MobileTechReview.com PDA, Notebook and Phone Reviews and buyers guide

PDA Phone Notebooks Gaming Gadgets iPhone & iPad Shop Discussion

Advertisement

PDA Reviews

HP iPAQ hx2750 Pocket PC Review

Editor's rating (1-5):
Discuss this product
Where to Buy

Check out our review of the HP iPAQ hx2490 and iPAQ hx2790 two of the Windows Mobile 5.0 hx2000 series models released late Sept. 2005.

Posted January 4, 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

I'm getting tired of liking iPAQ Pocket PCs. This is an old problem of mine, dating back to the first revolutionary Pocket PC, the iPAQ 3600. The trouble is, they generally turn out some of the best Pocket PCs on the market; and the end result is that the name iPAQ has become synonymous with Pocket PC in many consumers' minds. Not that we've loved every iPAQ off the line, the iPAQ rz1715 was, for the price, lacking even for an entry level model. But overall they've done a great job with the iPAQ hx4700 VGA model and the hx2750 being two stunning hits among high end models released in the past few months. The iPAQ hx2750 is simply a great Pocket PC, as it should be for the hefty $549 US price tag. In fact, it beat out the previous champ, the Dell Axim X30 624MHz Pocket PC in our benchmarks and is the fastest Pocket PC to date. Not only that, it has an exceptional display that's noticeably better than those found on most other Pocket PCs.

HP iPAQ 2750
iPAQ 2755 back

HP's new hx2000 line of Pocket PCs targets corporate buyers, though anyone can purchase these models and you will find them on retail store shelves. The hx2000 models aim to replace the popular iPAQ 2215, another mid-sized Pocket PC with dual expansion slots and plenty of power (at the time). Things have changed since the 2215 was released in the Summer of 2003, and the hx2000 models sport the latest Intel XScale processors and the new Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition OS.

The HP iPAQ hx2750 competes with the hx4700 for the power user market. Both share the same processor, dual slots and dual wireless but the hx4700 has a VGA display while the hx2000 models have standard QVGA displays. Like others, we were hoping that HP would make a marriage of the two, giving us a VGA unit with gobs of memory too. Alas, that's not the case. If the hx4700's large size, touch pad, high price tag and un-stunning 64 megs of RAM left you wanting, the hx2750 might be for you, if you don't crave VGA.

While this review focuses on the the top of the line hx2750 model with a 624MHz processor, 128 megs of RAM and 128 megs of ROM, we'll tell you a little about the iPAQ hx2410 and the iPAQ hx2110. All units are identical, having an Intel PXA270 XScale processor, Bluetooth, WiFi (except on the base hx2100 models), dual expansion slots and a stunning 3.5" transflective color display. They vary only in processor speed, memory and the presence of a biometric fingerprint scanner on the hx2750. The iPAQ hx2410 has a 520MHz processor, 64 megs of RAM and 64 megs of ROM. The hx2100 has a 312MHz processor, 64 megs of RAM and 64 megs of ROM. Though HP targets these units at business folks, you may find them with the afore mentioned model numbers (indicating they were sold through business channels) or ending with a "5" instead of a "0" indicating that they were sold through the retail channel. Be it "5" or "0", they are still the same unit. For example, the iPAQ hx2750 is the same Pocket PC as the iPAQ hx2755.

 

 

Deals and Shopping

 

 

 

 

Features at a Glance

As mentioned, the hx2750 has a 624MHz processor, which is currently the fastest you can get on a Pocket PC, 128 megs of RAM, 128 megs of ROM (currently the most RAM and flash ROM you'll find on a Pocket PC), Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11b, an SD slot that supports SDIO, a CF type II slot (accepts type I and II cards) and a biometric fingerprint scanner for security.

In the box you'll find the PDA, stylus, removable flip cover, printed guide, software CD, world charger and a cradle.

Design and Ergonomics

The flip cover is back, and that's a good thing. Those of you who've been using Pocket PCs for some time may fondly recall the HP Jornada and its integrated flip cover which protected the most vulnerable PDA part: the display. When HP and Compaq merged, they dropped the Jornada line and went with the very successful iPAQ line from Compaq instead. Since then, we haven't seen a flip cover on a Pocket PC. The iPAQ hx4700's flexible translucent display cover was the "new" HP's first attempt, but its floppy nature and side mounted design (lefty unfriendly) didn't impress us greatly. The hx2000 series use a hard plastic translucent flip cover that's mounted up top and thankfully stays up when opened. Simply excellent. Should you still prefer a case over the flip cover, you can easily remove the flip. You may find that you can carry your iPAQ naked thanks to the flip, sturdy casing and the serious rubber side grips. Unlike the 2215 whose grips had a tendency to unglue and looked a bit like an afterthought, the hx2750's are well-integrated into the body and wrap around the top and bottom a bit. They provide side cushioning against drops and help the device stay in hand. The grips and sturdy casing give this mid-sized Pocket PC a ruggedized look.

