During my visit to the US to attend the Bluetooth Americas 2003 I bought a SD wi-fi card for my iPAQ h3970 with Windows Mobile 2003. The frustration of drivers not ready for consumer's use and poor support made me return the card. I then changed my approach: instead of adding wi-fi to my handheld I decided to go for a new device with built-in wi-fi. But I didn't want to give up Bluetooth: it's so useful for ActiveSync, file transfer and mobile connectivity to GPRS networks that I can't imagine not having it on a PDA.
The solution I found was the HP iPAQ h4150. I bought the device after a couple of days thinking about it. And visiting the store three times . I'm sure it was the right decision.
The form factor is excellent and the Pocket PC is much smaller then the H3970. The size is small enough to allow for a firm grip while using it and to carry it in the shirt pocket. The back uses a non-polished plastic, which makes the handheld feel secure while in the hands.
The h4150 uses an Intel PXA255 at 400 MHz, comes with 64 MB of RAM, a SDIO slot for SD and MMC cards. The screen is a 3.5" transflective TFT LCD, with crisp details at 240 x 320 pixels, capable of showing 65k colours. The device supports ClearType, and there's a ClearType Tunner to allow for fine tunning based on the user's preferences.
The h4150 comes with 64MB RAM, with 56.77MB available to the user
There are four chrome buttons in the front of the h4150, plus the power button at the top. Small LEDS (not big things like the H3970) indicate Bluetooth or wi-fi activity and charging.
The h4150 uses a removable battery (1000 mAh), and users can even recharge a spare battery while the Pocket PC is in the cradle, by using the extra slot in the cradle. Don't worry while replacing the battery: the device comes with a backup battery that will hold you data while changing the batteries.
Power settings: backup battery
Connectivity is where it shines. I wanted to keep Bluetooth and it's there, with the easy to use interface we're now used to see in the Windows Mobile 2003 devices from HP. I've noticed that the Bluetooth range is a little shorter than on my iPAQ H3970 though.
The easiest way to use it is by accessing the iPAQ Wireless application and turn the wi-fi ON. It'll look for networks and if one is found it'll give the user the option to connect and configure access to Internet or Work. Networks are listed in the Settings | Connections | Advanced | Network Card dialog.
iPAQ Wireless: wireless connectivity control
If the network requires WEP or LEAP, just configure the secure access, and that's it. Ready to rock and roll. While in the US I've used a wi-fi network at home, and Boingo wireless in the San Jose Airport. In Wellington I'm using the CaféNET network.
Wireless Network list
Accessing wi-fi with CaféNET
There is an infrared port, and although I don't use this much it strikes me that it's located at the bottom of the PDA - rather strange location and difficult to access if using it to connect to a mobile phone for example.
There's no clock speed control, like the one provided by Dell on the Axim X3, but even without one the device is the currently the fastest in a series of benchmarks to date. How does it perform on a benchmark against other machines? I've used Spb Benchmark to collect performance information, and if you click in the chart you can have access to our Performance Centre, with other Pocket PC reviews and charts:
This Pocket runs Windows Mobile 2003 Premium edition, and comes with a companion CD containging Microsoft Outlook 2002, plus a series of free software:
Colligo Workgroups Personal Edition
hp Mobile Printing
Resco Explorer 2003
iPresentation Mobile Converter LE
Adobe Acrobat Reader for Pocket PC
F-Secure FileCrypto for Pocket PC Personal Edition
My opinion? I'm so impressed with this PDA that I bought it . I would love to have more RAM though: 128MB should be the minimum RAM for new devices.
The h4150 is not the cheapest at US$ 450.00 (or NZ$895 according to sources), but having built-in wi-fi and Bluetooth, thus having a SDIO expansion free for memory use is great.