[It seems like ages ago that the internet was first abuzz with news of the upcoming i-mate Ultimates, and one of the high points of CES 2008 was getting to take a first look at the line. This week I finally received two of four that I'll be reviewing.]
Meet the. As you may recall, this was the device that I felt was the most “old-school PDA-like” back in January when I first saw it, because it didn’t have a built-in keyboard or an extended numeric pad. Instead, the 6150 has a relatively clean front panel. But as usual, I am getting ahead of myself; let’s start with the unboxing…
All pictures are thumbnails, you can click on them to enlarge; a gallery with even more photos is at the end.
Why should you care about this particular device? Well, for starters it features a 2.8″ VGA touch screen; XScale® PXA 270 520MHz Processor; 256 MB ROM, 128 MB RAM; WiFi 802.11 b/g/e/i and Bluetooth; and it has a 2.0 megapixel camera with flash, auto focus and a 4X Digital Zoom.
The first thing you’ll see inside the box is the user manual, quick start guide, “Getting Started CD” with ActiveSync and Windows Mobile Device Center, warranty paperwork and a belt case…
…under the storage tray are the cables, chargers, battery and the 6150 Windows Mobile Professional PDA phone.
These cables include a US wall charger, a miniUSB to USB cable, a miniUSB connector headset, and a multimedia cable. Opening up the quick start guide I was greeted by something I have never seen before, a statement reading:
ROM Lock Code:
Please keep a copy of the 15-digit ROM lock code printed on the Gift box label. This will be required whenever you do [a] ROM upgrade of your Ultimate device.
Sure enough, on the box’s end label there was a corresponding ROM lock code; I wonder if this won’t end up being a problem for some people.
The 6150 measures exactly 4.65″ tall x 2.39″ wide x 0.64″ thick, and it weighs 5.6 ounces. The matte black case is much less fingerprint prone than a shiny one would be, and I do like that; I believe that it is composed of aluminum, which is a definite plus in my book. The overall build of the device is quite solid, torquing the case doesn’t yield any unpleasant squeaking or crackling, and if you were to smack someone with this phone you would likely leave a dent in their head.
The entire Ultimate line gives off an overall business vibe, but in all honesty? It can seem a little boring. But the features that are packed into this handheld are what will catch the power-user’s eye. Let’s take a look…
At the top of the 6150 is the ear speaker with an LED that will change from amber, red, green, blue, to yellow depending upon the wireless capabilities being indicated. The screen measures exactly 2.88″ diagonally, but what makes it exceptional (and what we will further cover in the second part of this review) is the fact that it is VGA…yes, they managed to stuff a glorious 480 x 640 TFT screen in this device. I have to admit that for that, I can forgive the 6150 for not looking like a rockstar.
Below the screen is a toggle bar which controls the left and right soft keys. Under that is a panel which includes, from left to right: the Send button (call answer), the Windows Start Menu button, the OK button (a short space gives a backspace when tying, and a long press confirms your data entries or exits the program in use), the joystick – or four-way “Navigation Controller” with center select, and the End button (call hang-up).
The 6150 feels pretty good in hand; it is roughly the same width (wider by 0.02″) as the MWg Zinc II which I am also currently reviewing, but for a device without a keyboard it feels thick. I honestly don’t know if the VGA screen requires extra thickness; if not then there is no explicable reason for it, if so then it is excusable.
Operating System: Windows Mobile 6.0 – I am disappointed that it isn’t 6.1
Processor: Intel XScale PXA 270 520MHz
Memory: 256 ROM/128 RAM
Wireless: GSM Unlocked Quad-band Phone 850/900/1800/1900; 3G 850/1900/2100; Bluetooth 2.0; Wifi 802.11b/g/e/i; FM Stereo Radio
Expansion: Micro SD; XGA Out;
Camera: 2.0 MP Video/Camera with LED strobe flash (on back); video conferencing camera (on front)
On the left side of the device is a jog wheel with center select, an OK button, the microSD card slot, the Wireless Manager button, and the reset button.
You may have noticed that the joystick’s location is a bit off center; although the aesthetic in me would prefer it to be symmetrically placed in the center, it is perfectly placed for the natural position the thumb will assume for left-handed operation. I like having the option of using either the jog wheel or the joystick, both allow easy one-handed navigation.
On the right side, from left to right are located the external GSM/UMTS antenna port (covered with a rubber plug), the Camera/Video button, the multimedia connector (another rubber plug), the miniUSB sync/charge port, and the external WiFi port (covered with yet another rubber plug).
On the top of the 6150 are the Power/standby button and the Infrared port…
tucked on the right side is the stylus silo. Pressing and holding the buttons powers the device on or off, briefly pressing it when the 6150 is turned on will toggle the screen on or off. There is about a 2.5 second wait when the button is pressed to turn the screen back on, blue LEDs will glow behind the buttons on the phone’s front for almost a full second as you wait for the screen to awaken. I am getting used to the delay, but I have to admit that it seems excessive.
The stylus is of the telescoping variety, but it is a relatively generous 3.15″ long when closed…
…and 4.28″ long when open.
On the back, there is a video microphone, a white LED strobe flash (verified), and the 2mp camera lens; I like that the battery cover has an actual latch, it’s not a sliding affair.
Opening the battery compartment shows that the SIM goes under the battery…
…which is a generous 1530mAh. I am not yet sure how the VGA screen will affect battey life, but it will be interesting to find out.
Here are some comparison shots of the Ultimate 6150 next to the Ultimate 8502. As you can see, the 6150 is a slightly wider device.
The 6150 is also slighly thicker than the 8502, but by that I mean 0.062″.
I should also mention the included case, which is composed of black ballistic nylon and leather.
The back has a simple clip which will fit on up to a 1.5″ belt.
I’ll be putting the 6150 through its paces over the next month, so far I am not completely sold on the device’s thickness or its plain black design, but the VGA screen almost makes up for it.
The i-mate is available and other retailers.
What I Like So Far: Solid and substantial case; gorgeous VGA screen (!!!); LED strobe flash for the rear camera; generous battery size; jogwheel and joystick; joystick is ergonomically placed for righties
What Is Causing Me Concern: Ships with WM 6.0, I think it should be 6.1; joystick will be awkward for lefties; seems awfully thick to not have a keyboard; design is very…dark and businesslike (not necessarily a bad thing, but…)