Product Reviews

Product Reviews

Palm vs. Pocket PC

When building a combination cell phone and organizer, manufacturers can choose either the Palm Pilot platform or Microsoft's Pocket PC platform. Kyocera, Handspring, and Samsung went with Palm. T-Mobile and HP are firmly in the Pocket PC camp.


Price

$399

Kyocera Wireless
San Diego, Calif.


Competition

There are mobile phones aplenty, but not many that combine a phone with a personal digital assistant. Check out Handspring and Samsung. and T-Mobile.


Coming Soon

In June 2002, Kyocera announced the new Smartphone 7135, a successor to the model 6035. It has a color screen and plays MP3 files. Look for it in late 2002. Turn to the experts: Reference Guide will publish a complete review as soon as units become available.


 

Communications gear

Kyocera Smartphone 6035

Rating:

By Joel Shore

March 19, 2001

For years, I've been carrying around a cell phone and a Palm Pilot. Couldn't someone squeeze both functions into one device? Well, Kyocera has done what no amount of duct tape could manage to do. Lo and behold, the Kyocera QCP 6035 Smartphone.

My expectation was that this union would produce a mediocre phone and so-so Pilot. Boy, was I wrong. The Kyocera Smartphone is just about everything I could hope for. Perfect it isn't, but it pushes the personal-communications market to a place it has never been.

The Palm powered personal organizer is a full-blown implementation of the Palm III platform—and them some. The screen is narrower than my Pilot's, not a big problem, but a bit of an inconvenience. The Palm OS software has been specially modified to integrate telephone functions. (Don't, don't, don't attempt to install a standard Palm OS. You'll be really sorry. Almost any Palm-compatible application should be ok, however.)

The phone portion was great. Sonic quality was excellent. Voice dialing, speed dialing, and an HTML Web browser from Eudora are all present. The phone keypad uses true illumination (none of that glow-in-the-dark stuff) and worked well. Alas, not all of the keys on the telephone keypad are lighted. I had trouble dialing into voice mail in the dark.

The Smartphone can be used with its keypad flipped open or closed. When it's open, you can select a phone number from the Palm screen. Unlike a normal cell phone that limits you to perhaps 99 programmed numbers, you are limited only by the 8 megabytes of built-in memory. You can store tens of thousands of numbers—if you have that many friends. Open the flip, tap a phone number in the Palm address book, and the number is dialed.

The address book has been modified. Tap a name on the left side of the screen, and the complete record for that contact opens up, just like you'd expect. But tap the phone number on the right side of the screen and the Kyocera Smartphone dials away.

Furthermore, if you tap on the little arrow next to a phone number, a drop-down list appears, allowing you to choose the number for that contact you'd like to use (office, home, cell, fax, etc.). This is well thought out and works beautifully. It will probably prevent you from substituting any of the replacement address-book applications, though.

I did have one minor problem with the keypad's soft rubberized keys. About three months after I got my phone, the on/off key started to delaminate; the top clear layer started to peel off. No problem; the good folks at my local Verizon Wireless store replaced the entire flip unit in about two minutes, no questions asked.

Like any worthy Palm device, the Kyocera Smartphone has an infrared port. I beamed all of my address/phone listing and appointments from my Palm III without any problem.

The included genuine Palm software let me sync my phone with the Palm desktop on my PC. But Kyocera has done even better. Included is Pocket Mirror from Chapura, an application that bypasses the Palm desktop and syncs directly with Outlook as well as some other information managers. Installation was a breeze, and I have never had a problem with it.

Weighing in at nearly half a pound, the Smartphone is bigger than any typical modern cell phone and a bit more than an inch longer than my now-retired Pilot. I didn't find that to be a problem. I was used to keeping my previous phone in my pocket, so that was not a change. But I nearly always kept my Pilot in my shoulder bag, never with me when I needed it. Problem solved.

The biggest complaint I had came not from me, but from several women who placed phone calls. Because the earpiece and microphone are positioned on the face of the unit, instead of on the back, the shiny display screen falls in contact with one's ear. Skin oils and makeup nearly always found their way onto the screen, requiring a gentle but regular cleaning with lens cleaner. Earrings have the potential for inflicting more permanent damage.

So what's not to like? Well, my son figured something this big must be able to play MP3 files. It can't. And it doesn't have a color screen while some of its competitors do.

The Kyocera Smartphone 6035 is a landmark product, one we will likely look upon decades from now as a legend. I can't wait to see what comes next.<

 
Yeas & Nays

Yea:

4Address book integrates phone functions

4Easy migration from your existing Pilot

4Good battery life: 4.5 hrs. talk time, 110 hrs. standby

4Great phone sound

Nay:

4Lose it and both your Pilot and cell phone are gone

4Screen picks up skin oils

4Screen smaller than Pilot's

4So-so browser


Need Word, Excel?

This phone, like all products that run on the Palm platform don't include versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. But fret not. There are two ways you can get those applications.

First, you can skip Palm devices altogether and opt for an organizer that uses Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system. But if you prefer the Palm platform, pick up a copy Documents To Go from DataViz. It's a great package that gives you the power of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, along with the ability to handle PDF files and e-mail with attachments.

 

   

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