HP iPAQ rx3715

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HP iPAQ rx3715

Pros

  • Attractive design, abundance of features, good software

Cons

  • Lousy image quality from camera, slow shutter

Bottom Line

Despite a mediocre camera, the Rx3715 has more goodies than most other Pocket PCs. Some features aren't terribly useful, but the rest make for a pretty nifty (albeit expensive) PDA.

Would you buy this?

The HP iPAQ Rx3715 Mobile Media Companion is loaded with so many features that it could replace some of your other electronic devices in a pinch. It's expensive, however, and its integrated 1.2 megapixel digital camera isn't good for much.

The attractive black-and-charcoal Windows Mobile device is easy to use, provided you have petite fingers; otherwise, the buttons are very small. The round, four-way navigation pad is smaller than a dime, and the tiny control buttons have only little raised bits of plastic to delineate their live areas. You certainly have to look where you're pressing.

You can access the Web from nearly anywhere with the Rx3715's built-in Wi-Fi circuitry or its Bluetooth radio (along with a compatible cell phone). I browsed the Internet at a moderately quick clip on the Rx3715's bright and relatively sharp 3.5" screen.

I experienced a few quirks, though. I had to perform a hard reset when initially connecting to a Wi-Fi network, after which the device connected to our wireless routers. Plus, I had to scroll side-to-side to read most Web pages. Finally, I ended up turning off the Wi-Fi antenna during my morning commute: as I encountered new networks, the PDA kept popping up dialog boxes asking if I wanted to connect to them, interrupting what I was trying to do. (Any Pocket PC device, though, would have Web-page scrolling and network-dialog notification issues.)

Like most PDA-based digital cameras, the one on the Rx3715 doesn't compare well with even the most basic stand-alone digital camera. However, this camera is so poor that I can't see it getting much use after the initial tryout. It has a fixed focus lens that provides no optical zoom. In photo mode, the device switches the screen view to landscape mode. To take a shot, you can press either the center of the four-way navigation button or a button on the side of the unit. In informal tests the Rx3715 took fuzzy, dark shots, and several images showed prominent colour fringing around objects.

The shutter also has a significant lag; to avoid extremely blurry outcomes, hold the PDA still for a few beats after you take a shot, and then wait about 20 seconds longer for the PDA to process that shot. For storing photos or other files, the Rx3715 has a plentiful 152MB of on-board memory and an SD Card slot. Also, you can use the included HP Image Transfer software to autosync pictures and videos that are 15MB or smaller.

In fact, software is where this PDA shines. A unique home-screen interface lets you launch the camera application, a photo viewer, and HP's media player.

The unit also offers a remote-control application that works with the PDA's infrared port to issue commands to consumer electronics equipment such as TVs, stereos, and VCRs. The app is easy to set up and attractively designed, but it's lethargic--channels on a TV changed a little slowly.

HP's Mobile Media software plays audio and video files from the Rx3715's internal memory, an SD Card, or a networked computer. But it will play only AVI and WMA video files, not MPEGs--for that, you must use MpegTV's PocketTV. HP preinstalls this strangely named freeware application on the PDA. (Windows Media Player for Pocket PC doesn't play MPEGs either.)

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