Reviewed by Lisa
Gade, Editor in Chief, Nov. 25th, 2003
The 4155 is being phased out with the release of the Fall 2004
iPAQ rx3115 and rx3715
HP has been hitting home runs this year with
their latest iPAQ Pocket PCs. The iPAQ 5555, 1945 and
particularly the 2215 have been
great models that have been well received by reviewers and shoppers
alike. The 4150, much anticipated since rumors of it surfaced several
months ago, should also be a hot unit. Why? It's just a hair larger
than the iPAQ 1945 which is the smallest Pocket PC, yet it offers
both built-in Bluetooth and WiFi and has no external antennas.
In short, it's absolutely sweet! Note that in the HP tradition,
the iPAQ 4150 and 4155 are the same unit, the final digit indicates
whether it was sold via consumer or business channels. We have
the 4155, so will use that model number in our review. Note that
the iPAQ 4350 is a 4150 with an integrated
thumb keyboard and larger battery, and that unit is 1 inch longer
to accomodate the thumboard.
Design and Ergonomics
It's surprisingly small, it's curvy, modern,
attractive and light at 4.67 ounces. Think Palm V sized, or the
iPAQ 1910 and 1940, if you've seen those in person. Unlike most
other Pocket PCs with integrated WiFi, the 4155 doesn't have an
external antenna, making for a cleaner and more compact design.
Don't worry, WiFi signal strength is top notch even without the
The casing is made of plastic, and the front
face has a silver finish. The back of the case is gray plastic,
and while it doesn't give the iPAQ a touch of class, it should
at least not show fingerprints. The user replaceable battery lives
behind a door on the back and you'll slide a chromed retaining
latch to release the door.
On the front are 2 LEDs, one of which glows green
to indicate that the WiFi radio is on, and blue to indicate that
the Bluetooth radio is on. If both Bluetooth and WiFi are turned
on, the LED will alternate between blue and green. The other LED
indicates charging status and reminders in amber. The record button
is located on the upper left side and is well designed to avoid
accidental button presses. The 5-way square d-pad works well and
smoothly in all directions, but the four application buttons are
small and a bit slippery thanks to their chrome finish and will
likely not thrill gamers. Oddly, the IR port is located on the
bottom right corner which means you'll be looking at the screen
upside down when beaming, and most IR keyboards won't work.
HP designed a new cradle for the iPAQ 4000 series
and it's pictured on the right below. It's a relatively large and
blocky looking cradle, and the iPAQ stands upright leaving a good
deal of space behind it. Why the space? To make it easier to get
to spare batteries that are being charged in the rear section of
the cradle even when your iPAQ is cradled. This is the first HP
cradle to feature a removable standard USB cable.
Above: the iPAQ 4000 series cradle.
The inset on the back plane is for charging a spare battery.
Above: Size comparison. Left to
right: Dell Axim X3i, iPAQ 4155
and the Sony Clié UX50.
The 4155 has an Intel XScale PXA255 processor running
at 400 MHz. This is the current top of the line processor, also used
in the iPAQ 2215 and 5555, and the 4155 benchmarks similarly to those
units. The 4155 has 64 megs of RAM, 55 of which are accessible to the
user, and 32 megs of NAND flash ROM, 2.85 megs of which are available
as a non-volatile File Store. HP has shipped the 4155 with a utility
that can format the File Store area should it become corrupt or should
you wish to erase its contents before selling it or giving it to someone
(being non-volatile, the File Store will not be erased even after a hard
The iPAQ runs Pocket PC 2003 Premium Edition, which
is the full featured version of the OS (compared to PPC 2003 Professional
Edition). This means MS Reader, Terminal Services and Microsoft's new
Images program come pre-installed in ROM.
For expansion, you've got the oddly placed IR port,
Bluetooth and an SD slot supporting SDIO. The 4000 series iPAQs are not
compatible with iPAQ expansion sleeves for the iPAQ 3000 and 5000 series.
Video playback was excellent using Pocket MVP and Pocket
TV Enterprise. In fact, the 4155 outperformed our Dell
Axim X3i, dropping many fewer frames for videos encoded at high rates.
Screen, Sound, and Gaming
Transflective displays, currently one of the best LCD
display technologies have become standard on Pocket PCs, if not most
all recent PDAs, and the 4155 has a 3.5" transflective display.
HP makes some of the nicest, and they're always bright, color saturated
and contrasty. The 4155 is no exception, having a lovely display, but
if you hold the unit at an angle rather than holding it straight on,
you will notice a yellow color cast. When held straight on, you won't
see it at all, and it isn't as noticeable as the iPAQ 1945's off angle
The sound volume is quite loud. Alarms are easy to
hear, and I generally turned down the sound level to less than half when
playing games. Of course if you're listening to MP3s, you'll want to
use headphones that connect to the standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
rather than the speaker located under the d-pad. Like all Pocket PCs,
the iPAQ 4150 has a voice recorder, and the unit includes an Audio control
panel applet that allows you to adjust the microphone EQ for "Short
Range Recording", "Normal" and "Conference Recording".
You can also enable AGC (automatic gain control), and set the headphone
volume independent of the speaker volume.
The 4155 comes with a user replaceable 1000 MAh Lithium
Ion battery. That's a decent capacity battery, and an optional extended
1800 MAh battery is available. The newly designed cradle has a slot to
charge an additional battery. Like other iPAQs, you'll use the included
dongle if you wish to plug the charger directly into the iPAQ rather
than charging it in the cradle
Battery life has been impressive so far, averaging
3.5 hours when not using wireless (brightness set one notch below highest).
