(Originally posted on myspace on 20-Feb-2008)
Update: The only thing worse than a phone running windows? a Neo Freerunner. One day I might post a separate rant about that.
I’ve been using a HP iPAQ 6515 as my phone / mp3 player / GPS navigator / life support system for nearly 2 years now.
It’s a great little unit, in hardware terms – It’s got an SD card slot and a MiniSD slot, meaning you can give it a reasonable amount of storage space for playing MP3s. It’s a Quadband GSM mobile phone, so when I got it my old nokia 6210 got put in the cupboard. It’s got a builtin GPS receiver, and you can run TomTom on it. It’s (barely) powerfull enough to play MP3s and Run TomTom at the same time, which is nice, since I haven’t gotten around to putting a reasonable stereo in my car yet – I haven’t needed to. It’s a PDA, not a SmartPhone, meaning you can run a whole heap of Windows CE applications on it – My favorites are Voice Command, which is brilliant (when you’re in a quiet room, and you don’t have any contacts which sound even remotely similar to each other), and SCUMMVM, a cross-platform SCUMM engine, allowing it to run some of the most classic games ever: I’ve got Maniac Mansion, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and Monkey Island loaded onto mine. Best of all, it has a QWERTY keyboard, which is brilliant for txting – I hate the onscreen keyboards on the majority of PDA-type devices, and I don’t think I could live with a device which can’t atleast have a QWERTY keyboard attached to it.
It doesn’t have too many drawbacks: It lacks builtin Wifi, so I can’t run skype on it – the next model up (the 6965) has Wifi, but I couldn’t really justify spending $800 just for Wifi. You can buy an SD Wifi card for it reasonably cheaply, but the SD slots are in the side of the device, so a Wifi card would stick out the side and present a damage risk when you put it in your pocket (SD wifi cards neccessarily poke out of their slot, as they need space for an antenna, although there are compact ones available which aren’t as bad). It also lacks support for certain bluetooth services, namely high quality Audio – you can’t use stereo bluetooth headphones with it. This is kinda annoying, considering that the bluetooth software which comes with it says it supports high quality Audio. But the wired headset which comes with it is stereo and provides pretty good sound, if not eardrum-burstingly loud. Also the camera on it is not even worth using at 1.3 megapixels, and the HP Photosmart camera software is horrible. It suffices in an emergency, though. Unless the emergency happens at night – the “flash” on the thing is laughable.
Another disadvantage is the godawful Operating system it runs – Windows Mobile 2003SE. It’s slow and horrible – you have to wait a couple of seconds for windows to do it’s thing whenever you take the thing out of standby. And you have to reset it far more often than you’d ever turn a mobile phone off and on. I think that perhaps the slowness it merely related to it not having quite enough memory for my kind of usage – I run alot of programs on it above and beyond the standard Phone and Organiser functionality it provides. Maybe if I was a pleb user and didn’t load software onto it, or if it had more RAM, this wouldn’t be an issue.
I’ve looked into running a real OS on it, but the status of Linux support for this particular devce is not great – I’d probably have to live without access to GPS, the phone functionality may or may not work, the Camera wouldn’t work (pfft), and it could very well take a lot of hacking and mucking about to get linux onto the thing – there doesn’t seem to be any HOWTO for linux on this particular model of Ipaq, and I don’t really have the time and energy to figure it all out, especially considering that this is my phone we’re talking about – a day’s downtime would be unacceptable – I’d need another one to be able to play with to figure out what I’m doing.
but it’s certainly been a good little unit, I’ve thought… so far.
About a month ago, it stopped making noise except through the headset. Obviously what’s happened is that the switch in the headphone jack has become stuck in the ‘headset inserted’ position, which cancels all noise (and microphone input), except for the ringtone, from coming out of the unit’s speaker. I can still use it just fine with the headset plugged in, and I can still use it fine with the headset unplugged, just as long as I don’t want to do anything that requires audio input or output. Like talking on the phone. So at the moment when my phone rings, I have to scramble to find and untangle the headset, plug it in, and press the answer button.
So I contacted HP about this, wanting to know how to go about getting it serviced. I specifically made mention of the fact that this was my primary phone / communication method we’re talking about, so it’s pretty urgent.
I could go through the ensuing catastrophe of customer relations blow-by-blow, but then this would be 800,000 words long, and I would probably end up smashing something. And I’m using a work laptop at the moment, so that’s probably not a great idea. Suffice to say that they take up to a week to even reply to your emails, which you’ve market as urgent, and when they do it’s so unhelpfull that they might have well just kept playing Unreal Tournament, or whatever it is they do most of the time up there, rather than even replying. I just recieved an email yesterday, over a month since our last correspondence, which contained the exact same text as the previous email they sent me. Which I’d already replied to, over a month ago.
HP’s “support” team are without doubt the single most apathetic, indifferent, robotic, unhelpfull bunch of bastards I’ve ever dealt with. and I’ve BEEN an indifferent, unhelpfull tech support bastard before. But I at least used to try to project the appearance of caring about the customer’s problems – after all, it’s the company’s reputation at stake here. But HP’s “support” team doesn’t even seem to care about that.
It seems that HP are trying to sell Nokia products – a brilliant, novel, and innovative marketing strategy if I’ve ever seen one – There’s no amount of money Nokia could spend on advertising (short of having some cute chick giving blowjobs with every Nokia purchased) which would come close to what HP have done in terms of getting me to buy a Nokia handset.
After a couple of weeks of dealing with HP’s completely indifferent “support” team, I decided I’d just find myself an alternative device. It’ll cost me amaybe $1200 extra to do this, but at least I won’t have to deal with these pricks. I wouldn’t know what Nokia’s tech support people are like, because I’ve never had a problem with a Nokia product, ever. And I’ve used a few Nokia devices in my time.
It’s a good thing HP don’t make defibrillators or heart/lung machines.
So, congratulations HP – you’ve managed to ensure that I never buy another HP product as long as I live. You’ve managed to ensure that When I’m reviewing devices at work and making purchasing recommendations (which does happen), I don’t recommend the HP device, regardless of it’s technical specifications. You’ve managed to make the process of finding myself a new device less painfull – anything with a HP logo on it automatically gets excluded from my even looking at it,regardless of it’s capabilities. And most of all, you’ve managed to increase the yearly sales figures of one of your competitors. Whether that’s RIM, Palm, Nokia, Motorola, or somebody else I haven’t yet decided.
Congratulations, HP, and on behalf of Nokia, Motorola, RIM, and Palm: Thanks, HP.