Review p osted Dec. 6, 2003 by Lisa
Gade, Editor in Chief
HP released the 4350 just two weeks after its
brother the 4150. While Palm OS users
have been able to purchase PDAs with integrated thumb keyboards,
this is the first Pocket PC to feature an integrated thumb keyboard.
While not as petit as the 4150 thanks to the added keyboard and
larger capacity battery, it is in all other respects identical
to the 4150, and you'll notice that our 4150 and 4350 reviews share
a good deal of content. Note that in the HP tradition, the iPAQ
4350 and 4355 are the same unit, the final digit indicates whether
it was sold via consumer or business channels. We have the 4350,
so will use that model number in our review.
Design and Ergonomics
Though the HP iPAQ 4150 and 4350 share much in
common, unlike the 4150, the 4350 doesn't first impress one as
being either small or light. The integrated thumb keyboard makes
the 4350 one inch longer than the 4150, and the unit is a bit thicker
and wider as well. Still, it is an attractive model that doesn't
weigh in too terribly heavy at 5.8 ounces. Unlike most other Pocket
PCs with integrated WiFi, the 4000 series iPAQs don'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 antenna.
The casing is made of plastic, and the front
face surrounding the display has a silver finish. The back of the
case is dark gray plastic, as is the thumb board area. 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 the other glows blue
to indicate that the Bluetooth radio is on. The LEDs also indicate
charging status and reminders in amber. The record button is located
on the upper left side just below the IR window. The smallish 5-way
square d-pad works well and smoothly in all directions. Unlike
the 4150, the four application buttons are easy to press, though
they are a bit slippery thanks to their chrome finish. HP provides
a control panel that tells the unit to ignore button presses when
it's turned off, thereby preventing accidentally turning the unit
on when in purse or pocket.
HP designed a new cradle for the iPAQ 4000 series
and it's pictured 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.
The 4350 has an Intel XScale PXA255 processor running
at 400 MHz. This is the current top of the line processor, also used
in the iPAQ 4150, 2215 and 5555, and the 4350 benchmarks similarly to
those units (and identically to the 4150). The 4350 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 4350 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 reset).
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 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 4350 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 4350 has a 3.5" transflective display.
HP makes some of the nicest, and they're always bright, color saturated
and contrasty. The 4350 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. Like all Pocket PCs, the iPAQ 4350 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 4350 comes with a user replaceable 1560 MAh Lithium
Ion battery. That's very good battery capacity, designed to handle frequent
WiFi use. An optional $120 extended 3600 MAh battery is available, which
is an amazing amount of power for a PDA. 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 with the included standard battery has
been very good, averaging near 4 hours when not using wireless and the
screen brightness set one notch from maximum. Even intensive games don't
rapidly drain the battery. Bluetooth is always fairly battery friendly,
but WiFi is not. Despite that, the iPAQ achieved nearly 3 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 4350 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 12 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 4350 has a LEAP control
panel applet and HP's Enroll, a certificate enroller. I found that both
Bluetooth and WiFi range were identical on the 4150 and 4350 models we
tested. The 4350 was a little more finicky when initially setting up
WiFi, but that may have been a fluke.
The iPAQ 4350 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.
The built-in thumb keyboard is very usable, but
not as full-featured as some add-on thumb keyboards or thumb boards
found on some Sony Clié models. The keys are round, have
good travel and tactile feedback for a thumb board, and both primary
and secondary character masking is easy to read. The keys are backlit
and the letters will glow electric blue. HP provides a Keyboard
control panel applet that allows you to turn backlighting off and
on, and set the light duration (how long the keys stay lit after
you press one) from two to ten seconds. In addition, you can disable
the keyboard if you wish.
The keyboard has an embedded numeric keypad and
these keys are a slightly darker color to make finding and entering
numbers easier. You'll enter numbers, punctuation as well as some
commands by pressing the function key (the key with a big blue
dot on the lower left corner of the keyboard) in conjunction with
the appropriate key. There's a dedicated Start Menu button, and
a button that mimics the tap and hold stylus functionality. You
can turn on caps lock, but there is no sticky feature for the function
key, nor is there a dedicated row of function keys that you could
assign actions such as program launching or cut and paste. As it
stands, your stylus won't get lonely because you'll still need
it for menus, cutting, pasting, and a few other things. I'd like
to have seen cut and paste as well as a sticky function key on
the 4350. It's a bit annoying to have to press the function key
and another key to do basic functions like "del" and "OK",
as well as navigate the screen using the arrow keys plus the function
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 4350 (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, and both the 4150 and 4350 come 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
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 4350. The 4150 and 4350 benchmarked identically
(within a few 100ths) of each other on all values, and neither
unit worked with our benchmark app when testing SD cards. 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. Since our 4155 and 4350 didn't get along with
the storage card write tests, we weren't able to record values
for the storage cards tests. Higher numbers
are better (shown in bold).
If you've been wanting a Pocket PC with an integrated
thumb keyboard, this is the (one and only) unit for you.
Pro: Fast processor, excellent display, backlit
thumb keyboard, integrated Bluetooth and WiFi that has very good
range. Good buttons for gaming. Large capacity standard battery
with huge capacity extended battery available for separate purchase.
User replaceable battery. Cons: It's large! Keyboard could have
additional features to speed typing and decrease need for the stylus.
The 4350 and 4355 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.
If you're interested
in a smaller version of the 4350 and don't need the thumb keyboard,
do check out the 4150 which is $50
TFT color LCD, 64K colors, Screen Size Diag: 3.5",
Resolution: 240 x 320.
Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
1560 mA. 3600 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 2.9 x .6 in. Weight: 5.8 oz.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player
9 included for your MP3 pleasure.
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
SD (Secure Digital) slot, 4 bit data bus, supporting
SDIO and SDIO Now!. Can NOT use iPAQ expansion
WiFi 802.11b (also supporting LEAP) and Bluetooth.