* Prices may differ from that shown
I bought an HP iPAQ h5550 about a year and a half ago from eBay USA, costing me about £250. Back then, the h5550 cost about £500 in the shops, so this was a great discount. However, when I received the item, I was charged £70 duty tax which brought the cost up to about £330. Still, it was much cheaper on eBay than in the high street stores.
The h5550 boasts some features not found on a lot of PDA's, most notably the Biometric Fingerprint reader. More suited to company use rather than personal use, the fingerprint reader provides very high-level security, however I have found that it can be rather innaccurate. Also, I have found that the PIN security suits me well enough, and the Fingerprint reader could be a bit of a waste of money.
Other features include an IrDA port on the top, which can come in useful, a port for an expansion jacket is included, a small aerial (can be seen in the picture) for improving wireless signal, and WLAN and Bluetooth are the two wireless interfaces used by the h5550. There is also an audio-out port for outputting audio to earphones or a Hi-Fi system, an iPAQ slot for connecting it to the cradle (which enables access by the computer - to install software and for charging). There is also a volume control on the side, and a speaker on the top. The stylus provided is black plastic. The h5550 also has a 3.8" screen which is larger than most standard PDA's. It comes with Windows 2003 for Pocket PC Premium.
The CPU power on the h5550 is 400MHz, with xScale processor technology. The PDA on overall is fast, and applications can be run without a drop in speed noticable.
The h5550 provides a lot of expansion possibilities, either through attaching a jacket, or through the convenient SD-card slot for SD or MMC cards to increase the h5550 memory. The h5550 features 48mb of Flash ROM and 128mb of RAM as standard. Files and programs are stored in the RAM, and are lost if the iPAQ is Hard-Resetted, or if the battery and backup-battery both lose power. There is also a 17mb 'iPAQ file store', which is a non-volatile permanent storage for files, so they do not get lost when the power is reset as explained above.
The Battery life on the h5550 is fairly standard, it can run for about 14 hours, a bit less if more strenuous tasks are being carried out by the PDA, or if overclocking the CPU. The battery can last a week or two on standby (when the PDA is off) without being recharged. Charging varies, but is easily done simply by placing the PDA onto its cradle, with the AC power lead plugged into the cradle. The h5550 also supports USB-charging, which uses power from the USB port of the computer to charge the PDA, however this is much slower.
By default, the h5550 comes preinstalled with an email manager, Excel and Word for Pocket PC, iPAQ image viewer, file explorer, MSN messenger, Internet explorer and a bluetooth manager, as well as some other software, such as solitaire. There is also a retail version of Outlook 2003 provided for the PC. Software can also be downloaded or purchased from one of the many PDA software sellers online, and easily installed to the PDA with the help of software called Microsoft ActiveSync.
The design of the h5550 is sleek, and smooth, but is a bit top-heavy. However, the device fits nicely in the hand, and is easily controlled. It is slightly bigger than most PDA's, but this makes it easier to control on-screen elements.
Overall I would highly recommend this PDA to any buyers looking for a high-end PDA with good security features. There are other PDAs out now that may overtake the h5550, but it still presents itself as a great PDA now.
