When HP released its iPaq H1940 a little more than a year ago, we were wowed by its super-compact size and features. The HP iPaq rz1700 series is the follow-up to this highly rated model. The good news is that it's still lightweight and compact, although it looks different. The bad news is that HP got rid of two features we loved: the Bluetooth wireless and the user-replaceable battery. The new series consists of two models: the rz1710 and the rz1715. They look identical, but HP tweaked the rz1715's software to appeal more to home users. Though it's still one of our top-rated Pocket PCs, the rz1710 will face some stiff competition from the mid-range Dell Axim X30, which offers both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for the same price.
The rz1710's strongest attribute by far is its thin, light design. Though it's about the same size and weight as its predecessor -- 114 by 71 by 12mm and 119g, to be exact -- the rz1710 remains one of the smallest and lightest Pocket PCs available. Despite its petite size, this PDA offers an 89mm (3.5-inch) transflective TFT (thin-film transistor), 65K-colour screen, with a QVGA resolution of 240x320 pixels. You can now switch between Portrait or Landscape mode, thanks to the latest operating system, Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition.
Below the LCD, the HP features four programmable launch buttons (Calendar, Contacts, Messaging, and Today are the defaults). In between the shortcut keys is a four-way navigation button. On top of the PDA, there's an SDIO/MMC slot that supports storage cards up to 1GB, expanding on the device's 32MB of memory. The infrared port sits just beneath the expansion slot, but as far as wireless connections go, that's all you get -- there's neither Bluetooth nor Wi-Fi.
As mentioned earlier, the rz1710 is equipped with the latest OS. You'll find the standard apps, including Pocket versions of Word, Excel, MSN Messenger, and Internet Explorer. In addition, HP throws in a few proprietary utilities, such as HP Image Zone for editing images and Task Switch for jumping between programs. On the entertainment side, Windows Media Player allows you to play music and video files, and you also get two games: Solitaire and Jawbreaker. If you want more of a mobile media companion, take a look at the rz1710's sibling, the rz1715, which has the same hardware features but includes minor software enhancements for entertainment applications such as digital music and photos.
In our tests, the rz1710 exceeded our expectations. Equipped with Samsung's 203MHz S3C2410 processor, its overall performance was actually superior to that of the Asus MyPal A730, which has Intel's 520MHz PXA270 XScale processor, and its graphics performance was on a par with that of other Pocket PCs. These scores translated to a quick response time and decent video quality and game performance.
However, battery life is where the rz1710 really pulled away from the pack. Repeatedly playing a video clip with the backlight set at 50 percent, the handheld lasted for 5 hours, 22 minutes before losing steam. This is very impressive for a Pocket PC of its size, and it outlasted the Axim X30 by 36 minutes. With normal usage, you'll be able to get more mileage out of the battery.
If you're looking for a basic device to keep you organised and, to a lesser extent, entertained, the HP iPaq rz1710 is a good choice -- as long as you can live without wireless.
Edited by Bonnie Cha
Additional editing by Tom Espiner