HP announced the iPAQ h4350 during the ITU Telecom World conference 2003. The h4350 and h4150 (similar model, without the thumb keyboard) were part of a big announcement, including a range products like Bluetooth printers, Bluetooth GPS, and more. The new product line up covered from wireless consumer devices to enterprise-class mobile office solutions.
The h4350 seems bigger in the press release pictures than it really is. It's only a couple of millimeters ticker than the h4150 (review here) and an inch longer. Even with its keyboard it doesn't feel heavy at all: 165g. Like the h4150 it uses a non-polished plastic in the back, which makes the handheld feel secure while in the hands. 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.
There are four chrome buttons in the front of the h4350, plus the power button at the top. Small LEDS (not big things like the h3970) indicate Bluetooth or wi-fi activity and charging.
And of course there is the thumb keyboard. It's backlit, with round keys in a comfortable position, following the QWERTY standard. Perhaps just in the border of being too small and the right size. There is a function key that gives access to a series of alternate characters above each letter, plus a virtual numerical keypad above the letters on the right side. A Windows key is present, and brings up the Start menu when pressed. There is also a Menu key, that shows a context menu (sometimes similiar to tap and hold selected items) depending on the application in use. Users can choose from special charaters with diacritics by entering the letter, pressing the function key and the space bar. This will switch between different possibilities for each letter.
Using the keyboard does not present a problem, and you can get used to it after a couple of hours. You can actually get really fast in typing with this keyboard, and it works best if holding the PDA with both hands and using both thumbs to type. There is an applet in the Setting application that gives the user control over backlight timeout, and repeat control (including how long before start repeating a key, and repeat rate).
h4350 thumb keyboard
The h4350 uses an Intel PXA255 at 400 MHz, comes with 64 MB of RAM, with 56.77MB available, a SDIO slot for SD and MMC cards. The screen (3.5" TFT LCD) is nice with crisp details at 240 x 320 pixels, capable of showing 65k colours. It's definetely brighter than the h4150, but I thought the h3970 had crispier colours. The device supports ClearType, and there's a ClearType Tunner to allow for fine tunning based on the user's preferences.
h4150, h4350 and h3970
CPU specs and memory: 64MB RAM, 56.77MB available
Only 2.85MB available in the Flash storage now
The h4350 uses a removable battery (1560 mAh battery), and the cradle allows for a spare battery to be charged while the handheld is in place. The device comes with a backup battery that will hold data while changing the batteries, if needed.
Main battery and backuyp battery indicators
Connectivity is really good, with built-in Bluetooth and wi-fi, including LEAP support. The h4350 uses technology from Texas Instruments that allows wi-fi and Bluetooth to work without interference. Here there is a subtle difference from the h4150, that may indicate the intended market: when tapping the wireless indicator, instead of the bubble with “Turn Wireless On” we see “Turn off flight mode”.
The easy way to use wi-fi 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.
There is an infrared port, located on the left side, just next to the Record button. At least it is in a better position than the one on the h4150.
"Flight mode" instead of "Turn wireless off"
Bluetooth: wireless connection for peripherals and services
Control center for Bluetooth and wi-fi features
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:
The first version of this pocket PC runs Windows Mobile 2003 Premium, and come with some good software bundled in the package. Interesting to note the simplified version of Sprite Backup, branded as iPAQ Backup. Also part of the basic software is the iTask, an easy to use task manager, accessible by pressing one of the buttons in the front of the handheld.
iPAQ Backup program
iTask: task manager included in the package
It's my impression that HP has created this Pocket PC trying to reach the enterprise market and mobile professionals, more than the standard users. The keyboard is one way of getting around the problem with some professionals not being confortable with any handwritting recognition method, and having wi-fi and Bluetooth in the same device brings flexibility to users who need to connect using a high speed network or a mobile network when wi-fi is not available. Definitely this device gets a .
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