HP iPAQ h4150 Full Review

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The new iPAQ Pocket PC h4100 series is intended to bring to market an affordable integrated wireless PDA in a slim design. 

The iPAQ h4150 has the same form factor as the iPAQ h1940, but the same internals and specs as the new iPAQ h4350 from HP.  This means the h4150 brings to consumer and business users a slim device containing many features of the type expected from a larger and bulkier PDA. 

Equipped with a fantastic screen and lightweight form factor there’s a lot to like about the iPAQ h4150. 

In this full review I include picture comparisons with the iPAQ h2210 and iPAQ h1940 to highlight similarities and differences among these popular iPaqs.  Also addressed in this review is the yellow-tinted screen issue of the iPAQ h4150.

HP iPAQ h4150

First Impressions

Upon opening the iPAQ h4150 I was very pleased to see that it did indeed stay true to the design and form factor of the iPAQ h1900 series (iPAQ 1910, iPAQ h1940, iPAQ 1935).  I used both the iPAQ 1910 and iPAQ h1940 for a period of time when reviewing those devices (iPAQ 1910 Review, iPAQ h1940 Review) and just loved the small form factor.  I was skeptical that the weight and dimensions could be kept the same as the h1900 series with the addition of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a standard sized headphone jack (the 1910 and h1940 required a 2.5 mm — 3.5 mm audio adapter to use standard headphones due to their non-standard small headphone jack). 

However, the h4150 scores in keeping the same dimensions, its dimensions are 4.47 by 2.78 by 0.5 inches (length x width x height), the iPAQ h1940 is 4.46 x 2.75 x .5 inches.  The h4150 weighs 4.67 oz while the iPAQ h1940 is 4.37 oz so you pick up 0.3 oz in weight, but trust me you won’t notice it! 

In my review of the h1940 I was disappointed to find that the screen was not as superb as the original 1910 device, it had some issues with a yellowish hue appearing instead of bright white backgrounds.  The iPAQ h4150 does not suffer as badly from this issue, but the device I have does have a very slight yellow-tint when viewed from a very low angle, I address this is my review of the screen.

In the Box

The iPAQ h4150 comes with everything you need to for a PDA, including a cradle for synching, this is an accessory not included with the h1900 series of devices.  Let’s take a look at what’s actually included in the box:

  • HP iPAQ Pocket PC h4150 unit
  • USB desktop cradle/charger
  • AC adapter
  • Slip cover
  • Stylus (2 included)
  • Battery (1000 mAh removable and rechargeable Lithium Ion)
  • Getting started poster
  • Charger adapter
  • HP iPAQ Pocket PC Companion CD

The software included with the h4150 is decent, but not as generous as the iPAQ h2210.  Noticeably missing is the Nevo Universal Remote program that a lot of people love and is included with the iPAQ h2210.  However, if you want to use your iPAQ h4150 as a remote control I highly recommend the Total Remote solution that includes an IR range boosting antennae and excellent software interface for $29.99.  You can control any entertainment device from 100 feet away using this!  Anyway, here’s a rundown of all the full version programs you get with the h4150:

  • HP Mobile Print Center
  • Bluetooth Manager
  • iPAQ File Store: non-volatile Storage in flash ROM (not available in Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Korean versions)
  • iPAQ Backup: utility for Backup/Restore to Main Memory, Memory Card or iPAQ File Store
  • iPAQ iTask Manager: access and launch programs easily
  • iPAQ Image Zone: view images and create slide shows
  • Utilities: Self Test, iPAQ Audio, Power Status
  • Westtek ClearVue Suite
  • F-Secure FileCrypto Data Encryption
  • Colligo Personal Edition
  • Adobe PDF Viewer
  • RealOne Player for Pocket PC
  • iPresenter PowerPoint converter
  • MobiMate WorldMate
  • Resco File Explorer 2003

You also get all the built in programs that come with Windows Mobile 2003 such as Windows Media Player 9.0, Pocket Word, Pocket Excel and Pocket Explorer.  View the bargainPDA.com Windows 2003 Fast Guide to see more about the OS and what’s included.

iPAQ h4150 Specs and Pricing

Here’s a rundown of the specs on this device, you can always view updated specs and competitive pricing for this device by searching for “iPAQ h4150” on BargainPDA or use this link.  At the time of this review the best price on the iPAQ h4150 was $429.00.

