Hewlett Packard’s iPAQ h5450 Pocket PC

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Keeping that all in mind, we’ve come to expect

a lot from this 4th incarnation of a proud line.

Let’s see if this iPAQ measures up.

 

WHAT’S

HOT

Looking at this Pocket

PC, you come to realize just how many features

are packed in. Although it is still quite trim

when compared to previous Pocket PC designs,

you can really begin to tell that this unit

is feature packed when picking it up. It seems

to be the heaviest Pocket PC we’ve seen thus

far.

  

Let’s talk size. Let’s do some comparisons with

this versus other Pocket PCs.

Device(no cover)

Size(inches)

Weight(grams | ounces)

HPiPAQ 5450

5.43″x 3.30″ x 0.63″

206| 7.26

CompaqiPAQ 39xx

5.28″x 3.30″ x 0.63″

184| 6.49

Toshibae740

4.90″x 3.10″ x 0.60″

190| 6.70

Toshibae310

4.90″x 3.10″ x 0.40″

138| 4.90

Toshibae570 Series

4.90″x 3.00″ x 0.70″

181| 6.40

HPJornada 560 Series

5.20″x 3.01″ x 0.68″

173| 6.10

 

BOX

CONTENTS

 

  

This iPAQ comes boxed with all the same accessories

that we’ve seen in previous models. You’ve got

the cradle, manuals, ac adaptor, style pack

slip case, software, and extra stylus.

The

USB/Serial cradle has undergone a slight facelift

but still keeps the same usability.

Like

always, the cradle features both USB and serial

connections, a must for anyone running older

Windows NT operating systems that don’t support

USB.

The

AC Adaptor also comes with a built in adaptor

dongle so that you can connect AC power directly

to the iPAQ without need of the cradle.

In

the cradle, the iPAQ 5450 still looks fairly

neat and trim, but is beginning to look more

and more like a Nintendo Gameboy every day.

THE

DEVICE

Check out the iPAQ 5450.

When

looking at its side, the device appears to be

rather thin.

From

the back.

In

this shot, you can see the access panel for

the newly added removable battery. Very nice

addition!

All

in all, the iPAQ still feels good in the hand.

The curves make it seem smaller than it actually

is.

Thanks

to the built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, carrying

the device alone may be all that you need.

From

left to right: The headphone jack, microphone,

sync/ac input interface, and the hard reset

hole.

On

the left-hand side of the unit you will now

find a volume up and down control, very useful

for Windows Media Player. Putting these buttons

on the outside of the case leads me to believe

that a Phone Edition iPAQ is not very far off

at all.

Now

back onto the front. The round buttons make

for simple and clean lines, complimenting the

rest of the device. The joypad, although small,

is extremely easy to use, and exhibits very

smooth movement while using it. I like this

joypad much better compared to previous incarnations,

it doesn’t seem to stick nearly as much. Application

buttons include (by default): Contacts, Calendar,

Inbox, and iTask (the bundled task switcher).

You may also notice that this section of the

iPAQ has a microphone which further supports

the spectulation that this may be a soon-to-be

Phone Edition device.

The

top of the iPAQ has a varitible cluster of lights.

Lights flash for everything from bluetooth and

WiFi activity to Calendar reminders.

After

removing a dummy card, we were able to use the

industry standard SD card slot. Like its brother,

the 3900 series, this iPAQ sports a fully featured

SD I/O slot. Also on top you will notice the

WiFI antenna. Although some may find this an

annoyance, we’ve found that it gives us range

comparable to that of a full-fledged PCMCIA

WiFi card.

As

always, the stylus can be easily be removed

with a simple push.

PICTORIALLY

– HP iPAQ 5450 versus Compaq iPAQ 3970 &

HP iPAQ 1910

Most of you are probably wondering

how this device measures up when compared to

other Pocket PCs. For the purposes of this review,

we matched the iPAQ 5450 up against two other

Pocket PCs; its predecessor, the Compaq iPAQ

3970, and its super slim brother, the HP iPAQ

1910.

