HP iPaq h6315 Our Review
If you’re tired of handhelds that just can’t connect, you need something more flexible. You need a promiscuous PDA that will hook up with anything. You need the HP iPaq h6315. With a built-in GSM/GPRS transceiver, 802.11b Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 1.1, the h6315 has an open port for any lonesome traveler. And because it’s a full-blown Windows Mobile handheld, it doesn’t just have the body — it knows how to use it.
All dressed up in the usual HP silver and black, the h6315 is fairly sleek for such a well-equipped machine, but it comes with plenty of baggage. In addition to the usual cradle and headphones, this little beauty includes a clip-on QWERTY thumb pad for speedy messaging over SMS or e-mail. It also comes in handy for quick notes or contact entries. Without the thumb pad, it looks like a thicker version of the older h4100. Even for a PDA phone, the h6315 is hefty. But those who don’t mind a little junk in the trunk will love its flexibility. After all, what other device can receive an e-mail attachment over a GPRS data connection, send it to a server over Wi-Fi, print it to a Bluetooth printer, and then slip into your pocket for the mad dash to your next meeting?
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Like most PDA phones, the h6315’s girth makes it an unwieldy handset for extended phone use, unless you’re the sort of person who likes walking around with a headset on 24/7, in which case you’ll find this device a little cumbersome for your belt clip. But road warriors who spend most of their time behind the wheel probably won’t mind the extra weight, and they definitely won’t miss having to stick an extra piece of hardware to the dashboard.
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Also true to its roots is the h6315’s processor performance, which is the worst we’ve seen in the past six months. (Only the Samsung SPH-i700, reviewed in the February 2004 issue, is slower.) Most PDA phones suffer from generally pitiful performance — with the notable exception of the $800 iMate Pocket PC — because manufacturers use weak processors in an effort to keep the devices affordable. The h6315 is no exception, packing a Texas Instruments OMAP 1510 processor in lieu of the more powerful Intel XScale that powers most midrange to high-end Pocket PCs.
Crunching numbers on the cheap means crunching them slowly, and the h6315 achieved an abysmal 746 points on our Spb Benchmark performance test. That means you probably wouldn’t want to rely on this handheld for heavy database work, spreadsheets, or presentations on the go (even though it ships with Margi Presenter-To-Go). What you can rely on it for is hardcore communications, which it does extremely well. The handheld’s battery life in flight mode (sans radios) runs well over nine hours. And with radios on, it gives an admirable four hours and 37 minutes of continuous talk time.
Ultimately, this HP is a creature of compromise. Serious PDA fiends won’t be too impressed with the h6315’s hardware performance, but those who need to stay in touch will find it better equipped than just about any device on the market today. If you’ve got a wireless itch you just have to scratch, this hot handheld is good to go. –Robert Strohmeyer
Best Feature: More connections than you can shake an antenna at
Worst Feature: Sets a new low for processor performance
HP iPaq h6315
Price: $500 with two-year contract
Weight: 6.7 ounces
Size: 5.3 x 2.9 x 0.7 inches
Specs: Texas Instruments OMAP 1510 processor; 64MB of RAM; 64MB of ROM; 240 x 320-pixel, 3.5-inch TFT; 850/900/1800/1900MHz GSM/GPRS; 802.11b; Bluetooth 1.1; infrared; SD slot; removable QWERTY keyboard; replaceable lithium-ion battery; Windows Mobile Pocket PC 2003 Phone Edition