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The HP iPaq Hx4700 is a pocket pc designed around for use by business persons on the move. When I bought this product about 2 years ago it was a state of the art piece of technology but, as with all computer based devices, they quickly become obsolete as other more powerful and user friendly devices come onto the market.
This device has a very sleek black gloss and metallic silver finish and has a slimline design making it far slimmer than other pocket pc's of its generation. It comes equipped with a 4" diagonal high resolution LCD touch sensitive screen for high quality video playback and photograph viewing. It has a removable battery so extra spares can be carried and then exchanged so enhance its usage and the internal Lithium ion backup cell prevents loss of data during battery transfer. There are 5 main external push-buttons located on the device which can be used for any short cuts you wish but primarily are used for email, contacts, calender, voice recorder and a general short-cut option key.
The iPaq has two memory expansion slots allowing for SD card and Compact flash insertion. Unfortunately due to the age of it, it is not compatible with SDHC. There is also a touch sensitive pad located directly on the front of the unit which can be used as a mouse mat, a feature that I find pretty pointless as the screen it also touch sensitive.
The iPaq Hx4700 runs using the Windows Mobile Pocket PC 2003 Second Edition operating system, which, since its update can be upgraded to Windows Mobile 5, but this was designed for newer more modern machines and therefore is slightly slow when running on this one. It includes some business software on the system including Pocket Word and Excel, as well as an enhanced version of the calender and other utilities. There are several different method to type on it using a digital keyboard, transcriber, block recogniser and letter recogniser, allowing very easy writing. I use this device to run other software items such as TOMTOM using a bluetooth external GPS which works well.
This device comes equipped with Bluetooth, Wifi and an infra-red data port allowing connection to multiple external devices including external GPS units and keyboards. It makes for a decent MP3 player as well, and with the data card expansion slots, allows hundreds of songs to be stored. The battery life is also pretty decent allowing around 5 to 8 hours of usage and about 2 to 3 hours to becoming fully charged from flat.
The HP iPaq Hx4700 pocket pc is a good machine and, even though it is a little dated and older model machine, it still has many uses. Unfortunately due the iphone and blackberry phones coming on the market, it means that they have become a little obsolete, where the functionality of the smart phones available is far great as well as processor speeds, screen technology and memory capacity. If you want to buy one second hand, they are very useful and I'm sure it can meet many of your needs. I've had many years of use out of my iPaq and the reliability of this device is second to none.
The HP iPAQ HX4700 is a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). In other words, it's a handheld computer. One would be able to use it as an organiser, word processor, MP3 player, gaming device, etc. Basically, most of the things a current PC or laptop would be capable of. The American version is the HX4705 but is identical in every way as far as I know.
WHY I CHOSE THE HX4700?
I had previously owned a HP iPAQ H5550 PDA, so stuck with the HP brand rather than go for a brand like Dell. Asus and many other companies also make PDAs and build quality varies but you can't go wrong with HP on build quality. Another option would have been to go for a PDA running the PALM operating system (OS) but the programs I want to use may not be compatible. The HX4700 runs the Pocket PC OS rather than PALM (Think Microsoft Windows vs. Linux). The new iPAQs that HP have been releasing all seem to have mobile phone capabilities and I just did not want this as I'd rather use my phone for phone calls and not have another contract or a PAYG SIM to top up. The designs also do not look as sleek and most seem to have a big aerial sticking out.
It has a 624MHz Intel xScale processor, which is 224MHz faster than my old one. Battery life has drastically improved since its predecessor, the H5550. The screen is bigger at 4" (diagonal) and much sharper. Not sure why but RAM memory has been reduced to 64MB from 128MB since the H5550. It is possible to upgrade the memory up to 128MB but as far as I know, this upgrade is only available from a company in America for a fairly hefty price.
It also has a Compact Flash Card (CF) slot as well as the Secure Digital (SD) slot, which also helped with my purchase decision. Multimedia Cards (MMC) can also be used in the SD slot. I have a 2GB SD Card and a 2GB CF Card installed, which is sufficient for my needs.
USING THE HX4700
My HX4700 works great and runs smoothly. I use her as an organiser, GPS, MP3 player, for taking notes, games (it comes with Solitaire and Jawbreaker), etc. I have noticed that the menus open quicker than those on the H5550 by a fraction. Videos also play smoothly, whereas the where very jerky when I tried on the H5550. I have also noticed that she is more stable and crashes a lot less compared to the H5550. Battery life is also very good and lasts over 5 hours with constant use (with WiFi and Bluetooth off). How long it lasts is also determined by screen brightness, whether you have WiFi, Bluetooth turned or not, etc. but I do see an improvement since my old one. You can also invest in an 'extended' battery with a longer life.
Build quality looks excellent but some of the shiny black material seems to peel off at the edge at the top of the device. I don't intend to drop her to find how tough she really is but I read the body is aluminium (or some sort of metal) even though it doesn't look it. She's slim and fits comfortably in my hand (7.7cm x 13.1cm x 1.5cm | W x H x D). It's a bit bigger than other PDAs but probably due to the screen size. She's light at only 187g unless you use the bigger 'extended' battery.