Manufacturer: Hewlett Packard
Model: iPAQ h4150 h4155
Description: The sleek, less-than-5-oz. HP iPAQ h4155 Pocket PC offers optimized performance that will keep you productive, both while you’re on the move and when you’ve reached your destinations. Integrated WLAN 802.11b, Bluetooth and a Secure Digital (SDIO) slot round out this model’s powerful features.
Released: 10/15/2003
Operating System: Windows Mobile 2003
Dimensions: 4.47 in x 2.78 in x 0.5 in
Weight: 4.67 oz.
Processor: 400MHz Intel XScale processor
Wireless: integrated WLAN 801.11b, Bluetooth , IrDA
Memory: 64MB SDRAM (55MB user accessible), 32MB Flash ROM
Expansion Slot: Secure Digital (I/O)
Battery Type: Removable, rechargeable Lithium-Ion (1000 mAh)
Audio Out: Speaker, Stereo jack
Audio In: Microphone
Display: Transflective TFT display with 64,000 colors
Pixel Pitch: 240 x 320 pixels
Viewable Image: 3.5″ diagonal
Keyboard: Onscreen
Handwriting Recognition: Yes
Digital Camera: No
Other Hardware: USB desktop cradle/charger, AC adapter, battery, slip cover, stylus, charger adapter

Memory and Processor

The iPAQ h4100 comes with an Intel XScale 400 MHz processor that matches or slightly surpasses the performance of the iPAQ h2210 400 MHz processor, the system is quite a bit faster than the iPAQ h1940 that uses a Samsung 266 MHz processor, this is displayed in the benchmark statistics.  The processor is snappy and playing video clips and games on this device presents good performance with no slow down.

The memory for this PDA is marked as being 64MB RAM total with 55MB available to the user and 32 MB of ROM in which the Windows 2003 Mobile OS is stored.  The missing 9MB of RAM that you can’t access for Storage is used by the operating system to allow for faster write performance.

Performance Benchmarks

We used Spb Benchmark from Spb Software House to generate benchmark statistics for the iPAQ h4150.  This is a great program and to compare performance for Pocket PC devices. I chose to compare it to the Asus MyPal A620, HP iPAQ 2215, Dell AXIM X5 and HP iPAQ 1910.  The Asus MyPal is the king of Pocket PC performance currently, and while the iPAQ h4150 could not beat it overall, it did come close to matching in a lot of areas and consistently beat out the Axim X5 and iPAQ 2215.  It of course performed better than the iPAQ 1910 as that device only has a 200 MHz processor.


In this chart of benchmark results the blue bolded numbers indicate the best performance overall in a category (higher numbers indicate better performance).

  iPAQ h1910 iPAQ 2215 Asus MyPal A620 Dell Axim X5 iPAQ h4150
Spb Benchmark index 669 1146 1573 752 1501
CPU index 602 1784 1858 912 1792
File system index 627 1126 1092 855 1034
Graphics index 2084 567 4034 434 3809
ActiveSync index
2155 1458 1518
Platform index 494 1204 1277 629 1238
Write 1 MB file (KB/sec) 447 1257 1285 657 1245
Read 1 MB file (MB/sec) 11.2 27 28.7 15.9 28.2
Copy 1 MB file (KB/sec) 491 1262 1281 716 1244
Write 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec) 372 905 654 477 624
Read 10 KB x 100 files (MB/sec) 4.24 9.78 8.64 5.26 10.2
Copy 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec) 290 799 500 376 474
Directory list of 2000 files (thousands of files/sec) 76.9 19.6 23.6 112 19.6
Internal database read (records/sec) 272 1339 1549 398 1421
Graphics test: DDB BitBlt (frames/sec) 172 52.3 316 41.8 265
Graphics test: DIB BitBlt (frames/sec) 17.7 22.8 27.2 12.3 26.5
Graphics test: GAPI BitBlt (frames/sec) 325 60 752 47.1 719
Pocket Word document open (KB/sec) 15.5 100 44.2 22.5 37.8
Pocket Internet Explorer HTML load (KB/sec) 3.7 7.96 7.88 4.73 8.7
Pocket Internet Explorer JPEG load (KB/sec) 50.5 208 154 79.7 210
File Explorer large folder list (files/sec) 169 564 641 238 586
Compress 1 MB file using ZIP (KB/sec) 45.6 225 263 65.5 244
Decompress 1024×768 JPEG file (KB/sec) 268 606 613 423 599
Arkaball frames per second (frames/sec) 94.5 51.4 250 38.2 239
CPU test: Whetstones MFLOPS (Mop/sec) 0.033 0.077 0.076 0.061 0.075
CPU test: Whetstones MOPS (Mop/sec) 27.5 55.4 55.3 54.1 54.7
CPU test: Whetstones MWIPS (Mop/sec) 2.19 5.02 5.01 3.96 4.94
Memory test: copy 1 MB using memcpy (MB/sec) 43.7 102 103 65 99.3
ActiveSync: upload 1 MB file (KB/sec)
201 135 142
ActiveSync: download 1 MB file (KB/sec)
356 250 249

Screen

The screen on the iPAQ h4150 is absolutely top notch.  It takes up good amount of the real estate on the front of the device in order to fit it’s 3.5 inch diagonal viewable area onto such a small PDA.  The resolution is 240 x 320 and the TFT color display allows for 65,536 different colors.

However, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the ‘yellow-tint’ issue.  With the iPAQ h1940 I found the screen to be so yellow when viewing it from certain angles that I just couldn’t stand it.  Here’s a picture I took of the iPAQ h1940 next to my iPAQ 2215:

iPAQ 2215 on the left, iPAQ h1940 on the right…notice the very yellow tint?

With the iPAQ h4150 we again have this yellow-tint issue, but it is not nearly as bad.  In fact, I had to get down to a very low angle of viewing to notice this yellow tint and in every day use it was not noticeable to me.

iPAQ h4150 on the left, iPaq 2215 on the right.  The iPAQ h4150 has a mild yellowish tint when viewed from a very low-angle.

When viewed from a normal angle there is no tint (iPAQ h4150 on the left, iPaq 2215 on the right)

I don’t know if others have a bigger problem than me with this, but if you find a device you get has a yellowish-tint at even the slightest angle you might want to contact HP.

Wireless

The h4100 series includes integrated WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) 802.11b and Bluetooth wireless technology, so you can access the Internet, e-mail, and information when you want.  HP chose to go with 802.11b due to its wide market availability, better power efficiency than 802.11a, and allowance for smaller form factor.  I had no problems whatsoever setting up the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.  There are no external buttons to turn these options on or off, you simply use the wireless manager interface to flip the Wireless Options (by turning off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth you’ll save on battery life, screen light is the biggest battery drain and Wi-Fi is the second biggest).  Once the Wi-Fi is turned on the iPAQ will show you the networks it has detected and allow you to choose which one to connect to.  It’s a very user friendly process and in my apartment in which I have several wireless networks surrounding me the h4100 detected 6 different networks and allowed me to connect to my own WEP security protected network by using a radio button interface.

It’s easy to select your network from those the iPAQ h4150 detects

I was able to cruise the net from up to 900 feet away from my access point, HP advertises 1000 feet reach.  I can’t even get 1000 feet away from my access point without falling off my apartment building, so this is not a limitation for me!

Here I am surfing Microsoft.com on the h4150, check out the easy hold form factor!

The Bluetooth connection wizard is very simple to use, it is exactly the same program as that included with the iPAQ h2210 device.  I had no problems detecting my Bluetooth enabled Son Ericsson t68 phone with the iPAQ 4410.  As a note, when using Bluetooth two devices can only perform activities with each other if they both support a common profile, HP has created a Bluetooth Compatibility Matrix to help people identify products that work well with HP Bluetooth enabled products. See the Bluetooth Compatibility Matrix in order to determine if your favorite Bluetooth device will communicate okay with the iPAQ h4150.

Invariably we get the question asking if an iPAQ device can be used as a phone so I’ll go ahead and answer that “no” the iPAQ h4150 cannot perform this capability.  This device is intended for data use, which is why it includes the 802.11b and Bluetooth for accessing email and other data, it is not intended for voice phone communications. The exception to this might be the use of a separately purchased Voice Over IP software application, which allows you to use this device as a VoIP phone in an 802.11b WLAN environment.

Device Design and Comparison to iPAQ h2210 and iPAQ h1900 Series

A picture, or diagram for that matter, is worth a thousand words so here’s a diagram of the iPAQ h4150 and the functions you can access using its buttons:

  1. Active Bluetooth/WLAN Indicator
  2. Power Button
  3. LED Power/Notification Indicator
  4. Color Display
  5. iTask Button
  6. Inbox Button
  7. 5-Way Navigation Button
  8. Calendar Button

The h4150 button layout is different to the older iPAQ h1940 and 1910 devices, below is a picture I took of the h1910:

iPAQ 1910

Notice that the shortcut buttons are right next to each other and that the dialpad is round.  The h4150 button layout changes things around by spacing out the shortcut buttons and using a more square type of dialpad.  I prefer the new shortcut buttons, but to be honest I preferred the round dialpad.

iPAQ h4150 button layout

The iPAQ h4150 interestingly slopes the buttons in a different manner to the iPAQ h2210 and has a larger jogdial than the iPAQ h2210 even though the h2210 is larger.

