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iPAQ Expansion Sleeves for the 3600/3700/3800/3900/and 5000 Series: Versatility and Power
 -by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

For power users, expansion sleeves are the heart of the iPAQ experience, and they work with all 3000 and 5000 series iPAQs. Drop your iPAQ into a sleeve, and you're ready for new horizons. You can add extra battery life, CompactFlash cards, PC Cards, Digital Cameras, GPS and more. I'll review a few popular favorites that we've hands-on tested in this article.

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Compaq CF Card Expansion Pack

This sleeve has one CF type II card slot and is one of the smaller sleeves for the iPAQ. The new Expansion Pack Plus is a bit smaller. It doesn't have an internal battery. This sleeve allows you to use CF memory cards, the IBM Microdrive, CF network cards, modems and Bluetooth cards.

Get the CF Expansion Sleeve from Amazon.com!

 

Compaq CF Expansion Sleeve Plus

New in Spring 2002, this is the "new and improved" CF sleeve that adds a hinged smoked clear plastic screen cover like that of the Cover Pack, and a removable Lithium Ion polymer battery. The 920 mAh Slim battery is included, and you can purchase an Extended life 1840mAh battery.

The sleeve is recharged when you recharge your iPAQ. A separate battery charger is available for the Plus sleeves. Your iPAQ will draw power from both the expansion sleeve battery and its main battery, and the expansion battery can trickle charge your main battery.

This sleeve has one CF type II card slot and is one of the smaller sleeves for the iPAQ. The new Expansion Pack Plus is a bit smaller. This sleeve allows you to use CF memory cards, the IBM Microdrive, CF network cards, modems and Bluetooth cards. A very cool and useful accessory!

Get the Compact Flash Card Expansion Plus from Amazon.com!

 

Compaq PC Card Expansion Sleeve and Dual PC Card Expansion Sleeve

This sleeve has one PC Card type II card slot and is thicker than the CF sleeve since PC Cards are larger and there's an internal battery to power the card (PC Cards are power hungry and most Pocket PCs can't supply enough power without an additional battery. These sleeves are recharged when you charge your iPAQ, or you can plug your iPAQ charger directly into the sleeve to charge the sleeve by itself. This model has been replaced by the PC Card Expansion Sleeve Plus, covered further down the page.

The Dual Slot can accomodate two type II or one type III PC Card. It has a larger battery to power both cards. It comes with an adapter than allows you to use CF type I and II cards (you must purchase this adapter (available in various brands at retail stores) separately if you get the single slot PC card expansion sleeve).

This sleeve allows you to use network cards, modems, Sierra Wireless AirCards, and the Toshiba 1.8" PC Card hard drive among other things. It allows you to save money by using the same PC cards in both your laptop and iPAQ (assuming an iPAQ driver is available for your PC card). You can also use CompactFlash cards with these sleeves if you get a PC to CF adapter.

 

Get the Dual Slot PC Card Expansion Sleeve from Amazon.com!

 

Compaq PC Card Expansion Sleeve Plus

This is the "new and improved" PC Card sleeve. Like the PC Card Expansion sleeve, it has one PC Card type II card slot and is thicker than the CF sleeve since PC Cards are larger. The Plus adds a hinged clear smoked plastic screen cover and a removable battery. The 920 mAh Slim battery is included, and you can purchase an Extended life 1840mAh battery.

The sleeve is recharged when you recharge your iPAQ. A separate battery charger is available for the Plus sleeves. Your iPAQ will draw power from both the expansion sleeve battery and its main battery, and the expansion battery can trickle charge your main battery.

This sleeve allows you to use network cards, modems, Sierra Wireless AirCards, and the Toshiba 1.8" PC Card hard drive among other things. It allows you to save money by using the same PC cards in both your laptop and iPAQ (assuming an iPAQ driver is available for your PC card). You can also use CompactFlash cards with these sleeves if you get a PC to CF adapter.

