HP iPaq 2200 Review

At £279 this PDA seemed too good to be true. It has 56MB of usable internal memory, a compact flash slot and secure digital slot. It also has Bluetooth, infrared, backlight and a replaceable battery that lasts about 8 hours, depending on usage and backlight brightness.

Out of the box you get everything you need, except one thing, which I’ll come to later. If like me you decide to buy from Dixon’s and take advantage of the “buy now, pay in 9 months” option be aware that SD cards and CF cards are sold at much lower prices on Amazon.co.uk – although at £279 you need to spend over £300 to use the “buy now, pay in 9 months” option. If you don’t want to pay later, then the PDA is also available cheaply online.

The 2200 is a good size, with a brilliant screen. If you have a digital camera that takes either SD cards or CF cards, then you will find much use for this PDA as you can view your photos on a much larger screen than most cameras, crop photos, adjust brightness and contrast, and even email your photos – without even stepping near a proper PC. The small size and lightweight can be a disadvantage. Coming from a Palm m105, I was used to having a PDA with a built in screen protector. The iPaq has no such thing, the screen is exposed much of the time like that of a phone. A soft case included does partially solve this issue, but it is no way near as convenient as the flip-top my Palm m105 had. It’s annoying when using the iPaq as an MP3 player when you want to skip songs on the move.

The build quality of the device seems good, however the 5 way directional button does pop-out on times (it has been made removable for cleaning purposes) and the rubber side grips seems to peel off within a month – THIS IS A BIG ISSUE! Many users have reported this problem, which is why I suggest HP include some superglue in the box, as that seems to do the trick. Having said that, the battery door seems very secure, the CF and SD slots are well built, even if it is all too easy to eject the SD card while pushing the device into your pocket. I guess having a door would have made the device bigger, so I can’t really complain there. The 5 other buttons seem solid. The software included is very good.

You get Outlook 2003 for your PC, and Outlook for your iPaq. This consists of Address book, Inbox, Tasks and Notes. Pocket Word and Pocket Excel are also included. Pocket Word really is nothing special, more a glorified notepad application than a word processor. It has basic RTF formatting but no images sadly; I don’t see why support for images has been omitted. Maybe because Microsoft need some sort of reason for people to upgrade to the next version, other than a few new icons like we seem to get on the desktop counterparts. Excel however does have what you’d expect, since images aren’t really needed in a spreadsheet the fact that again they are not supported doesn’t matter. Viewing large sheets can be awkward, when the start bar, toolbar and input panel are being used – luckily there is a full screen option. Windows Media Player Mobile edition is also included, and it does a fine job of playing back MP3 and WMA. Windows Media Videos are also supported, but there’s no support for rival formats like .mov, which is a shame since most other mobile devices (cameras, phones etc) seem to record in the QuickTime format. Still, rivals will be rivals but it happens to be a shame. Perhaps the best bit of included software is ‘nevo’. A universal remote control. Have fun switching off TVs in shops that have them at the front showing CCTV footage. Apart from that obvious use, you can control your video, DVD, stereo, projector, lights – in fact anything that supports infrared control. What Nevo doesn’t know, Nevo can learn from the existing remote control.

Getting online is easy too. That’s if you have a Bluetooth phone with a modem, an infrared phone with a modem, or a WiFi CF Card. You can easily send and receive email, as long as your ISP allows you to use their SMTP server from other networks (assuming you use a different ISP on your phone than you do on your PC). For some stupid reason, the Inbox application can’t have different usernames and passwords set for POP3 and SMTP – they have to be the same. The web browser (Internet Explorer) is great, and thankfully has an option to switch off images – because GPRS costs a lot, and I easily spent £5 in one session. MSN is a good addition, and integrates well into the OS when you place it in the background. The operating system itself is a typical Microsoft affair and resembles early versions of Mac OS. With a main menu in the top right. Sometimes you get “OK” in a window at the top right title bar, other times it’s a command button on the actual form. Standardisation on issues like this would be good. Having said that, I did make a conscious decision to choose PocketPC over Palm because it has better multitasking abilities, and better built in software.

Switching between tasks is badly done; the iTask application is inconvenient, having to press a hardware button to bring up a list of tasks. Instead I use a 3rd party program called Magic Button, which is far better.

Overall, a good buy. The dictaphone facilities, mobile net access and music features have come in handy, so much so that my iPod hasn’t been used since I got the PDA. Well worth the money. As after all this is a Pocket PC.

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