Review posted September 22, 2004 by Lisa
Gade, Editor in Chief
The iPAQ 3715 is at the top of the line among
HP's new Fall
2004 "Digital Entertainment" line of iPAQ Pocket PCs.
The iPAQ rz1715 and the rx3000 series
models comprise the Digital Entertainment iPAQs, and these target
consumers with a taste for multimedia and performance. HP lists
three rx3000 series models in the US: 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 schools.
All rx3000 series models have much in common,
varying only in casing color, processor speed, available memory
and the added camera in the case of the iPAQ rx3415 and iPAQ rx3715.
You'll notice much of this review is similar to the rx3115 because
many of the features, software and hardware are identical.
Features at a Glance
The iPAQ rx3715 is an excellent offering in the
$500 price range. It runs Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition (SE)
with native support for both portrait and landscape modes and has
a fast 400MHz processor that benchmarks well. It has 56 megs of
RAM and 96.5 megs of NAND memory available as the File Store, an
SD slot supporting SDIO, a 1.2 megapixel digital camera, large
capacity removable battery, Bluetooth and WiFi. That's a lot of
features to pack into a compact device!
In the Box
The iPAQ rx3715 comes with a replaceable Lithium
Ion battery, world charger, cradle (for syncing via USB and charging
too), stylus, earbud headphones, case, software CD and several
manuals including a thick "Special Features of the rx3000
which covers the bundled multimedia software in depth.
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 and graphite finish do much to balance
the device's hard-angled design. 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 d-pad
itself is small and takes some effort to press, which isn't the best
thing for action gaming but works fine for other tasks.
The removable Lithium Ion battery lives under a large
door on the back of the unit, as is the camera lens. 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 rx3715 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 are different!
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 rx3715 and all the rx3000 series
models, as it should be for a multimedia-oriented device. The iPAQ is
very 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.
While cell phone and PDA cameras won't compare with
a standalone digital camera, the iPAQ 3715's 1.2 megapixel camera takes
excellent photos by those standards. The Sony
Clie models have had some
of the best cameras, and this is the first I've seen that really challenges
many of their offerings. Colors are often true and saturated, even in
bright daylight where other PDA cameras overexpose and blow out highlights.
It handles indoor lighting well, as long as the room is decently well
lit. Don't expect it to take good shots outdoors at night or in dimly
lit rooms, but do expect it to take nice shots in rooms with decent sunlight
and in well-lit offices. See the sample photos below. These were shot
at the best compression setting, 1280 x 960 resolution. You can click
on an image to see the full size, unedited original.
The 1.2MP camera can take still photos up to 1280 x
960 in size, as well as lower resolution photos. You can
shoot videos at 176 x 144 or 128 x 96 with audio if you like.The camera
has 4x digital zoom (digital zoom basically enlarges pixels and crops
the image, and is not the same as optical or lens zoom). It saves photos
as JPEGs, and videos in MJPEG or H.263 (BGPP) format. Video quality is
pretty decent and is best for well lit indoor environments. Audio quality
was surprisingly good.
The software offers a
variety of camera settings, though I found in most cases that the auto
settings did a good job. As with the iPAQ 6315, the camera software
works in landscape mode and uses the full screen as the viewfinder. Along
the bottom of the screen you'll find a large shutter button and smaller
buttons for zoom, help, movie mode/still image mode switching, and settings.
Settings allow you to turn on/off camera sounds, use a self timer, control
white balance (auto, sun, tungsten or fluorescent), set color (full color,
b & w, sepia, negative, cool), set image quality
compression (good, better, best) and even select from center-weighted
or averaged AE metering.
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 rx3715 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 is powered by a 400MHz 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). A huge 96 megs of
persistence NAND flash memory is available as the iPAQ File
Store. The unit feels quite fast in all tasks, and 400MHz
is the sweet spot for performance. I'd like to see more
RAM, though the File Store will provide more than enough
space for most users and will survive a hard reset.
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 good 24.03 fps. PocketMVP played "The
Chosen" at 23.99 fps, and dropped 2 out of 6394
frames. The rx3715 played the Spider Man trailer file commonly
found on the web (240 x 136, 452Kb/s encoded MPEG 1
file) at 23.97 fps and dropped only 3 out of
My own test MPEG1 file burned from a DVD at a whopping
700 Kb/s looked good in playback which is impressive
since that's a high bit rate. It played back at 23.91
fps using PocketMVP and 23.95 fps using PocketTV Pro:
excellent! If you've read both our rx3115 review and
this one, you'll note that both units perform similarly
when playing videos encoded at less than 400 k/bs.
However, while 600 to 700 k/bs videos are too much
for the rx3115, the rx3715 clearly handles them with
We tested the rx3715 with a variety of
current demanding games and the unit played them very well.
MorphGear ran well with our favorite selection of NES games,
though the d-pad isn't the most ergonomic for action games.
The only game that didn't work is Metalion
2, which is one
of the few apps that seems to run only on Intel ARM and
XScale processors but not on ARM compatibles.
We performed benchmark tests using Spb Benchmark,
which has become the standard for testing Pocket PC performance.
The iPAQ did well, beating out the older 400MHz iPAQ
4150 and the mid-range Dell
Axim X30 312MHz model in most tests.
While it won't beat units in the 500 to 600MHz range, it is
plenty fast enough to suit most serious video watchers and
The iPAQ comes with a user replaceable1440
mA Lithium Ion battery, which is a relatively high capacity
battery for a Pocket PC. If you need even more power, you can
purchase a spare standard battery or HP's optional 2880 mA
extended batteries ($69 and $129). Our unit's battery life
was good for a 400MHz model (faster processors mean shorter
battery life). We were able to surf the Net for an hour over
WiFi, play games for an hour, take 25 photos and watch a 45
minute video without incurring a low battery warning.
HP iPAQ 4150
Axim X30 (312Mhz)
HP iPAQ rx3115
HP iPAQ rx3715
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). Of course, you get the "iPAQ
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.
Nevo AV remote software.
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, much 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.
An excellent unit. it's compact, yet has
just about every feature you could want in a PDA. The 1.2MP
camera takes surprisingly good photos and decent videos with
very good audio. The iPAQ has a great screen, nice multimedia
software, and strong performance. If you're looking for a
device in the $500 price range with a camera, the rx3715
should be on your short list, especially if you're a multimedia
Pro: Excellent camera,
great display, loud sound, strong performance and dual
wireless. WiFi has great range and HP's Bluetooth software
(Widcomm) is as always, solid and user friendly. Consumer
IR, and Nevo AV remote is included in ROM— everyone
Con: Could use more
RAM, though the extremely large File Store area makes up
for this. If you're an action gamer, the d-pad may not
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). 96 megs
available in File Store for your use.
x 2.8 x 0.64 in . Weight: 5.6 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
Camera:1.2MP, capable of taking still photos up to
1280 x 960 resolution and videos up to 176 x 144 with
In the Box:AC
adapter, USB sync cable, stylus, carrying case, stereo
earbud headphones, manuals and software CD.