Side-by-side,

you can see that the iPAQ 5450 keeps the 3970’s

larger display.

From

top to bottom: iPAQ 1910, iPAQ 5450, iPAQ 3970.

And

on the right…

Notice

the new completely black top of the iPAQ 5450.

And

finally from the bottom…

All

in all, I find the design of the iPAQ 5450 to

be reasonably elegant. However, if you want

this iPAQ to actual fit in your pocket, you

may need to look elsewhere. Between its weight

and its price tag, it is probably better to

bring it along in a bag. Next, let’s go deeper

into the functionality of this device. Read

on!

THE

DISPLAY

The iPAQ 5450 has

a 16-bit transflective color display, capable

of producing remarkable brightness while still

maintaining contrast. Most every new Pocket

PC 2002 out there uses a 3.5″ (diagonally

measured) screen, with exception to the 3.8″

screen on this iPAQ (and its predecessors).

 

The screen on the 5450 is the same stunning

transflective display that was introduced on

the iPAQ 3900 series. The screen is photo-realistic

and very crisp under a wide variety of situations.

Because it’s both transmissive and reflective,

it’s not quite as good in very bright sunlight

as the purely reflective screens of earlier

iPAQs. However, in all other lighting conditions,

it’s superior by far. The reflective screens

were prone to show indigo rather than black,

giving the display a “milky” effect.

The transflective displays deliver very good

black and rich color throughout the spectrum.

The 5450’s touch input is very sensitive and

exact, much unlike what I’ve found on some other

PPCs that require quite a heavy touch to click

the screen. It makes for a very pleasant input

experience.

From

left to right: The Compaq iPAQ 3970, HP iPAQ

5450, and HP iPAQ 1910.

Another

small but welcome addition is the ability to

turn on “ClearType” throughout the

system. The 3800s didn’t handle ClearType well

and that option was left out. Now that the iPAQ’s

screen is oriented properly to take advantage

of it, they’ve put the option back in.

One

minor, but welcome, “tweak” is found

in the Brightness applet. Like the 3900, the

5450 has the ability to sense lighting levels

and automatically ramp up or down the backlight

to compensate. Added to this feature in the

5450 is the ability to set the “base level”

to lighten or darken the backlight’s automatic

level.

 

SECURITY

With the addition

of the biometric fingerprint reader, HP also

needed to include software. The software itself

is written by Cogent Systems and called “BioSwipe.”

I found the fingerprint reader very easy to

use but BioSwipe also includes a “training”

mode which teaches you how to use the fingerprint

reader. The trainer works you up to getting

7 of 8 swipes reading as a match. It’s nice

to be able to make sure you’ll be able to “swipe”

properly before you commit your fingerprint

as a password and potentially get locked out

of your machine.

Incidentally,

incorporating the fingerprint read into the

password API as HP did allows the fingerprint

to be used in place of a password in any application

that calls the password routine. As an example,

when Pocket Informant is set to display private

items only when the system password is entered,

it calls up HP’s combination enter password/swipe

finger screen and allows you to use your fingerprint

to unlock the private items. Very nice.

It’s

also nice that the password protection is very

secure. If you’ve set your unit to require a

password or a fingerprint, resetting the machine

will bring up the password prompt. Even docking

a machine when its turned off will bring up

a request to enter the password on the system

it’s docked to. We could find no way to circumnavigate

the password protection while leaving the contents

of the iPAQ intact.

You

have a lot of options to protect your iPAQ:

There’s the “legacy” 4 character PIN,

the stronger alphanumeric password, and the

fingerprint. You can also have combinations

of them. That’s particularly good if you’re

in the habit of docking your iPAQ with it turned

off as the desktop system prompts for the password

only to allow syncing. You also have a variety

of options for how long to wait before prompting

for the password. If you use the “0”

setting, you’ll need to give the password every

time you turn your iPAQ on.

