Corporate warriors who want it all can opt for the fully loaded iPaq H5550, which delivers Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and biometric security. But for some users, especially those who already own an iPaq with an expansion sleeve and accessories, the H5150 is more sensible. While it lacks Wi-Fi and the fingerprint scanner, the H5150 does offer Bluetooth technology, a form factor compatible with a wide array of iPaq add-ons, and a price substantially lower than that of the top-of-the-line H5550.
At 6.6 ounces, the H5150 is a bit lighter than the feature-laden H5550. But both PDAs measure 5.4 by 3.3 by 0.6 inches, roughly the same dimensions of earlier iPaqs. The size similarity makes the H5150 compatible with many of the line's accessory jackets. Like all iPaqs since the H3900 series, this model has a sharp, 65,536-color, transflective TFT display.
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Same old, same old: HP goes with the traditional iPaq form factor.
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Though it has nothing new, this iPaq is compatible with HP's add-on sleeves.
Unlike its more-expensive sibling, the H5150 lacks a radio-antenna nub and a biometric fingerprint scanner. And in place of the H5550's joysticklike directional pad are the simple navigation button and the familiar quartet of iPaq keys for quickly launching the calendar, the contacts, the in-box, and HP's homespun iTask application.
Atop the device are an SDIO-compatible Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard (SD/MMC) slot, a power button, and a volume control that also starts and stops recording. The dual functionality was a smart move, seeing as people rarely record with their Pocket PCs. The standard 3.5mm headphone jack is at the bottom so that the accessory jackets can slide unhindered down the sides.
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Below the screen are the function buttons and the small microphone.
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All of HP's innovations are in the device, not the standard cradle.
The H5150 ships with an AC charger, a dongle for charging the removable battery during travel, and a syncing cradle with both a USB connection and a serial port for older systems. Although USB syncing requires the cradle because there's no separate cord, Bluetooth gives you an alternative for syncing with similarly equipped devices. Another plus is the H5150's ability to charge via USB while in the cradle and connected to a PC.
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SIM suspicious? Beneath the battery is a SIM slot. Is HP planning an iPaq phone?
At the heart of this iPaq is a 400MHz Intel XScale PXA255 processor, 64MB of RAM, and 32MB of ROM. The H5550's 128MB of RAM and 48MB of ROM offer more storage capacity, but the H5150 still has enough room for the Windows Mobile OS, plus a bit of nonvolatile flash memory for backing up your contacts. While Wi-Fi is missing, Bluetooth enables communication with other Bluetooth devices and wireless syncing with your PC.
HP gave the H5150 a few impressive hardware improvements and even a bit of mystery. The now standard-size headphone jack can accept your favorite 'phones and has a microphone element for headset use. When the battery dies, you can swap in a new one (purchased separately). Better yet, something that looks like a SIM-card slot sits beneath the battery. When we asked HP if an iPaq/cell phone combo was in the works, the company avoided the question, but the slot says a mouthful.
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You can add memory or SDIO devices via the expansion slot.
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The headphone jack is oddly placed, but we like how HP sized it at the standard 3.5mm.
Also new is Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system, which reputedly delivers better wireless functions, a simple setup, and more-powerful security. Microsoft also tweaked the e-mail and PIM features, and among the added programs are Windows Media Player 9.0, ActiveSync 3.7, an image viewer/editor, and a game.
File Store (which saves important information in nonvolatile ROM), iTask Manager, and Image Viewer are some of the tailor-made iPaq applications. But most of those either are more akin to control-panel applets than full-blown programs or have Windows Mobile duplicates. The software CD, however, does include a wide range of third-party offerings to address almost every need under the sun. Westek ClearVue Suite, for example, lets you view e-mail attachments and Office documents in their native formats. And Avaya IP Softphone and IP Blue VTGO are voice-over-IP solutions.
With its 400MHz processor, the H5150 has a lot of power for both work and play. And its 64MB of RAM enable a decent amount of expansion before you have to pop in extra media. Gameplay with Hexacto's Bounty Hunter 2099 was smooth, without the blips and timing problems we've seen on earlier iPaqs, and movies played equally well.
Since the 3900 series, HP's iPaq screens have looked crisp and bright.
Thanks to improvements in Windows Mobile, the H5150's Bluetooth works like a charm, offering greater ease of use and streamlined connection. We were able to hook up with another Bluetooth-enabled iPaq, the, and swap files in no time. You can also use Bluetooth to connect to a phone, a headset, or a PC for Internet access and syncing.
The H5150 comes with a 1,250mAh lithium-ion battery. It should last a good amount of time between charges, but we squeezed only adequate performance from it--the device must have an appetite for juice. Running movies in PocketTV with the screen brightness at 50 percent, the iPaq mustered just 3 hours, 17 minutes. Granted, that's longer than the H2210's 3 hours, 7 minutes, but the step-down model uses a 900mAh cell. Playing MP3 files is less harrowing for the H5150, but Bluetooth use hogs even more energy.