HP iPAQ rw6800

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The BlackBerry for non-corporate users who require extensive multimedia capabilities, in addition to push-e-mail.
HP iPAQ rw6800

Part of the company's "Designed in Asia for Asia" (DIAFA) initiative, HP describes the rw6800 as a "designer" device that's been built from the ground up to "reflect the young Asian consumer's chic, minimalist style today". While we're not sure of the exact criteria that HP uses to distinguish Asian consumers -- and by Asia they're referring to the entire Asia Pacific region -- from the rest of the world, we can confirm that the rw6800 is indeed an attractive handheld. It comes in both white and metallic silver colour schemes, and features a changeable screen protector.

The unit's design is minimalist -- there's no keyboard and few function buttons to clutter the face. The lack of a keyboard means the rw6800 isn't ideal for heavy data-entry, but on the positive side it's allowed HP to integrate a large 240x320, 18-bit screen. The above average screen size is great for watching video content or GPS maps, albeit you'll need to fork out extra for a GPS receiver as one isn't included.

As an aside, those that require a keyboard and an integrated GPS receiver, but aren't phased too much by multimedia features, may want to take a look at the iPAQ hw6900.

Audio playback is catered for by an integrated FM radio, dual stereo speakers and PocketMusic MP3 playback software. You'll want to buy an expansion card to stick into the mini-SD slot, however, as the device only comes with 128MB of flash ROM. These audio features are certainly attractive, but make no mistake, it won't replace the intuitive interface and long battery life of your current MP3 player. But that's OK, since HP reps said it themselves at the launch event in Hong Kong -- "we're not targeting iPod," they proclaimed.

Rounding out the device's excellent multimedia feature-set is an integrated HP 2.0 mega-pixel camera, whose shots trump most smart phones.

All of the major connectivity options are present, including Tri-band (900/1800/1900MHz) GSM, GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth 1.2, Infrared and 802.11b WiFi. Push-e-mail is also available, putting it in direct competition with the BlackBerry.

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As mentioned, the rw6800 doesn't offer an integrated keyboard, which makes rapid data entry problematic.

Also, such a converged device -- the rw6800 can be used as a phone, portable audio/video player, camera, organiser, navigator and note-taking device, among others -- is bound to suffer from battery life woes. HP promises 5.5 hours of continuous talk time, but we won't jump to conclusions until we're able to test this for ourselves.

The HP iPAQ rw6800 looks to be the BlackBerry for non-corporate users who require extensive multimedia capabilities, in addition to push-e-mail.

An Australian RRP is yet to be announced, however, a local release is planned for May of this year.

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