side view

Side view

flip open

Flip open

flip

Flip cover installed and closed to cover the display

Speaking of looks, the hx2000 models represent yet another new industrial design for HP, and it looks like no other Pocket PC. The device gets a bit chubby in the middle, with curvy good looks reminiscent of the Nokia 6600 Series 60 smartphone. It stands in stark contrast to HP's recent line of consumer oriented handhelds which are almost painfully angular. The hx2750 feels very good in the hand thanks to the curves and rubberized sides-- definitely an ergonomic PDA. Is this an attractive Pocket PC? The decision is yours. The metallic charcoal finish (the same as that found on the hx4700) and the black grips and accents give the unit a staid and modern look that will be at home in office environments.

The power button lives on the top right, above the display, and two LEDs that indicate wireless status, charging status and alarms are on the left. The flip cover curves below this area so the LEDs are unobscured and you can turn the unit off and on when the cover is closed. The cover is translucent, so you'll be able to read the extremely bright display even with the flip down. The SD and CF slots are located on the top as are the IR (standard, not consumer) port and the standard stereo 3.5mm headphone jack. The top is finished in gloss plastic and the unit comes with matching removable protective plastic blanks that fill the slots when not in use.

size comparison

Comparing the Dell Axim X30, hx2750 and the iPAQ hx4700. Notice how bright the hx2750's display is, with all devices set to the same brightness level.

There are no controls on the right side, and the rubberized voice recorder button is the solitary control on the left side. The user replaceable battery is located under a door on the rear and the sync connector and reset button are located on the bottom edge. The mic grill is located on the left front below the display and the speaker grill is located to the right. Below these, nested at the very bottom are the four standard Pocket PC application launcher buttons flanking a small rectangular directional pad with center action button. The d-pad is small and stiff but it's effective and works decently in gaming. If you're a gamer, you'll prefer this d-pad to the hx4700's touch pad. The application buttons are flush with the unit but are large enough to work well for games.

Processor and Horsepower

Yeehah! This thing is fast. In fact, it's gotten the highest Spb Benchmark rating of all Pocket PCs to date. While speed isn't everything, given that most 400Mhz and higher Pocket PCs get the job done well for average users, power users will appreciate the speed which translates into fast menu and window response, excellent gaming and very good video playback. The iPAQ uses the Intel XScale PXA270 processor running at 624MHz, which is currently the latest and fastest PDA processor on the market. The hx2750 has 128 megs of RAM with 123.53 available for your use (used both for program execution and storage) and 128 megs of flash ROM where the OS lives and 80 megs of which is available for program and file storage as the iPAQ File Store. While RAM is faster than flash ROM, it consumes power even when the unit is turned off. This means that RAM, though faster, is less power efficient and will be wiped out if your device runs completely out of power (that's why you should always backup your Pocket PC using ActiveSync or a 3rd party backup program). 128 megs of RAM and ROM is currently the most you'll find on a Pocket PC and will suit heavy hitters who install lots of apps and data on their devices. Of course you can always store large files such as videos and MP3s on SD or CF storage cards.

The hx2000 series is the paragon of expansion. It has an SD slot that supports SDIO, a CF type II slot that works with type I and II cards (including the 4 gig Hitachi microdrive), Bluetooth and standard (not consumer) IR. There are also several peripheral such as HP's folding keyboard and thumb keyboard that plug into the iPAQ universal sync connector.

If you're looking for the most in terms of speed, memory and expandability, the hx2750 should be on your short list. If price is an issue and you can live with a decent amount of memory and a not quite so fast (but still fast) unit, consider the hx2410 which sells for $449 US. The $399 2100 offers great expansion and average performance in terms of processing speed and memory.

Benchmarks

Let the Spb Benchmark numbers speak for themselves. The hx2750 has the highest overall benchmark index, and leads the pack in nearly all tests. Not that any of these devices are slouches, with all the running the latest OS on a 624MHz processor except for the rx3715 which is a fine unit but not in the power user camp.

