Intermec 6651 review:

Intermec 6651

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Excellent performance; built-in digital camera; converts into a tablet computer.

The Bad Miserable battery life.

The Bottom Line This otherwise excellent machine is marred by one fatal flaw: short battery life.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.0 Overall

Though it suffers one of the most boring monikers in the industry, Intermec's 6651 handheld brings some much needed innovation to the field. Between the clever clamshell design and the built-in digital camera, the 6651 will catch the collective eyes of insurance adjusters, building inspectors, and other professional field workers. But with a $1,325 price tag that only a corporate IS person could love, it will scare off many potential buyers. Though it suffers one of the most boring monikers in the industry, Intermec's 6651 handheld brings some much needed innovation to the field. Between the clever clamshell design and the built-in digital camera, the 6651 will catch the collective eyes of insurance adjusters, building inspectors, and other professional field workers. But with a $1,325 price tag that only a corporate IS person could love, it will scare off many potential buyers.

Mininotebook
The 6651 is slightly beefier than the average CE machine; it weighs about 1.9 pounds and is roughly the size of a hardcover book (8.4 by 5.625 by 1.25 inches). Its 6-by-3.75-inch touch screen has a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels, which provides clear text and images as well as plenty of screen real estate. Most other handheld PCs we've looked at have 640-by-240-pixel screens. Better still, the screen can open a full 360 degrees. Simply flip the screen over and the keyboard shuts off, turning it into a fully functional pen tablet.

Powered by a 129MHz Toshiba TX3922 processor with 32MB of RAM and running Windows CE 3.01, the 6651 offers rather sprightly performance--while plugged into the wall. When running on its lithium-ion battery, the unit wasn't nearly as agile but did get about four hours of continuous runtime--good for a color handheld.

The 6651 has just about every connector and slot you could desire, including a Type II PC Card slot for wireless cards and the like; a single Type II CompactFlash slot; and serial, VGA, infrared, and USB ports. There's also an integrated 56kbps modem and a headphone jack. The 6651's keyboard is a smallish unit on which you might be able to touch-type if you have very small hands, but it's better for hunting and pecking--standard fare for handhelds of this class.

Say "cheese"
Placed dead-center in the hinge between the keyboard and the screen, the digital camera is perfectly placed to capture your face for videoconferencing when using the 6651 as a mininotebook. For other low-resolution pictures or low-quality video, flip the handheld around into tablet format (don't forget to snap on the keyboard cover so that you don't accidentally press any keys) and hit the button to reorient the display 180 degrees. Now the camera is facing away from you, and it's a simple task to frame up your shot and press the dedicated shutter button beside the display to snap photos. It's not the best camera (roughly 350,000 pixels), but the design is eminently useful.

The software bundle includes the standard Windows CE 3.01 fare: Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, and Pocket Outlook. The camera software is provided by Sharp. For syncing with a desktop, there's a serial cable and Microsoft ActiveSync. Although that may seem somewhat scanty, it's par for the course for handhelds sold to corporations that will load their own proprietary applications.

Editor's note: This page has been altered from its original version. Please see our corrections page.

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