iPAQ h2210 button layout

The iPAQ h4150 and h2210 are somewhat close in price range (iPAQ h2210 MSRP $399.99, iPAQ h4150 MSRP $449.00) and you might be interested in seeing some side by sides to show how they differ in form if you’re thinking about buying one or the other.  I currently have both devices and find the performance to be very similar between the two.  The iPAQ h4150 screen is definitely brighter and nicer than the h2210 and the extra built in Wi-Fi is a huge plus for me (I use a CompactFlash Wi-Fi card for the h2210 to access the internet), but the h2210 has a better software package (includes Nevo Universal Remote) and also has CompactFlash expansion which is very nice to have.  I’ll let the pictures tell you about the form differences:

iPAQ h4150 on the left, iPAQ h2210 on the right, click for larger image

iPAQ h4150 on the left, iPAQ h2210 on the right

iPAQ h4150 on top, iPAQ h2210 on the bottom

Battery

The battery included with the iPAQ h4150 is a 1000mAh, 100mAh more than the older iPAQ h1940 device.  This is adequate and I’m finding battery life to average about 4 hours with normal usage, but I wish HP had been as generous with the h4150 as they are being with the iPAQ h4350 device — that includes a high-capacity 1,560mAh battery as the standard battery and gives over 6 hours of battery life, obviously because it’s 33% more powerful.  Of course, the bigger battery means a greater weight for the iPAQ h4350 so the tradeoff is we get a lighter device with the h4150.  In a test I did placing the screen brightness at standard brightness (50% on mark on the meter) and looping a media file in full screen mode I drained the battery down to 5%, forcing system shut down, after about 3 hours and 45 minutes.

The iPAQ h4350 is the same as the h4150 but has a built in keyboard and longer lasting 1,560mAh battery

Accessories

There’s been a lot of confusion as to what accessories will work with the iPAQ h4150.  It’s the same size as the iPAQ 19XX series so many people are curious as to whether cases for that series fit the h4150.  The answer is yes, sort of.  The h4150 and 1910 are so close in size that the fit of the case to the PDA is just fine.  However, there’s the problem that the record button and IR locations are in different places on the h4150 so the cutouts in the 1910 case from people such as InnoPocket do not match up.  However, the IR and record button access in the case aren’t a huge deal, so if you want a hard case right away then you can go ahead and buy an iPAQ 1910/1940 case for your h4150.

Think Outside Stoway Keyboard works with the iPAQ h4150

Another question that many people are asking is whether the iPAQ h4150 can use keyboards that were built for the iPAQ 3000 series or 5000 series.  The answer is yes!  Many people will be happy about this as the h1900 series was very exclusive and you couldn’t use accessories for other iPAQ devices with them.  A specific example of a great foldable keyboard you can use with the h4150 is from Think Outside, makers of the Stowaway Portable Keyboard.  Just download the latest drivers for the keyboard (http://www.thinkoutside.com/support/hpipaq/driver8646.html), install them on the h4150 and you’ll be able to use this keyboard.  Think Outside products are also sold under the Targus name through some retailers.  This is a link to the keyboard on Amazon.com.

The Bluetooth GPS receiver from HP is another expansion option

The only expansion slot you have on the h4150 is the SDIO type.  There’s a lot of products now coming out for this type of expansion that were once only available as Compact Flash accessories.  HP is now offering a 1.3 MP swivel camera for $139.99.  You can also use a GPS device that communicates with the h4150 via Bluetooth.

I’ve mentioned before but it’s worth mentioning again, many people are disappointed and put off by the fact the iPAQ h4150 does not come with a consumer level IR solution or remote control software, but you can solve this problem by looking into Total Remote from Griffin Technology.

Conclusion

Overall I just really like the h4150, it’s a perfect blend of the great screen and form factor of the h1900 series and the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi that comes with the iPAQ h2210 and iPAQ 5000 series.  In the end all PDAs are a compromise of having one option over another, but the iPAQ h4150 proves to be one of the least compromising and most feature filled PDAs on the market.  It’s a thumbs up on buying if you have $400 – $450 in your budget for buying a PDA.

Pros

  • Built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth provides all the Wireless Options you’ll need
  • Great screen, brighter and crisper than even the iPAQ 2215, but a little bit of yellow hue can be annoying if your device suffers from that.
  • Fantastic form factor, lightweight and slim, the gripping on the back makes it harder to drop this PDA too.

Cons

  • Battery life is adequate, but not great, if you have Wi-Fi turned on and screen bright then the battery will disappear fast.
  • If you get a device in which the screen has a strong yellow hue it’s annoying to the point that you’ll want to take it back and get a different device.


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