REVIEW: HP iPaq 1910

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The HP iPaq 1910 (MSRP $299) is all about being small and having good form, while at the same time being very functional.  The screen on the 1910 takes up almost the entire front of the PDA, the buttons take up very little space due to their small size.  Heck, even a standard sized headphone output jack was too thick for HP to put in the 1910, they installed an output jack with a smaller diameter and then supplied headphones with the PDA.  My goal in this review is to help you decide if the sacrifices made in functionality to get the excellent form factor and size of the iPaq 1910 Pocket PC are worth your considering this device for purchase.

In the Box:

Before looking inside the box, let’s look at the actual box HP has packaged the 1910 inside.

Car keys, coffee, iPaq 1910 and you’re ready to go!  As you can see, HP plugs the lightweight form factor on the box, no surprise there.  Now let’s open the box to look inside and see what we actually get:

So no car keys are in fact included, which is too bad, but here’s what you do get:
 HP iPaq 1910 Pocket PC
 Stereo Headphones
 AC adapter
 USB synch cable
 Lithium Ion battery for h1900 iPaq series
 Charging Adapter
 Reference Guide

The port on the bottom of the iPaq is used for charging and USB connectivity.  The connector used to hook up the port on the iPaq to the USB port on the back of your PC also has a hole to plug in the charger to, this enables you to connect to your PC and charge the iPaq at the same time.  The CD has the basic stuff such as Microsoft Outlook 2002 PC edition, ActiveSync, Windows Media Player 8.0 and Microsoft eReader.  Most Pocket PCs come with Media Player and Microsoft eReader installed, but HP decided to make it an optional install — that meant more steps for me so thumbs down to that.  The headphones are great, excellent sound.  Don’t think that HP is just throwing in an extra gift for purchasing their product though, the headphones included are necessary as they have a narrower than standard jack.  You can’t plug the included headphones into any audio device, and you can’t plug in a standard headphone jack to the iPaq either.  It’s just like what the airlines do to you so you won’t steal their headphones, but HP did this to keep the thickness of the 1910 down.

Form Factor:

Let’s take a look at an above view of the 1910 sitting on top of and then next to my wallet (which is a normal sized wallet….I wish it were thicker I suppose):

 

 

As you can see, this thing is truly wallet-sized.  The dimensions are 4.46 by 2.75 by 0.50 inches, about half an inch shorter and narrower than most other Pocket PC devices.  In fact, the 1910 is more like a Palm device in its small and sleek form factor.  The iPaq 1910 weighs in at 4.23 oz; it even fits comfortably in your shirt pocket, don’t try that with other more chunky iPaq 3900 series or Dell Axim devices.  In addition to the small size and weight, the form and design of this device scores above par for other reasons.  The casing on the 1910 is better than any other Pocket PC I’ve used; it’s a combination of metal and plastic with a metallic coating.  The feel is very solid and sturdy, not like some other Pocket PC devices that are very plastic like and make you believe they’d crack in half if dropped.  In addition, the sleek curves on this iPaq make it look like the Porsche of the PDA industry.   The speaker for the iPaq is extremely well hidden and non-obtrusive.  Can you see it on the front?  No?  That’s because it’s a tiny but powerful speaker on the top and out of view. The buttons on the 1910 are well placed, but small.  I find the jog dial a little bit hard to use because of its size, if you have a fat thumb you might get frustrated trying to hit the correct navigation directions.  The standard shortcut buttons for getting to your calendar, contacts, email or Today screen are all there from left to right and easy to push.  The power button is clear and located at the very top of the 1910.  It flashes orange when the device is charging.  On the left side of the device is a button for quickly accessing the dictation software and turning on the microphone for recording.  On other devices I’d always accidentally bump this button and get huge audio files full of background noise, the 1910’s record button is slightly inset making it easy to push when needed but hard to push accidentally.  The back of the device has a push up switch for releasing the battery, no complaints there either.  On top of the PDA are the SecureDigital expansion slot, headphone jack, speaker and stylus silo.  The stylus is easy to remove and nice — once again though it is a little smaller than some might want.

Screen:

The screen on the iPaq 1910 should definitely be written home about.  It’s superb.  We’ve come to expect an excellent screen from the iPaq line, and there’s no disappointment here.  Side by side with the ViewSonic V35 I have at the moment shows the iPaq 1910 to have a clearly brighter and more colorful screen.  Go to a lineup of PDAs in your closest electronics store and the iPaq 1910 will jump out from all other devices with it’s screen.  The specs for the screen are as follows:
 The 240 x 320 pixels
 16-bit (about 65,000 colors)
 Transreflective
 Backlit screen

All these specs are actually pretty standard for a Pocket PC device, stats are great but when the game is actually played the brightest and most colorful screen of the latest round of mid-range Pocket PCs (which includes the Dell Axim, ViewSonic V35, Toshiba e335) belong to the iPaq 1910.

