The HP iPAQ hx4700 has been the hottest thing since it was announced a couple of months ago. Now they are here and so is the competition. The question is should you buy one or look at something else? This article is written to help you decide whether this hot new device is for you - or not.
I have not reviewed every feature of this device, as others have done a fantastic job of this on other sites. However, I have tried to focus on the things that set this device apart from the rest. Some of these features are aimed at corporate users and some are aimed at ever other user.
No doubt about it, VGA is cool. However, the experience is not perfect - yet.
I spend a lot of time reading on my Pocket PC, and I found the applications I use the most do not yet support VGA. Applications that do not support VGA will appear grainy as the fonts and images were designed for screens with a much lower pixel density. The higher density on the VGA screens shows the same image, but effectively the image appears blown up – a bit like a digital zoom on a digital camera. This grainy look is ugly, but if you look at it sideways and blur your eyes a little, it’s not so bad.
Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition devices have had Bluetooth headset support for over 12 months now and this is a really nice to have feature for phones. Recently there has been news and rumors about stereo Bluetooth headphone support coming to Pocket PC devices.
Well, thanks to HP – it is here! I was not able to test the stereo functionality, however, I was able to pair my Logitech Bluetooth headset with the hx4700 and listen to music and the various clicks and beeps the device makes without wires.
The quality was a little tinny, but given that it was designed for a phone call where a tinny speaker is quite good for listening to voice, I suspect that was more due to the headset I was using than the quality of the Bluetooth stream. Being able to toss out your wired headphones and having the ability to listen to music, audio books and lectures wirelessly is a very cool feature and once I set it up listened to about three hours of audio in the morning I had it.
The connection between the device and the headset was very strong. At one point I left the Pocket PC next to my computer and walked down the other end of the house. I wondered what the static was when I got to the other end and then remembered that I did not have the device in my pocket. As I went out of range, the sound died, however, as I walked back into range, the sound just came back again.
I did not have any problems with disconnects or connection stability the entire time I listened, so my experience with this feature was very good.
Another interesting feature is the BT PhoneManager, a program that will reduce the time to configure connections to a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone.
The iPAQ hx4700 is one of the new devices that support Bluetooth audio
As I already said the 4700 has been packaged with corporate users in mind. The ROM includes Pocket Informant and the Clear Vue suite of Office Document viewers. Having Pocket Informant on the ROM in particular is great. This is normally one of the first applications I install, so having it in ROM saves space in memory.
The hx4700 has a great little application onboard for managing device security. This application gives you the same password protection as the default application, however, gives you some far better options in terms of managing how the device handles incorrect passwords and also the level of security that comes with the onboard applications.
There are two options for a lost password – hard reset the device and disable security or prompt again after a pause. This is handy if you loose your device and makes this Pocket PC perfect for corporate deployment.
In addition, you can encrypt the data on your device. This includes both your PIM data as well as any folders. You can select which data to encrypt from a simple checklist. You can also select the type of encryption you want to use to encrypt the data.
Once encrypted, the data is locked and safe and there appeared to be no noticeable system performance overhead associated with it.
The iPAQ hx4700: highger security, perfect for enterprise deployment
The iPAQ hx4700 supports PIM and folder encryption
After a few days with the touch pad, I would rather have a directional D-Pad. I found that the tap action on the pad was difficult to master .Some times it seemed sensitive, but most of the time you had to tap it reasonably hard. It is also a nuisance while reading you tend to put your thumb at the bottom of the pad. Of course when you do this and the device is in navigation mode – you scroll down, especially when you don’t want to.
However, I can see having the cursor mode could be quite good for when the screen cover is on as you don’t need to open it to get around. However between the number of strokes of your finger on the pad and the often hard to work tap function, its usefulness is hampered a little.
Of course, with a little more practice it might be easier to manage and more usable.
If you are like me and need plenty of memory on your device to install loads of applications – then many of the new devices on the market would suit you. The hx4700 is no exception – it has the normal 64Mb of RAM, but in addition it also has an 86 MB File Store. Finally, this device is also equipped with both a Compact Flash slot and the ubiquitous SD slot, meaning you have as much memory as you need and room to pack more in if necessary.
The hx4700 is snappy and responsive. As you can see from our performance center though, it is still not quite up to the performance of the 4150. However, in real world use it seemed every bit as quick as any other device I’ve used. 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 battery on this device is huge by normal standards – 1800mAh. However, it has four times as many pixels to power, a 624MHz Intel CPU, not to mention the CF slot. So the additional battery capacity is critical to the device's staying power. I found that the battery lasted very well under the usage that I put it under. The rz3700 seems to have the edge in real world life, however, the hx4700 still has a better experience than the h4150 did.
Bluetooth Audio – very cool
Good battery life
Nice screen (and it’s VGA)
Loads of Memory
Flip cover can be annoying – and it can be removed
Touchpad can be frustrating
Compact flash slot (Useful for add on accessories, but with a device so packed – why bother?)
If you have read my blog, you will know that I don’t regard VGA alone as enough reason to buy a new VGA Pocket PC. However, this device is very cool and I’m probably going to get one. The reason I like this device is the combination of Bluetooth Audio (this is a killer for me – I hate cables), strong security, good screen and loads of memory.