HP iPAQ hx4700   
 

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The HP iPAQ hx4700
Takes the Luxury Business PDA to the Next Level

Date: 18.02.2005

Hx4700: Top Equipment, Including An Integrated Display Protector

Hx4700: Top Equipment, Including An Integrated Display Protector

As far as hardware goes, HP really does the hx4700 proud. The core of the PDA is the 624 MHz PXA270, currently the fastest-clocked and most powerful system-on-a-chip (SoC) processor that Intel can muster. Like all processors of the PXA27X line, this chip supports the energy-saving technology Wireless Speedstep, and also understands Wireless MMX instructions. However, HP does not provide the means to change the clock speed manually, as does Dell. HP relies completely on automatic toggling of the clock speed; the user doesn't have to lift a finger.

The competition lets you adjust the CPU clock speed manually too.
The competition lets you adjust the CPU clock speed manually too.

The device has a total of 192MB of memory: 64MB RAM and 128MB ROM. 80 MB of the ROM total is used for the filestore, a built-in file storage area. Including the filestore, 135MB of the 192 MB total is available to the user. The remaining area holds the operating system components and standard applications.

iPAQ Filestore: Data storage even without an SD card
iPAQ Filestore: Data storage even without an SD card

If that's not enough for you, or if you would prefer to make a secure backup to a removable medium, you have the option of extending storage space with a CF or SD card. The corresponding slots are on the top of the device.

The hx4700 has both SD and CF card slots for memory expansion.
The hx4700 has both SD and CF card slots for memory expansion.

A Very Big And High Resolution 4" VGA TFT Display

For its screen, HP chose a TFT LCD display with VGA resolution. At 4" from corner to corner, it sets a new standard in the world of Windows PDAs.

A Very Big And High Resolution 4" VGA TFT Display

The advantages of the higher resolution and the larger screen size are as plain as day. Complex Excel worksheets and documents are easy to read even with a small font, and surfing the web or viewing videos or pictures is simply more fun. In addition, with the Second Edition of Windows Mobile 2003, you can switch the display between portrait and landscape format at the press of a button. The landscape format is great for viewing PowerPoint presentations and is ideal for videos too.

Cinderella: VGA-compatible Application Software

It should be noted, however, that there is not much application software that can handle the higher resolution at this time. For example, there is currently no navigation software that supports the higher resolution. The vast majority of standard software is not programmed for VGA resolution either, so the result is pixelly icons and images.

Images and graphics look chunky in Internet Explorer...
Images and graphics look chunky in Internet Explorer...

Freeware such as SE VGA puts things right here. This tool lets you switch over to real VGA resolution, which makes letters and graphics pin-sharp. The screen is also far better utilized this way.

...but not when a tool such as SE VGA is used.
...but not when a tool such as SE VGA is used.

Unfortunately, even the utilities supplied haven't got a clue how to deal with the higher resolution. The iPAQ hx4700, for example, is supplied with the Windows Media Player Version 9. It can play videos with QVGA resolution in full-screen mode, but unfortunately only with a gloomy black border.

The Windows Media Player plays QVGA videos with a somber black border...
The Windows Media Player plays QVGA videos with a somber black border...

Upgrading to Version 10, as supplied by Dell with the X50v, is not an option as far as we know. So if you want to enjoy QVGA videos in full-screen mode on your PDA you will have to get hold of a program like PocketTV.

... but PocketTV scales to full size.
... but PocketTV scales to full size.

Wireless Communications Included

As befits a business PDA in this price range, the hx4700 has both integrated Bluetooth and a WLAN module. Both functions are activated by software.

Wireless Communications Included

Activating WPA encryption guards against electronic eavesdropping. However, the device lacks a mechanical switch to turn these functions on and off.
 

Wireless Communications Included

Spartan Accessories

When it comes to accessories, this luxury PDA is rather unassuming: you get a USB cradle to synchronize data, the companion CD and a charger, and that's it.

