HP iPaq hx2750 Review

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  • Pros

    • Lots of memory
    • Dual expansion
    • Dual wireless
    • Good battery life
    • Biometric security

  • Cons

    • Very high pricetag
    • Lacks VGA
    • Cradle lacks charging slot
    • Poor button arrangement


This is primarily a review of the HP iPaq hx2750. It also covers the iPaq hx2755, which is identical to the hx2750 in all relevant details.

Most of this review also applies to the hx2150 and hx2450 models. Identical in form factor, these devices vary only in a few core specs. To help you sort out the differences, we’ve broken them down into a simplified table.

  hx2110 hx2410 hx2750
Processor: 312 MHz 520 MHz 624 MHz
RAM (Available): 64 MB (57 MB) 64 MB (57 MB) 128 MB (108 MB)
ROM (Available): 64 MB (31 MB) 64 MB (31 MB) 128 MB (82 MB)
Wireless: Bluetooth BT/WiFi BT/WiFi
Biometric security: None None Fingerprint
Cradle: Sold separately Sold separately Included
Suggested retail price: $350 $450 $550

 

Design & Construction

Left, HP iPaq hx2750. Right, Dell Axim X50v.

The first thing that you notice about the 2750 is that it’s lacking in style. Not just an excess of style–it’s lacking in pretty much any style. To paraphrase Andrew’s description of it, the hx2750 is pillow shaped.

Not as comfortable for sleeping, though.

All around the edges of the case is a slightly rubberized black trim. It’s a very light rubber, with less grip and bounce than other rubber bumpers, making it little more than a visual element. The front and back sides are a mildly unattractive two tone grayish painted plastic.

Bottom row: directional pad and application buttons. Top row: microphone, fingerprint scanner and speaker.

The buttons are exactly what you would expect in a device intended for business roll outs: they’re strangely shaped, not great to press, and very ill suited to gaming. Similarly, the directional pad screams of a design ethic that says “We want to make the user of this device productive, not happy.”

hx2750 with flip cover open.

The 2750, like the other models in the new 2000 series of iPaqs, has a curious and rather rare add-on. They all come with an attached transparent plastic flip cover. While something vaguely similar was offered with the iPaq 4700, real flip covers haven’t been standard equipment since the now long defunct HP Jornada series of PocketPCs back in 2001 and 2002. Despite their rarity, flip covers still have some hard core advocates who have been holding out for new models. The cover opens to a maximum of about 200 degrees, and when closed covers the entire front of the iPaq including the buttons and directional pad. The record button on the left side is left uncovered, but the microphone hole to the left of the fingerprint scanner isn’t.

hx2750 with flip cover closed.

If you don’t like the cover, it’s easy to remove–just pull out the small pegs which snap into the holes on the upper corners of the device, and the cover pops on and off with ease. In normal use, I would probably run without the flip cover, since I don’t feel enough need for screen protection to bother with it, but it’s a nice option to have. The attachment points could probably also accomodate a third-party replacement cover.

Included with the 2750 is the barest subset of vital equipment–a wall wart style AC adapter, an adapter to plug the AC directly into the iPaq, software CD, and a cradle. No insultingly cheap pleather carrying cases, but no nice frills or bonuses either. Kind of stingy, particularly when you look at the 2110 and 2410 models, which despite their high pricetag don’t even get a cradle.

I need to throw rocks for a minute. Like all the other new line of iPaqs, the 2750’s cradle lacks a charging slot for a second battery. This is pretty stupid for any model with a removable battery, but it’s surpassingly stupid for a device largely targeted at the enterprise sector. Considering the fact that many of the potential vertical market applications of the 2750 would require it to be mobile almost all the time, not being able to charge a spare battery for warm-swapping is a major oversight.

Overall, the 2750 has nothing to really recommend it in terms of style or design. It’s a fairly standard tablet design with no added refinements or visual appeal. It’s a productivity brick–it does its job, and that’s it. Plain looking and plain speaking.

 

iPaq hx2750 Hardware

Processor: 624 MHz Intel XScale PXA270 with WMMX
Operating System: Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition
Display: 3.5 inch 320 x 240 QVGA screen
Memory: 128 MB RAM (108 MB available); 128 MB flash ROM (82 MB available)
Size & Weight: 4.52″ long x 3.0″ wide x 0.67″ thick; 5.8 ounces
Expansion: One CompactFlash Type 2 slot, One SDIO slot
Docking: 22-pin iPaq docking connector
Communication:

Bluetooth 1.2; 802.11b WiFi wireless networking; serial IR port

Audio: Internal monaural speaker; microphone; 3.5mm headphone jack
Battery: 1440 milliamp-hour standard battery; optional 2880 mAh extended battery
Input: 5 remappable application buttons; 5-way directional pad; touchscreen
Other: Fingerprint scanner

 

Processor

The 2750 features the fastest of the current Intel XScale line, the 624 MHz PXA270. Without the four-fold pixels of a VGA screen to slow down display performance, the 2750 reaches the same and higher levels in the graphics tests as the reigning speed champ, the Dell Axim X30 624 MHz. This, along with the rest of its benchmark results, place it as the new #1 fastest PocketPC currently on the market. I’ve employed Spb Benchmark to compare the 2750 against the X30, as well as the similarly equipped Axim X50 mid-range model.

