HP spruces up its entry-level handheld line with the HP iPaq rx1950 model, a slim and light PDA that doesn't cut corners on performance or battery life, with class-leading results. Armed with the latest Windows Mobile 5 operating system, the rx1950 can be a pocket office on the road but skimps on a few features here and there, most notably Bluetooth.
At £210, however, the rx1950 is one of the cheaper Windows Mobile handhelds on the market, so if you're on a budget and you don't mind the lack of Bluetooth, then the HP iPaq rx1950 is a perfectly capable handheld.
One of the HP iPaq rx1950's greatest assets is its sleek design. Unlike the company's other entry-level PDA, the iPaq rz710, the rx1950 does away with the squarish, utilitarian form factor and returns to the more classic-looking and aesthetically pleasing rounded edges of HP's older models, such as the iPaq H1940 and the iPaq H4150. As with the entry-level Dell Axim X51, the rx1950's curved bottom makes it easy to slip into a pocket or a bag in a hurry. The PDA's petite proportions stand out with a weight of 125g and dimensions of 71 by 114 by 14mm, making it a few millimetres smaller and a few dozen grams lighter than the Axim X51, the HP iPaq hx2790, or the Palm TX. With its small AC charger and cables, the rx1950 is truly a travel-friendly device.
Like other entry-level PDAs, the HP iPaq rx1950 has a 89mm (3.5-inch) QVGA screen that shows a 240x320 resolution -- which is the price you pay for its modest dimensions -- rather than the more detailed 94mm VGA display used on the Dell Axim X51v or the latest 102mm screens. Still, it shows 65k colours, and it's rich and bright enough for most uses. One thing we did notice is that you need to press the stylus firmly on to the screen for it to work.
Although we miss having a plastic screen cover to protect the display, we like that all it takes to go between portrait and landscape views is holding down the Calendar button for a couple of seconds. You'll find this button, as well as three other customisable shortcut keys -- Contacts, Inbox and Wireless, by default -- and the navigation toggle just below the screen. Above the display, there is a power switch, which is flanked by two small LEDs that indicate alerts, battery status and wireless status.
The HP iPaq rx1950 has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and a stylus slot at the top, as well as an SD expansion slot. The remainder of the design is standard PDA fare, with a voice-record button and a recessed reset button on the left side. Its infrared window is on the bottom near the synchronisation port, but to our dismay, the system cuts a major corner by including only charging and synchronisation cables and not a full docking cradle. HP sells a £38 desktop cradle, but it lacks the ability to charge a second battery, as is the case with Dell's Axim X51 series. Also included in the box is a soft protective case, a start-up CD and a user guide.