Review posted July 25, 2004 by Lisa Gade,
Editor in Chief
They're here! HP's new iPAQs running Windows
Mobile 2003 Second Edition (WM 2003 SE) will be announced on Monday
July 26, 2004. We just happened to get ours a bit early .
The rz1715 is HP's new entry-level iPAQ, while the iPAQ
their previous entry level PDA. The seldom seen iPAQ
1930 was actually
HP's most basic model, and the rz1715's features are very similar
to that model. This new iPAQ will please those on a budget who
are looking for a very compact device and have no need for integrated
wireless networking. Unfortunately it lacks two key features that
the 1945 had: Bluetooth and a user replaceable battery. For these
two reasons, I might choose the 1945 while it's still available
from retailers. If you're looking for these features and more,
do consider the iPAQ rx3115 which
is $70 more.
Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition was released
this Summer to OEMs, and the Dell Axim
X30 was the first device
to come out with this new OS revision. What does WM 2003 SE add?
Support for several screen resolutions and both portrait and landscape
orientations. You can switch from portrait to landscape without
having to soft reset the device. Landscape is great for viewing
spreadsheets and web pages.
Features at a Glance
The HP iPAQ 1715 runs Windows Mobile 2003 Second
Edition (Pro) and has a 203 MHz processor. It has 32 megs of RAM,
an SD slot that supports SDIO, a QVGA transflective display and
a 1,000 mA battery that is not user replaceable. In the box you'll
find the PDA, a charger and a USB sync cable that plugs into a
round adapter at the end of the charger cable. A software CD, slim
printed manual and a getting started guide are also included. HP
has changed the package and logos and you'll see the big plus sign
next to "hp" on the box, manuals, on screen launcher
and Today Screen theme.
Design and Ergonomics
For many years, iPAQs ruled when it came to industrial
design. They were sleek, modern, often compact and very attractive
devices. Unfortunately, HP's latest iPAQs, including the rz1715
lack the sex appeal of previous iPAQs. The rz1715 has a rounded-off
rectangular shape that's more business-like than stylish. The front
face is finished in silver, the back is gray plastic and the top
cap is gloss black plastic. The unit is very compact, with dimensions
and weight nearly identical to the iPAQ 1945. Though they are nearly
identical in size, the blocky design of the 1715 makes it appear
bigger than the 1945. The rz1715 is just a bit smaller than the
Dell Axim X30.
The HP rz1715 has a small, round directional
pad that's a joy to use in every day tasks and games. The same
can be said of the four front application buttons: they're small,
yet easy to press, but aren't prone to accidental button presses.
Good going, HP! You can also enable button lock which will prevent
all buttons except the power button from turing on the unit by
accident. By default the buttons launch Calendar, Contacts, Today
Screen and Email, though you can assign other apps to these buttons.
If you press and hold the application buttons, you can launch a
different set of apps: Windows Media Player, HP Image Zone, screen
orientation rotation and Record. Unlike most Pocket PCs, there
is no dedicated voice recorder button on the side of the unit.
The power button, SD card slot and standard 3.5mm
stereo headphone jack are located on the top edge, as are the IR
window and mic. The speaker is on the rear of the unit and there's
a single LED above the display which indicates charging status
The 1715 has a 203MHz Samsung S3C2410 processor that's
XScale compatible. Previous entry level iPAQs have also used Samsung
processors and they are 100% compatible with Pocket PC apps written for
ARM and XScale processors. 203MHz won't blow your socks off, but if you're
looking for a PDA to keep track of your contacts and schedule, view a
few photos and listen to MP3s, then the 1715 will do fine.
The unit has 32 megs of RAM, 27.26 megs of which is
available to you to store programs and data. Most Pocket PCs come with
64 megs of RAM, so the 1715 is a little light on memory. Like all Pocket
PCs, RAM is used both for storage (like a PC's hard drive) and to run
programs (like RAM on a PC). Thus you'll generally want to leave at least
16 megs of that 27.26 allocated to Program memory using the Memory control
panel found on all Pocket PCs. When you first boot up the iPAQ, the OS
will use 8 megs of Program RAM, leaving only 8 megs for other programs
to run if you use a 16 meg allocation. That's cutting it close for more
demanding applications like action games, so you may need to allocate
more of that precious RAM. If you need more space, the 1715 has an SD
slot so you can use SD memory cards to store programs and files.
The SD slot supports SDIO as well, so you can use it
for Bluetooth and WiFi SD
network cards, GPS and more. We tested
it with the SanDisk WiFi + 256
megs RAM SD card and it didn't work. Hopefully SanDisk and HP will
get together and find a solution since this card works with most other
SDIO-enabled Pocket PCs I've tried. Happily, it did work with the SanDisk
SD WiFi card (the card has no memory, just WiFi), and I was able
connect to WiFi access points and surf the Net using Pocket IE in portrait
and landscape modes.
