HP iPAQ rw6815 review: Small communicator for the pretentious

Jiří Kuruc, 23 January 2007.

There is no doubt that both the small size and the competitive price of the communicator HP iPaq rw6815 will make you fall in love with it. The device is powered by a powerful 416MHz processor, it runs under Windows Mobile 2005 OS, and has a high-quality touchscreen display and numerous multimedia features. But as usual, a few mishaps here and there are inevitable.

Key features

  • small size and low weight
  • high-quality construction
  • protection cover for the display
  • fast 416MHz processor
  • 128 MB ROM, 64 MB RAM
  • miniSD memory card slot
  • standard mini USB connector
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • 2 megapixel camera with LED flash

Main disadvantages

  • no hardware keys for easier control
  • no speed dialing
  • text typed through stylus only
  • swelling display
  • noisy audio output

After a relatively long break Hewlett Packard is coming back with new communicators based on the Windows Mobile 2005 OS. First HP launched the successful hw6915 model with a hardware keypad. Now it presents the communicator rw6815 Personal Messenger, whose strengths are rather different. Let us mention right at the beginning that we are having the honor to test one of the smallest communicators ever designed in the history of mobile devices.

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Compared to Sony Ericsson P900i and MDA Compact iPaq is extremely small

We do not hide that HP pocket computers are among our most favorite ones since their first PDA - iPaq h3760 was launched. At those times manufactures used to pay increased attention to the quality of the body construction with a strong accent on design exclusivity. With time competition got stronger, as a result of which price – as a crucial market factor - has overrun both looks and software equipment. Let’s, however, get a closer look into HP iPaq rw6815 step by step.

A whipper-snapper you will love

It often happens that communicators and devices of the PDA category tend to look far smaller on pictures than they are in reality. The case of iPaq is just the opposite. When we opened the retail package its small size provoked a sigh of astonishment. We ran to compare it to Qtek S100 (MDA Compact). And in fact, iPaq is 6 mm shorter than the S100. On the other hand, however, the S100 is 1.5 mm thinner. Should HP had left iPaq “on a more serious diet”, today we would have held an unbeatable communicator.

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The display is protected by a smoked plastic cover

The first element to catch the eye is the smoked plastic cover protecting the display. At the very beginning, working with the first HP PDA models, we used to look upon this type of protection with significant mistrust. It has proved very useful and comfortable with time, though. Thanks to it one doesn’t need to use the protecting case enclosed in the retail package, when having the communicator in their pocket, for example. The display cover opens upwards. Unfortunately, when opened it closes the access to the stylus as well as to the Switch On button making the switch-on process rather difficult. So be sure to keep one and the same strict opening method: pull out the stylus, switch on the communicator, and open up the protecting cover. The cover is easy to remove. Without it iPaq becomes by few millimeters thinner.

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Pull out the stylus before you open the cover; otherwise, it remains inaccessible

HP iPaq rw6815 is dressed up in glossy and matt silver. Even if usually a successful combination, in this case it seems somewhat misbalanced. The glossy silver-imitating chromium looks a little bit cheap. A pity indeed as HP has demonstrated a great capacity of elaborating good designs in both its older and recent models. HP iPaq rw6815 is all made of plastic materials. Metal has been out of use for some time already. What is praiseworthy is iPaq’s construction: all its parts stick perfectly; no creaks are heard at all. Holding it in your hand is extremely comfortable due to its rounded edges.

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iPaq is so small that it nearly disappears in one’s palm

Here are the most interesting elements on iPaq’s body: a standard four-way control key with a confirming center is located beneath the display; around it there are four other keys – two soft ones and two receivers ones. Next you will see two expressed silver grills protecting two speakers, whose volume levels is medium rather than superb; yet, it is fully sufficient for voice control or video playback. Above the display there is a long transparent strip covering a speaker and two service LEDs.

MiniUSB highly welcome

Let’s now take a closer look at the very details iPaq has to offer. In its bottom you will find a standard miniUSB connector – great news indeed as it means that HP has abandoned the special connector that used to limit user’s work significantly. The advantages of the miniUSB connector are numerous: you will not need to buy expensive proprietary data cables, for example; what’s more, it is a standard element of every modern PC. A 2.5 mm audio jack connector is located right next to the synchronizing port. Of course, a light handsfree set with a four-contact jack is in the retail package content. A common adapter for plugging in your own earphones can be used too. Rather disappointing is the sound quality of the audio output. We would not complain if it was for the noise at every switch between songs. The problem is that iPaq creates a noise as strong as no other device that we’ve tested. If it is rock, metal, house or pop you listen to, the noise might kind of disperse in it. As far as classical or chill out compositions or any other type of “clear music” are concerned, you’d forget about them straight away.

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Infrared port on the right, miniUSB on the bottom, and a memory card slot on the top

The camera and the voice recorder buttons are located on the right side of the communicator. Their functions could be changed from the setup menu; here you will also find one specialty: the menu for modification of key functions offers the possibility to re-program the voice control key, which is missing, however. In fact, it is “simulated” by a long press on the key for reducing the volume of the earphone. The top right corner is occupied by a stylus divided into two parts of different surface each, just like the entire pocket computer, by the way. The top half is shiny, while the center is matt. The stylus holds firmly in its bed; its extraction requires a bit of effort and even an use of a nail. Just next to the stylus you will see the communicator’s switch-on button. The memory card slot (miniSD type) is asymmetrically located a little bit further on the left.

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The stylus holds firmly in its bed

The left side of the device does not feature anything but two volume control keys. The rear side is far more interesting: here you will find a 2 megapixel camera plus two highly powerful LEDs, and a tiny glossy area for self-portraits. Encrusted on the back is a scored-out dustbin , which inevitably evokes an ironic smile. Was it really so difficult to hide it on the inside part of the plastic cover?

Reader comments

  • Jigar
  • 27 Feb 2008
  • Uqr

It's an O2 atom in disguise, but a tough processor makes it a winner. Do remember this processor is Power hungry. I have to charge my phone daily after coming from the office and i usually talk 1 hour daily on the phone and very less use of display.....

  • Meghindo
  • 09 Dec 2007
  • nDS

how can you say that HP has forgotton to use LED for dark enviroments when you can perfectly see the 2 diods in the back... ;-D

  • max
  • 21 Mar 2007
  • ijs

HP and O2 which one is better..? can someone tell me? i need to know