Brighthand Reviews the HP iPAQ rz1715 — Part II

by Reads (20,253)

Wireless Networking

The rz1715 includes an infrared port, which allows you to wirelessly exchange files with other Pocket PC users, a process called “Beaming.”

You can also send a virtual business card to other handheld users, and your info will automatically be put in their address book.

This even works with some mobile phones. For example, I can beam address book entries between the rz1715 and my Sony Ericsson T610.

And this isn’t all that you can use infrared for. If your mobile phone has an infrared port and your phone plan includes Internet access, you might be able to use your phone as a wireless modem for your iPAQ. The data transfer speed isn’t very high, but it’s a great way to check your email while you are on the go.

Wi-Fi As a “no-frills” model, the rz1715 lacks the sort of advanced wireless networking capabilities found on more expensive handhelds. However, its SD slot supports SDIO, so third-party cards can be used to add Wi-Fi.

If the time comes when you’re thinking about getting a Wi-Fi SD card, I’d highly recommend SanDisk’s Combo Card. This combines Wi-Fi access with additional storage. As the rz1715 is so light on built-in storage, having to take your SD card out in order to put your Wi-Fi card in will prove to be a major hassle.

Internet Applications Even if you don’t do any kind of wireless networking, you can still access the Internet with the rz1715. When your Pocket PC is in its cradle, it can use the Internet connection of the PC it is hooked up to.

Pocket IE in Landscape Pocket Internet Explorer is like a miniature version of the desktop app. It allows you to visit almost any web site and supports important web standards like JavaScript, CSS, SSL, and more.

However, I have to admit, surfing the Web on your handheld when it’s sitting right next to your PC is pretty much pointless. Still, you’ll be happy Pocket Internet Explorer is there if you get a Wi-Fi card.

In addition to being able to synchronize with Outlook on your desktop, Inbox can directly download email from a POP3 or IMAP4 account. This means you can download your personal email to your iPAQ and read it when you are away from your computer. You can even write replies that will be sent when your put your handheld back in its cradle.

Battery Life

I found the battery life of the rz1715 to be above average. In my tests, it lasted for over 7 hours on a single charge. That’s enough to let you go for days and days without a recharge.

This is a good thing, as this model doesn’t include a swappable battery. If you start running out of power, you will need to plug it in to recharge.

Accessories

The rz1715 is a fairly inexpensive handheld and HP had to make some compromises. Just about all of these are in the area of accessories.

For one, it doesn’t come with a cradle. Instead, it has a power cord and a synchronization cable. It’s handy that these are separate because you can bring just the power cord on a trip to keep the battery topped off. Although the synchronization cable hooks up to your USB port, no power is sent to the handheld through it.

A cradle is a handy thing to have, but you can get by without one. If you really want a cradle, you can buy one for $50.

There is one accessory that doesn’t come with the rz1715 that you are absolutely going to have to get: a case. This handheld doesn’t come with anything whatsoever to protect its screen, and that just isn’t a very good idea.

HP really should have put on a flipcover, as it did on some of its recent models. This would have given the screen some absolutely necessary protection while adding a minimal amount to its size and weight.

The stylus is HP’s standard one, and is simply a piece of black plastic. But at least you can console yourself with the thought that people who paid over $600 for the iPAQ hx4705 didn’t get a better stylus than you did.

Value

When the rz1715 debuted, HP was charging $280 for it, which was just too much. It was a really poor value, which is the reason why Brighthand mostly ignored this model at the time.

However, the rz1715’s price was recently cut to $250. And, even better, a search of CNET Shopper.com shows several sites offering this iPAQ for less than $220.

At that price, the rz1715 compares well with models like the Dell Axim X30 and the palmOne Tungsten E.

Conclusion

The rz1715 has gotten a bad reputation in the Handheld Industry for being unattractive, slow, and lacking sufficient Storage capacity.

After having used this handheld, I have to disagree with the people who are giving it a bad rap. It is quite fast enough for its target market, and the addition of an inexpensive SD card bumps its Storage capacity up considerably. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but this device, at the very least, is dull looking rather than ugly.

First-time handheld buyers should really consider the rz1715 for its decent feature set at a good price.


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