HP recently made an announcement that was music to many hard-core handheld users’ ears: it is releasing the iPAQ 210 Enterprise Handheld. This will be a device loaded with high-end features, like a 4-inch, 640-by-480-pixel (VGA), 260K-color touchscreen and a 624 MHz processor.
This model hasn’t been released yet, but I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with a prototype, and I wanted to share some of my first impressions.
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The Bar Has Been Raised
I’m sure there are many with a Dell Axim X51v or an iPAQ hx4700 who are wondering if the iPAQ 210 will be a worth successor their their device. At this point, it really looks that way.
This upcoming model will have the main features people bought previous high-end devices for: a VGA screen, fast processor, and dual-memory card slots.
On top of that, it will include the latest version of Microsoft operating system for devices like this, Windows Mobile 6 Classic. This includes a number of improvements, including ones to Internet Explorer and the mobile version of the Office suite.
For X51v users, the iPAQ 210 will offer a larger display, and a form factor that’s at least as appealing as their current device. hx4700 users can get rid of the irritating track pad without sacrificing features.
In addition, this handheld’s 2200 mAh battery will have the high capacity I can remember in a device like this.
Of course, you don’t put features like these in an ultra-small unit. There’s no doubt the iPAQ 210 is fairly large: 5.0 inch by 3.0 inch by 0.6 inch, and 8 ounces. But this will be a device that could be considered a laptop replacement, and that’s not the sort of thing you slip into a shirt pocket.
Not Enough Memory
As good as this device looks, it will have a problem. There’s no other way to say it: the iPAQ 210 will not have enough memory.
In the RAM department, 64 MB is barely adequate. When you’re talking about a high-end model like this one, "barely adequate" isn’t what you’re looking for.
UPDATE: I just heard from HP that the marketing materials on this device were incorrect. The iPAQ 210 will have 128 MB of RAM, not 64 MB as stated earlier. In short, problem solved. But there’s still not enough built-in storage.
And the same goes for this model’s 256 MB of ROM. I was hoping for something along the lines of 8 GB, not a measly hundred or so megabytes.
I talked about this to HP, and its representative pointed out that with dual memory card slots the 210 has the potential to store many, many gigabytes of data, depending on what cards you buy. And this model does support SDHC, so it won’t be limited to lower capacity SD cards. Still, also having a generous amount of built in storage would make this a better device.
HP is going to be offering some accessories for this iPAQ, and its selection helps highlight some of the features of this upcoming handeld.
It is going to sell a folding Bluetooth keyboard that’s half an inch thick when closed. Adding this will go a long way toward making the 210 into a latop replacement.
HP will also be offering a set of Bluetooth headphones, as this model supports playing music in stereo over a wireless connection.
The iPAQ 210 is going to cost $450 in the U.S., which is good news. Part of what hobbled the earlier iPAQ hx4700 was its high pricetag: $650.
But at $450 this handheld is appropriately priced. It’s loaded with features, and those don’t come cheap.
HP isn’t saying yet when this model is going on sale, aside from the fact that it is "coming soon".
Theory vs. Reality
As I said, the iPAQ 210 I was using was a prototype, but I can say its performance was very good, and its screen looked excellent.
Of course, only when I get a chance to spend more time with this handheld will I be able to say how well it performs in the real world. Brief testing of a prototype can’t tell you how stable the device is when running typical applications, or what battery life is like in normal use.
So stay tuned. There will be a full Brighthand review of this model as soon as possible.
Video and More Photos
Andrew Baxter from Brighthand‘s sister site NotebookReview.com attended the kick-off event for this device, and he shot the video of the iPAQ 210 that’s embedded in this article.
He also took the following pictures:
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