There comes a time in the life of every committed gadget fan when they start to ponder their next purchase. These are usually precipitated by meeting soneone who happens to own/use a really neat piece of kit, one that you wouldn't mind having for yourself... and so the process begins. In this particular case, I was getting a lift with a colleague and he had an iPAQ based sattelie navigaton system which, I have to say, left me gobsmacked with it's turn-by-turn directions. Suffice to say, 45 minutes and a flawlessly guided journey across London later, I was convinced that such a device would be mine. Saving promptly began and some time later an order was placed with www.discountgps.co.uk for an HP iPAQ 5550. As others have mentioned, the 5550 is the current top-of-the-range model Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) from HP. It runs the most current version the windows PocketPC operating system (2003 premium) and comes complete with a CD full of goodies, including an upgrade to your standard Microsoft Outlook mail client that delivers richer functionality that the Outlook Express. The list of features is impressive indeed. When lined up with the "lesser" iPAQs in the range there doesn't appear to be a model that can stand up to it. I won't go into the full specifications (they can be found at http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/uk/en/sm/WF06a/21675-21679-21679-21679-21679-117689 9.html if you are interested), but will focus on what differentiates it from the rest. The first thing on the list is the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner. Replacing the need for passwords this is probably the single neates bit of kit on the iPAQ itself. Spend a couple of minutes "enrolling" each of your index fingers and then, instead of having to remember another password to unlock your PDA, you simply swipe either one of the enrolled fingers. Simple and brilliant, with the only worry being that too many incorrect swipes and you end up formatting
the iPAQ). The exact number of attempts is user specified and you always have the option of using a password as well/instead. Next on the list of features is the screen. THe literature informs you that the screen is the biggest in the range, which is true but don't be fooled, it's only bigger by about 1-2mm in either dimnension. Even so, the screen is excellent, bright and contrasty and stands up for itself well even in sunny conditions. Another neat feature (that saves the battery too) is variable screen brightness levels. A light sensor on the face of the device detects the ambient light levels and adjusts the screen brighness to the minimum needed. What looks like a gimmick at first actually works well and goes some way to extending the battery life. Next up is the amount of memory. At 128Mb, the 5550 is miles ahead of the competition when it comes to the amount of memory available. This is an interesting point as the iPAQs work on a principle known as "Execute In Place" (XIP), so programmes are run in the same type of memory that they are installed in, negating the need for hard-disk and memory as in a conventional desktop computer. Having 128Mb of storage space means that not only can you install more applications, you can also have more applications running at the same time. 128Mb is actually so much memory that I gave up trying to fill it either from stored or running programmes. With the ability to add SD memry cards of up to 512Mb, storage on the 5550 will never be a problem. The connectivity provided by the 5550 is also impressive. Boasting both BlueTooth and 802.11b wireless access it is possible to connect to almost anything. The wirless is well integrated and simple to set up, in fact it will alert you whenever you come into range of a new wireless access point. Provided you have all the relevant details you can be up and surfing within seconds. This includes web access and basic email from a standard
POP3/IMAP account (as provided by most ISPs). Bluetooth is just as good, providing a multitude of modes, including Personal Area Networking, wireless serial, media gateway and many, many more. I only ever used the PAn and ActiveSync functions. Speaking of ActiveSync, it's probably best to mention it at this stage. ActiveSync is the application that is used to install apps and synchronize mail between a host desktop and the iPAQ itself. It works well, allowing for synchronization between the iPAQ and up to two other machines (although only one host is allowed to sync mail information). It works well for syncing up notes and calendar appointments between home and the office. The installation of apps onto the iPAQ is easy-peasy thanks to ActiveSYnc. Just run the installer on the host PC with the iPAQ connected (either by BlueTooth, USB ore Serial) and ActiveSync will copy it across to the iPAQ and you are ready to go in no time. So that's pretty much the pros detailed, surely there are some down-sides? Unfortunately they answer is a resounding yes and, in my case at least, they were so bad that I ended up sending my iPAQ back and trading down to the smaller (and sleeker) 4150. While there were only two real issues, they were enough to render the device impractical... Frequent crashes/reboots/formats. From time to time my 5550 would crash, requiring a soft reboot before it would start working again. I couldn't find any specific circumstances under which this would happen and towards the end of the second week it was crashing up to 15 times a day, which became more than an inconvenience especially when you are in the middle of London and reliant on the device for directions. To make things worse it started to format itself, returning back to the default configuration and needing a complete reinstall of all applications and recovery of data, not exactly an improvement to productivity. Size matter too. When you put the 5550 a
longside some of the lesser models you quickly realise what a behemoth it actually is. Whereas the 4150 will comfortably fit in a shirt-pocket without a fuss, the 5550 is around half as big again, making it less than discrete. Couple that with the stubby rubber antenna that protrudes from the top corner and it really is considerably bulkier than its relatives. So the device was wrapped up and sent back from whence it came. The chap on the support line intimated that problems with the 5550 were not at all uncommon and suggested that rather than get a replacement, I traded it in for the 4150. His recommendations were backed up by the number of reconditioned 5550s available for sale compared with the number of recon'd 4150s so I took his lead and my 4150 arrived only 2 days later. In summary it has less memory (64Mb) a marginally smaller screen, no brightness auto-adjustment and no fingerprint scanner. Apart from that it's a far superior device for everyday use. Construction is far more solid, I have only had about 5 crashes in the space of two months compared with over 100 in two weeks and it is far easier to carry. SO if you want my advice, unless you need the extra memory or the external expansion capability of the 5550, save yourself about £70 and go for the smaller, sexier, more stable 4150.