  Axim X30 (624 MHz) Axim X50 (520 MHz) iPaq hx2750 (624 MHz)
Spb Benchmark Index 2113 1793 2208
CPU Index 2475 2066 2584
File System Index 1487 1275 1550
Graphics Index 5329 4662 5716
Platform Index 1493 1342 1620

The 2750 edges out the marathon champion X30 in every category, though by relatively narrow margins. Congratulations, we have a new speed king.

 

Operating System

The iPaq runs Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, the one and only choice for PocketPCs. HP displays their usual minimalist approach in terms of integrating applets into the OS, instead going for a relatively simple and elegant wireless on/off app, along with preinstalled copies of HP Mobile Printing, HP Image Zone, and every other HP branded PocketPC program. The good news is that unlike some prior models by HP, they include a decent WiFi site survey utility buried under the wireless settings, so you can find out the strength and details of your network or another.

 

Display

Judging from the pricetag and features, the 2750 is considered a ‘high-end’ device. So it’s just a little bit strange that it lacks the defining high-end feature of the current generation PocketPCs, a VGA screen. Adding to the mystery, the 2750 is more expensive than all the VGA PocketPCs on the market, with the exception of HP’s own uber-expensive hx4700. It makes a little more sense if you consider the fact that the 2750 is a primarily enterprise-oriented PocketPC. Presumably, enterprise users either don’t have a use for, or aren’t supposed to care about, the increased resolution of a VGA screen.

That said, as QVGA displays go, the 2750 is not bad. It’s bright, and it has good contrast and great colors. The whites have a slight yellowish tint, but otherwise the screen is very nice. For the comparative picture, I put it up against another QVGA screen, that of the Axim X50 mid-range model.

Left, HP iPaq hx2750. Right, Dell Axim X50 (520 MHz).

 

Memory

The 2750 comes loaded with as much internal memory as you can find on a PocketPC. It includes a full 128 MB of RAM, of which 108 MB is available. The 2750 also packs in 128 MB of flash ROM, 82 MB of which is open to the user. This totals up to about 190 MB of accessible memory, the most you’ll find in any currently available PocketPC.

.

Size & Weight

Measuring 4.5″ long by 3.0″ wide by 0.67″ thick, the iPaq isn’t the smallest of devices. While some of this size is accounted for by the larger battery, I also get the feeling from the way that it’s built that the iPaq isn’t built quite as tightly as other models–that the hardware isn’t packed in as densely, leaving more unused space and a thicker shell. This may be a concession to the durability of the device in an environment where users might not take the most delicate care of it. This puts it in the upper-middle size class for PocketPCs. Size is generally considered to be a secondary concern for vertical market devices, a class and design ethic which the 2750 embraces.

 

Expansion

The 2750 features a full set of expansion options via dual CompactFlash and SDIO slots. Between the two, the iPaq can support any amount of memory currently on the market, as well as practically any peripheral made available for PocketPCs.

 

 

Docking

One of the best things about the iPaq line of PocketPCs is that they have, for many model-generations, maintained the same docking connector. Despite a few notable exceptions, such as the 1900 series, most of the same peripherals will work whether you’re using an iPaq 2210, 4150, or 6315. The 2750 doesn’t break with tradition. It features the same 22 pin connector as its forebears, so you can use the same keyboards and cables as always. Cradles, no. The 2750 comes with its own model of cradle built along the same lines as the other new iPaqs–a simple grey plastic rectangle with a socket for the device on one end. It lacks a slot for charging a second battery, a very bad idea for any device with a removable battery. Boo and hiss.

 

Communication

Bluetooth 1.2 and 802.11b WiFi, the standard duo of modern PocketPCs, round out the 2750’s communications portfolio. The Bluetooth implementation includes support for mono headsets, useful for low-fi audio or VOIP applications, as well as the more common set of profiles such as serial, LAN, ActiveSync, OBEX, etcetera. The hx2000 series is also capable of supporting HP’s Bluetooth headphones for high fidelity wireless audio. WiFi range is actually quite satisfactory–I’m usually notoriously hard to please in this regard, but the 2750 finds and holds a signal rather well.

