Review posted September 18, 2004 by Lisa
Gade, Editor in Chief
With its Fall 2004 Pocket PCs, HP has differentiated
their iPAQs into three product lines, Digital Entertainment iPAQs,
Classic Performance iPAQs and the iPAQ
6315 Pocket PC phone. The
iPAQ rz1715 and the rx3000 series
models comprise the Digital Entertainment iPAQs, and these target
consumers. Here in the US, there are three models, the rx3115,
rx4314 and rx3715. Though the rx3415 appears only in HP's US specs
pages and not on their main site so we're not sure if it will be
available here. The camera-less rx3115 seems to target the US market
and hasn't been announced for Europe or Asia, likely because of
US corporate rules about cameras in the workplace and even public
The rx3115 is a very good unit for the money,
offering strong performance, Bluetooth, WiFi and the ever-popular
Nevo AV remote. In fact, all the Fall 2004 iPAQs except the rz1715
have both WiFi and Bluetooth. Like the rz1715, it sports HP's new
and not very sexy design, but unlike the rz1715, the 3115 does
offer a nice set of features for the price. At $70 more than the
entry level rz1715, the rx3115 brings a lot to the table, adding
a faster processor, Bluetooth, WiFi, more RAM, a user replaceable
battery and Nevo. If you can spare the change, the rx3115 is definitely
the better buy.
In the Box
The iPAQ rx3115 comes with a replaceable Lithium
Ion battery, world charger, USB sync cable (not cradle), stylus,
earbud headphones, case, software CD and several manuals including
a thick "Special Features of the rx3000 series" manual
which covers the bundled multimedia software in depth.
Features at a Glance
The iPAQ rx3115 is a compact device that has
a 3.5" QVGA transflective display, an SD
slot supporting SDIO, WiFi, Bluetooth and consumer grade IR. It
runs Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition (SE) with native support
for both portrait and landscape modes, has a 300MHz processor and
~56 megs of total available memory. Unlike its bigger rx brothers,
the 3415 and 3715, it doesn't have a digital camera.
Design and Ergonomics
While the rx series doesn't have the style and
curvy good looks of the last generation iPAQ 1945 and 4150 models,
it isn't bad looking either. It's thicker than the rz1715 and the
wider, shiny black side insets do much to balance the device's
angular silver and black front face. The unit is compact for a
Pocket PC, and as you can see from our comparison photo, it's one
of the smallest Pocket PCs. All rx3000 models use the same casing
and are the same size, they vary only in color.
The device has a clean design, and the only button
you'll find on the sides is the record button on the upper left. The
SD slot is located on top as are the IR window, power button, headphone
jack and stylus. On the front you'll find an LED that indicates wireless
radio status and another for charging status and reminders. The iPAQ
has a 5-way directional pad flanked by two buttons on each side. By default,
these buttons launch, from left to right: iPAQ Mobile Media, HP Image
Zone, Nevo AV remote and iTask. On most other Pocket PCs, these buttons
launch the PIM apps, but since this is a multimedia oriented device,
HP went with their multimedia apps. As with all Windows Mobile devices,
you can re-map the buttons to launch any application you wish, and as
with all 2003 SE devices, you can specify which applications are launched
when the buttons are pressed and held for a second or two.
The removable Lithium Ion battery lives under a large
door on the back of the unit, and the (loud) speaker seems to be located
under the d-pad. As you'd expect, the sync connector is on the bottom
edge, and it's the same connector as the iPAQ 3000, 5000, 2200 and 6315
models. For example, my iPAQ 5555 charger works with the rx3115 as does
my iPAQ 6315 cradle. HP now refers to this as the universal connector,
but don't confuse it with palmOne's universal connector, because they
Display and Sound
The rx3000 series iPAQs use the same display and it's
very bright, colorful and sharp. It has a neutral color bias and is perfect
for viewing photos and watching movies. It has a 3.5" QVGA (240
x 320) transflective display, which are standard specs for Pocket PCs.
Sound is great on the rx3115 and all the rx3000 series
models, as it should be for a multimedia-oriented device. The iPAQ is
quite loud and you'll be able to hear movies, alarms and music in rooms
with average or a bit higher than average noise levels. Like all Pocket
PCs, the iPAQ has a standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, and unlike
all, the unit comes with a set of earbud headphones. Sound quality is
excellent through headphones and the volume is plenty loud. The iPAQ
Audio control panel allows you to control headphone treble and bass as
well as set microphone AGC (automatic gain control). All Pocket PCs have
a mic and voice recorder, and the iPAQ is no exception.
All Fall 2004 iPAQs (rx3000 series, hx4700 and
the 6315) except the entry level iPAQ rz1715 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 iPAQ rx3115 has built-in WiFi 802.11b wireless
Ethernet networking. It has very good 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. The connection worked
reliably for us when connecting to access points (with and without
WEP) and worked seamlessly with iPAQ Mobile Media.
