Today I got my hands on the new HP iPaq 2215, with a new design for the iPaq line and the new Microsoft Mobile 2003 OS loaded I was rather excited to get the 2215 and see if the next generation is a leap ahead or a step ahead.
Let's focus on the iPaq 2215, what it is, what it offers and if it might be worth your hard earned $399.99.
HP iPaq 2215 Overview
First of all, let me clear any confusion between the iPaq 2210 and the iPaq 2215 -- they are the same device. HP is just using the 2210 and 2215 nomenclature to track iPaqs sold through different channels such as online sales versus retail store sales. As a consumer on the street just get used to asking for the iPaq 2215 in your local electronics store, I asked HP why they insist on confusing consumers and basically their answer was they don't care because they need a way to track their product sales through different channels. Fair enough.
That aside, the iPaq 2210 / iPaq 2215 is designed for mobile professionals, it is the smallest Pocket PC on the market that includes dual expansion using Secure Digital and Compact Flash. The device allows you to store extra data such as large media files using one type of expansion, such as a CompactFlash Microdrive with up to 2GB storage, and use the other expansion slot (the SDIO slot if the CF slot is in use) for add-on accessories to the iPaq 2215.
The 2215 has wireless Bluetooth capability and features a small and sleek design. Also included is the Nevo universal remote control software so that users can control their home or office audio and video hardware. The name of the game is wireless control with the iPaq 2215, but keep in mind it does not come with built-in Wi-Fi, but you can use an add-on CompactFlash expansion slot accessory to enable Wi-Fi.
Included is 64 MB of RAM (56 MB of main memory) and a 400 MHz X-Scale PXA255 applications processor. The Pocket PC 2003 OS is tweaked to take full advantage of this chipset and offer blazing speed. The street price for the iPaq 2210 is $399.
HP iPaq 2215 In The Box
new iPaq 2215 box
Nothing dazzling about the iPaq 2215 box, just a functional cardboard container, no fancy Tungsten T like packaging. Let's open the box and pull everything out to see what's inside:
Included in the iPaq 2215 box is the
HP iPaq 2215 - A Gripping Design
The HP iPaq 2215 is sort of a blend between the iPaq 1910 and the Dell Axim design, but it definitely has some unique features -- or lack of features depending on how you look at it -- in its design set. I say lack of features because HP took the interesting step of stripping any buttons from the sides of the device. No reset button, no voice record activation button and no jog-dial. Some people may disagree with this. Personally I've never had a device that I don't sometimes bump the record button on the side and inadvertently record dead air. I'd like to have seen a design that prevents this, but am probably happier just to see the button gone if that's not possible and especially since I rarely use the record feature.
Instead of any buttons on the side we get rubber grips that run from the top of the device to about 60% of the way down (the top image in this article displays this nicely), enough so that your fingers will wrap the rubber area and not the plastic casing area. I'm a fan of this, I will say that the rubber grips are nowhere near as industrial feeling or effective as the Dell Axim grips, but they are more sleek and lend themselves to a nicer look, but I wouldn't say they're going to superglue the device to your hand and prevent all drops.
Above is a shot of top of the iPaq 2215, Bayer drugs gets a promotional freebie as my 1-A-Day vitamins are reflected by the iPaq 2215 screen. Focusing on the iPaq, you'll see that from left-to-right in the picture we have the silo for the stylus (picture features stylus removed), in the middle on the black area we have the SD expansion which does not have a protective cover, and then right behind the SD slot is the much larger CF expansion slot. Dual expansion is a beautiful thing that allows a user to use one expansion slot for memory expansion and the other for an accessory expansion such as a Wi-Fi card, modem, GPS or what have you. Gone are the days of needing a sleeve add-on to the iPaq to allow for upgrades to the device, it's all done through CF or SDIO expansion with the iPaq 2215. On the far-right hand side as the device is oriented in this picture you see the headphone jack and microphone input area.
A view from behind shows that the HP iPaq 2215 has a back door that allows for a replaceable battery. The battery is a 900 mAH Lithium Ion rechargeable. HP claims it has a 12 hour life, I doubt that if you're doing anything serious, but I haven't had a chance to truly test the battery life yet. On the back you also see the speaker, since the speaker is aimed away from the user it tends to cause you to want to turn up the volume, but as with most handheld devices the built in speaker is no Bose or Infinity so cranking up the volume isn't always best for sound quality. Go with headphones if you want sound quality is the usual advice.