The iPAQ also has 10.33 megs of persistent NAND flash
memory available for storage, and this is called the File Store in HP
lingo. The File Store area will survive a hard reset, so data stored
here won't be lost even if the battery runs down or the device crashes
and must be hard reset.
We benchmarked the iPAQ rz1715 using Spb Benchmark.
We've compared it with the Dell Axim
X30 312MHz running WM 2003
SE and the iPAQ
1945 which was HP's previous widely available entry-level iPAQ
Since the rz1715 has the slowest processor, you'd
expect it to benchmark the slowest and indeed it does in most tests.
I was a bit disappointed in the rz's graphics numbers since
HP usually makes Pocket PCs with excellent graphics performance,
even their budget models. Still, the 1715 will be an adequate
performer for daily tasks such as accessing calendar and contacts
info, viewing photos under 2 megs in size, working with Word and
Excel documents and playing MP3s. If you're looking for a serious
gaming machine or want to watch lots of videos, consider a higher
Display, Sound and Multimedia
The rz1715 has a 3.5" transflective display
with a standard Pocket PC resolution of 240 x 320 pixels. Windows
Mobile 2003 Second Edition adds support for both landscape and portrait
modes and you can switch display modes on the fly (no soft reset
required). To switch between modes, you'll go to Settings-> Screen
and select portrait/right-handed landscape or left handed landscape.
You can also press and hold the Today Screen application button to
switch orientations. Unlike other WM 2003 SE models, there is no
quick switcher icon on the taskbar.
Above, Pocket IE in landscape mode,
default layout setting
The display is bright, color saturated and very
contrasty, as we've come to expect from HP. While the unit isn't
as bright as the most expensive models, doesn't have a very large
viewing angle and doesn't show the same level of contrast gradation,
it will suit most all eyes and has no visible color cast. However,
ClearType doesn't look good on this device and there are color aberrations
clearly visible on black letters. ClearType also seems to add an
overly bold look to fonts when compared to other Pocket PCs. This
isn't a Second Edition bug since the Dell Axim X30 and ASUS A730
running SE looks fine with ClearType turned on.
Sound isn't ear-shattering but you should be able
to hear alarms in all but noisy environments. My XDA
PC Phone Edition is noticeably louder, but it needs to be since
it doubles as a phone. Sound quality is pleasant through the built-in
rear-firing speaker and you can plug in a set of headphones to listen
to MP3s. The 1715 uses a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and comes
with Pocket Windows Media Player 9.01 for MP3 and Windows Media format
movie playback. Media Player did a fine job of playing back 300 kbps
.ASF videos. Of course, you can use your own video or MP3 player
applications too (read our review of Pocket PC MP3 players here).
HP iPAQ 1945 (2003, 4266MHz)
Dell Axim X30 312Mhz
HP iPAQ rz1715
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)
KB x 100 files (MB/sec)
Copy 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec)
Directory list of 2000 files (thousands of
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)
copy 1 MB using memcpy (MB/sec)
Since the rz1715 isn't a speed
demon when it comes to processor and graphics speeds, it won't be the
top choice of avid video fans and gamers. If you want to watch web
quality videos (under 300k bitrate) it will do fine. However,
if you're a frequent video watcher or encode your own movies from DVD
at high bitrates, do consider a higher end model. We tested the iPAQ
with both the free Pocket
MVP and Pocket
TV Enterprise with 300 kbps bitrate MPEG1 files and both ran fine.
On the Spiderman Trailer MPEG1 file commonly available on the web,
Pocket MVP played at 23.96 fps and dropped only 4 out of 2640 frames. "The
Chosen", a BMW short film that's a 4:26 minute long, 10 meg MPEG1
file recorded at 320 x 240, 308 kbps, played at 23.98 fps and dropped
4 of 6394 frames. That's very good playback performance for a device
with these specs and benchmarks!
Though this isn't a powerful machine, we did
test it with a few popular games. Puzzle games, card games and the
like run perfectly well on the rz1715. More demanding games are the real
challenge, and here's what we found.
- Metalion 2 first
warned us we needed at least 8 megs of free Program memory. Once we
increased the free memory allocation to 12 megs, the program didn't successfully
- Bust 'Em 2 ran very
- Blade of Betrayal ran
Bounty Hunter Pinball button assignment didn't work right (seems
to be a WM 2003 SE incompatibility).
- Age of Empires ran well, and the
d-pad was a joy to use with this game. However, we got an out of memory
error message 15 minutes into the game, with 20 megs allocated to Program
memory, 12 of which was available to the game.
