We got our hands on a demo PPC-6700 today and it’s a pretty impressive device. The 6700 is a little smaller than I expected, it actually pockets pretty well, but I’m not in love with the keyboard. Of course it has Bluetooth and WiFi, along with EVDO, so it’s wireless in every way. The good news is that the wireless modems work in concert, unlike the Samsung i730.
The keyboard of the PPC-6700 slides out from the side, rather than the bottom of the unit. When you fully extend the keyboard, the display automatically switches to landscape mode. Even with the keyboard extended though, the buttons on the face are still active, so you can use the jog dial to navigate in addition to or instead of the stylus.
I’m not sure about the keyboard though. I need more time before issuing a final judgment, but it’s very similar to the one on the Nokia 9300. The problem is the keys are very smooth and there’s little to no differentiation between them without looking. Even the indents on the F and J keys are hard to find by touch. I expect most users of this device will be looking at the keyboard anyway, but not knowing where you are without looking is still a problem.
This brings up another issue. There’s an active backlight behind the keyboard when it’s in use. This is great, in comparison to something like the Benq P50, which has no lighting at all. However, in bright light, I don’t know if it’s the color of the letters on the keypad or something else, but it’s very difficult to see the letters. Again, it could have just been the conditions I was exposed to today, but I highlight this anyway as a potential problem.
Aside from Windows Mobile 5.0, triple wireless radios, Secure Digital slot and a few other goodies, the PPC-6700 also has a decent 1.3 megapixel camera capable of recording video. I didn’t test these features in-depth, just long enough to get a taste.
The bottom line is if you’re with Sprint and have been waiting for a Windows Mobile 5.0 device with integrated keyboard, this is probably for you. I suspect owners of the PPC-6600 will move over to this, along with Treo 650 owners who don’t like the Palm OS experience. The PPC-6700 is available through business channels only right now, but it will appear on the consumer website for purchase in roughly four weeks. We’ll have a full review coming by then with more detail. For now, here are a few more images of the PPC-6700 from Sprint PCS.