 

POWER

HP slighly improved the

“standby power” settings from the

3900 iPAQ. You have a few more options as to

how much battery power the system will reserve

to preserve RAM.

You

can select anywhere from half of a day to three

full days of reserve power.

HP

added the ability to charge your iPAQ through

the USB connection. This option is appearing

on a number of recent Pocket PCs and eliminates

the need to plug in both power and the USB cable

for long sync/install sessions.

 

DEVICE

SPEED

Continuing the speed tests

we have performed with other Pocket PCs, we’ve

updated the speed table to include the results

from the 5450. All of these benchmark results

come from the Pocket PC application VOBenchmark

from Virtual

Office Systems. Each number represents how

many times within a given unit of time the specific

operation was able to be performed. Higher numbers

are better. Average of best three recordings

taken.

TestCompaq

iPAQ h3860 (206 mhz)Compaq

iPAQ h3970HP

iPAQ h5450Toshiba

e740CPU:

Floating Point8.05

12.66

 

12.6412.65CPU:

Integer15.55

26.95

 

26.89

26.95

 

Graphics:

Bitmaps – BitBlt16.4926.4256.62

77.81

 

Graphics:

Bitmaps – StretchBlt1.10.7918.130.25Graphics:

Filled – Ellipse | Rectangle | Rounded Rectangle0.54

| 0.56 | 0.52.51

| 2.10 | .502.16

| 6.64 | 1.550.53

| 5.34 | 0.48Memory:

Allocation8.7111.16

11.73

 

11.47Memory:

Fill0.54

0.95

 

0.91

0.95

 

Memory:

Move0.870.370.370.39Text2.223.24

4.63

1.48

 

 

Looks as if HP really optimized

this device in the graphics area.

 

BATTERY

LIFE

Since the iPAQ has

so many built-in technologies, we weren’t quite

sure how battery life would measure up. Here

are the results of our run it to the ground

tests:

 

Full

brightness, 48 hours of standby allocated:

 

Time

running before low battery warning (39%

remaining)Time

running before very low battery warning

(9% remaining)Time

running before complete shut down2

hours, 5 minutes3

hours, 5 minutes3

hours, 34 minutes

 

Full

brightness, all wireless features turned on

(bluetooth & WiFi), 48 hours of standby

allocated:

 

Time

running before not enough power for WiFi

operation warning (10% remaining)Time

running before very low battery warning

(9% remaining)Time

running before complete shut down1

hour, 41 minutes1

hour, 43 minutes2

hours, 8 minutes

 


The

Cadillac of Pocket PCs (3/4)

Hewlett

Packard’s iPAQ 5450 Pocket PC

December

28 , 2002

Review by: Derek

Snyder, Chief Executive Officer

(contributions by: Russ

Smith, Senior News Editor)

 

WIRELESS

HP has both BlueTooth

and WiFi Settings applets that greatly simplify

and streamline the process of using either

wireless option to establish a connection.

The

“home screen of the WiFi Settings applet

is deceptively simple. It shows the signal

strength and allows you to get to the complete

status screen shown to the right. The power

is concealed behind the drop-down labled “profile.”

A profile saves all of the settings that allow

you to make a WiFi connection. You can see

the various settings screens below. (You’ll

note that I captured these images before I

set the encryption on.) Since the profile

contains all the settings you need, switching

from one WiFi connection situation to another

is as simple as pulling down the profile list

and clicking on the right entry.

There’s

a small WiFi icon ()

that appears on the taskbar and indicates

signal strength. Clicking on the icon brings

up the menu you see on the right which allows

you to change profiles, power on or off the

WiFi radio, and get to the settings and options

without leaving the Today screen.