The button layout on the front of the iPaq 2215 is very straight-forward and sensible. Same as ever, you have four shortcut buttons for (from left to right) calendar, contacts, email and then a quick application launcher (push the quick app launcher and it pops up a menu you can select programs from to run). The D-Pad (directional pad) is a 5 way directional control that allows for up, down, left, right and inward pressing. The D-Pad rolls beautifully under the thumb and is easy to manipulate. Sorry gamers, I haven't truly put it to the test with any non-puzzle like games yet. At the top-right of the device is the power button, easy to push when necessary but hard to push by accident, just as it should be. On the top left we have two lights. The blue light indicates when Bluetooth is active and the orange light becomes lit when the device is charging or to alert for upcoming appointments in Outlook and other such alerts.
The device dimensions are 4.54" x 3.00" x .61" (length x width x depth) and the weight comes in at 5.1 oz. This is incredibly light and thin for a dual expansion device. Almost 3 oz. lighter than the Axim, the iPaq 2215 wins the award hands down for functionality packed into a small frame. Overall I'm a big fan of the design, I'm still a sucker for the amazingly thin 1900 series but the iPaq 2200 series has to be thicker to offer dual expansion and that's worth a trade-off in thinness
iPaq 2215 Wireless Capability
The iPaq 2215 comes with built-in Bluetooth, this enables you to print from the device to a Bluetooth enabled printer using HPs printing software that is built into the iPaq 2215, or you can use Bluetooth to pair with a Bluetooth enabled phone so that you can dial into an ISP and receive the internet on your iPaq 2215. Below you see a picture of my Bluetooth capable Sony Ericsson t68i making friends with the iPaq 2215. The new wireless and Bluetooth management software built into Windows Mobile 2003 made the pairing process straight forward:
t68i: "Hello iPaq 2215", iPaq 2215 "Hello Sony t68i, let's talk Bluetooth"
The iPaq 2215 also comes with the Nevo Universal remote software so you can use the infrared on the device to control your audio and video equipment.
iPaq 2215 Screen
As is usual for any iPaq device, the iPaq 2215 features a fantastic display. The specs on the display are 240 x 320 pixels, 3.5" diagonal 16 Bit TFT Transreflective display. It's pretty darn bright. Not quite as bright as the 1910 display is though, that screen is amazingly bright.
iPaq 2215 OS - Microsoft Mobile 2003
The new features with Microsoft Mobile 2003 are mostly under the covers, meaning you might be disappointed if you're looking for a graphical revamp or new amazing features. Sorry folks, but next year is when we'll see the amazing upgrades that make a PDA act like a laptop and allow us to output to an SVGA screen or projector via the handheld's cradle. For now, just be content with the fact that the wireless management has been upgraded and Jawbreaker comes loaded in the Games folder. Okay, so there's a bit more to talk about and I could tell you about it or instead you could go and view a nice little slide show that Microsoft put together to explain the new features:
They don't mention that a few applications, such as Microsoft Money, break and don't work with the new OS. Oops. Overall though most applications should be fine, if you're concerned about a particular application we recommend checking out that software vendors website or calling them, many developers will upgrade their apps and provide a free update if Windows Mobile 2003 does indeed stop the application from running properly.
iPaq 2215 Perfomance
I've had the iPaq 2215 for 5 hours now so I can't comment too much on performance other than the fact it has been flawless so far. Switching between apps is completely seamless, I've been playing a couple of small movie preview media files with no problems. The iPaq 2215 features an Intel PXA255 X-Scale 400 MHz processor. The new Microsoft Mobile 2003 OS is said to be optimized for this chipset, so I'm looking forward to pushing the device and getting good performance and battery life.
I'll be Back, Full Review of iPaq 2215 Upcoming
This is just a short overview of the iPaq 2215 Pocket PC, this weekend I'll be back with a full review and to answer whether I feel this product is a giant leap ahead or just a couple of steps forward. Overall for now though, you should know I really do like this device and it could contend for the best PPC on the market for the most reasonable price ($399). If it's time for a handheld upgrade for you, this could definitely be the one and the price is right. Feel free to post any questions so I can answer them in the review, and take a look at the specs and pricing for the device if you wish to know the details in those areas.
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