I remember when the PDA first became available and it was a great boon to be able to take your diary with you anywhere you’d care to take it – throw in mobile versions of your office applications and you were really onto a winner. Considering the iPAQ’s were first introduced at the end of the 1990’s look at how times have changes. The Business man on the move is now inundated with devices to aide the mobile worker be they looking for email, office apps or other – there really is a variety of hand helds out there with enough features too bamboozle most people.
With this broad market comes the need to diversify - to single your device out to consumers – either through specialization against a given function (i.e. the blackberry) or through adding innovative functionality. Whilst GPS is nothing new to mobile devices it could be argued that in the iPAQ rx5915 HP has grabbed it and around it forged a whole new breed of PDA’s.
HP are marketing the rx5915 as a Travel Companion – sure there’s little doubt that GPS systems are one of the current techy must haves but with a plethora of dedicated devices on the market it’s going to take something special for it too stand out from the crowd.
When you first take a look at the rx5915 the biggest difference to normal PDA’s is the devices form and landscape design, you could be forgiven at first glance to thinking that this looks like one of those mobile media devices – it’s like an iPAQ turned on its side – all the usual features are there it’s just laid out a little different.
First off the display, a 3.5” QVGA touchscreen, with an anti-glare coating as standard, it’s bright enough doing it’s job well. To the right of the screen is the directional pad – this is a all in one affair used to navigate menu’s etc – given that most devices like this feature segregated buttons for up down left right and select – this takes a little getting used to at first and could put some users off. HP have no doubt chosen this route to save real estate on the front of the device.
Other controls are through a series of buttons on the right side on the face and a series of buttons on the right and left hand sides – controls include the main on button, quick launch, Windows media button. On the right of the device is a fitting for an external GPS antenna. Overall it’s nicely styled comfortably shaped, offering something new for the iPAQ style - the device is typically iPAQ though in that it’ll fit into your pocket or you hand with ease.
The main selling point of the device is its inbuilt GPS Navigation system - The GPS is powered by a SiRFstarIII module, one of the best on the market, well known for it’s ability to track multiple satellites at any one time. The device comes shipped with TomTom Navigator version 6 which is one of the most popular commercially available GPS suites on the market. Given that upto 1.5GB of TomTom data is stored on the device the level of detail on the maps is outstanding and certainly keeps up with the dedicated devices that the rx5915 will compete with.
The device is powered by a Samsung S3C2442 processor 400 MHz processor and features 64MB of SDRAM and 2GB of Flash Rom (don’t get too exited however as the maps and files that the Tom-Tom software uses takes up around 1.5GB so that leaves around 500MB for user files). With that power at it’s disposal it handles the GPS with ease and although not as quick as a dedicated GPS device copes well enough.
The device still has all the usual Windows Mobile 5.0 bells and whistles including the usual Office applications and Mobile Outlook but HP have thought quite a bit about how the device will be used and so with the device they bundle “Quick Launch” a simple application launcher that enables the user to access frequently used applications (eg. GPS!). A simple but effective touch.
With Windows Mobile 5.0, multimedia support has been beefed up and so the device is capable of playing audio files and video. The device comes equipped with an audio jack so that you can enjoy your music comfortably. There is also an external speaker but this is placed on the back of the device – a design flaw perhaps in that when mounted in the in car kit it is a little muffled however for those with a suitable set of headphones – listening to music should not prove to challenging. HP also ship some proprietary apps including HP Photo smart and Worldmate travel tools all designed to help those on the move.
The device is well kitted for connectivity and features both Wireless (802.11b/g) and the super fast Bluetooth 2.0. There is also a mini USB slot for connectivity to your PC. There is also a SDIO slot for further expansion particularly memory SD cards. HP state that the rx 5915 will ship with a car kit and charger making it easy to take around with you in the car.
There are a few drawbacks for example the speaker positioning – for the money we’d have also liked an onboard camera (especially considering the onboard photo managing software). Some of the positioning of the inputs leave a little to be desired (the headphone jack is too snug to the mini USB which rules out headphone use while the device is charging). Problems however are few.
HP are currently offering the rx5915 for $599 – now while that’s a lot of money those prepared to wait a few months for the price to settle will reap the rewards – the rx5915 bundles some useful features into a stylish device that should keep those looking for a mobile device with a little extra happy for a time.