tad better than the advertised three hours and far better than many of today’s phones.
The $400 Audiovox swims at the shallow end of the pricing pool, when you consider that even older smart phones such as the Hitachi G1000 or the Samsung SPH-i700 can cost between $500 and $700. The Audiovox’s standby time is weak and it lacks a camera, but if you want a reasonably useful Pocket PC smart phone without spending a small fortune, the PPC4100 is a fair deal. “Roger Hibbert
Best Feature: Respectably low price
Worst Feature: Short standby battery life
Weight: 5.6 ounces
Size: 5.2 x 2.7 x 0.9 inches
Specs: 400MHz XScale processor; 64MB of RAM; 64MB of ROM; 320 x 240-pixel, 3.5-inch TFT; 850/1800/1900MHz GSM/GPRS; SD slot; replaceable lithium-ion battery; Windows Mobile 2003