HP iPAQ h2210 Pocket PC review: HP iPAQ h2210 Pocket PC

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MSRP: $379.00

The Good Compact; dual expansion slots; sharp screen; Bluetooth; consumer-grade IR; removable battery; doubles as a remote control for home-theater gear.

The Bad Not as slim as the H1940.

The Bottom Line In the middle of HP’s 2003 iPaq line, the dual-expansion H2210 will hit the sweet spot for many Pocket PC buyers.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

NDA 6-23 HP iPaq H2210 intro

One of the complaints people had about earlier iPaqs was that, unlike Pocket PCs from Toshiba and Casio, no iPaq offered built-in expansion slots for both CompactFlash and SD (Secure Digital) cards. Well, HP listened and has come out with the H2210 ($399 list price). Though neither as slim nor as affordable as the H1940, this guy is currently the most compact dual-expansion Pocket PC on the market. And its size, performance, and features make it an attractive choice, particularly for users who want the option of adding lots of memory or a combination of memory and a CompactFlash add-on device. HP says the H2210 was in development before Dell's Axim X5 came out, but it's hard not to think the two devices might be illegitimate cousins. Most of the reason for that is because both the HP and Dell share black, rubberized side-grip panels that help reduce the odds of the device slipping out of your hand. However, the HP definitely beats the Dell on looks.

The H2210 isn't supercompact like the H1940, but it's not that much bigger, weighing in at 5.1 ounces (compared to 4.2 ounces) and measuring 4.5 by 3 by 0.6 inches. In fact, it's smaller and lighter than the original iPaq, which didn't have any expansion slots at all (you had to slip on a sleeve to add CompactFlash or PC Cards).

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Despite housing both Secure Digital and CompactFlash slots, the H2210 is rather small.
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By placing the slots right next to each other, the HP gives the unit a low profile.

An LED behind the power button at the top of the device changes colors depending on the type of alert it's sending. Up top, you'll also find two slots: one for adding CompactFlash Type I or II cards, and one for adding SD/MultiMediaCard (MMC) media, as well as SDIO cards, including an upcoming SDIO WLAN 802.11b accessory that will initially sell for around $175.

The device has a couple of unique design features. First, there's a responsive, joysticklike navigation button that truly feels like a joystick rather than a four-way directional key. Second, there's no dedicated button for recording voice memos. Instead, you have to activate the recorder from within the Notes application. However, for most users, this won't be a drawback since the Record button is underused on most Pocket PCs and has a habit of getting accidentally activated.

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Under my thumb: Behind the shiny navigation button lies a built-in speaker.
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Charged or cashed: The cradle can charge the H2210 and a spare (optional) battery simultaneously.

For the extra $100 or so you'll spend in getting this model over the H1940, HP includes both a cradle and a canvas protective cover. Another plus: The H2210 has a standard headphone minijack, so you can use whatever headphones you want without buying an adapter. Aside from the extra CompactFlash slot, this model is similar to the H1940. Both have 32MB of ROM to accommodate the new Pocket PC 2003 OS and 64MB of RAM, though only 56MB are accessible to the user. Bluetooth is here, along with a top-notch transflective, 65,000-color, TFT screen. As for differences, this iPaq uses the 400MHz XScale processor instead of the allegedly more energy-efficient 266MHz Samsung processor, and you do get consumer-grade IR, which allows you to turn the device into a programmable universal remote control using the included Nevo application.

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Dueling duo: CompactFlash and SD slots vie for your storage media or add-on devices.
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When in doubt, switch it out: The H2210's rechargeable battery is also replaceable.

A big plus, the latest iPaqs feature removable batteries, so you can swap in an extra cell. However, like the H1940, this model isn't compatible with the older iPaq expansion sleeves and accessories.

Beyond the Nevo remote-control app, don't expect to find much in the way software extras, though Pocket PC 2003 has more embedded applications than Pocket PC 2002. You get the usual assortment of demos and a full suite of Microsoft applications, including the Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Reader, and Streets. There are a few other notable applications, such as iPaq Backup; Diagnostic Toolkit, which lets you test your device; and Peacemaker, an application meant to negotiate communication between Pocket PCs and Palms. HP also throws in an image viewer application, but one is also included with Pocket PC 2003 OS along with the addicting game Jawbreaker (a.k.a. Bubblet). The H2210 uses Intel's 400MHz PXA255 processor, which is currently the fastest available for Pocket PCs--though some argue that Samsung's 266MHz processor rivals its speed and is more energy efficient. While we didn't notice an appreciable speed difference between this model and the H1940, both iPaqs played games and ran video smoothly. Sound quality is quite good and supposedly improved with the upgrade to Windows Media 9. It's also worth noting that you can adjust bass and treble levels via the iPaq Audio control panel, which acts as an equalizer.

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Now showing on the small screen: The HP's screen is equally adept at displaying images and video.

We were particularly impressed with the transflective screen. Brighter than that of Toshiba's e330 and e335 models, it appears to be one of the best on the market. Indoors, its white background has less gray in it. The display also did well outside; we were able to read text on the screen in bright sunlight without a problem.

Battery life was respectable. Playing MP3s with the backlight set at 50 percent, the unit lasted for 4 hours, 24 minutes. This was no match for the Dell Axim X5's 6 hours, 22 minutes, but it was better than the HP H1940's 3 hours, 46 minutes. At the more-demanding task of playing MPEG-1 videos in PocketTV with the backlight at its standard setting, the unit lasted for just 3 hours, 7 minutes--about 15 minutes longer than the H1940.