It may not sport the latest and greatest processor, but HP's iPaq H1910 is the first Pocket PC that we've seen to truly rival the form factor of the Palm V. There's other good news to report about this compact unit, which is barely larger than its screen: it's relatively inexpensive; it boasts a sharp, bright screen; and it has a removable battery. On the downside, however, we're a little miffed that this iPaq's headphone jack is not the standard size, which means that you can't use your favorite headphones with the device without buying an adapter at RadioShack. Also, no protective cover is included. If you can forgive those small shortcomings, this is one slick PDA that should appeal to those who value form over performance. We're impressed that HP has managed to reduce the size of the iPaq without shrinking its screen. Toshiba's e310 and new e330/e335, for example, are thin and light but have the disadvantage of being longer than Palm devices, making them less pocket-friendly. Meanwhile, the H1910 measures 4.46 by 2.75 by 0.50 inches--about half an inch shorter and narrower than most other Pocket PCs, which makes a big difference. And at just 4.23 ounces, the 1910 won't tear the seam out of your pocket.
|The little handheld that could.||The H1910 makes this deck of cards look like a lummox.|
At the bottom of the device, you'll find the standard Pocket PC quick-launch buttons on either side of an elegantly designed, four-way navigation control with a select button in its center. This PDA's speaker is housed under the navigation button. Unlike some handhelds, the H1910 doesn't include a scroll wheel, but that's a relatively minor omission.
|The optional cradle can accommodate a backup battery.||In lieu of a cradle, you get a collection of cables.|
There's an LED at the top of the device that changes colors depending on the type of alert that it's sending. Up top, you'll also find a slot for adding Secure Digital (SD)/MultiMedia Memory card (MMC) media, while a record button and an IR port grace the unit's left side--no ergonomic complaints to report there. Really, our only major gripe with the H1910's design is the inclusion of a smaller-than-standard headphone minijack. This means that unless you buy an adapter, you'll be able to use only the earbuds that ship with the product or a set of headphones that use a less common sub-minijack--like the kind that you'd find on a cell phone. It's also worth noting that the included stylus may be a bit too small for some users. We suggest using a pen-based stylus, but we have a feeling that many folks will choose to go with the tip of their middle or index finger instead.
To cut costs, HP doesn't include a cradle, just a cable that does double duty as a charging and syncing cord when used with the attached dongle. An optional cradle, which is nicely designed and has a separate slot for charging a second battery, is available for $49. As noted, you won't find one of Intel's new 300MHz or 400MHz XScale processors here; if you want that extra speed, you can step up to one of HP's just-announced high-end H5400-series iPaqs. The H1910 runs on a 200MHz Intel PXA 250 processor, which appears to rival the performance of the 206MHz processor found in the first generation of Pocket PC 2002 handhelds. The unit also comes with 64MB of built-in memory (though only 48MB are accessible to the user); 16MB of ROM; and the aforementioned SD/MMC slot for adding more storage. Another plus: The transflective, 65,000-color, TFT screen is quite good.
|No scroller in sight--just a record button and an IR port.||HP includes a set of earbuds to accommodate the nonstandard headphone jack.|
Unlike earlier iPaqs, this model's battery is removable--a big plus since that allows you to swap in an extra cell if you purchase it separately. However, because the 1910 is significantly smaller than previous iPaqs, it's not compatible with existing expansion sleeves and accessories.
As far as software extras go, don't expect to find much, if anything. There's the usual assortment of demos, but you get only the full suite of Microsoft applications, which includes the Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Reader, and Streets, along with a data-backup application. Again, since this iPaq doesn't have the fastest available processor, you won't get the kind of performance that you'd expect from units powered by Intel's 300MHz or 400MHz XScale processors--particularly if the running application is optimized for XScale. The games that we tested on the unit had some blips in the play from time to time, but as long as the action didn't get too intense, the H1910 ran them well enough. Sound quality is quite good, but since HP went with the aforementioned tiny headphone jack, you'll have to use the less-than-stellar earbuds that come with the unit--unless you opt to hit your local RadioShack and purchase an adapter that will let you plug in better headphones.
We liked the screen, which has good colors and sharp contrast.
Battery life was respectable, considering the unit's small 900mAh battery. Playing MP3s with the backlight set at 50 percent, the unit lasted for 3 hours, 44 minutes. However, the MP3s stopped playing after about 3 hours, 15 minutes. This was no match for the Toshiba e330's 4 hours, 16 minutes or the Dell Axim's 6 hours, 22 minutes. However, this iPaq beat out the ViewSonic V35, which has the same-capacity battery but lasted only 2 hours, 46 minutes.