|While it adds considerably to the H4350's length, the built-in keyboard is invaluable for messaging and data entry.|
|The SDIO expansion slot and full-size headphone jack are along the unit's top edge.|
The sharp, transflective, 65,000-color, TFT screen is the same one found on this year's other iPaqs. The unit looks a lot like the H4150 with a mini QWERTY keyboard attached to its bottom. All in all, the keyboard--which offers blue backlighting for inputting text in the dark--is superior to the one found on Handspring's Treo 600. The keys are raised and have just enough space between them to prevent mistyping. We also liked how HP put the number keys in a dial-pad configuration and gave them a darker, carbon coloring. They'll come in handy when, theoretically, you'll be able to use the H4350 as a phone using VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology--so long as you're in range of a Wi-Fi hot spot. HP says the device supports this feature, but we were unable to test it.
Unlike some handhelds, the H4350 doesn't have a scrollwheel, and if we had a small design gripe, it was that the five-way chrome-colored, plastic navigation button is a tad small and slippery. Other minor details worth noting: Unlike the H1940, this model features a standard-size headphone jack, and two (rather than one) LEDs for conveying more-detailed alerts and notifications. Also up top is a slot for Secure Digital (SD) and MultiMediaCard (MMC) media and SDIO add-ons such as a camera accessory.
|The cradle can simultaneously charge the handheld and a second battery (available separately).|
|The H4350 has one of the better keyboards we've seen in a handheld.|
In the box, you'll find a canvas slipcover that can be used as a protective carrying case. There's also a cradle with a separate slot for charging a second battery; yes, the included 1,560mAh lithium-ion battery is removable. An optional extended 3,600mAh battery is available, but it will obviously make the handheld thicker and heavier. This Pocket PC offers a host of corporate-centric features, including F-Secure FileCrypto Data Encryption and VPN access, which provides you with a wireless connection to your corporate e-mail and network, as well as additional security. That said, you may need an IT person to help you set up your corporate e-mail.
Setting up a standard POP3 e-mail account is a pretty straightforward affair. You simply key in your name and e-mail address, and--if your account is with a major provider such as EarthLink--a friendly wizard interface automatically attempts to input your server settings. Enter your password, and you're good to go in Pocket Outlook. You can set up multiple POP3 e-mail accounts, and Web-based mail services, such as Yahoo Mail, are accessible via Pocket Internet Explorer so long as you have a Wi-Fi connection.
Using the integrated Wi-Fi and HP's iPaq Wireless connection application, we had no trouble connecting to both a secure, key-code-protected network in our office and an open network, or hot spot, we discovered down the block. There's a built-in sniffer that displays not only available networks but also those that require a WEP key code to access. MSN Messenger, Microsoft's instant-messaging application, is included, and it worked flawlessly when we were tapped into our wireless network. We much preferred the H4350's built-in keyboard to H4150's virtual keyboard or handwriting recognition.
Wi-Fi can't handle all of your wireless needs. Thus, Bluetooth is onboard for cable-free syncing to a similarly equipped PC or accessing e-mail via a Bluetooth-enabled phone (a data-service subscription from your carrier is required).
The software package is quite respectable. On top of the full suite of Microsoft applications--including Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Reader, and Streets--HP adds several of its own applications, such as its Bluetooth Manager, a file backup/restore utility, a program launcher (iTask Manager), and the iPaq Image Zone image viewer, even though one already comes with the new OS. You can also store your contacts, your calendar, and your documents in the ROM. That way, if your battery goes dead or the device needs a hard reboot (not unheard of in the Pocket PC world), it won't disappear. Like the H4150, the H4350 comes with 64MB of RAM (though you can access only 55MB) and 32MB of ROM, which is where the new Pocket PC 2003 OS resides. This model runs on Intel's 400MHz XScale processor, but we didn't notice much of a performance difference between the H1940's 266MHz Samsung processor and the unit found in this model. Games and video--even clips that we wirelessly streamed off the Internet via our Wi-Fi connection--played smoothly. We loaded Hexacto's baseball game and the Windows Mobile Edition of Age of Empires and were satisfied with gameplay.
Sound is quite good; supposedly the Windows Media Player upgrade to version 9.0 provides a boost in quality. And we certainly appreciated that HP went with a standard 1/8-inch headphone minijack so that we could plug in our favorite pair of Sony earbuds without using a cumbersome adapter.
As noted, the transflective screen is the same one found on the H1940. Made by Sony, it's among the best available. Indoors, it's brighter than that of Toshiba's e330 and e335, and its white background has less gray. The display also did well outside; reading text in bright sunlight was no problem.
Battery life was excellent, owing to the unit's large, high-capacity 1,560mAh battery (the H4150 has a 1,000mAh battery)--clearly, a major reason to pick this model over its keyboard-free sibling. With both wireless modes disengaged, we were able to play a looping WMV video file in full-screen mode at standard (half) brightness for 6 hours, 5 minutes. At that point, the unit quit playing media files but still showed 14 percent battery life. That compares very favorably to the Toshiba e330's 4 hours, 16 minutes or the Dell Axim X5's 6 hours, 22 minutes. Of course, activating the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi transceivers will result in faster battery drain.