Hello Cruel World
Friday, March 24, 2006
Retail Distraction: Portable brain augmentation device
Sprint PPC 6700: A Super Model
The most stunning hardware feature of the PPC 6700 is the slick, slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard slides to the side, which leaves the device feeling more balanced than a device with a keyboard that slides out the bottom. Another feature I liked: When you slide out the keyboard, the screen automatically displays in landscape mode. The keyboard is big enough for even the large thumbed among us.
It's the first device to offer the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system. This has the following cool features:
- A built-in PowerPoint viewer
Charts in Mobile Excel
Pictures with your contacts
Customized ringtones for contacts
Persistent storage (no lost data)
MiniSD card storage
1.3 megapixel camera
Can be used as a modem
The Sprint PPC 6700 comes loaded with Pocket MSN, which you can use to access your Hotmail, as well as maps, weather, news, and other MSN content services on any Windows Mobile powered device.
This device uses mini SD storage cards. I slip the mini SD card into an adapter and have never had a problem moving my music library between different devices. I change devices frequently, so being able to use the same storage card is a plus for me.
Another stellar feature is persistent storage. This means that your personal data and the third-party software you install are stored in non-volatile flash ROM memory. The big advantage is that you don't lose your data if your battery runs out of power.
Recommended in Unmistakable Marks: In Which the Future Surreptitiously Arrives
They were too slow, too clunky, too limited, too stylus-oriented, and just generally not quite all there. But the PPC-6700 suddenly and amazingly nails it. It’s not any one thing about the device that makes it into magic future-tech instead of just a nice try, it’s the confluence of several things. First, Windows Mobile 5, which is the first version of Windows Mobile (nee PocketPC nee Windows CE) that’s actually designed to work well as a phone. Then there’s the side-sliding keyboard, which is an absolutely brilliant (and obvious in retrospect) design that makes the keyboard big enough to be usable while simultaneous making the screen more useful for computing purposes (Windows Mobile is smart enough to automatically re-orient the screen when you slide out the keyboard; it’s slick). Then there’s the connectivity: EV-DO, which is broadband-ish speed over the air (for only $15 a month extra, unlimited, with Sprint); WiFi, if you happen to be in a WiFi-able place; and Bluetooth, if you want to hook up a headset or whatever.
My fear when I bought the thing was that it’d end up just being a clunky phone, and that the PDA/Internet aspects of it would be a novelty. Not so. With the smooth notification system and contact integration, it’s the best damn phone I’ve ever used (though to be honest, it probably helps in this regard that my last phone was five years old). And the Internet capabilities are good enough that when I was doing some morning Internet browsing in a hotel, I didn’t even wish that I had my laptop with me. After a month of living with this phone personal communications device, I can’t imagine going back to a plain ol’ phone. No email? No web? No way.
I don’t want to sound like a salesman here, because the thing isn’t perfect — it’s still a little bulkier than would be ideal; it feels a bit less well-constructed than I’d prefer; and there are a few quirks of the software that I’d like to see changed (like the screen coming on when it checks email) — but it’s rare to get something that’s even better than you were expecting, and it’s even rarer when it’s the thing for which you’ve been waiting impatiently for years.
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