 

The

BlueTooth settings applet has the same “profile”

feature as the WiFi settings applet. It shows

the current profile, allows you to switch

profiles, turn of and on the BlueTooth radio,

and call up the BlueTooth Manager (more on

that later). The tabs at the bottom allow

you to select a number of options for how

you connect to other BlueTooth enabled devices.

Those options are shown below.

It’s

slightly unfortunate that “profile”

has two meanings when you’re dealing with

5400 BlueTooth: The BlueTooth Settings applet

uses “profiles” to save the settings.

Internally, there are also BlueTooth “profiles”

which specify which devices a device can communicate

with. The 5450 came with a small note in the

box noting that the “headset profile”

was not yet available but would be available

as a downloadable upgrade at a later date.

That’s good news on two fronts: First, the

5450 will be the first iPAQ with the headset

profile included to allow you to use a BlueTooth

headset to listen and talk to your iPAQ. Second,

it shows that the BlueTooth firmware is user

upgradable so you’ll be able to add profiles

for new types of devices as they become available.

   

HP has reworked the BlueTooth manager software

considerably from earlier iPAQs. The initial

screen shows any shortcuts to devices that

you may have set up. The shortcuts allow quick

access to devices that you’ve connected to

in the past. The other tab allows you to see

currently active connections. There are quick

icons on the task bar that allow you to setup

a new device connection and to create a “business

card” to exhange over BlueTooth. The

Tools menu allows you to view any paired devices

and to initiate a business card exchange.

The new Manager has a much tighter, cleaner

process for working with other BlueTooth devices.

   

The one problem with both the BlueTooth and

WiFi connectivity is not the fault of HP,

but an issue with the way Microsoft implements

driver memory use in Windows CE. Pocket PC

users are used to the idea that RAM is divided

between running programs and storing programs

and data. What you may not know is that there’s

a third block of memory, set aside for drivers

to use. In most cases it’s large enough to

be accomodating, but, as memory use goes up,

it can get tight. If you routinely shut down

your WiFi or BlueTooth radio to save power

when they’re not in use, you may find that

you’ve got insufficient driver memory to start

it up again, necessitating a soft-reset. It’s

annoying and Microsoft should fix it. On the

positive side, both the BlueTooth and WiFi

startups do inform you if driver memory is

low. Some other drivers don’t and simply won’t

run when that happens, leaving the user to

wonder why it isn’t working. HP’s done a good

job of streamlining the driver memory needs

as much as possible. I’m not needing to reset

my 5455 nearly as often as the 3975 to get

the BlueTooth radio to fire up.

 

OPTIONS

One of the exciting

things about the 5450 iPAQ is that it’s the

first iPAQ with a removable, replaceable battery.

In “mission-critical” applications

out in the field, that can be very important.

Unfortunately, the external charger and extra

batteries for the 5450 are not yet available.

They’re expected before the end of the month.

   

If you want anything beyond BlueTooth, WiFi,

the SDIO slot, and the built-in serial and

IRDA port, you’ll need to purchase a sleeve

to get extra slots. I recommend the CF Plus

Pack, which includes additional battery power

as well as a Compact Flash Type II slot or

the MemPlug Dual CF sleeve which has one Type

I memory only CF slot and one Type II full

i/o CF slot. Both will also function as a

case although to do that with the MemPlug

sleeve requires that you remove the cover

from the “cover sleeve” that comes

with your iPAQ and install it on the MemPlug

sleeve.

   

If you travel a lot, you may also want to

invest in the Serial/USB/Power Sync Cable

which is easier to carry than the sync cradle.

It’s the same cable as is used with the 3800/3900

iPAQs and is available immediately.

 

 

OPTIONS

One of the exciting

things about the 5450 iPAQ is that it’s the

first iPAQ with a removable, replaceable battery.

In “mission-critical” applications

out in the field, that can be very important.

Unfortunately, the external charger and extra

batteries for the 5450 are not yet available.

They’re expected before the end of the month.

