by Dave “ShagDaddy” Boles

Hey HepCats!

Welcome to ShagDaddy Dave’s FunkDunky Den!

On the spin today is a review of the zaggy new HP660LX — the Bigger & Brighter Bro to the HP620LX. If I sound wacky and loose, it’s all because of the 660LX, baby! I’m in heaven, and when you’ve been taken to the moon in the palm of your hand, there’s no other way to frame the trip than remaining “out there” in the realm of HP divinity. Kick with me and know the 660LX in detail…

Blast from the Past
But first… some background…

I’ve been using my basic black HP 620LX with silvery case print for the past six months and I love the device. I can easily, and seamlessly, sync to my desktop and update my REX 3 card and I can wallow on the web all day long in stunning, bright, living color.

Time and Tide wait for no man and that’s truer and faster in the HPC world. Enter the HP660LX! Let me make it known right now that this 660LX is a dynamo skinned in Green Hornet Teal (my term, not theirs) with glittering gold highlights! This baby brings a buzz to the senses and a sting to the eye of the Windows CE 2.1 platform from which you won’t soon recover. The guts and bones are the same as the 620LX, the processor is the same as the 620LX, but the power and experience of using the 660LX are threefold better than doing the same thang on the 620LX!

What It Is
I won’t bother to re-view the basic features of the HP 600 family of color HPCs since our own Stephen “LankyPants” Lankton did a delightful job in his massive, in-depth take apart of the HP 620LX and everything he raves about there applies here. I’ll concentrate on what’s new and what I think of the changes in this new evolution of the best HPC on the market today.

Here’s the short list of what’s different:

The 660LX has 32MB RAM vs. the HP 620LX’s 16 MB RAM

The 660LX is bundled with a PCMCIA WiseCom 56.6kbps modem

The 660LX sells for $999 vs. the HP 620LX’s price point of $799

The 660LX has a Green Hornet Teal shell (with black accents) and glittering gold case print.

The 660LX comes with Windows CE Services 2.1 on CD.

Having double the RAM of the 620LX makes the 660LX a scream. You can taste the difference on your tongue as you switch applications and call up web pages. It runs noticeably faster. You can dedicate more system memory to your system if you’re using a Compact Flash card to run even faster! If the CPU is your brain, then doubling your RAM gives you twice the capacity to think! Don’t underestimate the need for space to ponder, dude.

The Modem
I’ve never heard of WiseCom, but their 56.6kbps modem bundled free with the 660LX works really well. I’ve been burning online for 48 straight hours trying to break the modem and the 660LX for this review and couldn’t! Sure the left side of my 660LX keyboard is warmer than the right (since the modem sits under the left side of the keyboard), but the keyboard isn’t hot and nothing is burned up or stopped working.

Setting up my MindSpring internet account was simple and quick and getting on the Web was super-easy. Unlike the 3COM Megahertz modems with the X-Jack that pop out and arc the phone cord under your left palm as you try to type, the WiseCom modem comes with a proprietary phone cord and connector that keeps the phone line parallel to your left palm and entirely out of the way below the horizon of the keyboard. For that lovely pleasure, I warmly welcome the opportunity to carry the proprietary cord around with me on the road.

The Price
I think the $200 difference between the 660LX and the 620LX is quite fair considering the increase in RAM and the free modem. Hey, the new shell color alone is a priceless delight! I’d certainly purchase the 660LX over the 620LX for a first time purchase and I’m of the mind that I’d recommend buying the 660LX even if you already own the 620LX!

Green Hornet Teal
Okay, now let’s talk more about the new shell color. The Green Hornet Teal isn’t a paint or a coating — the shell is the color that it is. The following screenshot is a little darker color than it appears to the naked eye since the top of the 660LX is curved and that makes for interesting color saturation when you scan the unit. This product shot does, indeed, demonstrate the glittering gold print!

