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Summary:

Earlier this year, Audiovox’s tiny ScoblePhone had the geeks and early adopters frothing, making it perhaps the first must have Windows Mobile phone. Now I expect a repeat performance from the XDA and its many variants that have a nice slider keyboard, and all sorts of […]

PPC6601.jpgEarlier this year, Audiovox’s tiny ScoblePhone had the geeks and early adopters frothing, making it perhaps the first must have Windows Mobile phone. Now I expect a repeat performance from the XDA and its many variants that have a nice slider keyboard, and all sorts of networking options. Why do I feel this could be the next hot one? Because I got a chance to play around with one of the variants – the Sprint Audiovox 6601 Pocket PC phone, and walked away impressed. It is a very pricey phone: $699 with service. It has a very cool slider keyboard which hides behind the screen, giving the phone a very clean look. Sure the phone is a little bigger and heavier than Treo 650, but it has a certain minimalist appeal. It has overcome all the chunkiness normally associated with Pocket PC phones. I personally feel that Microsoft should stop trying to get into all general purpose phones and instead focus on these high end devices which make life easier for the “enterprise user.”

It has a total of eight buttons on the front of the device: one each for calendar, contacts, phone connect, phone disconnect, email, web, start and stop button. There is a two-way navigator, but I found that I rarely needed to use it. In head-to-head comparison with other phones, I found that I could use Sprint’s device more easily with one hand, especially when strap hanging my way around San Francisco on a bus. Now, I think people will find the Verizon EV-DO version of the device more brisk and perhaps more responsive. (Andy loves his!) Since we don’t have EV-DO in San Francisco, I would not know. (I deplore the idea of disabling WiFi on this superlative device, even though Sprint and other wireless companies are rolling out their WiFi hotspot networks. Bluetooth is brilliant though and I was able to pair the phone with all sorts of headsets, computers and other PDAs. ActiveSync is a breeze even over bluetooth, normally a problem in Pocket PC devices.)

Turning to the keyboard, I found it a lot more comfortable, though it can’t hold a candle to the comfort of using a Blackberry keyboard. Sprint Audiovox’s keyboard, which glows in the dark, is more spacious and is easier to use because it actually mimics the keyboard of a laptop. PC users will find that integration with Outlook via ActiveSync is flawless. (Mac users can sync the device with their desktop using a special software, Pocket Mac, that is available for download on the website, PocketMac.Net.) The email client is a bit weak, but it’s worth the price: it’s free. Browsing experience however is deplorable on Audiovox, and you can blame Microsoft for that. There are GSM/GPRS versions available from Cingular, though the EDGE, a faster sibling of the technology is no where to be found.

  1. you must not be that smart.

    wi-fi isn’t disabled, it’s not a part of that phone by design. the original HTC design has two forms, the harrier GSM version including wi-fi, and the angel CDMA form without wifi.
    you’ve mentioned how comfortable, weak, the device is, and dropped cool buzzwords like EDGE, but you don’t mention things like having an SDIO interface to add wi-fi, being able to switch between landscape or portrait, the lack of EDGE networks in the US, or sprints announcement they will be deploying EV-DO at all. basically this review is as worthless as canadian money. well, canadian money isn’t worthless, but you get my point.

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  2. Okay you do have a point, I should have mentioned the SDIO and portrait/landscape mode transition. Sorry about that. Well since this is a 1xRTT device, and Sprint doesn’t have an EV-DO network in the works, why even bring it up. Actually having used a ton of smart phones, i found this one relatively easy to work on without squiniting or installing some additional software. sure the web browser and email are weak, but they are free. i will eventually get around to buying new stuff for it. you might find the review worthless, well i find your comments helpful. thanks for stopping by

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  3. Having had this phone for just over a month I have to say that I agree with your assessment. As for the portrait/landscape mode transition, I find that some software is still a little less than bug free in the landscape mode.

    I just recieved a bluetooth keyboard to try with the device and it takes everything to a new level. Don’t get me wrong, the built in keyboard is awesome. When I want to do some serious writing, there is just nothing like a full-size keyboard to keep things moving along.

    My only complaint is battery life. The corporation that I work for insists on using GoodLink as an extended leash for the workforce. GoodLink wants to keep the data connection running at all times in order to solve the PUSH email technology. I therefor have to keep a charger in the car, by my desk, on the nightstand, and if I am going on-site for more than six hours I have to wonder if the phone will last.

    I guess that last part isn’t a complaint about the phone, but the method of communication used by GoodLink (Which is otherwise a great service in my opinion).

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