HP Phone/PDA: Not Quite Nirvana

HP's new phone-centric PDA is connective and flexible, but it isn't the best choice if wireless telephony is your primary need.
Some Frustrations

Like other Pocket PC devices I've used, the h6315 occasionally (about once or twice a week) froze, rendering itself completely unresponsive. Sometimes it would resume operation after a few minutes but sometimes it wouldn't. On the occasions it wouldn't, the only recourse was to hard reset it. About one out of every three times I did this, the device would restore itself to its original out-of-the-box state, wiping out all of my settings and deleting all of my files.

The h6315 will disappoint those who expect to use it as their primary mobile phone. It, along with all Pocket PC, Phone Edition devices, is a wireless PDA first and a phone second. This means that many of its hardware and software design decisions do not favor the user with the opposite priorities.

Practically, this means the h6315 is larger than most phones, which makes a hands-free kit a necessity while using the device as a phone. Holding the h6315 up to your face not only feels and looks strange, but also pretty much guarantees that your ear and/or your cheek will interact with the device in ways that you can't predict. A couple of times I ended a call to find that I had unwittingly opened my calendar, my Inbox, a game of solitaire, reset the clock, and created a new task (titled "--- -").

The attached thumb pad's numeric keys don't work for dialing the phone application. As a result, the on-screen keypad interface of the phone application is the only way to dial a number that is not already entered into your contacts or phonebook. Further, interacting with the device while you are on a call requires use of the stylus, which can be awkward, especially if you are not using a hands-free kit. I found myself becoming frustrated performing what should have been simple tasks such as checking my voicemail while driving.

Another awkward element is how the device handles contacts. Unlike Microsoft's smartphone platform, the Pocket PC Phone Edition platform displays contacts stored on the SIM card in a separate application, called "Phonebook," while contacts imported from Outlook are in an application called "Contacts". Without digging into the manual, the device doesn't provide any explanation of this. The situation is further confused by the placement of each application—you can only access the "Contacts" application from the phone dialer application, but the home screen only gives you access to "Phonebook".


The h6315 is typical Pocket PC PDA made more interesting -- and useful -- by the fact that it also supports wireless telephony and Wi-Fi. While it's probably not the best choice as your primary mobile phone, it's a decent "all arounder," a mobile tool that you can use for a variety of tasks without a lot of fuss.

Hewlett Packard iPAQ h6315; Hewlett-Packard Corporation; $499.99 with contract with T-Mobile

Sam Haskin is technology director at Fluent Communications, the Seattle office of McCann Relationship Marketing Partners Worldwide. He also is a dedicated gadget geek who drives his IT department crazy with requests to open up the network infrastructure so he can play with his new toys.

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