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offers more than just basic PDA functionalities
JAKARTA (JP): Here is
another product that sold like our Kijang vans right after it was
introduced: the Compaq iPaq PocketPC. It is a personal digital assistant
(PDA) based on the Microsoft Windows PocketPC operating system. It
is clear that Compaq was successful in executing the concept of PDA when
it designed this iPaq. There are a lot of things to like about this
Incidentally, in most
cases, the demo unit I receive for reviewing purposes is one that has
been tested and circulated from one reviewer to another. It makes sense,
because review units are not cheap, rejected units. In some cases, the
notebooks that I test drive cost more than my car. However, when the
review unit of iPaq PocketPC arrived, courtesy of PTCompaq Indonesia, I
was in for a big surprise. It was still in its originalpackaging. I had
to open it to check the contents against the loan form.
The iPaq is a tad
larger than my IBM WorkPad c3, which is actually a PalmV. Unlike the
WorkPad, the iPaq H3000 has a lush, stainless steel-like casing. The
downside is that it can be rather slippery on a sweaty palm. Luckily, it
also comes with a black fiberglass jacket that Compaq calls a "basic
style pack". I used this jacket during the review out of fear that
the unit would slip out of my hand and crash on the floor. It also feels
alittle heavier than the WorkPad. It comes with 32 MB of static memory.
The cradle also takes
more space than the WorkPad's, although it is actually the stylish legs
that make it larger. The good thing is that the power adapter can be
directly connected to the iPaq. This is a nice featurethat I wish had
also been available on the WorkPad. I would not have to carry the cradle
when I travel if all I need to do is recharge the battery. Another
important difference is that the iPaq has a color display. The display
resolution is 240 x 320, and it can produce thousands of colors. The text
and lines are crisp and the colors are brilliant. The backlightingcan be
set according to your preference. We can also set the device to
automatically adjust the brightness level of its display according to the
ambient light. The iPaq once again reminded me that life is more
beautiful in color.
Hey, do not laugh at
what I have just said. When Color Graphics Adapter (CGA) was first
introduced in the early 1980s, a lot of PC users -- myself included --
had terrible headaches all the time because of the low resolution, which
made the text difficult to read. It was only when the Video Graphics
Array (VGA) color display arrived that people began to accept color on
their screens. So when it comes to computer display, color has not always
been the greatest thing.
To take out the
spring-locked stylus, we have to press a small button on top of the unit.
It will pop out, and we can pull it out of its storage. The box contains
a spare stylus.
The iPaq PocketPC is
connected to the PC through the USB. If your PC doesnot have a USB port,
do not worry. You can buy the optional serial cradle or the serial sync
cable that will connect the unit directly to the PC without using a
cradle. The software that I had to install on the PC side was Microsoft
ActiveSync. Each time the iPaq was put on the cradle, the
synchronization of the data took place automatically.
What is available on
iPaq PocketPC H3630? It has all the standard applications that you would
expect from a decent PDA, including a calendar,a tasks list, a contacts
list, a notepad and a calculator. However, as it uses the Microsoft
PocketPC, we should not be surprised that it comes with Pocket
Word, Pocket Excel, Internet Explorer and Inbox.
There is also Microsoft Money to let you keep track of your
expenses during business trips. Oh, I almost forgot. Solitaire is
Copying a Word
2000 file from my desktop PC to the iPaq involved a file conversion.
It is understandable, as the Pocket Word program has to be as
small as possible and therefore cannot support all the features that the
Desktop Word 2000 offers. The process is a little bit tedious,
however. I had to load Windows Explorer, find the Word file
that I wanted to transfer to iPaq, click with the right mouse button and
click again on copy. Then Ihad to go to ActiveSync, click on the
explore button to get to the folder in iPaq where I wanted to save the
file. I thought I would save it in the personal folder on iPaq, so I
clicked on the icon with the right mouse button and clicked again on
paste. ActiveSync did warn me that some features might be lost
during the conversion.
I have not seen or
heard of a foldable keyboard for the iPaq yet. My guess is that it is
also in the pipeline, given the tremendous popularity foldable keyboards
have among Palm users. Compaq is planning to sell a variety of expansion
packs for the iPaq, including the ones that will connect it to your LAN
or the Internet. There are also expansion packs thatcan add storage space
using Compact Flash.
The iPaq lets us
choose between two different sizes of an on-screen keyboard. Needless to
say, I preferred the slightly larger one. Strangely, I could not find the
button for Caps lock. That would make it harder to type in abbreviations
such as CGA and VGA. On the other hand, the automaticword completion
feature can help ease the chore of inputting text, althoughit takes some
getting used to. You scribble two letters, and PocketPC
willsuggest a word. Of course, it may not be the one that you have in
mind, butsometimes it works. In Microsoft Money, for example, when
I scribbled "lu" in the Account Name field, PocketPC
offers the word "lunch". When I tapped on the word, it was
immediately entered into the field.
Among the greatest
features that I like is Microsoft Reader. This application, which
also uses Microsoft technology called ClearType, will display
pages of an electronic book. Two books were included as samples, one of
them was Hans Christian Andersen's Two Fairy Tales. The picture
viewer lets us download image files. PVSplash plays downloaded
video files and Media Player allows us to play audio files,
including MP3 files. The speaker is very tiny, and you should use
headphones if you want to use it as an MP3 player. For MP3 aficionados,
Compaq offers iPaq Personal Audio Player, the PA-1.
We can also record
conversations with iPaq. The button, unfortunately, did not give me
sufficient feedback when I pressed it. I would not know whether I was
recording or not if I had not looked at the screen. Compaq needs to
redesign the button to make iPaq a good recording device. On the software
side, however, I was very surprised to see that I could adjust thequality
of recording -- from the highest quality of 44 KHz to the lowest. Alower
quality means a smaller file size.
The iPaq is certainly
packed with features. It is not for you if what youwant is just basic PDA
functionalities. However, it does offer many features that are not
available on my WorkPad, for example. Scribbling notes is easier with
iPaq, and we do not have to learn the Graffiti shorthand. The iPaq
includes decent handwriting recognition capability.
The iPaq PocketPC
uses a lithium polymer battery, which is inside the unit. However, its
battery life was not as long as I had expected. I set the brightness at
its highest level, and that might have been the cause.
Compaq seems to be expanding out of selling servers and PCs. It is marketing its own version of research in Motion's BlackBerry pagers, which can also send and receive email messages, the iPaq W1000 and iPaq H1100. Ithas also been co-developing an iPaq Home Internet Appliance with Microsoft.We can expect more great and stylish non-PC products from this company in the near future. (firstname.lastname@example.org)