 

Audio

The new iPaq features all the usual range of audio equipment. One mono internal speaker of middling volume, one internal microphone, and one stereo headset jack of pretty good quality and volume.

 

Battery

The 2750 carries a 1440 milliamp-hour battery as standard equipment, one of the largest standard batteries of any current-model PocketPC. If that isn’t enough power for you, you can swap out the main battery for a second standard battery, or an extended battery that offers twice the capacity, 2880 mAh. On top of this, the 2750 doesn’t have a power-hungry VGA screen, so you get more run time for the same capacity, though at some sacrifice.

  1. Backlight on maximum, processor active: 5 hours, 27 minutes.
  2. Backlight on 50%, processor active: 6 hours, 28 minutes
  3. Backlight on maximum, wireless active: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  4. Backlight on 50%, wireless active: 4 hours, 23 minutes

Certainly no slouch on battery life, the 2750 performs in the uppermost tier of available PocketPCs. It has the battery power to back up its impressive hardware, and to keep it running for a good long time.

 

Security

One of the biggest selling points of the 2750 is the integrated fingerprint reader. It’s a premium security feature that’s only been seen previously on the now discontinued iPaq 5400 and 5500 models, and is intended to eliminate the danger of losing sensitive data when a mobile device is lost or stolen. Of course, a fingerprint scanner can’t prevent the machine from physically being stolen. What it does do is protect the data in the event that it is stolen. If someone fails to enter the proper fingerprint, PIN, or password X number of times in a row (selectable from 1 to 10), the iPaq performs a special form of hard reset, wiping not only the data in main memory but also user data stored in ROM. The only weak point of this system is that anything on external memory cards will not be affected, so don’t store any sensitive unencrypted data on your cards.

You can set the system to automatically require a fingerprint scan every time it’s powered on, or after a defined period of inactivity ranging from one to sixty minutes. You also have the option of having the system strongly encrypt specific files or folders every time it enters its secured state, making it even harder for a would-be snooper to get at your data. The system recognizes fingerprints with almost maniacal accuracy–with a good swipe, you’re almost guaranteed to get recognition. The only times I had to re-swipe were when I didn’t get a good scan, or when I wasn’t using an authorized finger. It includes the ability to recognize up to ten fingers, so no matter what digit you choose to swipe you can always have access. Since the scanner is a contact thermal one, rather than optical, it operates in any lighting o You could still get locked out of the machine, of course, but if you have no fingers left then I think you may have bigger problems than accessing your PocketPC.

There are a couple of bugs in the system, though. Let’s start with the behavior of the iPaq when you set it to automatically lock itself. Say you set it to auto-lock after ten minutes. Ten minutes after you turn it off, it will turn itself back on again in order to perform the lockdown proceedure. It then waits whatever period of time is specified in the ‘Power off after idle for X minutes’ option in the power settings before deactivating itself again. If you have it set to lock after ten minutes, and the idle time-out is set for fifteen minutes, then ten minutes after you turn it off, it will turn back on and run for fifteen minutes before finally turning itself off. If you’ve left WiFi or another power draining function running, this could spell battery drain. The simplest solution is to set it to lock immediately when you turn it off, but this option doesn’t allow you to automatically encrypt your files and folders. If you want to take advantage of the encryption, there’s no way around the timeout problem except living with it.

A second potential bug is the fact that when you turn on the iPaq, it performs its normal wakeup routine even if it hasn’t yet been unlocked. That is to say, it turns on WiFi, Bluetooth, or whatever other functions or applications were running when it was turned off. You can’t access them without a fingerprint scan, but it can and does connect to a WiFi network without human intervention. The machine can also receive infrared beams during this time, and the system actually pops a dialog over top of the fingerprint screen allowing you to accept the file. Theoretically, either of these loopholes could open up potential exploits to a sophisticated attacker. Not a concern for most people, but on a model intended for security-concious workforces and facilities it could be a problem.

 

Conclusion

The 2750 is a bit of an odd beast. It’s heavy on core specs, but very light on what you would traditionally call luxury features: VGA, graphics hardware, the small things that make it more attractive for individual or recreational use. The obvious conclusion is that recreational use isn’t what it’s really intended for. It’s a workhorse. Not neccessarily pretty, but it has a lot of power behind it.

 

Pros:

  • Lots of memory
  • Dual expansion
  • Dual wireless
  • Good battery life
  • Biometric security

Cons:

  • Very high pricetag
  • Lacks VGA
  • Cradle lacks charging slot
  • Poor button arrangement

 

Bottom Line:

High-powered despite some deficiencies, the iPaq 2750 caters to the institutional and enterprise user. Just be ready to pay by the limb.


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