I think the new look is much nicer than how the other iPAQs look. I think the charcoal with black look really does look elegant and better looking compared to the silver design, as well as making her look smaller. However, she has a touch pad in place of a button for navigation and for 'action', which I find a bit fiddly. It has four bumps, which mark the top, bottom, left and right sensors on the pad. A gentle touch is all it takes to use them. The centre of the pad, however, acts as the 'action' button (i.e. Enter, Play, etc.) and I often find that I miss it and press the Up or Down buttons instead because of the pad's small size. She also has a touch screen, which means I can choose not to use the pad if it started to annoy me. It is definitely not for games. The H5550 (discontinued) has a button in place of the pad, as well as having a fingerprint scanner, which is a feature that no other PDA on the market features. '
Lastly, there are four buttons surrounding the pad and a button to activate the Notes program with voice recorder function. There are no volume control buttons on her like the H5550, which I would have preferred for convenience and not have to control the main volume via the software. On the subject of sound, I find the volume capable of being slightly higher than the H5550, which is good for when using her as a GPS unit.
As for software, she came with Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition (SE) as the OS and the usual Pocket PC essentials such as Pocket Word, Excel, Outlook, Notes, Calendar, Calculator, etc. A PDF reader also comes pre-installed unlike the first edition. Being a computer, you can install many other programs. Many will need to be bought but there are also many free programs
and games. You can create, view, edit Word documents and Excel spreadsheets with the pre-installed software but some of the more advanced features you find on the PC versions of the software will not work and cannot transfer them across the platforms. The text, values, basic formatting will remain though. What I would have liked is for Pocket Word to have a thesaurus. It does have a spell checker though. I managed to upgrade my OS to Windows Mobile 6. It's an unofficial upgrade but it works great. HP have not release a Windows Mobile 6 upgrade and most likely will not in the near future. There is a Windows Mobile 5 Upgrade but it's not very good as it becomes really slow with it on.
There are several methods of inputting text. They are the On screen Keyboard, Block Recogniser, Letter Recogniser and the Transcriber. The Block Recogniser involves writing block characters using the stylus without lifting the stylus. Some characters have been simplified into symbols and it does take some getting used to. All the letters become lower case. The Letter Recogniser is similar but it lets you write upper case characters in their own area. The Transcriber is very impressive. You write the text onto the screen, it recognises the words and types out what you wrote. It is accurate most of the time (even when my handwriting is horrible) but can type the wrong word now and again. There are also quick gestures that you can learn to use as shortcuts. These methods can get annoying when they repeatedly get the wrong word and if that happens, I resort back to the On screen Keyboard and simply tap the keys that I want on a QWERTY keyboard. A numeric keypad and character map can also be activated when needed.
Being such a versatile device and allowing me to connect to other devices wirelessly via Bluetooth, WiFi and Infrared, there are numerous accessories that can be used with the HX4700.
She comes with a cradle for charging her and it even accommodates her with an extended battery which significantly adds to the size and weight. If you're out and about, a sync cable can also charge her It is very easy to place her on the cradle whereas the one for the H5550 was a bit more awkward because of the angle I had to slot the device in at.
Unfortunately, most of the cool or official accessories are expensive as hell! An official keyboard, both Bluetooth and wired/directly connects to the PDA can set you back £80. I found myself an Infrared thumb keyboard for £19.99 but didn't like it so eventually bought myself an iGo Bluetooth keyboard, which works great!
The HX4700 comes with a detachable screen cover, which flips open to protect the screen when it is not in use. That's thoughtful of them but I'd rather they gave me a case to protect the whole PDA from drops and scratches. The cover is transparent and so you can see the iPAQ screen clearly. I've found that I often started poking the cover with the stylus thinking it was the screen, without much response. It is nice but can get in the way when you want to use the touch screen. I have now detached the cover, like most people do, and bought myself a vertical flip leather (plastic probably as it was cheap and from Hong Kong) case, plus a screen protector. Even though official accessories are expensive, you can sometimes find unofficial alternatives so it's not too bad.
The HX4700 was discontinued in 2005, after only one year of release. However, even though retailers had completely run out stock at one point, they seem to be in stock all over the place now.
The HX4700 is a high end PDA intended for business men and women, and with this in mind, you know it's not going to be cheap. The device retailed at £400 when it first came out and it still does in many places. The best price I can find a new one from an online retailer is £330 ($660 approx. (USD) but luckily, I got mine off eBay brand new for just over £200 so there are bargains to be found, both new and used.
Alternatively, there are lower spec. models. There is the HX3715, which has a built in digital camera and a similar design with VGA screen, and of course, many other HP PDAs.
* Powerful device.
* Very good battery life
* Has Bluetooth connectivity so you can interact with other Bluetooth enabled devices.
* Has WiFi connectivity so you can access the Internet where there is a wireless hotspot.
* Many accessories available.
* Has both CF and SD memory card slots.
* VGA screen (64K, 480 X 640 res.) is bigger and sharper than older models.
* Can be found cheaper than RRP.
* Looks good.
* Expensive retail price.
* Accessories can be very expensive.
* The operating system is not the most current version.
* Less RAM (only has 64MB) than older model.
* Sometimes the characters show up weird on screen.
* The touch pad takes some getting used to and some people hate it.
* Big gap between CF and SD card slot if the slimmer CF II card is installed.
* No holster or PDA case included.
It's a brilliant gadget. The improvements and high spec makes this a very powerful machine. The connectivity capabilities also make this a versatile device. Build quality is excellent and my only real complaint is that the pad can be tricky to use and the bottom left corner of the touch pad peels up a bit. Aside that, it's well worth the money and highly recommended to any executive in need of a PDA to use as a GPS, organiser or just a gadget nut who likes their gadgets. HP have released many other iPaqs since but they seemed to have been trying to tap into the mobile phone market, only coming out with iPaqs that can make calls (which I don't want!). Me and many others still think the HX4700 is still the best one for now despite the time it's been out.
Thanks for reading!