The fist thing you notice about the 660LX is the wild new color and if you shell out the extra dough for the 660LX, folks’ll know which version you’re carrying because you can’t mistake a 660LX for a 620LX from 10 yards away! I originally thought I had an engineering sample and not a production unit because of the strange mishmash of color! Folks will know you’re a power user by that Green Hornet Teal peeking out from betwixt your fingers!

The product shot of the bottom of the unit that follows is more representative of the “true” and consistent color of the 660LX.

Black Attack
One strange design implementation that makes sense, I suppose, in the economy of the world in which we revolve is the fact that the battery on the 660LX is black! It’s the same color as the original 620LX’s battery! (If the serial and model numbers look smudged the the product shot, they are by design.) My first reaction to the black battery sitting in Green Hornet Teal shell was: “Ugh!”

I commend HP, however, for giving the 660LX a distinctive new shell in order to differentiate it from the 620LX. Smart move! In an effort to what I believe is to “continue” the “black accents” theme beyond just the ugly black battery, other pieces of the 660LX curiously remain 620LX black.

Accents on Black
Examples of these black pieces from the 620LX carried over to the 660LX line are the iconic touch strip, the stylus, the faceplate/cover latch and the battery release slider. These black accents help soothe the ugliness of the big black battery by feigning “blending in” to the whole experience. In the reality of your hand, these touches of black become a loud attempt at mollifying the aesthetic in the emerald eye of the Green Hornet Teal monster.

The logo under the clear plastic part of the faceplate is also new — it now has a black background with “HP660LX” lettered in zippy white print with rainbow threads accenting each side of the product name. That’s a nice change from the bland, silver, faceplate logo band found on the 620LX which quietly proclaimed the product name in a small, black, type (that most folks took out, reversed, and printed their own name on to personalize the device).

The docking base is also still black. I suppose this cross-pollination of 620LX black accents prove a progeny visible in the 660LX that not only allows HP to share resources in creating accessories for both units, but it also makes a funky aesthetic statement that, I must confess, grows on you.

As any good HP 620LX user knows, there are some juicy updates on the HP FTP site that can help upgrade and update the software on your HP HPC. Here’s what I’ve discovered:

DDI.DLL is newer on the 660LX by about 10 days than the one found on the HP FTP site.

Month-at-a-Glance. Do you need to download the upgrade from the HP FTP site? No! At the time of this review, Version 1.02c is bundled with the 660LX.

The Windows CE 2.0 Service Pack dated 6/10/98 on the HP FTP site is covered in the 660LX production units shipping in July. That update will also be included on the 620LX 16MB RAM upgrade if you decide to buy that brain jump.

The Screen
I’ve always loved the vibrant color and shockingly bright illumination of the the 620LX and the 660LX is just as colorful and bright. One odd thing I noticed about my 660LX is that on my unit, there is a 2-3 pixel increase in both width and height!

Odd, eh?

While this serves to give you more desktop real estate, it also demonstrates an inability of certain non-tiling wallpaper backgrounds to not properly fill the desktop without having the desktop color shine through on that new 2-3 pixel edging! When I select the “startup” wallpaper, I have the default teal desktop color peeking through on all sides! That doesn’t happen on my 620LX. So I’ll stick with the “default” teal Windows CE wallpaper and color myself grudgingly satisfied with the increase in overall pixel resolution. My 660LX also has three stuck pixels while my 620LX only had one.

Is the 660LX a worthwhile first time purchase for an HPC enthusiast? YES! If you already swing with a 620LX, is it worth going out and buying a 660LX? I vote YES again! However, my aesthetic is important to me and there’s no doubt the 660LX is ethereal due to it’s wild Green Hornet Teal shell with black accents. Having that change in shell style alone is worth at least $100 to me. The added memory and free 56K PCMCIA modem make the 660LX a no-brainer upgrade for me, especially if there’s someone you love and want to impress with the gift of color when you pass down your old 620LX to the next ShagBaby in line!

This one’s a winner, pally, and it’s time to get Funkadelic! I give the Green Hornet Teal HP660LX three out of five Go Inside Review Lights.