Review: Sprint PPC-6700 with Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0

Smart phones. The phrase evokes both sneers and smiles from the technocrats among us. The beauty of a device that does everything in one hand-held package is that it simplifies your life. The possible detriment is that it doesn’t do everything as well as the individual dedicated devices. Well, you’ve heard those comments before…let’s see if the PPC-6700 is any different.

Initial Impressions

The PPC-6700 package contains;

- A digital dual-band Sprint PCS Vision Smart Device
- Li-Ion Battery
- Mini USB charger
- Stereo Headset
- Dual-Slot USB Sync Cradle
- Carrying Case
- Two Styli
- Getting Started CD
- User and Installation Guides
- Welcome to Sprint Activation Guide
- Terms and Conditions

I’m usually carrying around my Handspring Visor, my cell phone and my laptop. My initial impression of the PPC-6700 was that it fit in my pocket and packed the punch of all my usual implements of production.

The small size of the 6700 belied its significant heft (felt as heavy as my Visor), but the bright color screen and the mini keyboard were both easy to read and to use. It’s 285g with battery and is a mere 108L x 59W x 23.7T mm.

Entering information was intuitive and actually a little fun. Design-wise, the stylus stores neatly in the antenna; the joystick is easy to use; the touch screen is super-responsive; and the buttons are all clearly marked. The neatest thing I noticed upon my first session with the PPC-6700 was that the screen automatically flips to horizontal when you slide out the keyboard…coooooool AND smart.

Support and System Requirements

- Compatible with Windows OS all the way back to Windows 97
- LCD has resolution of 240×320 pixels in both Portrait and Landscape
- Dual Band CDMA Module – CDMA2000 dual band at 800 and 1900 MHz
- 1.3MP camera with Macro and Flash
- MiniSD Card expansion
- Connections: Infrared-IrDA SIR; I/O Port-MiniUSB, MiniSD
- Video: .wmv, .asf, .mp4, .3gp, .avi, .3g2
- Audio: .wma, .mp3, .mid, .midi, .rmi, .amr, .awb, .m4a, .gcp
- Images: .jpg, .bmp

Functionality

The 6700 is fun, functional and powerful thanks to Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0. As I said earlier, I’m usually burdened with my iBook, phone and Handspring. Using the PPC-6700 for a bit, I realized that I could do away with all that stuff if necessary and actually add a camera, MP3 playback and video capture to my pocket.

The controls are intuitive and I’ll reiterate that they’re very fast. From the get go, the PPC-6700 responds like greased lightning. Each touch of the screen with either your finger or the included stylus is met with a nearly instant response. This makes using Internet services a better experience because you’re not starring at the screen wondering if your input was received.

Running down the list of features and functions, you can:
Read and send email and text messages
Sync up your calendar, contacts, tasks and notes from Outlook
Take photos and videos with the integrated camera/camcorder
Manipulate some images with Windows Media Player
Write notes and documents with Word Mobile
Create spreadsheets with Excel Mobile
View and manipulate Slide Shows with PowerPoint Mobile
Make phone calls
Cruise the Internet
add up dinner bills with the calculator
and even play one of the two included games.

When you first turn the 6700 on, you can’t help but notice how much it reminds you of a Microsoft PC desktop. The “START” menu is up the top left and the background is the same gentle blue. The date, status of you messages, tasks and a few other items show up on the customizable front screen as well.

Click on “START” and you see a drop-down listing calendar, contacts, IE, Messaging, Phone, Windows Media, assorted programs, a Settings button and even a help menu. It guides you easily through set-up and the comprehensive booklet is easy to read in case you need help.

Battery life gives an estimated 2.5 to 5 hours of talk time. Can be charged via the included USB plugged into your laptop or via an external power source.

Overall Impressions

The PPC-6700 is a great all-in-one solution if you’re looking for a do-it-all device. Two caveats are that you will need to be on the Sprint network – one which is reliable when you’re near any main roads and highways, but sometimes less powerful in residential areas. In fact, at my house, only about 12 miles from Boston, I had a sketchy signal and had to move around the building and the neighborhood to get a solid, strong signal. It got much stronger the closer I got to the city or the highway.

Overall, I like the speed with which the 6700 acts. I like that it’s full-color and that you have the ability to do so many things with it. The Qwerty keyboard is a neat touch and the slightly rounded keys are easy to use. Finally, its size is only slightly larger than my LG phone making it a real option as my only PDA/phone and info device. At $449.99 USD from Sprint it may be a bargain for someone replacing multiple devices.

It’s quite a smart option, literally.


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