The iPaq Wireless utility made it easy to create and access Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections at home, at work, and in public hot spots. As with most new Pocket PCs, the rx3715 lets you use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi simultaneously.
The digital camera, now labelled with the HP Photosmart brand, is fine for casual outdoor shots with plenty of sunlight. The 1.2-megapixel camera can take pictures of up to 1,280x960 pixels, but with inconsistent colours, awful auto white balance, and too many artefacts, it's still no substitute for a digital camera. You can also record motion JPEG or H.263 video with sound. HP Image Zone allows you to edit images on the handheld and easily e-mail your shots directly from the device.
To drive home the fact that the rx3715 is a media machine, HP replaced the traditional Today screen with four big icons that launch the camera and the media applications. We were most intrigued by the iPaq Mobile Media software, which allows you to control music, photos, and video stored on PCs in your home via a Wi-Fi network. In addition to the software on the handheld, you must install the supplied player and server software on your PCs.
Once up and running, we selected the server PC where we kept our music and photos and the player PC that we wanted to use to listen to and view the content (one computer can be both server and player). Unfortunately, the system is very slow, taking several seconds to load a song or a photo, and there's no support for playlists or slide shows. We also encountered a number of small glitches with the software that forced us to reset the iPaq -- especially annoying because the PC player doesn't have any controls of its own.
The Mobile Media software lets you copy MP3 files and photos from the server to the rx3715 using wireless technology, but you can do that with any Pocket PC using the cradle. Alternatively, it can stream photos and non-copy-protected WMA files (but not MP3s) from the PC to the handheld. If you're an early adopter, you may be intrigued by all this, but most users will want to steer clear of Mobile Media until HP and Nevo smooth out some of the kinks.
In addition to Mobile Media, you get Nevo's universal remote-control software that comes with existing models such as the iPaq H4150 and H2210. This application is more successful, and it works well with the Mobile Media product. Of course, if you make the rx3715 your primary remote control, you may never want to take it out of the living room.
Given the HP iPaq rx3715's 400MHz Samsung S3C2440 processor and 64MB of RAM, we fully expected it to do well in our tests, but it nevertheless exceeded our expectations. Its performance was second to only the high-end Dell Axim X30, which is powered by Intel's 624MHz chip.
In everyday use, we found the rx3715 to be very responsive. Even with the camera, the photo-editing software, Mobile Media, and a few other applications running, this handheld was quick. The rx3715 also did well in our video performance tests. Games, movie clips, and Web pages looked sharp on the bright screen, and the screen was easily legible in sunlight.
However, the rx3715's strongest suit is its extremely long battery life. In our drain tests, where we let the device play a movie clip repeatedly with the sound on, set the backlight at High, and turned off the wireless radio, the rx3715 managed to sustain up to 8.5 hours of use, almost twice as long as the former leader, the 312MHz Dell Axim X30. Since our test is designed to drain the battery in the fastest manner, you can expect far longer between charges in real-world general usage. In our more informal testing, we were absolutely astounded at how long this Pocket PC lasted with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios on and the backlight set at High.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.
Edited by Bonnie Cha
Additional editing by Tom Espiner