The HP Ipaq 5550 is the top of the range Ipaq, with all the bells and whistles you might want. Most impressive feature (and one of the most useful) is fingerprint recognition ? when you turn it on, no need for passwords or numbers, just swipe your finger, and it automatically logs you on ? I was a little nervous, and added a password as well, in case it wouldn?t recognise my finger, but it?s failed on the first time only a couple of times. (In case of disaster, you can scan both your index fingers, and use either when you want to log in.) It?s also never recognised anyone else?s finger who has tried (and everyone wants to try). The screen is clear and bright, and the sound surprisingly good for something so small. Download videos and impress your friends! It?s got Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so you can read your emails in the bath (if you want to take that chance). Both these work well ? it can pick up a WiFi signal anywhere my laptop can, although the screen is a little small for many web pages ? you need to scroll left and right. The only downer I have is the case ? it?s a little on the flimsy, and inelegant side.
A stunning little bit of kit, this beauty, and one that I've resisted for far too long. But now those days are long gone and I'm fully sold on the advantages of this neat little performer. These days, no self respecting business mogul can afford not to have the accoutrements of modern technology with him, so that in essence he's always on tap and equipped to kill ... you know the stuff, mobile phone, laptop PC, mobile fax, credit card, cuddly toy ... well, there is one thing which is even more ubiquitous than all those things, and that's a personal digital assistant (PDA) or pocket PC. I've been into that sort of thing for quite some time now, but always up until now I've gone with the Jornada 720 little black box because I was almost completely dependent on having a PDA with a keyboard. You see, although many PDA's come with handwriting recognition facilities built in, I'd always considered them a bit clumsy and fiddly and fought shy of changing horses. In many ways it was the same when I finally accepted that I needed to use a mouse to get the best out of a PC. I still remember well, those bulky old IBM's with the black and green screens, and the clunky monochrome Amstrads ... ah, the good old days! Anyway, as recently described by my old mate dave27, the Jornadas may have a decent enough keyboard and many other advantages, but they do come with a very distinct and unpleasant design fault, and that's the weakness in the hinge linking the screen to the box itself. Regular use of the Jornada really weakens this hinge and in the end, as inevitably as death and taxes, the bugger snaps off. And then you might as well just chuck it in the bin, because there's no fixing it, it's completely kaput and you will need to get another one. Rece
ntly, when this happened to me (AGAIN) I finally decided to change the habit of a lifetime and try one of the lovely little iPaq PDA's from Hewlett Packard, as being supposedly the next best thing. The one which I've seen described in particularly glowing terms was the H5550 model and PC Pro gave it a good write up when it came out in August 2003, saying "If there was a king of PDAs, this would be it. Where other Pocket PCs compromise in the name of hitting the right price, HP includes everything in the iPAQ H5550's neat chassis. Not content with 802.11b WLAN, this PDA features Bluetooth and fingerprint recognition. But most important of all - and the key difference between it and the iPAQ H5450 - the H5550 is the first PDA we've seen to include Pocket PC 2003." BLAH BLAH BLAH ... yes, I know, it's all techie garbage, I agree with you, but you do have to worry about these things. Anyway, in the last week or so, I took delivery of a H5550 at work and got ready to fire it up, all expectantly, and was highly delighted with the results. It was easy to set up a connection with my desktop PC which allows you to synchronise your information between both PC's and another one as well. You use the same ActiveSync software which handles the Jornada synchronisation and are soon up and running. The H5550 is a beautiful little gadget, measuring 5.23" (not including antenna nub) x 3.3" x .63" and weighing 7.29 oz (according to PDA Buyers Guide http://www.pdabuyersguide.com/ipaq5555.htm). That same site, also provides the following technical data: &