The iPAQ uses HP's Bluetooth Wizard which
is powerful and user-friendly. It walks you through connecting
to a variety of devices, from your ActiveSync partner (if you
have a USB Bluetooth adapter installed on your PC), to mobile
phones to access points and GPS units (it doesn't support Bluetooth
headsets). The Bluetooth software is made by Widcomm and is version
1.5.0. I ActiveSync-ed wirelessly, connected to Belkin and Red-M Bluetooth
access points for Internet access and transferred files to other
Bluetooth enabled Pocket PCs.
iPAQ Wireless is where you'll manage your WiFi and Bluetooth radios
The iPAQ runs a 300MHz Samsung S3C 2440
processor and has 56.66 megs of RAM available (about 10
megs of that is used by the OS and at least another 9 must
be allocated to running programs). 3.91 megs of persistence
NAND flash memory is available as the iPAQ File Store. The
unit feels fast and responsive in all tasks, and should satisfy
most users. I'd like to see more RAM, but the unit is positioned
at the bottom of mid-level Pocket PCs and more RAM would
perhaps raise the price. The Samsung processor is
ARM and XScale compatible so existing Pocket PC software
will run fine.
How about video playback?
Using the bundled PocketTV Pro to play "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, the iPAQ managed a respectable 24.96 fps. PocketMVP played "The
Chosen" at 23.98 fps, and dropped 5 out of 6394
frames. The rx3115 played the Spider Man trailer file commonly
found on the web (240 x 136, 452Kb/s encoded MPEG 1
file) at 23.98 fps and dropped only 2 out of
My own test MPEG1 file burned from a DVD at a whopping
700 Kb/s looked OK in playback with some occasional
stuttering, which is good for a Pocket PC below
400MHz. It played back at 16.88 fps using PocketMVP
and 23.6 fps using PocketTV Pro. If you want to play
videos encoded at very high bitrates, consider the
iPAQ rx3715 which handles that task well.
Gaming is also pleasant on the device and
most all of the current popular games we tested ran well.
If you're into emulators, you will likely want the fastest
device you can afford, but if you're a casual to moderate
gamer, the 3115 is adequate.
We performed benchmark tests using Spb Benchmark,
which has become the standard for testing Pocket PC performance.
The iPAQ did well for a 300MHz device, but surprisingly didn't
post great improvements over the 266MHz iPAQ
1945, HP's older intro
level model running Windows Mobile 2003.Of course, the iPAQ
rx3715, being a 400MHz device, did the best overall. The 3115
holds its own against the 312MHz Dell
which also sports dual-wireless and a compact form factor.
The Dell lacks HP's multimedia software bundle, so if you're
into MP3s and video and like the sound of the software described
below, do consider this iPAQ.
The iPAQ comes with a user replaceable 920
mA Lithium Ion battery. That's an average size battery that
should make it a few days on a charge. If you're a serious
WiFi or Bluetooth user, or watch a lot of movies, you might
want to consider the iPAQ 3715 which has a 1,440 mA battery
or HP's optional 1,440 or 2,880 mA extended batteries ($69
HP iPAQ 1945 (2003, 4266MHz)
Dell Axim X30 312Mhz
HP iPAQ rz1715
HP iPAQ rx3715
HP iPAQ rx3115
Spb Benchmark index
File system index
Write 1 MB file (KB/sec)
Read 1 MB file (MB/sec)
Copy 1 MB file (KB/sec)
Write 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec)
10 KB x 100 files (MB/sec)
Copy 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec)
Directory list of 2000 files (thousands
Internal database read (records/sec)
Graphics test: DDB BitBlt (frames/sec)
Graphics test: DIB BitBlt (frames/sec)
Graphics test: GAPI BitBlt (frames/sec)
Pocket Word document open (KB/sec)
Pocket Internet Explorer HTML load (KB/sec)
Pocket Internet Explorer JPEG load (KB/sec)
File Explorer large folder list (files/sec)
Compress 1 MB file using ZIP (KB/sec)
Decompress 1024x768 JPEG file (KB/sec)
Arkaball frames per second (frames/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MFLOPS (Mop/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MOPS (Mop/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MWIPS (Mop/sec)
test: copy 1 MB using memcpy (MB/sec)
The rx3000 series comes with generous compliment
of multimedia software. You get HP Image Zone, comprised
of a desktop app and a Pocket PC app that allows you to view,
edit and send photos via email, HP Instant Share E-Mail and
IR. HP Image Transfer is for automatic
transfer of photos and video from your HP iPAQ to your PC
using ActiveSync. It works with any ActiveSync method (USB,
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi). It's really intended for rx models
with digital cameras, but HP bundles it with the rx3115 as
well. Of course, you get the "iPAQ Entertainment" Today
Screen plugin which replaces the standard Today Screen view
with large buttons for Mobile Media, Photos and Home Control
(Nevo AV Remote). This is HP's new standard for their multimedia
units, but you can uncheck it from your Today Screen settings
if you wish to use the regular Today Screen. It's great if
you mainly use the iPAQ for these multimedia apps, but likely
most of us will also use the core Pocket PC functions and
want quick access to calendar, tasks and other handy Today
Screen info. HP's iTask, a nice task switcher, is also included.