Get the PC Card Expansion Pack Plus from Amazon.com!

 

Compaq Bluetooth + CF Type II Card Expansion Sleeve

This sleeve has a built-in Bluetooth Radio and one CF type II card slot. It doesn't have an internal battery. This sleeve allows you to use CF memory cards, the IBM Microdrive, CF network cards, modems and network wirelessly with Bluetooth. The Bluetooth software is the same as that which ships with the iPAQs that have built-in Bluetooth. Be sure to download the updated Bluetooth 1.1 drivers from Compaq's website if your sleeve has version 1.0.


List price $159 US (Discontinued)

Bluetooth CF sleeve

Compaq Cover Pack (Style Pack)

This is a pretty cool cover for your iPAQ. It's included with the 3800 series models. It slips on like an expansion sleeve, but adds little bulk to the PDA. It's hard plastic, rigid and protective. The top and bottom of the PDA remains exposed for access to the sync port, stylus, power and record buttons.

The clear smoked plastic cover is hinged, and you can change the hinge so that it opens from either the right or left (as a lefty, I appreciate this!).

Get the iPAQ Cover Pack from Amazon.com!

 

Nexian NexiPak: Dual CF + Battery
www.nexian.com

Compaq thought to make a dual PC Card sleeve, but not a dual CF sleeve. Nexian came to the rescue with the NexiPak. It has two type II CompactFlash slots and a powerful removable 1550mAH Lithium Ion battery.

For 3600 and 3700 series owners, having 2 CF cards is very useful: it means you can use a CF memory card and a network, modem or other CF card simultaneously.

The NexiPak provides power to both the iPAQ and your CF cards. You can recharge it with Nexian's optional charger or it will charge when the iPAQ itself is in the cradle or attached to a charger.

 

 

Nexian NexiCam Digital Camera Sleeve
www.nexian.com

Turning your PDA into a digital camera seems to be all the rage these days. So why should the ever-expanable iPAQ been any different? Nexian came up with this nifty sleeve that slips on and makes your iPAQ look like a point-and-shoot camera— pretty wild!

Resolution and image size aren't strong points of digicams for PDAs, but as they go, the NexiCam is one of the better ones. It takes 800 x 600 SVGA resolution pictures, an f2.8 aperture (good for low-light situations), can focus from 2" (now that's close!) to infinity and has a 2x digital (software) zoom (you won't get hardware zoom lens in a PDA digicam). There is no flash, but the f2.8 aperture lens combined with the inherant low-light capabilites of digicams should help compensate unless you're into night outdoor night photography.

The NexiCam has a CF type II slot, so you can save images directly to a CompactFlash memory card if you wish (an album setting allows you to specify where your images will be saved. Interestingly, the CF card slot can also accomodate wireless modems, so you can wirelessly transmit your images while the camera is in place.

The camera uses the iPAQ's LCD in landscape mode as the viewfinder. The lens can swing 180 degrees which can be handy when taking video (the camera can take up to 45 seconds of video).

Once you've installed the NexiCam software onto your iPAQ, you can slip on the sleeve, launch the camera app from the Start Menu and get ready to take pictures. The camera app provides a viewfinder, along with setting selections such as image resolution (5 choices), zoom, motion video and a shutter button (there is no physical shutter button on the camera, you must use the on-screen button).

The sleeve feels durable and high quality. The actual lens and lens cover is plastic-y, but hasn't broken yet.

All in all, a pretty cool device that's user-friendly and takes decent pictures.

Get the Nexian NXC3100 NexiCam Digital Camera from Amazon.com!

 

 

MemPlug Dual CF Sleeve: two CF slots, one type I and one Type II.

MemPlug CF + Memory Stick Combo sleeve: one type II CF slot and a Memory Stick slot.

Affordable sleeves with no battery.

Read our full review here.

MwmPlug

 

Navman GPS Sleeve: for iPAQ 3600 thru 5400 series.

Read our full review here.

Navman GPS

 

 

 

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