Review: HP iPAQ 112 Classic
HP is in the final stages of its plan to revitalise the ageing and increasingly tired iPAQ range of handhelds, and the first model to hit the shelves in Australia has been the iPAQ 112. This PDA – which cannot be referred to as a smartphone, as it is phoneless.
The iPAQ 112 is actually a Windows Mobile 6 Classic device, which acts just as an organiser/PDA, similar to Palm consumer devices (not Treos) or older HP iPAQ models.
I was immediately interested in having a look at this device – just to see how a modern PDA-only device would actually perform. I wasn’t expecting anything special, and I was neither surprised, nor disappointed.
The iPAQ 112 is a fan of the all-too-common dark grey and black colour scheme that is, well, wild with PDAs and smartphones at the moment. Although it does look professional, I found the particular shade of grey featured in the iPAQ 112 to be quite boring. It’s a darker, slate grey in a matte finish, unlike the more expensive iPAQ 221 which has a glossy black design.
The entire device seems very normal. On the face, there is a large, 3.5″ TFT display, which is only at 240×320 resolution, so it looks stretched when switched on, which is unacceptable. Below this, there are four soft keys: (L-R) Calendar, Start, OK/Close, Messaging. In the middle of the soft keys is a five-way directional pad. Above the screen, there are dual notification LEDs, and an IR sensor.
On the left, there is a full-sized SD card slot, which is quite nice. On the right, there is the power button, and a voice notes shortcut. The bottom features a mini-USB connectivity port for sync and charge. This is commendable, as HP is only new to the world of mini-USB interfaces, and it works well.
However, after all this, the device gives you the feeling, that, in your hand, it is too light. I immediately thought that the battery was not inserted – but it was. It is eerily light, and I found it slightly unsettling, as I like my devices with a bit of weight to them.
Performance is the most significant feature of this device. It’s a screamer – something I would have expected from the 624 MHz 32bit Marvell PXA310 processor. Everything feels snappy and satisfying. The operating system – Windows Mobile 6 Classic, which is vanilla except for the HP Wireless Manager addon – is fast and fair looking on the display.
The built-in WiFi (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth (2.0) connections were quick to activate and engage. Performance over an 802.11g wireless network was fair, but Internet Explorer Mobile was better than I expected.
All the standard Windows Mobile applications were fast. That was good, because with a simple, phoneless device such as this, you shouldn’t have to make compromises. It’s still A$399, and you would expect a good PDA for that amount, especially when competing Palm Tungstens can be found for significantly less.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t use the HP iPAQ 112 as my main device. It didn’t offer enough to be my standard everyday companion, but I tried to use it as much as possible as a good organiser. For this purpose, it is really good. For what it tries to be, it’s great.
Google Maps, an application I added, delivered fast performance over my WiFi network. It retrieved directions well, and I could see this application being a good addition to this product for busy home users.
Otherwise, Windows Mobile 6 Classic is a fairly easy operating system to get around. Everything is laid out well, and although the screen is big with a small resolution (which is bad in our books), this makes buttons and fonts bigger, making this perfect for someone who can’t be squinting around menus, or a senior who would appreciate such a device.
You could use the iPAQ 112 everyday and never have a problem. It’s a good organiser, and it works fine.
The HP iPAQ 112 Classic Handheld is absolutely a niche product. In days when professionals and increasingly, home users, are looking for a product which incorporates a mobile phone, internet browser, music player, and e-mail retriever, the iPAQ 112 stands out as lacking the most important of this quad – the phone connection.
I cannot see this product making much of an impact. Even two years ago, the iPAQ 112 would have taken products like Dell’s Axim to war and it would have easily won. But in 2008, it is simply not what people want anymore. This is unfortunate, as this is a well-made and helpful device. However, HP will make its money from QWERTY-keypadded smartphones and fast data connections, not organisers.
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Tags: Handhelds, HP, iPAQ, Reviews