Far and away, the rz1710's strongest attribute is its thin, light design. Though it's about the same size and weight as its predecessor--4.5 by 2.8 by 0.5 inches and 4.2 ounces, to be exact--the rz1710 remains one of the smallest and lightest Pocket PCs available. Despite its petiteness, this PDA offers a 3.5-inch transflective TFT (thin-film transistor), 64,000-color screen with a QVGA resolution of 240x320 pixels. You can now switch between Portrait or Landscape mode, thanks to the latest operating system, Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition.
Below the LCD, the HP features four programmable launch buttons (Calendar, Contacts, Messaging, and Today are the defaults). In between the shortcut keys is a four-way navigation button. On top of the PDA, there's an SDIO/MMC slot that supports storage cards up to 1GB, expanding on the device's 32MB of memory. The infrared port sits right beneath the expansion slot, but as far as wireless connections go, that's all you'll get--there's neither Bluetooth nor Wi-Fi.
As mentioned earlier, the rz1710 is equipped with the latest OS. You'll find the standard apps, including Pocket versions of Word, Excel, MSN Messenger, and Internet Explorer. In addition, HP throws in a few proprietary utilities, such as HP Image Zone for editing images and Task Switch for jumping between programs, to name two. On the entertainment side, Windows Media Player allows you to play music and video files, and you also get two games: Solitaire and Jawbreaker. If you want more of a mobile media companion, take a look at the rz1710's sibling, the rz1715, which has the same hardware features but includes minor software enhancements for entertainment applications such as digital music and photos.
In CNET Labs' tests, the rz1710 exceeded our expectations. Equipped with Samsung's 203MHz S3C2410 processor, its overall performance was actually superior to that of the Asus MyPal A730, which has Intel's 520MHz PXA270 XScale processor, and its graphics performance was on a par with that of other Pocket PCs. These scores translated to a quick response time and decent video quality and game performance.
However, battery life is where the rz1710 really pulled away from the pack. Repeatedly playing a video clip with the backlight set at 50 percent, the handheld lasted for 5 hours, 22 minutes before losing steam. This is very impressive for a Pocket PC of its size, and it outlasted the Axim X30 by 36 minutes. With normal usage, you'll be able to get more mileage out of the battery. If you're looking for a basic device to keep you organized and, to a lesser extent, entertained, the HP iPaq rz1710 is a good choice--as long as you can live without wireless.