Reviews: Hardware (Devices)

HP iPAQ H1910 Pocket PC

     In the Pocket PC market, the name "iPAQ" carries a huge weight with many users.  Not a weight in a bad way, but the term iPAQ used interchangeably with the terms "Palm" or "PDA."  In the last year, HP has taken over production of many Compaq products and HP chose to drop their own Jornada line for the iPAQ. One of HP's first new iPAQ's was the H1910.  The 1910's built to be a low-end Pocket PC, hitting just below the $300 price barrier as well as receiving the title of being one of the smallest Pocket PC ever.

Basic Internals
     The HP iPAQ H1910 uses the Intel XScale PXA250 processor running at 200MHz.  No, that is not an error, the 1910 has a lower clock speed compared to the previous StrongARM based iPAQ.  But the XScale chip design does have added benefits, including lower power consumption.  The 1910 includes 64MB of RAM, but it is used differently than in other PDA's.  Because the 16MB ROM is Flash NAND memory (which does not allow programs to be executed from it), 16MB of the RAM is used by the system for execution of the Pocket PC platform and software.  After subtracting this required space, just over 46MB are left for the user.  The device utilizes a brilliant 16-bit color screen, which is likely the brightest on the market.  It also includes a Secure Digital card slot for memory expansion.

Device Style
     The first thing anyone is likely to say about the 1910 is that it is incredibly small.  I seriously do not think I would ever need a Pocket PC any smaller than the 1910 (though now that I write that, I am sure one day I will be proved wrong).  All but an extremely small portion of the face is the screen.  To the right and left of the screen there is only a quarter inch of the devices shell.  On my Axim, there is almost a half an inch.  Speaking of a half an inch, that is how thick the 1910 is.  And because of the design of the back, it seems even smaller in your hand.  Unlike its predecessors, the 1910 does not support a sleeve system.  This likely why the device seems more flowing and less modular.  Just to add to the stylus factor, HP even included a lanyard loop.

     Similar to other current Pocket PC's, the 1910 has seven push buttons and a direction pad (d-pad), but unlike many Pocket PC's, the 1910 has no button or switch specific for scrolling (the d-pad must be used).  The power button is on the top of the face of the device.  The button is easy to press, and features the notification/power light embedded in it that easily allows you to see a power connection, charge, or notification. Also on the front face are four quick launch buttons (two on either side of the d-pad). The buttons are easy to find by touch, though there is little distinction between one button and the next.  The d-pad is centered on the bottom part of the front face, with a button in the middle (an action button).  The d-pad on this device is better in theory than use.  I like how it looks, but not how it functions.  It is hard to quickly change directions. I am not sure if it is just poorly designed or just to small.  The record button is on the left side of the device right next to the infrared port.  The button is slightly embedded (likely so it is not accidentally pressed) and sometimes is hard to press.  The soft reset button is further down the left side, embedded in the battery cover.

     The iPAQ 1910 included a Secure Digital (SD) slot.  The slot is not SDIO, meaning it only supports memory cards, and will not support devices like wireless SD network cards.  This presents a problem because it makes the iPAQ 1910 a non-expandable device (except for memory).  It cannot be connected to a wireless network unless another solution is devised using the USB port.  This is a huge drawback for users like myself, who have wireless networks in their houses and work place.  For a small device like the 1910, SD is a much better choice for memory over the bulkier CF form factor.  SD is dimensionally smaller than CF, making the expansion port more compact.  The SD slot is on the top of the device between the headphone jack and stylus.  Like most SD slots, the SD card goes completely into the device and a spring will eject the card when it is pressed.

Stylus and Cradle
     The stylus included with the 1910 is similar to many Palm and Pocket PC styli.  It is round with a silver and black shell.  It is extremely light.  Like many Palm styli, the top of the 1910 stylus can unscrew to reveal a reset pin (though the soft reset button can be pressed simply using the stylus tip so I do not really see the purpose for reset pin).  Being that the 1910 is a low-cost device, a cradle is not included (though can be purchased separately) and instead a USB connection cable is included.  HP also did not included a power adapter port on the device.  Instead they introduced an innovative system so that you can easily connect the device to the sync connector, power connection, or both.  Personally, I like the cradle, but HP has included everything needed to connect the device simply and easily, so maybe I do not need the cradle as much as I thought.

Sound, Media, and Screen
     Since the 1910 only includes Pocket PC 2002 Professional (not Premium), Windows Media Player is not included in the ROM of the device but HP includes Windows Media Player on the CD.  (Also included on the CD is MSN Messenger and Terminal Services.)  Like with most Pocket PC's an embedded speaker is included as is a stereo headphone jack, though HP has made this a 2.5mm jack.  Why HP did this is unclear.  You either have to use the ear-buds they include or purchase a separate adapter to use standard headphones.  Visually, the 1910's screen has an incredible picture.  The screen is vibrant and easy to use in various conditions including outside.  Even compared to many other new devices, the transflective screen is outstanding.  The trouble I had with the screen was the touch sensitivity.  I attempted to calibrate the screen several times, though I was never able to get the device to recognize a "softer touch."

Battery and Life
     One additional feature I did not expect to see in this low-end device was a removable battery.  The included 900mAh rechargeable lithium battery can be replaced via removal of the back panel.  900mAh is a little small, as most batteries in other Pocket PC's are over 1000mAh, and HP only offers replacement batteries of the same size.

Final Thoughts
     The HP iPAQ H1910 has an excellent style along with some good features like its vibrant screen.  It also still has some issues that keep it from being a great device. The biggest problem is its lack of expandability, which will severely limit future options for the user.  Also some users may not like the choice of the smaller ROM size with the new memory that almost requires the users to buy extra SD memory.  Overall, I feel the iPAQ 1910 is a good first attempt at a low-end device.  Many users may be pleased with it because of its size, price, and quality, though should be aware of its limits.

Dave's Score - 8.0
This means, this product is a very good product, though has some features which could be improved.  This product embodies quality in its design and application, and is something I would use though I think there are still areas for improvement.  Weigh the pros and cons before purchasing, but in my opinion this device is a good buy.

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