How about video playback? We threw our usual test files at it: "The Chosen" (a neat BMW flick with Clive Owen) which is a 4:26 minute long, 10 meg MPEG1 file recorded at 320 x 240, 308 kb/s. We tested the hx2755 using BetaPlayer, an extremely fast open source free video player that supports MPEG1, DivX, ASF, WMV and AVI files. BetaPlayer played back "The Chosen" with impressive benchmarks of:
Average speed: 986.86%
Bench Frame Rate: 236.85
Bench. Data Rate: 25.8 Mbit/s
Orig. Frame Rate: 24fps
Orig. Data Rate: 310 kbit/s

Even more impressive were the benchmarks for a WMV file encoded at 907 kb/s (that's a very high bitrate for a Pocket PC and not something many of us would use). We had no dropped frames in playback and got the following benchmark numbers:
Average speed: 232.58%
Bench Frame Rate: 31.95
Bench. Data Rate: 5.0 Mbit/s
Orig. Frame Rate: 24fps
Orig. Data Rate: 907 kbit/s

Graphics and Display

The display on this device is one of the best you'll find on a PDA. Truly remarkable: most folks will notice the difference at first glance. Though not as color accurate and "smooth" as the beautiful hx4700's VGA display, the display is nearly luminous. Colors seem to jump out at you thanks to the screen's amazing brightness, deep colors and super contrast. In fact, the display is so bright and contrasty that it nearly hurts the eyes (turn down brightness to calm things down). Why do I say the hx4700's display is smooth in comparison? The contrast and luminosity aren't cranked quite so high, and of course the hx4700 runs in VGA at a much higher dpi making for smoother and sharper fonts. The hx2750's display has a mild cold color bias and isn't as color accurate as the hx4700. But those of you who aren't photographers or artists will find it plenty good enough.

 

 
HP iPAQ hx2750
Dell Axim X50 (520Mhz, Max mode, NON VGA model)
Dell Axim X30 624Mhz, Max mode)
HP iPAQ hx4700 (624MHz VGA)
HP iPAQ rx3715
Spb Benchmark index
2209
1803
2086
1621
1545
CPU index
2564
2070
2474
2412
1529
File system index
1563
1287
1452
1477
1387
Graphics index
5683
4653
5295
890
2956
Platform index
1627
1350
1506
1298
1422
Write 1 MB file (KB/sec)
1887
1548
1856
1854
1422
Read 1 MB file (MB/sec)
37
29.3
33.3
33.6
23
Copy 1 MB file (KB/sec)
1881
1549
1860
1848
1392
Write 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec)
1154
1039
1157
1195
1066
Read 10 KB x 100 files (MB/sec)
11.7
10.7
11.4
11.7
10.2
Copy 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec)
943
874
945
986
960
Directory list of 2000 files (thousands of files/sec)
29.9
22.8
26
26.4
37
Internal database read (records/sec)
2228
1709
2003
1972
1329
Graphics test: DDB BitBlt (frames/sec)
404
288
333
63
388
Graphics test: DIB BitBlt (frames/sec)
41.9
33
40.9
10
29.8
Graphics test: GAPI BitBlt (frames/sec)
1015
901
952
122
392
Pocket Word document open (KB/sec)
59.4
40.9
50.9
39.2
54.6
Pocket Internet Explorer HTML load (KB/sec)
8.68
8.36
8.06
8.51
10.2
Pocket Internet Explorer JPEG load (KB/sec)
302
272
296
247
220
File Explorer large folder list (files/sec)
741
604
708
652
763
Compress 1 MB file using ZIP (KB/sec)
376
273
342
322
312
Decompress 1024x768 JPEG file (KB/sec)
926
752
918
918
551
Arkaball frames per second (frames/sec)
333
277
313
97.4
158
CPU test: Whetstones MFLOPS (Mop/sec)
0.119
0.097
0.119
0.119
0.084
CPU test: Whetstones MOPS (Mop/sec)
86.6
70.4
86.6
86.6
55.2
CPU test: Whetstones MWIPS (Mop/sec)
7.81
6.39
7.8
7.81
5.44
Memory test: copy 1 MB using memcpy (MB/sec)
122
104
118
117
59.5

Though the hx2750 lacks a dedicated video processor (generally only VGA models use dedicated processors these days), it flew through graphics tests and handled all the games and videos we threw at it. Business model? Bah! This unit is fantastic for gaming and video playback. It's a shame that HP isn't targeting consumers, but that won't prevent "consumers" from buying it.

WiFi

All Fall 2004 iPAQs (rx3000 series, hx4700 and the 6315) except the entry level iPAQ rz1715 and the bast model hx2100s have both WiFi and Bluetooth wireless networking. All use HP's new iPAQ Wireless as your one stop application for managing these wireless radios and their connections. The large round buttons turn each wireless radio on and off, and the other buttons allow you to manage each wireless connection's settings.

