At the CTIA show this week, Smartphones and software geared toward these devices took center stage. The Sprint PPC-6700, Motorola Q, Motorola i930, Palm Treo 700w, HTC Universal, Samsung i300, HP hw6515 and others all squared off. While some are great and some need work, one thing is clear, Windows Mobile 5.0 is the immediate future for Smartphone, PalmSoure and the Palm OS was nowhere to be found.
Let me go ahead and get this out of the way. With all of these new data oriented devices coming to market, which one is the best? In my view, it’s pretty simple, though each model has its strengths. At the moment though, I have to tip my hat to the Treo 650 for the Palm OS and the Sprint PPC-6700 for Windows Mobile. I’d probably five the Treo 700w the nod for Windows Mobile devices, but Palm didn’t have a working model at the show, so it’s too early to give it the honors.
Here’s a quick rundown of what was at the show and our quick take on each:
Palm Treo 700w
As noted, they didn’t have a working model at the show. The first test units just rolled off the line last week, even Bill Gates has only had one a few days. But the gist of the 700w is this. It’s going to sell well and it will probably end up being the premier Windows Mobile device out there. The keyboard implementation is still the best in the business and the device remains compact. It will be the best selling Windows Mobile Smartphone of 2006, so go ahead and get in line now if you like the Treo 650, but want WM.
Palm Treo 700w Dummy Model (view larger image)
I gave a somewhat detailed first thoughts on the PPC-6700 already, and while I don’t love the keyboard, the entire package is pretty solid and better than other Windows Mobile devices on the market, like the Samsung i730. It’s available now through business channels and will be on their consumer site in the next month or so.
Sprint PPC-6700 (View larger image)
The one thing that appeals to me about the Moto Q is the thin profile. Surely that’s what will appeal to most, but for me the excitement stops there. The off-center screen is annoying, the keyboard isn’t as impressive as the Treo or even the HP hw6515, the D-pad is difficult to use, and the keys are very hard to see since there’s no backlight and the purple font gets washed out. If you want a Smartphone that’s easy to pocket, the Motorola Q is probably worth considering, but it’s not the best overall package.
Motorola Q (view larger image)
Even though the hw6515 has been out a while, it still hasn’t found US distribution. Cingular is supposed to be carrying it soon though. I find the hw6515 to be more useable than the smaller Motorola Q. Aside from the thickness of the device, they’re very similar. The problems with the hw6515 have been well documented, HP even has a replacement model near release already. But the keyboard is pretty good and the large display will be appealing to some. The joystick allows for decent one-hand navigation, something the Motorola Q struggles with.
HP hw6515 (view larger image)
This guy goes by a few names as i-Mate and others begin distribution. But the one thing none of them can change is how big this thing is. It’s huge and heavy, meaning it won’t fit in a pocket, unless you’re in the habit of wearing cargo pants a lot. Even then, according to an article I read in Men’s Health you’re not actually supposed to store any cargo in cargo pants. Anyway, due to the size the Universal actually has a really nice keyboard. If you’re going to be out of the office a lot and need to get online with a small device, this is a decent notebook alternative. You’ll feel ridiculous holding it to your head to make calls though, if you buy this, it probably makes sense to use it as a data device, keeping a small phone for calls.
HTC Universal (view larger image)
I suppose Samsung wants us to forget their first i300 Smartphone, because they re-used the name for a second time. This guy is more of a music oriented device, using the round navigation pad found on the popular iPOD music device. The new i300 is completely consumer oriented, with a hard drive for music and a 1.3 megapixel phone. It does run Windows Mobile 5.0 though and can masquerade as a business device when needed, though most won’t be replying to email since it lacks a full keyboard.
Samsung i300 (view larger image)
The i930 is the first Windows Mobile Smartphone to run on the former Nextel network, and supports the trademark Push-To-Talk feature. It also features the ability to run on 900 and 1800 MHz GSM networks for international roaming. It’s thick though and otherwise not very remarkable, including the old operating system. My feeling is Nextel agreed to carry this before the merger and Sprint is honoring the agreement. This one is only a winner for a very specific niche, everyone else will want to pass on it.
There were a few other devices about, but these were the most interesting and most likely to see a US release. As I said earlier, I really like the PPC-6700. If you’ve been wanting a Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone and are on Sprint or willing to move, I think it’s worthwhile. Until the Treo 700w comes out, the PPC-6700 is the Smartphone to have in the Windows Mobile space.