HP iPAQ hx4705

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HP iPAQ hx4705

Pros

  • Fast processor, built-in Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Unpredictable control sensitivity

Bottom Line

This fast, capable PDA with many outstanding features is undercut by a frustrating touchpad.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

The iPAQ hx4700 series of Windows Mobile 2003-based Pocket PCs sport a touchpad in place of the navigation button that most iPAQs have. It also accepts stylus-based input.

Trapezoidal in shape, the touchpad on the hx4705 occupies the central couple of centimetres at the bottom of this charcoal grey and black PDA. The touchpad's matte surface is punctuated by four slightly raised points--called Tap Zones--laid out in a diamond pattern measuring about 1.9cm wide by 0.6cm high.

Surrounding the touchpad is a larger and wider shiny black trapezoid with tiny white icons at each corner. If you press these icons, you feel a button click beneath the surface. These are the hx4705's version of the application launch buttons on more traditional PDAs. You can program these buttons to perform various tasks, but by default they launch the calendar, the contact list, the email application and iTask, a custom menu that affords quick access to frequently used applications.

The hx4705's installation CD includes a Macromedia Flash tutorial by Synaptics, and it's a good idea to take advantage of it. Trying to use the touchpad without help left me puzzled. From the tutorial, I learned that the touchpad's default mode is a navigation mode in which you scroll around by tapping or swiping the touchpad. For me, this was an exercise in frustration--sometimes getting me where I wanted to go, and sometimes not. In contrast, the touchpad's cursor mode, which produces a small cursor on the screen, always let me know where I was on the screen, and generally behaved like a cursor on a notebook with a touchpad.

In many respects, the hx4705 is a fine PDA. Its built-in Wi-Fi adapter was easy to set up, and the Bluetooth adapter looked to be equally user-friendly. Other impressive hardware specs include SD and CompactFlash II slots, Intel's 624MHz Bulverde processor for handhelds (the fastest available at the time of writing) and a roomy 4" LCD that easily toggles between landscape and portrait modes.

The unit I tested had 128MB of ROM and 92MB of SDRAM, and the business-oriented software bundle includes trial versions of several useful apps.

But at $1199, the hx4705 commands top dollar for a handheld. I'd save my PDA big bucks for something more useful, such as HP's iPAQ H6315, which delivers a phone, a camera and a snap-on keyboard as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity--and works just fine with a simple stylus.

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