The hx2750 has excellent range even though it doesn't have an external antenna. The iPAQ uses the Windows Mobile Connection Manager (a part of the OS) to manage wireless connections, and the device supports 64 and 128 bit WEP encryption, 802.1x using PEAP, SmartCard or Certificates. It comes with the Windows Mobile Certificates applet for managing certificates and supports LEAP and VPN connections. The connection worked reliably for us when connecting to access points (with and without WEP).

Bluetooth

The iPAQ has HP's Bluetooth Wizard (Widcomm/Broadcom 1.5.0 software) which has been our favorite for a few years since it's intuitive and easy to use. It walks you through connecting to a variety of devices, from your ActiveSync partner (if you have a Bluetooth adapter installed on your PC), to mobile phones to GPS units. You can ActiveSync wirelessly, connect to Bluetooth access points for Internet access, and transfer files to other Bluetooth enabled Pocket PCs and use Bluetooth a phone as a modem for your iPAQ. You VoIP fans will be happy to hear that it even supports Bluetooth headsets using the Headset and Handsfree profiles (we tested it with the Plantronics M3500 and Bluespoon AX headsets using the Handsfree profile). The following profiles are available: File Transfer, Information Exchange, Serial Port, Personal Network Server, DUN, Audio Gateway, Headset and Handsfree.

The software is reliable and played nicely with a variety of Bluetooth devices. HP includes their new BVRP BT Phone Manager which makes it even easier to connect to a Bluetooth enabled cell phone for Internet access. The app walks you through getting connected to your phone and has many pre-sets for various carriers so you don't have to enter the dial string yourself. It has a window that mimics an LCD screen which tells you the connection status, call duration and amount of data transferred in a session. Nice! HP includes a desktop app that goes over the Net to find updates for new phones and carrier connection settings. These updates can be downloaded to the PDA when you sync. Note that you may still have to do some tweaking, but overall it's a very easy and user-friendly affair.

screen shot

iPAQ Wireless is where you'll manage your WiFi and Bluetooth radios and connections.

Battery

The hx2000 series models have user replaceable 1440 mAh Lithium Ion batteries. That's a good capacity battery given the device's features. For the hx2750, maintaining 128 megs of RAM takes power (even the device is turned off), as do the wireless radios and extremely bright display. That said, the hx2750 gave good runtimes, lasting through four hours of video playback with power to spare. Surfing via WiFi consumed about 25% of the battery per hour with screen brightness set to ~ 66%. In a mix of accessing PIM info, working with a few Word and Excel documents, playing MP3s for an hour and playing games for an hour, the hx2750 should easily last two days on a full charge. If you use WiFi or Bluetooth heavily, expect shorter runtimes since those radios (especially WiFi) consume power.

Like most iPAQs, you can charge the device by placing it in the included cradle or you can plug it directly into the world charger using the included dongle adapter. There is no slot for charging a second battery on the iPAQ cradle. For their late 2004/ early 2005 models, HP uses an attractive and compact cradle with a snap-on docking portion. In theory, you could interchange the docking sections if you needed to use the cradle with different iPAQ models, but HP doesn't seem to sell these separately. The sync connector location does vary slightly between models so the hx2000 models will not work with the hx4700 cradle for example.

Biometric Fingerprint Scanner and HP Protect Tools

Many of use remember the biometric fingerprint scanner on the iPAQ 5450 and 5555. In fact, HP was the first manufacturer to include biometric security on a PDA. Security has grown up with the hx2750, which uses HP Protect Tools from Credant in combination with the scanner to offer highly configurable security on the PDA. Why such serious security? If your PDA is lost or stolen and holds sensitive data, someone might be able to hack the password system included with the OS. Since the hx2000 series targets business users who often carry sensitive company data, HP has included HP Protect Tools and the scanner. All hx2000 models come with HP Protect Tools. Besides locking the device to intruders, it allows you to use AES, Lite, Triple DES or Blowfish encryption on your choice of Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Email, Tasks and the contents of the My Documents folder on both internal and SD card memory. The hx2750 adds the biometric scanner, which is the slit-like window just above the d-pad. Once you've enrolled at least both index fingers, you can swipe your finger over the scanner to unlock the PDA. While gifted hackers can sometimes crack complex passwords, no one can fake your fingerprints because each one of us has a unique set of fingerprints.