   

If you want anything beyond BlueTooth, WiFi,

the SDIO slot, and the built-in serial and

IRDA port, you’ll need to purchase a sleeve

to get extra slots. I recommend the CF Plus

Pack, which includes additional battery power

as well as a Compact Flash Type II slot or

the MemPlug Dual CF sleeve which has one Type

I memory only CF slot and one Type II full

i/o CF slot. Both will also function as a

case although to do that with the MemPlug

sleeve requires that you remove the cover

from the “cover sleeve” that comes

with your iPAQ and install it on the MemPlug

sleeve.

   

If you travel a lot, you may also want to

invest in the Serial/USB/Power Sync Cable

which is easier to carry than the sync cradle.

It’s the same cable as is used with the 3800/3900

iPAQs and is available immediately.

 

The

Cadillac of Pocket PCs (4/4)

Hewlett

Packard’s iPAQ 5450 Pocket PC

December

28 , 2002

Review by: Derek

Snyder, Chief Executive Officer

(contributions by: Russ

Smith, Senior News Editor)

 

BUGS

AND WISHES

Some reports have

said that the 5450 is slow in response. Some

have even said it’s slower than the 3900.

As the VOBenchmarks show, that is not the

case. Rather, as the 5450 uses a graphics

accellerator, it actually renders faster.

What may lead to the reports is that, where

the 3900 draws the screen visably, a piece

at a time, the 5450 pretty much flashes the

whole screen up at once after calculating

it. Sometimes there is a pause while the software

calculates and draws the screen internally

and, because you’re not seeing anything happening,

it feels like it takes longer. The benchmarks

show that it doesn’t.

 

PURCHASING

The HP iPAQ 5450

has been available on-line for a little over

a week now. It has also appeared at CompUSA

and some other retail shops as well within

the last few days. Check to see that they

have the units in stock before placing the

order or making the trip. The price seems

to be stable at $699. Also remember that HP

has two product numbers. The 5450 is the “retail”

version. The 5455 is the “enterprise”

version. The only difference between the two

is that the 5455 comes with a (trial version)

of PeaceMaker Pro. The units that are currently

available appear to be all of the 5455 variety.

 

 

PROS

 


  • Beautiful

transflective display

 

  • Verywell integrated software and hardware
  • Fastgraphics and text
  • BlueToothand WiFi built-in
  • Removable,replaceable battery
  • Accessto iPAQ legacy sleeves

 

 

CONS

 


  • Battery

life decreases by factors of 5 when using

wireless features

 


  • Too

 

much! $700 is a lot of money

 

  • Additionalslots require sleeves
  • Additionalbatteries and external charger not available

    yet

  • Someincluded software are trial versions

 

 

OVERALL

IMPRESSION

Overall, this Pocket

PC is a real performer. If you are looking

for a Pocket PC that can do it all, this one

certainly tops this list for the time being.

HP

has combined powerful hardware well-intergrated

software to make a strong device. If you can

deal with the extra weight and the hefty price

tag, this Pocket PC may be too good to pass

up.

 

 

PROS

 


  • Beautiful

transflective display

 

  • Verywell integrated software and hardware
  • Fastgraphics and text
  • BlueToothand WiFi built-in
  • Removable,replaceable battery
  • Accessto iPAQ legacy sleeves

 

 

CONS

 


  • Battery

life decreases by factors of 5 when using

wireless features

 


  • Too

 

much! $700 is a lot of money

 

  • Additionalslots require sleeves
  • Additionalbatteries and external charger not available

    yet

  • Someincluded software are trial versions

 

 

OVERALL

IMPRESSION

Overall, this Pocket

PC is a real performer. If you are looking

for a Pocket PC that can do it all, this one

certainly tops this list for the time being.

HP

has combined powerful hardware well-intergrated

software to make a strong device. If you can

deal with the extra weight and the hefty price

tag, this Pocket PC may be too good to pass

up.

 

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About The Author
Derek Snyder