First Looks: HP iPAQ rw6828

The Asian iPAQ

The Asian iPAQ

Spurred by the success of the Blackberry in the US, many companies have since taken the leap to try and cash in on the lucrative professional handheld market. In Asia, where consumers are still adjusting to the practicality of handhelds, HP has decided to take a softer approach with its latest rw6828 PDA phone.

A PDA In Disguise

The rw6828 comes across as aesthetically simple for a PDA phone and doesn't bear the usual traits of a mobile phone with its minimalist styling. A large 240 x 320 18-bit touch screen takes up most of the real estate on the face-panel while two visible stereo speakers and a D-pad are nicely seated below. Flanking the D-pad are two large visible answer/reject call buttons that are just about the only clue to its phone disposition. Running along the right profile of the rw6828 is a camera shortcut/shutter button for the 2.0-megapixel flash camera that's located at the back of the handset while the input stylus is conveniently tucked away at the crown. Overall, the rw6828’s easy looks and familiar lines should allow users to feel right at home in handling the rw6828, even if it's for the very first time. As a further testament to HP's effort in courting the masses, consumers may choose from one of four colorful skins customized for the rw6828 with every purchase.

Multimedia Treats

Vying for attention on the main menu are the Pocket Music and Pocket MSN Messenger applications. At the bottom of the screen, two prominent function buttons quickly lead users to the address book and SMS engine. Complementing the WiFi capability that the rw6828 boasts is the Push E-mail function, which is included to allow all e-mails to be unilaterally pushed to busy executives without any intervention whatsoever. Miscellaneous multimedia functions such as an FM receiver, voice recorder and miniSD card expansion were also cramped in to add variety and value.

As a final touch to the rw6828’s multimedia spectacle, there is a 2.0-megapixel flash camera capable of capturing brilliant images at 1600 x 1200 pixels and videos at 352 x 288 pixels - a clever shot at winning consumer appeal considering a camera of such specifications is rarely found on such handhelds.

Nit-Picking

HP included three ‘feet’ on the battery cover to protect the camera lens and flash from getting soiled or scratched (two found at the bottom of the rear side and another at the top). Unfortunately, as these feet were coated with the same silver paint as the rest of the iPAQ, do not be surprised to find the finishing wearing away within days to leave behind a ghastly sight – a common manufacturing overlook associated with costs. Also, the battery cover itself leaves much to be desired as it detaches too easily from the phone when being extracted from tight pockets of jeans and pants. The big downer for a product that's targeting the general consumer segment is a complete lack of 3G capabilities, despite the suite of multimedia applications included within the Windows Mobile 5.0 Phone Edition operating system.

Final Thoughts

It seems HP knows that it enjoys a strong presence within Asia Pacific because the consumer friendly rw6828 is currently not being sold anywhere outside the region. More importantly, this points out that HP seems to believe that the uptake rate of PDA Phone handhelds in Asia is much higher than what was conservatively rated. At the end of the day, the HP iPAQ rw6828 boasts modest battery life, Push E-mail and a plethora of multimedia functions that will appeal strongly if you are a first-time adopter or just someone looking to take things to the next level with strong multimedia and communication capabilities as key considerations – especially with the free skins.