USB cradle for the hx4700
USB cradle for the hx4700

On the road, the device can be recharged using the adapter and charger, so the cumbersome cradle doesn't also have to tag along. Wireless data synchronization is also possible.
 

The plastic flip cover
The plastic flip cover

Although there is no carrying case included, there is a removable, folding, semi-transparent display flip cover. This cover is designed to protect the touchscreen against scratches, and is held in place by a small magnet. It is not a bad idea in principle, but it's not really a replacement for a well-made leather carrying case.

Innovative New Operating Concept

Without a doubt, what really sets the iPAQ hx4700 apart is its concept of operation. While an estimated 98% of all PDAs are operated with a stylus and/or a control pad and various mechanical function buttons, HP has gone for a wholly new method. This is an entry aid resembling a touchpad, for easy navigation through applications and menus.

The hx4700's navigation touchpad
The hx4700's navigation touchpad

Frequently used applications can be programmed into the four available membrane keys for convenience. They are set at the factory to call up the calendar, contacts, inbox and the HP task manager for PDAs.

Productivity-enhancing Software Tools

Compared to the usual hardwired utilities, the preinstalled tool "Pocket Informant" is really helpful for sorting out appointments, contacts, tasks and notes.

The calendar module in Pocket Informant
The calendar module in Pocket Informant

The tried-and-true tool iPAQ Backup couldn't be easier for archiving PIM, application and system data. It can also be made to function automatically if you prefer.

iPAQ Backup makes archiving a whole lot easier
iPAQ Backup makes archiving a whole lot easier

With iPAQ Backup, in conjunction with an optional SD or CF memory card, you no longer have to worry about complete loss of data due to device loss or theft. Of course, this is only true if backups are made regularly and the archival memory card is kept in a secure place. 

The Today Panel also proves very practical in everyday use. Its icons directly access the power settings and the internal and expansion memory modules. There's also a slide control below the corresponding icon to set display brightness right from the start screen. This is much easier and less time-consuming than the traditional way of setting these parameters or accessing other functions.

Safety Against Thieves

Thieves can forget about making off with this device - or rather, they'll be disappointed if they try. This is thanks to the security suite supplied with the system by Hewlett Packard. HP's Protect Tools protect the system against unauthorized access by means of a four-digit PIN or a pass phrase.

Safety Against Thieves

The tool even encrypts sensitive data with a freely selectable algorithm.

Safety Against Thieves

If the system is left unsupervised for a specified length of time, the system activates a logon screen, stops all running programs and encrypts the data. 

Safety Against Thieves

Thereafter, access to the system or its data is possible only after entering the four-digit PIN or the much more secure pass phrase.

Technical Specs

 

HP iPAQ hx4700
Manufacturer Hewlett Packard
Technical Data
CPU / Clock PXA270 / 624MHz
System Memory 64MB
3D-/Video-Accelerator -
Videomemory (ondie/dedictaed) -
Flash-ROM 128MB
Dimensions 3.07 x 0.69/0.61 x 5.12"
78 x 17.5/15.5 x 131mm
Weight 7.34oz / 208g
Display
Resolution 480 x 640 Pixel (VGA)
Color Depth 65536
Display Size 2.36 x 3.15"
60 x 80mm
Hardware
Function buttons 6
Jog dial no, but Touchpad
Loudspeaker yes
Keyboard no
Battery
Technology Lithium-Ion
Capacity 1800mAh
Backup-Battery yes
Recharge without Docking yes
Interfaces
Compact Flash slot Yes
SD/ MM-card slot yes
Irda/ Bluetooth/ WLAN yes/yes/yes
USB yes
Microphone yes (F)
Audio out yes (F)
Included in package
Power Adaptor yes
OS Pocket PC 2003 SE
Provided Software HP Mobile Printing, HP ProtectTools, iTask Task Switcher, iPAQ Backup, HP Image Zone for Pocket, BT Phone Manager, Infrared Beam, Pocket Informant
USB Docking-Station Yes
Protection Case No

 

