by February 9, 2001 0 comments

iPAQ is perhaps the best-known PDA running Windows for Pocket PC 2000. Compared
to the Palm Pilot and the Handspring Visor, it is a new entrant into the field.
The iPAQ Pocket PC, to give its full name, comes in two varieties, monochrome
and color. What we got for a quick two-day preview is the color one–the Pocket
PC 3630.

First the specs. As we said earlier, the iPAQ runs Wiindows for Pocket PC
2000, which is Microsoft’s update to Win CE. It has 32 MB of RAM and 16 MB of
Flash ROM. The touch-sensitive screen has a size of 240 pixels by 320 pixels,
and the system runs on a 206 MHz StrongARM processor. That makes the Pocket PC
more powerful than the Pentium-based desktop PCs from a few years back. Add the
full graphical user interface and multimedia, and you have a very versatile and
powerful gadget in your hands. The unit has rechargeable Lithium Polymer
batteries. But the charger shipped with an American style AC plug that did not
fit into Indian power sockets, so we had to scramble for an adapter. Hopefully,
that would be set right in the units that ship in the country. The iPAQ is
expandable through Jackets, or slip-on covers to its metallic casing, which will
also incorporate added functionality like modems.

Now, what all can the iPAQ do? It can do all the standard stuff that a PDA is
expected to do, like maintain addresses, schedules and to-do lists, and
synchronize (sync it, as the seasoned PDA user will say) data with a PC. It can
do some more. For example, it can record your voice and play music and other
multimedia files. It has Internet Explorer, Pocket Word, and Pocket Excel. Files
created in Pocket Word or Excel can be opened in the regular applications on a
PC and vice versa. So, the iPAQ Pocket PC is more of a PC than a PDA. And like
all PCs, it has a little reset button that lets you restart the gadget. For
input, it gives you a choice between using character recognition as you write
and a software keyboard on the screen. For connecting to the PC, the options are
serial port, USB, and infrared. The review unit shipped with a serial port
connector and not the USB one.

How is the iPAQ in usage. To a complete novice user, the iPAQ presents no
great challenges, although the character recognition, including the
sensitiveness of the screen to the stylus, does take a bit of getting used to.
Compared to the Palm, the unit is a little bulkier to hold and heavier in the
pocket, but again after some time you get used to it. The screen display is
extremely sharp, and you have five brightness settings to choose from. In all of
them, the text on the screen was easily readable. The iPAQ has a powerful
microphone that recorded at distances of five to six feet easily in our tests.
The playback is also clear and loud.

That brings us to that all-important thing–price. Internationally, the iPAQ
3630 is priced at $499. That, assuming 25 percent customs duty, works out to
about Rs 29,000. The retail price is currently Rs 34,500.

All said, a powerful gadget, particularly if you are looking for a minimal PC
in your pocket. One wishes that it would have cost a bit less, though!

Krishna Kumar

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