HP iPaq Pocket PC H1940 review: HP iPaq Pocket PC H1940

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MSRP: $279.00

The Good Supercompact; improved performance; sharp screen; Bluetooth; removable battery; relatively inexpensive.

The Bad Headphone jack is not standard-sized; no protective cover included.

The Bottom Line The update to the H1910 keeps its predecessor's attractive design but offers improved performance and Bluetooth support.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

If you own an iPaq H1910, its successor's arrival may make you utter a curse or two. That's because the H1940 is the H1910 with a faster processor, an updated operating system, Bluetooth, and a Secure Digital slot that supports SDIO cards, and both devices are listed at $299. If it's any consolation, HP still hasn't figured out how to give the compact unit a standard-sized headphone jack, so you need to plug in the bundled adapter to use your favorite headphones with the H1940. And alas, no protective case is included--again. Those gripes aside, this is a sweet handheld that will appeal to those who can live without the iPaq H2200's extra expansion slot. Like the H1910, the H1940 measures 4.5 by 2.8 by 0.5 inches; it's about half an inch shorter and narrower than most other Pocket PCs, which makes a big difference. And at just 4.2 ounces, the H1940 won't tear your pocket seams.

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Who needs cards when the H1940 is nearly as small and offers more entertainment?
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Take it away: Few pockets can't accommodate this slim little number.

At the bottom of the device is the elegant four-way navigation control. In its center is the Select button, on either side of it are the standard Pocket PC quick-launch buttons, and hidden beneath it is the speaker. Unlike some handhelds, the H1940 doesn't have a scrollwheel, but that's a relatively minor omission.

The power button, located at the top of the device, contains an LED; its color depends on the type of alert it's sending. Also up top is a slot for Secure Digital (SD) and MultiMediaCard (MMC) media and SDIO add-ons such as the upcoming SDIO WLAN 802.11b accessory, which has an initial list price of about $175. A Memo Record button and an IR port adorn the unit's left side.

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Swapping cells: You can purchase a spare battery for times of need.
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Though a cradle is available, the H1940 comes with just a power/syncing cable.

Again, as with the H1910, our only major design gripe is with the smaller than standard 2.5mm headphone minijack. Without an adapter (included), it accepts only the supplied earbuds or headphones that use an uncommon subminijack, the kind you find on a cell phone. And the included stylus may be a bit too small for some users. We suggest a pen-based stylus, but we have a feeling you'll go with the tip of your 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. A nicely designed optional cradle with a separate slot for charging a second battery is available for $49.

Dual purpose: You can use the SDIO-compatible Secure Digital slot for storage or add-on devices.
As we said, all the changes to this model are under the hood. The amount of built-in memory is still 64MB (though you can access only 56.7MB), but HP has upped the built-in ROM from 16MB to 32MB to accommodate the new Pocket PC 2003 OS. Just as important, this handheld runs on a 266MHz Samsung processor, which supposedly offers greater energy efficiency and speed rivaling that of Intel's 400MHz XScale processor (see the Performance section). Bluetooth is here, and the top-notch transflective, 65,000-color, TFT screen is the same one found on the H1910 and this year's other iPaqs.

The battery is removable, enabling you to swap in an optional extra cell--a big plus. But the H1940 is incompatible with older iPaq expansion sleeves and accessories.

Don't expect much in the way of software extras. You get the usual assortment of demos; the full suite of Microsoft applications, including the Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Reader, and Streets; and a data-backup program. HP throws in an image viewer, but one also comes with the new OS.

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Sound source: The navigation control hides the speaker.
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A little on the side: The infrared port is on the side rather than the top.

Comparing the H1940 with the older model, we immediately noticed a big performance boost. Video and certain games ran much more smoothly. For example, playing Hexacto's baseball game was difficult on the H1910 because of swing-timing issues. On the H1940, it literally became a whole new ball game, and we were suddenly able to pepper the field with hits. We can't tell whether the improvement is more attributable to Windows Media 9.0 or the new processor.

Sound is quite good; supposedly the Windows Media Player upgrade raised the quality. But because HP went with the 2.5mm headphone minijack, you'll have to listen through the less-than-stellar included earbuds unless you get an adapter for standard headphones.

Shine on: The bright transflective screen offers an image that's pretty pretty.

We were particularly impressed with the transflective screen, which appears to be one of the best on the market. Indoors, it's brighter than that of Toshiba's e330 and e335, and its white background has less gray. The display also did well outside; reading text in bright sunlight was no problem.

Battery life was respectable, considering the unit's small 900mAh battery. Playing MP3 files with the backlight on, the H1940 lasted 3 hours, 46 minutes. However, that's nothing compared with the Toshiba e330's 4 hours, 16 minutes or the Dell Axim X5's 6 hours, 22 minutes. At the more demanding task of playing MPEG-1 videos in PocketTV with the backlight at its standard setting, the unit lasted just 2 hours, 52 minutes.

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