Form factor, screen, battery life, utilitarian value
The price is not cheap
If you're like me, you've been wondering if the Pocket PC market would ever spin off a solution that got it right before the niche was absorbed by convergent devices. While late to the party, HP has finally managed to bring a device to market that satisfies the ... Read full review
If you're like me, you've been wondering if the Pocket PC market would ever spin off a solution that got it right before the niche was absorbed by convergent devices. While late to the party, HP has finally managed to bring a device to market that satisfies the need to balance small size and big possibilities.
I paid $450 for my Enterprise 210 - not chump change by any stretch. But as I later discovered, it was money well spent. The device is a lot smaller than I expected, and it fits nicely in my pocket. The 4" VGA screen is absolutely brilliant and sharp. Out of the box, Microsoft and HP provide a rather clunky interface and icon layout. I fixed that with an additional $100 in expense to install sbp Pocket Plus (to customize my desktop), ibe file manager (to improve the explorer), pocket DOS (for command line environment), z2 Pocket Lan (for a suite of TCP/IP tools), and Thunderhawk browser (to fix the still ridiculous PPC IE experience).
I administer a network, which is exactly why I bought this device. The wireless tools included are satisfying and my ability to configure and attach to encrypted networks was easy and thus far no dropouts taking it past 100 feet. The Bluetooth is equally easy to setup. Since this device has no phone, I thought this was a great alternative since I will use my cellphone as a modem where there is no wireless coverage (and preserve my weekends not having to drive into the city).
The processor has a lot of horsepower at 624Mhz, and even though I was skeptical about the 185Mb available Ram (384Mb total minus the OS) it sprinted along with multiple apps open and multimedia (I added an extra 4Gb SDIO card for storage). The touch screen is a nice feature and frees up having to pull the stylus every time, but you still need it for articulate keyboard work.
Security-wise, it does not have the buggy biometrics of other iPaq's to crash the system. Instead, you get a good set of encryption and intuitive setup to create VPN and other connections. I tested it out and was able to get reliable remote access over wireless using IPSEC. There is a noticeable pokeyness to the WIFI on startup pulling DHCP, but once it does it works great.
The screen deserves some comments. I have owned several PPC's in my time and this one absolutely blows them away. It is crispy and has a lot of real estate (but do yourself a favor and use a plain color background theme so you have a desktop without the distraction of graphics near text on the Today screen). Orientation landscape or portrait is easy to set, and you don't need to run it on full brightness for user-friendly display (nice to extend battery life and it includes a light sensor to adjust automatically).
Speaking of battery life, I did some tests: fully charged, I left it off for several days and found it lost about 6% of the charge - not bad. I also tested to see how long it would run Wireless before it ran down (almost five hours). I did have to use a 3rd party app to change the close 'X' from background to actually closing running programs, which improved battery time as well.
Something I find really cool about the 210 is the ability to use a mini USB cable for both charging and sync. The proprietary adapter HP ships with their AC charger is not needed if you have a laptop or desktop to plug into.
Expandability-wise, the SDIO and CF slots offer plenty of options too depending on what kind of goodies you want (GPS, camera, etc, none of which is built-in to preserve space and power). The audio is nothing to write home about from the external speaker, but with headphones it is a pleasure to listen to.
Overall I'd say if you're looking for a well-designed, stocked unit that has a strong (but not over the top) suite of processing power, expansion, connectivity, and battery life, the HP iPaq 210 Enterprise is definitely worth your time and money. Granted I had to spend an additional $200 by the time everything was upgraded and customized(for a total cost of $650) but it seems to be just what I was looking for and I now carry it everywhere. I was not disappointed and for purists who don't need a phone this is about as close to a real computer in your pocket as it gets.