Sprint makes smart move with handheld

Sprint has slimmed down the outside and pumped up the inside of its latest Sprint PCS Vision Smart Device, the PPC-6601.

This handheld has the most capacity of any Sprint wireless device, with 128M of memory and an Intel XScale 400 MHz processor. It’s slimmer than previous versions while offering a large screen and slide design that opens to reveal a backlit QWERTY thumb keyboard.

Just how smart is it? For starters, it’s both a phone and a Windows Pocket PC operating on Sprint’s Nationwide PCS Network.

As a phone, the Smart Device is easy to use and the sound is clear. It comes with all the features you’d expect, such as speed dialing, call history and easy access via dedicated buttons.

However, because the shape and size are those of a standard Pocket PC — relatively wide — the device is not as comfortable to use for longer conversations as devices designed primarily for phone use. But that’s a standard trade-off of multifunction handheld devices; more phone-like devices have smaller displays.

As a Pocket PC, the device is loaded with features including the Windows Mobile 2003 operating system, Bluetooth and a Secure Digital memory card slot that accepts SD Cards, MultiMedia Cards and Secure MultiMedia Cards.

A button on the side lets you record audio, and another button below it launches Windows Media player. We liked the volume button, also mounted on the side, that allows adjustment while using the phone or playing music files.

You can use the PPC-6601 to send e-mail and text messages, browse the Web and listen to audio clips. E-mail is provided by Sprint’s PCS Business Connection wireless service, which interfaces with Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Domino.

Road warriors will appreciate the removable battery that lets you continue working with a new battery instead of having to recharge. The optional second battery charges in its own slot in the cradle, along with the handheld itself.

Sprint designed the PPC-6601 without a camera in response to government security concerns.

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