On the hx2750, you can set the device to use a password, strong alphanumeric password, PIN, fingerprint, fingerprint or PIN, fingerprint and PIN, or use a strong password rather than a PIN in these combinations before the device can be used at power on or after a specified period of inactivity. You can specify the number of attempts (1 - 10) and use a backup question in case you forget your PIN. You can set the number of allowed attempts at answering the backup question, and have the unit pause before allowing you to retry or have it hard reset the device after the allowed number of attempts has been exhausted. A checkbox lets you keep security even after a hard reset. That means no one will be able to use the unit even after a hard reset unless they can enter the right security info (password/PIN/fingerprint or whatever you've specified). Very serious security indeed. Fingerprint scanning worked extremely reliably and has improved since the iPAQ 5555 and decrypt times were reasonably fast.

Software Bundle

This is one area where the hx2000 models fall short. HP usually offers some of the most generous software bundles, and in fact the hx4700 and the rx3715 come with lots of goodies. The hx2750 comes with several trial versions of software but the only full version 3rd party software package you get is BVRP Bluetooth Phone Manager which simplifies connections to Bluetooth enabled mobile phones.

Fortunately, HP's own apps are quite good, and these include HP Image Zone (an image view that's superior to MS Pictures bundled with the OS), HP Wireless which serves as the central location for managing Bluetooth and WiFi connections, VPN support, LEA, HP Mobile Printing (print to HP printers via IR, Bluetooth or network over TCP/IP), iPAQ Backup (a rebranded version of the excellent Sprite Backup), HP Profiles (works like profiles on a mobile phone) and their iTask task manager.

Like all Pocket PCs running Windows Mobile, Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer and Outlook are pre-installed in ROM. Other pre-installed Microsoft apps include Pictures, Terminal Services, MSN Messenger, Solitaire, Jawbreaker, ActiveSync and Calculator. Incomprehensibly, the unit comes with Windows Media Player 9, even though version 10 was released several months ago and can be found on a few other Windows Mobile devices. Windows Media Player plays MP3s and WMV/ASF movie files.

Conclusion

A device that's hard not to like! If you're a power user craving a fast processor, lots of memory and expansion possibilities this is an excellent choice. The screen is stunning and the dual wireless will help keep you connected on the road be it via WiFi or a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone. The achilles heal of the hx2000 series model is price, which clearly targets fat corporate wallets.

Pro: One of the best displays we've seen. Fastest Pocket PC to date, the hx2750 carries the maximum amount of RAM and ROM memory you'll find on a Pocket PC. WiFi and Bluetooth are robust, and HP's support for VPNs and LEAP is great for corporate users. Excellent expandability thanks to the SD slot (supporting SDIO) and the CF slot. Reasonably attractive design, ergonomic with grips that keep the device in hand. The screen cover is wonderful and we don't know why other manufacturers don't offer it. For that matter, why doesn't HP offer it on other models? HP Protect Tools keep sensitive data safe and the biometric scanner on the hx2750 works well and provides the ultimate in security.

Con: Expensive. We wish there was a VGA model in the hx2000 series lineup. Comes with Windows Media Player 9 rather than 10. Not much of a software bundle for the price.

 

Web Site: www.hp.com

Comparison Shopping: Where to Buy

 

 

Specs:

Display: Transflective TFT color LCD, 64K colors. Screen Size Diag: 3.5". Resolution: 240 x 320 (QVGA).

Battery: Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1440 mA.

Performance: Intel XScale PXA 270 624 MHz processor. 128 MB built-in RAM (123.53 megs available). 128 MB Flash ROM with 80 megs available in File Store for your use.

Size: 4.71 x 3.01 x .65 inches. Weight: 5.8 oz.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 9 included for your MP3 pleasure.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b (also supporting LEAP) on all except the hx2100 models. Bluetooth 1.2 on all models.

Software: Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition Premium operating system. Microsoft Pocket Office suite including Pocket Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and Outlook. Also, Terminal Services, MSN Instant Messenger for Pocket PC, Windows Media Player 9. MS Reader, VPN client and Voice Recorder as well as handwriting recognition. HP apps: HP Mobile Printing, iPAQ Wireless, HP Profiles, Bluetooth Manager, iPAQ File Store, iPAQ Backup, iTask. Utilities: Self Test, iPAQ Audio, Power Status, How Do I…? Guide. 3rd party software: BVRP Bluetooth Phone Manager. ActiveSync 3.7.1 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.

Expansion: 1 SD (Secure Digital) slot, 4 bit data bus, supporting SDIO and SDIO Now! 1 CF type II slot supporting type I and type II cards. Can NOT use iPAQ expansion sleeves.

 

Back to MobileTechReview.com Home Questions? Comments? Post them in our Discussion Forum!