Even intensive games don't rapidly drain the battery. Bluetooth is always
fairly battery friendly, but WiFi is not. Despite that, the iPAQ achieved
about 2 hours when using WiFi. I used the iPAQ with the WiFi radio set
to auto power savings, and there are also options to always use power
savings ("Extended") or never use it ("Off"). These
settings are found in the Power control panel applet, under the "Control" tab.
The iPAQ 4155 has built-in WiFi 802.11b wireless
Ethernet networking. It truly has excellent range considering
that it doesn't have an external antenna. In fact it rivaled
the iPAQ 5555 which also has excellent range. Using Cirond's Pocket
WiNc, I was able to sniff out 11 WiFi access points in my home
area (it's Silicon Valley, after all). The wireless control application
looks like the one on past iPAQs: it allows you to turn on and
off either or both radios, and there are no external switches
to activate the radios. Windows Mobile 2003 comes with a certificates
application, and in addition, HP supports LEAP on their WiFi
enabled Pocket PCs. The 4155 has a LEAP control panel applet
and HP's Enroll, a certificate enroller.
The iPAQ 4155 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
1.4.1. 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. Speeds when ActiveSyncing and surfing
the Net were good, though not as fast as using WiFi, which is
to be expected since WiFi offers greater speeds.
While the 4000 series iPAQs are not compatible
with iPAQ expansion sleeves, the connector on the bottom of the
unit is the same as that used on the iPAQ 2215, 3000 and 5000 series
iPAQs, so you should be able to use those accessories that connect
to this port with the 4150 (yay!). This means iPAQ keyboards, GPS
and chargers made for those models will work.
HP always offers a good software bundle with
their iPAQ Pocket PCs. The 4150 came with the usual suite of iPAQ
custom applications: iTask task manager, iPAQ Backup (SpriteSoft),
HP Mobile Printing, HP Certificate Enroller, LEAP, Bluetooth Manager
and their iPAQ Image Zone (HP's improved image viewer). Note that
unit doesn't come with Nevo, the ever-popular AV remote software,
which is installed in ROM on the iPAQ 2215 and on the now discontinued
iPAQ 3900 series and iPAQ 5450. Pocket PC standard apps include
Pocket versions of Word, Excel and Outlook, MSN Messenger, Terminal
Services, VPN client, Jawbreaker (a Bubblets game) and ClearType
Tuner. 3rd party apps include Westtek ClearVue Suite (for viewing
MS Office docs), Resco File Explorer 2003, F-Secure FileCrypto
Data Encryption, RealOne Player for Pocket PC and iPresenter PowerPoint
We've run benchmarks using VOBenchmark 3 from Virtual
Office Systems. I've compared the iPAQ
2215, iPAQ 5555 , and the iPAQ
1945 to the 4155. All tests were run with units fresh out
of the box with no other software added, and the storage cards
were 60% full with data and applications. For some reason, our
4155 didn't get along with the storage card write tests, so we
weren't able to record values for the storage cards tests. Higher
numbers are better (shown in bold).
If you're looking for a power handheld in a small
package, then the iPAQ 4155 may be the ticket. It's as small as
the iPAQ 1900 series (OK, hair larger), yet has a top of the line
processor, Bluetooth, WiFi and supports SDIO. Add in compatibility
with iPAQ connector accessories such as keyboards and GPS and you're
set. This model should be great for folks who coveted the iPAQ
5555's strong networking features and processor, but wanted something
smaller and less expensive.
Pro: Fast processor, excellent display, integrated
Bluetooth and WiFi that has very good range. Extremely small, light
and attractive. User replaceable battery. Cons: More expensive
than lower end Pocket PCs on the market, but you do get a lot for
your money, and an amazing hardware suite fitted into a very small
unit. Application buttons aren't a gamer's dream. No CF slot.
The 4150 and 4155 have
different model numbers because HP uses different model numbers to track
sales in consumer vs. business channels. Both come with a cover pack iPAQ
case (canvas, not a very nice one), USB cradle, charger, one battery, an
extra stylus, software CD and manuals.
4350/4355 is a 4150 with an integrated thumb keyboard.
That unit is one inch longer and costs $50 more.
TFT color LCD, 64K colors, Screen Size Diag: 3.5",
Resolution: 240 x 320.
Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
1000 mA. 1800 mA extended battery available for purchase.
XScale PXA 255 400 MHz processor. 64 MB built-in RAM
(55 megs available). 32 MB Flash ROM with 2.85 megs
available in File Store for your use.
x 2.78 x .53 in. Weight: 4.67 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 (also supporting LEAP) and Bluetooth.
PC 2003 Premium operating system (aka Windows Mobile
2003). Microsoft Pocket Office suite including Pocket
Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and Outlook. Also,
Terminal Services, MSN Instant Messenger for Pocket
PC, MS Reader and Voice Recorder as well as handwriting
recognition. 3rd party software: Westtek ClearVue Suite,
F-Secure FileCrypto Data Encryption, Colligo Personal
Edition, Adobe PDF Viewer, RealOne Player for Pocket
PC, iPresenter PowerPoint converter, MobiMate WorldMate.
ActiveSync 3.7 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.
SD (Secure Digital) slot, 4 bit data bus, supporting
SDIO and SDIO Now!. Can NOT use iPAQ expansion