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Review of the PDA HP iPaq rz1710
HP is leading on the market for Pocket PC including the budget sector. The story began from a successful tiny model HP iPaq 1910, that later was backed by HP iPaq 1930 and HP iPaq 1940. The latter has still no rivals with the price/functional ratio. Currently the handhelds HP iPaq 1930 and HP iPaq 1940 are taken out of production and are to be replaced by HP iPaq rz1710.
The iPaq rz1710 doesn’t keep traditions of its predecessors; it seems to be a simplified version. Having the same price with the iPaq 1940 the handheld lacks an integrated Bluetooth module, a voice recorder button, for all that the processor frequency rate is lower, the RAM size is twice as little, the battery became non-removable and design has be greatly changed. If consider advantages, the screen has become much better, and there has appeared the standard headphones jack. With the current price the model has no chance to refresh that great success of its predecessor, to save the day the prices should quickly fall to some $200-220. In any case the company will lose the position gained in the budget Pocket PC sector, as there is no adequate substitute for iPaq 1940 in the price range under $300.
First of all we’ll tell you about design. The majority of specialists admit the iPaq 1900 series had one of the winning designs among all Pocket PC models. The new model features another design, where smooth lines get sharp. The silver plastic is replaced with the combination of black and silver. I can’t say the design is whether good or bad, it’s another. It’s a peculiar feature for the whole line of handhelds in 2004.
The size got a little bit larger, but the handheld became lighter. In all, these are typical size and weight for a single slot Pocket PC. The device lies comfortably in hand, it doesn’t slip due to the black rough back panel. The casing is pleasant to touch. The construction feels safe, If you squeeze the device in hand it won’t creak, details fit each other properly.
Evidently the design dictated the location of control elements. During the gaming the iPaq rz1710 didn’t perform well: the joystick is relatively small, the application buttons are placed too close – you can accidentally press them. We tested the control buttons with the arcade game the Turjah Episode II. The common use of buttons and the joystick didn’t make any problems. By the way, the joystick carries the inscriptions to help control the media player (volume settings, play/pause and so on), like in Toshiba e400. You can also choose a second set of applications to launch if you hold any of these buttons down (including On/Off button).
The sides are free from any control elements. The voice recorder button, which provided a comfortable page browsing, has disappeared in this model.
The top end has the following elements: the standard headphones jack (so you don’t need an adapter), the microphone of a good quality, IrDA and the SD/MMC slot supporting SDIO and the silo. By the way, the new PDA line comes with a standard stylus featuring a solid black plastic, an average size and weight that are near to the optimum.
At the bottom there are a soft reset button and a hub to plug a USB-cable for synchronization. The back panel hides a dynamic, which is loud enough. The only shortcoming here is that the location of it isn’t appropriate, you can accidentally cover it with your palm.
The screen is standard for a Pocket PC – a transflective TFT 3.5” 320x240 matrix. It renders colors excellently in- and outdoors working well under the sunlight. Compared with the iPaq 1930/1940 the iPaq rz1710 features a better screen, which doesn’t get yellow if looking at it at different angles (though there is a residual effect if you take a look at a angle from above), more backlight level are available now (20). The minimum level provides a comfortable work in the dark.
The handheld is equipped with a non-removable 1000 mAh Li-Ion battery. The manufacturer claims up to 7 hours of work. Our tests revealed that the rz1710 lasted for 2 hours 40 minutes under the maximum load (the maximum backlight, video playback). Not bad. In the MP3 mode (the screen is off, playback from the memory card) the device was good for 7-8 hours, not longer. Well, the result is quite appropriate for this class PDA. It took the handheld 4 hours to become fully charged.
The rz1710 carries 32 MB of RAM onboard, 16.84 MB of which is available to the user (right after a hard reset). That is not enough for a normal functioning; some heavy games and applications need much more memory to be launched. The iPaq File Store memory suggests 10.33 Mb, it’s not a big advantage, as the price for a megabyte (SD format) has dropped to 10 cents.
ÂThe handheld is equipped with the processor Samsung S3C2410 203 MHz like in HP iPaq 1930. Theoretically it can be non-compatible with Intel XScale processors, however in practice both processors are fully compatible.
As usual we used the SPB Benchmark package to test the productivity. For this purpose we've chosen other budget Pocket PC models.
This index describes Pocket PC’s CPU speed. As expected the rz1710 occupies the last position.
The file system index describes Pocket PC file system speed (read/record/move). The new iPaq shows average results.
The platform index describes total Pocket PC platform speed including the built-in applications. The handheld performed well. You’ll hardly notice the difference with the naked eye, built-in applications work quickly.
The synchronization speed is high.
Integrated index describes total Pocket PC speed. There was no surprise to find a handheld with the 203 MHz processor at the bottom of the list.
Let’s pass over to the tests of the video playback. In the video mode we ran several clips at different video stream intensity (kbps – kilobit per second, DivX 5.03 codec involved). Sound got encoded in MP3 format with 128 kbps bitrate. We applied the criteria of dropped frames while playing, the less the better and tested a fragment from the motion picture Cats and Dogs (the fight scene). See the results:
In all, the iPaq rz1710 is good to work with built-in applications and most exterior applications, listen to MP3, however you’ll fail to play heavy games and watch video of an acceptable quality.
The handheld is powered by Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Second Edition. You can learn more about the standard software included reading the related review published on our site. As for extra applications, pay attention to HP Task Switch – the utility that enables the switch between tasks. HP Image Zone views photos. HP Profiles – a quick switch between profiles (profile settings include the settings of the sound volume, the backlight level, the auto shutdown), quite an interesting find by HP.
The iPaq rz1710 isn’t a complete failure. Should HP manage to quickly lower the retail price to $210, the model might become very popular. Currently it is offered for $280, so we cannot recommend it, if you are to spend that sum, you’d better choose the iPaq 1940 (the model is still commercially available) or FS Pocket LOOX 410. Now let’s pass over to cons and pros in brief.
Pros: a good screen, the standard headphones jack, a good microphone and the sound in the headphones.
Cons: the lack of Bluetooth, a non-removable battery, an uncomfortable joystick for gaming and uncomfortable control buttons, the lack of the voice recorder button, a low productivity, little RAM.
Design can belong to either positions depending only on the reader’s choice.
Published (Russian) – 28 September 2004
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