HP iPAQ hx2110 review

Price when reviewed

UPDATE: In our review of the HP iPAQ hx2210, in issue 125, we implied that all current iPAQs would fit into all current iPAQ cradles. In fact, only the connectors are universal across the range, and due to the differing shapes and sizes of the iPAQs different cradles are necessary.

HP iPAQ hx2110 review

The past five months have seen a complete refresh of HP’s iPAQ range, with the very last piece of the puzzle being the hx2000 series: a mainstream PDA aimed squarely at businesses. Whereas most manufacturers stick with only one or two different Pocket PCs, this means there’s now a comprehensive selection of HP iPAQs for any need and any budget (see An iPAQ for every pocket, right).

In fact, this could be said for just the hx2000 series on its own. In the UK, it consists of three different models: the hx2110 we test here; the hx2410, which adds Wi-Fi and a 510MHz processor; and the hx2750, toting Wi-Fi, a 624MHz processor, 128MB of RAM and 128MB of ROM. The street prices rise as we’d expect: from £229 to £283 to £348.

Many companies’ buying decision could become ‘which iPAQ should we buy’ rather than ‘which PDA should we buy’, and the hx2110 certainly has many things in its favour.

The chief among these is its price: only the rz1710 is cheaper, but this sacrifices both Bluetooth and a CompactFlash slot. The latter means the hx2110 isn’t the slimmest of devices, but this iPAQ has a clever trick up its sleeve – it doesn’t come with a sleeve. Instead of a cumbersome pouch that adds bulk and doesn’t allow you to see the screen without removing the device, the 2110’s transparent grey lid means you can just switch it on and see the last active screen. And when you need to write or tap on the screen, you just flip it up.

The only design ‘fault’ is that the shortcut and navigation buttons are covered by the lid too, but this does make it almost impossible to switch on the hx2110 accidentally when it’s bouncing around in a pocket or bag. Still, we’d have preferred a Hold button and the option of navigating screens with the lid down.

You can press the Record button with the lid in place, but after the first time we’re not sure many people will. HP has sacrificed microphone quality for the sake of cutting costs, and we found recordings to be virtually unusable. The speaker is much better quality, but if you plan to take advantage of the built-in Media Player then you’ll almost certainly use the top-mounted 3.5mm jack. The top is also home to the infrared port.

In terms of overall design, the hx2000 series reflects its business aspirations with an understated two-tone metallic grey finish. It also looks quite squat: at 76mm wide and 119mm tall, it’s squarer than most modern PDAs, and its 17mm thickness doesn’t help its first impression.

At first glance, the wide bezel gives the appearance that HP has made a sacrifice in screen size too, but the 2100 series actually includes a 3.5in TFT. Unlike the hx4700 or Dell’s Axim X50v, its resolution is limited to 240 x 320, but it makes up for this with vibrant colours and amazing brightness if you select the top level.

For battery testing, we set brightness down to medium, which was still more than viewable. The hx2110 lasted for six hours, nine minutes when we set it idling, and eight hours, 43 minutes when playing MP3s with the screen switched off. Decent results, but they would have been longer if HP included the same 1,440mAh battery that comes with the hx2410 and hx2750, rather than the 920mAh unit that comes in the hx2110. You can buy the 1,440mAh battery as a £59 option, and it won’t add to the weight or bulk of the machine, or you can choose an Extended battery (2,880mAh) that protrudes from the back for £92.

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