As handheld organisers increasingly morph into mobile phones and vice versa, the HP iPaq hx2790 stands out by ignoring this technological cross-pollination. By sticking to the basics, it generally does a good job of mixing just enough entertainment potential with its business abilities to satisfy road warriors. Plus, the addition of Windows Mobile 5 arms mobile professionals with even more tools for getting business done while on the go.
On the downside, this PDA lacks the high-resolution screen of competing products, such as the Dell Axim X51v and the Palm TX, and doesn't do images and video justice. The hx2790 is also overweight and chunky, and at around £370, it's one of the most expensive handhelds out there. However, if security is of the utmost importance to you, then you can't beat the iPaq hx2790, with its biometric fingerprint reader. Also of note: if you happen to have one of the older versions of the hx2000 series, HP will offer Windows Mobile 5 upgrades in spring of 2006.
The HP iPaq hx2790 picks up where the hx2750 left off and doesn't add any new design features. Built around a sturdy frame and case, it's been designed to take road abuse with rounded corners and protective rubber inserts that offer some extra grip. At 76 by 119 by 15mm and 180g, the grey and silver device feels good in the hand but is a tad longer and heavier than the similar Dell Axim X51 series. We really like the iPaq's included smoked-plastic screen cover, but it adds about 15g to the package and doesn't flip all the way over. Alternatively, it makes a cool easel for holding the unit upright if you put it on backward.
Speaking of the screen, the HP iPaq hx2790's 89mm (3.5-inch) display shows 65k colours, but its QVGA (240x320-pixel) resolution can't compete with the generation of VGA (480x640-pixel) models, such as Dell's Axim X51v, which pump out four times as many pixels. Still, it's bright and rich enough to satisfy most, with easy-to-read text. For those in a hurry, the handheld has four instant-start application buttons just below the screen and a fingerprint reader to help protect data and access to the system. In a month of use, the latter function never yielded to the wrong finger but sometimes balked at opening up for the right one.
For those who like to have their flash memory and use it, this handheld comes equipped with both Secure Digital and CompactFlash expansion slots (located on the top of the device), which accept even the slightly thicker CompactFlash hard drives, such as the IBM or the Hitachi Microdrive modules. A standard headphone jack is next to the card slots, making the handheld suitable for listening to tunes on the go. Finally, there's a lone voice-record button on the left side. Aside from the aforementioned flip cover, HP packages the hx2790 with an AC adaptor and a desktop cradle. More accessories are available for purchase from HP, such as a Bluetooth GPS kit and a snap-on thumb keyboard.