Benchmark
Sisoft Sandra Pro 2004.8.9.131
PC Professional PPC Benchmark
 

Hx4700 Picture Gallery

The hx4700 in its cradle
The hx4700 in its cradle

The hx4700's expansion slots
The hx4700's expansion slots

Touchpad in lieu of a control pad
Touchpad in lieu of a control pad

The 1800mAh battery is interchangeable
The 1800mAh battery is interchangeable

Status LEDs and record button
Status LEDs and record button
 

The semitransparent protective display cover
The semitransparent protective display cover

Benchmarks

This review is limited to the use of two benchmarks. Sisoft Sandra Pro 2004.8.9.131 is a benchmark we use that also incorporates some wireless MMX commands. PPC, a benchmark from our partner PC Professionell Germany, also supplies us with performance figures for the CPU, 2D graphics capabilities, and battery life.

CPU Performance, Application Partially Optimized With WMMX: Sandra Pro (2004.8.9.131)

CPU Performance, Application Partially Optimized With WMMX: Sandra Pro (2004.8.9.131)

No MMX commands were used with the CPU arithmetic benchmark. Because of its very high clock speed, the CPU in the iPAQ hx4700 decides the race.

CPU Performance, Application Partially Optimized With WMMX: Sandra Pro (2004.8.9.131)

The multimedia benchmark in Sandra also uses some wireless MMX commands. Here too, iPAQ hx4700 is a nose ahead of the competition from Dell.

CPU Performance, Application Not Optimized With WMMX

A benchmark not optimized for wMMX, like the pocket PC benchmark from our partner PC Professionell, shows the system's potential when running a standard CPU-draining application like a video.

CPU Performance, Application Not Optimized With WMMX

HP's luxury PDA also proves very fast in this case thanks to its high maximum CPU speed.

2D Graphics Performance

2D Graphics Performance

In this test the device gives way to its little brother, the iPAQ rx3715, and Dell's X50v.
 

Battery Life

We tested battery life on a variety of measures, with activated and deactivated Bluetooth and WLAN modules.

Battery Life

In this area the iPAQ hx4700 shows its true strengths. A charged battery keeps the little PC going for almost five and a half hours. Compared with the iPAQ rx3715, that's no great shakes. But the rx3715 has a standard QVGA resolution display, and a Samsung processor clocked at only 400 MHz. If you cast a glance at the performance data of the competitors using VGA displays - Dell's AximX50v and Asus Mypal A730w - the hx4700's battery life is outstanding in its class.

If five and a half hours are not enough, you can always double that at the company's expense (and a few grams more for you to schlep) with a high-capacity battery, for an extra US$130.

Battery Life

As the results show, the modules for wireless communication should only be switched on when they are really needed. Otherwise battery life dips by almost 40% in the worst case.

Conclusion: A Luxury PDA For The Ambitious Business User

HP's iPAQ hx4700 is certainly not a bargain. Customers are asked to cough up a whole US$650 for the unit, which may be a little too much for the average Joe.

But business users won't be put off by the steep price. The PDA comes replete with an excellent and complete hardware configuration, as well as a very sturdy, durable and smart magnesium-alloy case. In addition, the iPAQ hx4700 scores very well in performance benchmarks and has the longest battery life of any currently-available Windows pocket PC with VGA TFT display, which can be extended further with a high-capacity battery. High-security corporate data is also in good hands thanks to the standard security software, HP Protect Tools.

Granted, the competition has the Axim X50v, which offers much the same for much less money (US$450). But the X50v isn't able to match the security features and housing quality offered by HP's contender.

The Mypal A730w from Asus even has an onboard 1.3-megapixel digital camera for just US$560. That said, the battery life of the pocket PC from Taiwan is not worth considering, and mobile devices with integrated digital cameras are now grounds for dismissal in some R&D departments.

The only thing that remains to be seen is whether pocket PCs will be able to hold their own given the current trend of growing competition posed by smart phones and cheap notebooks.

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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  13 januar 2019
 

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