For nearly a year Palm’s Treo 650 has been the must have smart-phone for the digerati in Silicon Valley. But that reign at top is about to come to an end, thanks to Hewlett Packard’s Mobile Messenger, HW 6500, a elegantly utilitarian device that has all the benefits of Treo 650, and is bolstered by a very comfortable keyboard that after two days of use can become quite addictive. Especially when you are using Good Technology’s Wireless Email solution, that comes bundled with this device. Read on for the full low down.
For nearly a year Palm’s Treo 650 has been the must have smart-phone for the digerati in Silicon Valley. But that reign at top is about to come to an end, thanks to Hewlett Packard’s Mobile Messenger, HW 6500, a elegantly utilitarian device that has all the benefits of Treo 650, and is bolstered by a very comfortable keyboard that after two days of use can become quite addictive.
The keyboard is a direct descendent of a device HP had introduced last year – the 4300. It was an awkward device too long to fit the shirt pocket, (it made you look like a 21st century version of the nerd caricature – pens replaced by a PDA!) That doesn’t mean, I did not love the keyboard, which was in my opinion, on of the very best. The Mobile Messenger, thankfully fixes that problem. Its proportions have been given a nip and tick, and it now safely slips into a shirt pocket. It is also proof that HP is hard at work, and is using its considerable engineering resources hacking together interesting devices, and is dead serious about the mobile phone business.
The Mobile Messenger, mind you, is not the optimal solution for those who are looking for a wifi+cellular phone devices, but it is still does its job as a connected PDA admirably. Like most I miss the lack of WiFi support, but it is understandable – Cingular won’t want us to be using Skype to make phone calls instead of their cellular network. (I am told the next generation devices will have WiFi built into them.) If you are willing to overlook that, you would be pleasantly surprised by the first Mobile Messenger. (Of course you can spend some money and buy this one!)
I have had it for two days now, and I have been solidly impressed. It packs a pretty punch, thanks to a 312 MHz XScale processor, 128MB Flash, 64MB RAM, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth, IrDA, MiniSD, GPS, 3-inch screen, and 1.3 megapixel cam. The 240 X 240 pixel screen is brilliant and sharp, even for my aging eyes. You boot up the device, and go through a five minute set-up, and you are good to go. I promptly launched Good software that comes bundled with the device, and within five minutes I was receiving my email wirelessly.
The ease of use makes me suspect that Cingular would be pushing this device really hard, and offer it as an option to Blackberry. That was my initial reaction, but I don’t think that would be the case. Blackberry keyboard and user interface is much more simple and intuitive that Windows Mobile. (However, Good Wireless Email is as good, if not better than Blackberry wireless email.) I think this device will quickly become an option for those folks whose relationship with their Treo is similar to my feelings about Windows PCs.
I am planning to use this devices as a constant companion for on-the-go email, instant messaging, and other tasks that forced me to carry laptop around. A few RSS reader suggestions have come my way, and once I settle on one, it would be a good way to stay on top of news. I am still looking for a blogging client, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one. With 1.3 megapixel camera built into the device, which makes it a nifty way to take photos for moblogging. I have already installed an IM client and find it easier to respond to IM messages with the keyboard, than with a phone.
By now you must be wondering, why is he going on and on about the data features and not about phone features. I find using most of PDA phones a bit awkward, for they don’t allow me something my fingers are accustomed to – dialing with sense of touch. Having said that The Mobile Messenger does a good job of phone calls – the sound clarity is great, and never did I find the calls being dropped as they were on my Treo 650. I found that pairing the device with a bluetooth headset is the best way to use it. I am using Plantronics 3000, but you can use any headset really. Amongst the phone features I like – I can quickly make address book entries for either incoming or outgoing calls, by typing.
Now for the good part – using Mobile Messenger as a multimedia device. I like the storage expansion options and you can get a 1 GB SD card cheap enough to basically use MM as a music player. Since it plays back WMA files, the storage is enough to cram in music/podcasts that can entertain you for a few hours. Mind you, this doesn’t mean if I will be replacing my iPod anytime soon, but for short walks or 15-minute bus rides, this is a good option. Then there is the option of converting your videos (on your PC) and putting them on the card. I found the video sucked up the battery life of the device, and decided to forego further testing. Talking about batteries – how is the battery life. At the end of day two, I had used up 40% of the total battery after initial charge. This is with Good Wireless Email running all the time, and sporadic voice calls, and some music “listening.”
Bottomline: The big downside of the device – its happy as a clam in the Windows world. It doesn’t make magic with a Mac as yet, because most of the existing programs like Pocket Mac don’t work for this particular model. On a scale of 1 to 10, this gets a solid 7 from me. A good buy for those who are looking for a Treo option.