:: news + energy + technology
  iPAQ h3870 Compaq iPAQ H3870 Pocket PC

Richard Price
12 February 2002

Opening the plastic “protective” cover of this iPAQ H3870 is driving me nuts. It might do a good job of protecting the unit but considerable force is necessary to wrench it open.

That aside, the H3870 is the most impressive PDA I have ever looked at.

This is a sleek powerful beast boasting a TFT screen with 65,000 colours that provides sharp clear images. The backlight makes it exceptionally easy to read inside or outdoors.

Like most PDAs the iPAQ has programmable quick control buttons for accessing Contacts, Calendar, Mail and Tasks. A large navigation button controlled with your thumb can be used for scrolling through and accessing menus.

One of the great things about PDAs is being able to synchronise them with a desktop PC and the iPAQ H3870 is supplied with a USB cradle that connects it to a PC.

Microsoft ActiveSync and Microsoft Outlook software is included with the package. If Outlook is not already your program of choice for e-mail, calendar, contact, tasks and notes, sychronisation between the computer and the iPAQ is not that straightforward.

I use Eudora. I have a huge list of contacts stored in ACT2000! and I fear it may be impossible to synchronize them with the iPAQ H3870.

As well as synchronizing with the desktop, the iPAQ supports Bluetooth for email or Internet access through a wireless connection.

However, there is not much in the way of really useful documentation included with the iPAQ. If you haven’t already jumped into bed with Microsoft, setup wizards are not going to offer much help.

One of the features that amazed me was the ability of the iPAQ H3870 to cope with handwriting --- immediately, no learning curve and virtually perfect recognition.

Using the Notes screen and stylus I wrote a short reminder to myself, tapped the Recognise button in the tools menu and watched as my scrawl was converted to text. Using standard cut and paste techniques it was relatively quick to insert this text into the Calendar.

It sure beats tapping out letters using a virtual keyboard. A foldable keyboard is available as an optional extra and might be useful for entering large amounts of text.

The iPAQ comes with a variety of great software. As well as Pocket PC versions of MS Word and Excel there is also Windows Media Player 8.

It’s called a Pocket PC because Microsoft Windows is the OS the screens are comfortingly familiar and navigating around with the stylus is as intuitive and satisfying as a good cappuccino.

The iPAQ H3870 has 64 MB RAM and an SD Card expansion slot for 64MB and 128MB cards . If that is not enough a 1GB IBM Microdrive can be added

Other optional Expansion Packs provide support for PC Cards, CompactFlash cards, or make it possible to send and receive data and voice calls over GSM/GPRS networks.

You can buy a whole desktop PC for the price of the iPAQ H3870, but its integrated wireless connectivity and expandability make it a professional tool that would appeal to technically sophisticated users.

Price AU$1499.00

The Tuesday Letter