Processor:

The processor for the iPaq 1910 is the 200MHz Intel PXA 250 processor; the speed of this processor matches the 206MHz processor found in the first round of Pocket PC 2002 devices.  This processing power is more than enough for everyday applications on your handheld.  Editing word docs, writing emails, playing MP3s, playing basic games and all that other good stuff runs flawlessly.  If you’re into watching videos and playing processor intensive games on your handheld though, you might want to go with the Dell Axim that has a 400 MHz processor or step up to an the HP iPaq 5400 series device.

Memory:

Pocket PCs seem to have been stuck at a standard 64MB of built-in memory for a while, the HP iPaq 1910 comes in at that mark also.  The actual amount of memory available to a user is 48 MB.  Be very careful when you buy a device to check what the amount of memory installed versus what is available to a user.  The ViewSonic V35 is also a 64 MB machine, but only 36.45 MB of that memory is available to the user.  The media used for memory expansion is the SecureDigital (SD), also pretty standard throughout the Pocket PC industry now.  This allows for up to 512 MB of external memory via use of SD card for storing files and applications.

Expansion & Accessories:

Expansion and accessories is where the iPaq 1910 falls on its face compared to the competition.  Listen now, if you want to buy a PDA that is highly expandable then don’t go with the 1910.  The SD slot used for memory is NOT SecureDigital Input/Output compatible (SDIO).  This means that all those wonderful devices out there, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi SDIO compatible expansion cards will not work with the iPaq 1910.  This is a disappointment to say the least, but then again the 1910 is highly functional without adding every this & that gizmo.  Also note that the HP expansion sleeve will not fit on the iPaq 1910, but it wouldn’t make sense to add a bulky expansion sleeve to the 1910 anyway.  It really just depends on what you use a PDA for, if you’re a Private Pilot and want GPS or have Wi-Fi in your house or office and wish to utilize that via your PDA then think hard before buying the iPaq 1910.

Speaker:

The built in speaker on the iPaq 1910 rests on top.  The sound comes through three tiny holes that are virtually hidden from view.  The sound is excellent compared to other PDAs, the best I have heard.  The volume can really be cranked up and it doesn’t sound half as tinny as other devices sound does.  Plug in the stereo speakers for even better sound though.

Battery & Power:

I’m a fan of removable batteries for PDAs and the iPaq 1910 offers this nice feature.  The battery is easily removed and replaced, here’s a view of the iPaq with it’s battery next to it:

Put the battery in then snap the back of the case on and you’re ready to go.  HP offers extra batteries for purchase so you can theoretically have an infinite supply of power while on the road.  You might want to buy a lot of batteries for that infinite supply of power though.  HP has gone with a lighter and less powerful battery to keep down weight and size of the 1910.  I’ve found that normal to above normal usage can drain the battery in about 5 hours.  That’s below the industry standard of about 9 hours.  Turning down the screen brightness can help to squeeze more time out of the battery; the screen on the iPaq is very bright even on its normal setting so it would be wise to turn down brightness anyway.  If you use a PDA on long flights then take an extra battery or go with a device that has a marathon battery life (the Dell Axim reportedly does very well on battery life).

Cradle:

This section is brief since the iPaq 1910 comes with no cradle.  However, a cradle can be purchased for $49.99.  If you like having a PDA sit in its cradle while on the desktop then this might be something you’d buy, but I find just having the necessary wires to connect to a USB or AC outlet is all I really care to have.  If you really like having a cradle though, consider the fact you’ll have to pay extra — a personal preference decision once again.

Conclusion:

No bones about it, the iPaq 1910 is a very nicely designed and excellent PDA.  I like the small form factor a lot and the looks are great.  You’ll really have to think about what you want from a PDA before buying the 1910 though.  If you don’t want to be limited by lack of expandability in a PDA then you might want to look at other mid-range devices from companies such as ViewSonic, Dell or Toshiba.  However, if you’re looking for a PDA that isn’t the size of a brick and makes you look suave at the next business meeting then the 1910 will do that for you.  Overall the iPaq 1910 is a solid multimedia capable PDA that is superbly designed, but it is not on the cutting edge of technology or highly expandable.  I give the 1910 a thumbs up and buy rating, but consider who you are and what you want a PDA for before buying it at $299.

Click here for the latest pricing and specs on the HP iPaq 1910

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