HP iPAQ hx4700
The HP iPAQ hx4700
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 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.
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.
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.
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 ofWindows 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 applicationsoftware 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.
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.
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 theWindows Media Player Version 9. It can play videos with QVGA resolution in full-screen mode, but unfortunately only with a gloomy black border.
Upgrading to Version 10, as supplied by Dell with theX50v, 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.
Wireless Communications Included
As befits a businessPDA in this price range, the hx4700 has both integrated Bluetooth and a WLAN module. Both functions are activated by software.
Activating WPA encryption guards against electronic
eavesdropping. However, the device lacks a mechanical switch to turn these
functions on and off.
When it comes to accessories, this luxury PDA is rather unassuming: you get a USB cradle to synchronizedata, the companion CD and a charger, and that's it.
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.
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 allPDAs 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.
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 HPtask 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 tried-and-true tooliPAQ Backup couldn't be easier for archiving PIM, application and system data. It can also be made to function automatically if you prefer.
With iPAQ Backup, in conjunction with an optional SD or CFmemory 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 expansionmemory 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 byHewlett Packard. HP's Protect Tools protect the system against unauthorized access by means of a four-digit PIN or a pass phrase.
The tool even encrypts sensitivedata with a freely selectable algorithm.
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.
Thereafter, access to the system or its data is possible only after entering the four-digit PIN or the much more secure pass phrase.
Hx4700 Picture Gallery
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 somewireless 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)
No MMX commands were used with the CPU arithmetic benchmark. Because of its very high clock speed, the CPU in theiPAQ hx4700 decides the race.
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 thepocket PC benchmark from our partner PC Professionell, shows the system's potential when running a standard CPU-draining application like a video.
HP's luxury PDA also proves very fast in this case thanks to its high maximumCPU speed.
2D Graphics Performance
In this test the device gives way to its little brother, the
iPAQ rx3715, and Dell's X50v.
We tested battery life on a variety of measures, with activated and deactivatedBluetooth and WLAN modules.
In this area theiPAQ 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.
As the results show, the modules forwireless 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 Windowspocket 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 theAxim 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.
TheMypal 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 currenttrend of growing competition posed by smart phones and cheap notebooks.
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