#68;isplay: transflective TFT color LCD, 65,536 colors, Screen Size Diag: 3.8", Resolution: 240 x 320. Battery: Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1250mA. 2840 extended battery available for purchase. Performance: Intel XScale PXA 255 400 MHz processor. 48MB Flash ROM with 17.40 megs available in FileStore for your use, 128 MB built-in RAM (126.63 available). Size: 5.23" (not including antenna nub) x 3.3" x .63". Weight: 7.29 oz. Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 9 included for your MP3 pleasure. Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b (also supporting LEAP) and Bluetooth Software: Pocket 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: Avaya IP Softphone, IP blue VTGO!, Running Voice IP?, Cisco CallManager (voice over IP) MARGI Presenter-to-Go, iPresentation Mobile Converter LE, MobiMate's WorldMate, Colligo Personal Edition, NetMotion Mobility (secure connections to LANs), Westtek ClearVue Office Suite?, XcelleNet's Afaria, RealOne Player, Jeode Java runtime, F-Secure
FileCrypto for Pocket PC Personal Edition, Acrobat Reader, Resco Explorer 2003, Audible Player and several additional trial/demo programs including Cadenza mNotes for syncing to Lotus Notes. ActiveSync 3.7 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included. Expansion: 1 SD (Secure Digital) slot, 4 bit data bus, supporting SDIO. Can use iPAQ expansion sleeves. Now all that stuff has just been cut and pasted in to give you the info you need, forgive me, but it's easier than trying to run through it all. Anyway, it's only included for show because now I'm going to tell you about what the H5550 is actually like. A quick check on the Amazon website at the time of writing reveals that you can get a H5550 for as little as 380 quid, although you can normally expect to pay around £400, which is a significant improvement over the Jornada, which is priced at about 700 quid. The PDA is nice and slim and sleek looking and slips nicely into your shirt pocket, although it will start to wreck the pocket if you keep it permanently in there. The body can be housed in a protective plastic sleeve which prevents you doing any serious damage while you're carring it around, although you have to unclip the front cover when you want to use it, and the cover tends to get in the way when you're trying to use the H5550. A minor gripe, I know, but certainly annoying. The stylus is located in a slot at the top of your machine and you just push it in to release it for use. Battery life is good and I'm told you get about 3 hours of constant use and a reputed 48 hours when the machine is in standby mode. The battery is recharged by sliding the machine into its synchronisation docking cradle, and for general use docking at least once a day i
s enough without becoming too onerous. You can fiddle around with the backlight settings and the contrast to improve matters, but really for most users this isn't necessary. It's very easy to be up and running very rapidly, and the calendar, e-mail and task facilities are all pretty good, coming from Microsoft's Pocket PC family, and you also get Word and Excel as standard, although Excel is a bit fiddly to use because of the way you key in numbers. Word and Notes, however, are exceptionally good versions with this gadget and when powered by the handwriting recognition facilities (which are significantly better than I remember them to be) make note taking a breeze and much better than trolling round with a pad and pen and losing all of your notes, which I'm in the habit of doing at every opportunity. You get Wireless and Bluetooth facilities which are nice touches, along with loads of other goodies and really the iPaq H5550 is truly wonderful, a real boon in this day and age. It's attractive and highly functional and makes you far more productive with your time than you would have thought. I'm glad I've swapped over from the Jornada and just wish I had done so ages ago ... aah, well, I'm there now.