Say Goodbye to Sleeves and Hello to a New Generation of iPAQs

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In the second half of 2003, HP released no less than seven new iPAQ models. In fact, during that period it put out more handhelds than even the prolific handheld maker Sony. However, this practice hasn’t continued this year. Many people have speculated that HP was simply waiting for the release of Windows Mobile 2003, which came just a couple months ago, to re-start its parade of new models again. Unfortunately, it turns out that those who are hoping for new iPAQs in the near future are going to be disappointed.

Brighthand has learned that HP isn’t planning to release any New Handhelds for more than two months. And long-time iPAQ users will be disappointed to learn that the company is phasing out the use of expansion packs.

What Do You Have Up Your Sleeves? Nothing.

When Compaq first introduced the iPAQ (well before its buyout by HP), an important part of this line was the expansion pack, commonly referred to as a sleeve. The primary initial use for the sleeve was to add a CompactFlash slot, however other types of expansion packs were soon available, including ones that added a camera and Bluetooth wireless networking to the iPAQ.

iPAQ with Sleeve These lasted for many years and even survived the iPAQ line transitioning to HP, which introduced several models that supported them. However, according to information leaked to Brighthand, the expansion pack has reached the end of its life. HP will release no more models that will be able to use them.

HP believes these peripherals are no longer necessary. Many of the functions they offered are now built into the handhelds, or are available as CompactFlash or SDIO cards. Also, sleeves were created at a time when the iPAQs were much larger than they are today. Relatively few customers want a handheld as large as the h5550 when they can get the almost same functionality in a handheld as svelte as the h4150.

The Roadmap for 2004

With sleeves behind it, HP is preparing to release a series of new iPAQs. It has at least four new models planned for 2004. Unfortunately, none of these are going to be released within the next few months.

Although Brighthand has been leaked HP’s handheld plans for the rest of the year, this doesn’t give a complete picture of all the models to be introduced. Still, some details are available on all the coming iPAQ handhelds.

The iPaq hx4700 will include both CompactFlash and SD slots. It will offer 128 MB of RAM, plus more than 20 MB in a File Store. This model is expected to be available in late July.

Update: Additional information on the hx4700 is now available in this article.

One of the features large companies like about the h5550 series is its built-in fingerprint scanner. This biometric security protection prevents unauthorized access to any proprietary information stored on this device. According to HP’s roadmap, the h5550 will be replaced by the iPAQ hx2700, which will also include a fingerprint scanner. This device will be released late this year.

The upcoming device that the least is known about is the iPAQ rz1700. All that is available about this Pocket PC is that it will be the replacement for the h1940, a mid-range model with a slim design.

The first HP device expected to hit the market is the iPAQ h6310, about which rumors have been circulating for months. According to other sources this model will be a cellular-wireless Pocket PC that also includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. More information on the h6300 series is available in this article.

Update: According to an unconfirmed report from a Brighthand reader who claims inside information, the models whose names begin with “hx” will have 640-by-480-pixel displays. This means the hx4700 and hx2700 will have VGA screens, while the rz1700 and h6310 will have QVGA screens, as all current iPAQs do.

At this point, no other information is available on any of these upcoming handhelds. Nor are any pictures available.

Also not known is what version of Windows Mobile most of these will use. According to rumor, the h6300 series models will ship with the original version of Windows Mobile, with a Windows Mobile Second Edition update coming a few months later. It is reasonable to expect all the other models to ship with the Second Edition already installed.

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