HP's iPAQ Backup (a re-branded version of the excellent Sprite
Backup 3.0) is included in ROM and will backup either your
PIM info or all iPAQ data to an SD card. The HP Mobile Printing
app is included in ROM too, and this will allow you to print
to a Bluetooth, IR or networked printer. 3rd party software
includes the excellent PocketTV Pro MPEG1 movie player which
is installed in ROM, as is Ilium Software's Dockware, which
functions like a screen saver and displays photos and a calendar
when the iPAQ is turned on but you're not using it.
ActiveSync 3.7.1 for
the desktop is included, as is Outlook 2002. All Windows
Mobile devices use ActiveSync to sync to desktops and sync
PIM data to and from Outlook. If you have a newer version
of Outlook, you can use that instead of the version included
on the CD.
HP Image Zone
iPAQ Mobile Media Player and Nevo Software
HP's iPAQ Mobile
Media (powered by Nevo) allows you to listen to MP3s, view photos
and watch videos stored on the Pocket PC. It supports Windows
Media format video files (.WMV), MP3s and images (JPEG, BMP, GIF,
PNG and local TIFF files). The Windows XP-only desktop apps, NevoMedia
Player and Server, work
with iPAQ Mobile Media on the Pocket PC to allow you to manage
and play music, pictures, and video through your wireless home
network— very cool. You can also wirelessly transfer your
digital music, photos, and videos from your networked PC(s) running
NevoMedia Server to your iPAQ and take them with you. The iPAQ
app has a Media Control function that allows you to control movie,
photo and music playback on any Windows XP machine running the
player app on your network. You can also stream movies to
the Pocket PC and view photos stored on a machine running the
All worked well when we used
the iPAQ to control music, image and video playback on a networked
PC running Windows XP Pro, and we were able to
copy multimedia files from the PC running the server to the iPAQ.
However the iPAQ player won't play MP3s via a streaming connection
(yuck), and won't play Windows Media movies streamed from the
server if they have any form of copy protection. Playing non-copy
protected content via streaming media, we got sound
but no video. The manual says that streamed WMV files must be
formatted specifically for the iPAQ in order to playback, but
gives no information on what that means exactly. The same movies
do play fine when stored locally on the iPAQ. A shame, if this
unit could stream MP3s and all WMV files of 320 x 240 size or
less, it would be much cooler.
Last but not least, there's the ever-popular
Nevo AV remote, which keeps getting better. Nevo is a powerful
AV remote app that will allow you to control pretty much every
piece of home AV equipment on the market. It controls TVs, VCRs,
DVDs, CDs, amps, tuners, cable boxes, satellite dishes and more.
The list of supported brands is amazing, and the interface is unique
yet very intuitive. You can set up multiple rooms and switch among
them, so you can control your living room AV gear, bedroom stereo
and TV, and so on.
Comparing the rx3115 and rx3715
Both units have the same physical design and
casing. In fact, they look identical other than the color (the
3115 is silver while the 3715 is
graphite). They use the same display, offer the same multimedia
features and have the same sound quality and overall volume. How
do they differ? The 3715 adds a 1.2 megapixel digital camera, more
File Store memory and a 400MHz Samsung processor while the 3115
has a 300MHz Samsung processor. The rx3715 sells for US $499, while
the rx3115 is $349.
A very nice Pocket PC at a good price. If you're
looking for an entry to mid-level PDA with a great screen, nice
multimedia software, and good performance, do consider the rx3115.
The Nevo AV remote and consumer IR are a big plus and the dual
wireless will help keep you connected. If you have a hankering
for a camera, also consider the iPAQ rx3715.
Pro: Great display, excellent
sound, good performance and dual wireless. WiFi has great range
and HP's Bluetooth software (Widcomm) is as always, solid and
Con: Could use more RAM,
though you can use storage cards to expand the unit. Battery
capacity is a bit lower than we like, though you can buy additional
higher capacity batteries.
TFT color LCD, 64K colors. Screen Size Diag: 3.5",
resolution: 240 x 320.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Samsung S3C 2440 processor.
64 MB built-in RAM (~56 megs available). 3.91 megs
available in File Store for your use.
x 2.8 x 0.64 in . Weight: 5.1 oz.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player
9 included for your MP3 pleasure.
WiFi 802.11b and Bluetooth 1.1.
Mobile 2003 Second Edition
Professional operating system. Microsoft Pocket
Office suite including Pocket Word, Excel, Internet
Explorer, and Outlook. Also, MSN
Instant Messenger for Pocket PC, MS Voice
Recorder as well as handwriting recognition. 3rd
party and HP software: iPAQ Wireless, Bluetooth
Manager, HP Mobile Printing, iPAQ Entertainment (custom
Today Screen plug-in with shortcuts to digital imaging
and entertainment applications),
iPAQ Mobile Media, Nevo
Universal Remote, Pocket
TV Pro, iPAQ Backup, HP Image
Zone for iPAQs, Ilium Dockware
Personal Edition. ActiveSync
3.7.1 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.
SD (Secure Digital) supporting
SDIO and SDIO Now!. Can NOT use iPAQ expansion
In the Box:AC
adapter, USB sync cable, stylus, carrying case, stereo
earbud headphones, manuals and software CD.