Pocket PC 2003 Powers iPaq

HP's hefty H5550 handheld is big on features.

When the first batches of handheld computers running Microsoft Corp.s Pocket PC software hit the market, it was the Compaq Computer Corp. (now Hewlett-Packard Co.) iPaq that best stood out from the crowd.

eWEEK Labs tested the iPaq H5550, which began shipping last month with the launch of Microsofts Pocket PC 2003. The $649 H5550 is the high-end iPaq, and its stocked with Bluetooth and 802.11b radios, 128MB of RAM, and an Intel Corp. 400MHz XScale processor.

The iPaq H5550 runs Pocket PC 2003 software, which is built on Windows CE 4.2. (The last two Pocket PC releases were based on CE 3.0.)

iPAQ H5550

HPs iPaq H5550 is the latest in a line of solid handheld devices, and it arrives decked out with Bluetooth and 802.11b connectivity and revamped Pocket PC 2003 software. The H5550 tips the scales at $649 and 7.3 ounces, but its a lot lighter than a notebook, which this iPaq could replace.
















  • PRO: Useful network configuration tools; plenty of RAM and flash ROM; Bluetooth and 802.11b radios; biometric thumb reader.
  • CON: No multiwindow support in Pocket Internet Explorer; ActiveSync is Windows-only.

• Palm Inc.s Tungsten C • Toshiba Corp.s e755

Microsoft is promising more speed, better stability and improved multimedia function from this latest version of the operating system. However, the most noticeable changes in Pocket PC 2003 involve connectivity. The software manages configuration tasks for 802.11b and Bluetooth, provides IP Security/Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol virtual private network support, and includes various helpful improvements to Pocket PCs e-mail and Web-browsing applications.

We tested the H5550s 802.11b radio with open and Wired Equivalent Privacy-protected access points in the Labs and with one of T-Mobile USA Inc.s coffeehouse hot spots. Everything went smoothly. After setting up our frequently used access point locations, we switched among them with little difficulty.

The Windows Terminal Services client that debuted in Pocket PC 2002 could be tricky to use because small handheld screens make it tough to accomplish much amid all the panning thats required. The client now has a tool bar from which we could jump to one of the corners of our virtual desktop or to the center—a simple but helpful addition.

Pocket Internet Explorer now supports XHTML Basic, Cascading Style Sheets, Wireless Markup Language 2.0, JScript 5.5 and IP Version 6. But it still suffers (along with the rest of the handheld browser world) from the fact that Web pages are not designed for low-resolution displays.

Pocket Internet Explorer is also long overdue for multiwindow or tabbed browsing—a capability wed presume a device with 128MB of RAM and a 400MHz processor could handle.

Big Compatibility

One of the great things about the H5550 is that it maintains compatibility with the peripheral expansion jackets that have marked iPaqs since the beginning. However, this also means the device hasnt gotten smaller compared with its predecessors. The H5550 weighs 7.3 ounces and measures 5.4 inches tall by 3.3 inches wide by 0.6 inches thick. The iPaq may have seemed slim at one time, but lots of vendors (including HP) now offer more svelte models.

Along with its size, the H5550 inherits the same sort of battery life as previous models—according to HP, about 10 hours of life between charges, dropping to 3 hours with consistent use of the 802.11b radio. The units 1250mAh lithium-ion battery is removable, and HP sells a 2500mAh extended battery for $119.

The H5550 also packs a biometric thumb reader, which worked nicely in our tests.

The iPaq we tested shipped with 48MB of flash ROM, in which the operating system and key applications are stored. We could also store our data in flash, through the devices iPaq File Store function.

The H5550 sports a 16-bit color, transreflective, thin-film-transistor display thats 3.8 inches diagonally. We found this display quite readable, even in bright light.

Using ActiveSync 3.7, we could synchronize the H5550 through its included cradle, which has plugs both for serial and Universal Serial Bus connections. Unfortunately, ActiveSync supports only Windows. ´

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks is at jason_brooks@ziffdavis.com.