- Trivial Pursuit ran fine.
Again, not bad for a Pocket PC with these specs and
benchmarks. If you're a casual gamer, this unit could be for you. If
you're a hardcore gamer, you need the best hardware, just as with desktop
Since HP calls the 1715 a "Mobile Media
they've supplied it with a new launcher with four large icons
that launch Music (Windows Media Player), Photos (HP's photo
viewer application), Contacts and Calendar. You'll be greeted
by this launcher when you first turn on the PDA rather than the
standard Pocket PC Today Screen. First time users may have a
hard time finding the many other programs and features that the
Pocket PC offers, and the launcher perhaps overly dumbs-down
the interface. Worse yet, if you select "Today" from
the Start Menu to see the standard Pocket PC Today Screen, nothing
happens and you're left staring at the HP Launcher. To disable
the launcher, you must go to Start Menu->Settings->Today
and uncheck "iPAQ Entertainment" on the items tab.
You do have access to the Start Menu when the HP launcher is
HP also includes their Task Switcher which
is less full featured than the old iPAQ iTask but gets the job
done. To access it, tap on the icon with two red arrows in the
taskbar. This brings up a pop-up window with icons for each task
and options to close one or all running programs.
HP Image Zone is a very nice image viewer whose
interface reminds me of Resco's Picture Viewer. It offers thumbnail
browser views of images, full screen viewing, zoom, printing,
deleting, emailing and adding voice notes to images. According
to the online help, it supports JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG, VMW, 2BP,
MPG, MPEG, MPE, M1V, M1U, AVI and 3GP files. Though it didn't
recognize or play the MPEG1 files that we used with Pocket TV
and Pocket MVP and it didn't recognize our AVI files.
Full versions of three 3rd party applications
are included with the rz1715: Peacemaker Professional (allows
you to beam data to PDAs running on different platforms) , Microsoft
Games (Minesweeper, Reversi and Hearts) and AvantGo. There are
many trial software apps on the CD as well, which you can try
and buy if you like them. No backup program is included, so you'll
need to use ActiveSync on the desktop to backup your iPAQ to
The iPAQ rz1715 has a 1,000 mA Lithium Ion
battery that is not user replaceable. That's a good size battery
for a unit with this processor speed and screen size, and the
device should last three hours of average use accessing PIM data,
working with MS Office documents and viewing photos. If you play
MP3s with the display turned off, you should get even longer
runtimes. Overall, we've been pleased with battery life in the
short period of time we've used the unit and only wish it had
the user replaceable battery that was standard on the last generation
iPAQs. Why? A user replaceable battery allows you to swap batteries
easily when traveling, so you don't have to run to a charger
and the nearest AC outlet. Also, after two years of use when
Lithium Ion batteries typically suffer reduced runtimes, you
won't easily be able to replace the battery and will have to
order a do-it-yourself kit from www.pdainternalbattery.com or
send it back to HP for a battery replacement.
Above, the new HP Launcher
A decent entry level Pocket PC, as always exuding
HP quality, fit and finish. However, at $279, we do wish it had
a user replaceable battery and one form or another of wireless
networking built in.
Pro: Small and highly pocketable.
Very good display, excellent ergonomics include buttons and d-pad.
Has an SDIO slot for wireless networking cards as well as storage
cards and GPS.
Cons: Gone is the stylish
HP look. Processor speed and RAM could be higher for a unit in
this price range. No user replaceable battery-— shame on
TFT color LCD, 64K colors, Screen Size Diag: 3.5",
Resolution: 240 x 320. Supports both portrait and
Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.
MHz Samsung S3C2410 processor. 32 MB built-in RAM
(27.26 megs available). 32 MB Flash ROM with 10.33
megs available in File Store for your use.
x 2.75 x .53 in. Weight: 4.23 oz (120 g).
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player
9 included for your MP3 pleasure.
2003 Professional Second Edition operating system.
Standard Windows Mobile applications include Calendar,
Contacts, Tasks, Voice Recorder, Notes, Pocket Word
(with Spell checker), Pocket Excel, Pocket Internet
Explorer, Pocket MSN, Windows Media Player 9 (MP3,
audio and video streaming), Calculator, Solitaire,
Jawbreaker, Pocket Outlook Email (with Spell Checker
for email), File Explorer, Infrared Beaming, VPN
support (PPTP) Clock, Align Screen, Memory, Volume
control. 3rd party software: Peacemaker (US Retail
1715 only), AvantGo and Microsoft Games. ActiveSync
3.7.1 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.
SD (Secure Digital) slot, 4 bit data bus, supporting
SDIO and SDIO Now!. Can NOT use iPAQ expansion