HP iPAQ rx3715 Pocket PC

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WHAT’S HOT

    The rx3715 is the first Pocket PC released on the market with a 1.2 megapixel digital camera capable of taking photos at 1280 x 960 resolution. Coupled with a 4x digital zoom, the unit can take decent quality entry-level digital photos. The device is also billed to have a massive amount of storage, made possible by a 90 MB iPAQ File Store. Combined, there is 152 MB of storage available to the user out of the box. Coupled with the built-in WiFi (802.11b) and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, this product has the serious potential to shine.

   Size has become more and more crucial as of late in the mobile device market. Note how rx3715 is actually larger and heavier than its somewhat equally equipped (sans the camera and extra memory) predecessor; the HP iPAQ h4150.

Device (no cover)
Size (inches)
Weight (grams | ounces)
HP iPAQ rx3715
4.50" x 2.80" x 0.64"
158 | 5.57
HP iPAQ rz1715
4.48" x 2.75" x 0.53"
120 | 4.23
HP iPAQ h6315
4.68" x 2.95" x 0.73"
190 | 6.70
HP iPAQ h2215
4.57" x 2.95" x 0.63"
142 | 5.01
HP iPAQ 1910/1940
4.46" x 2.75" x 0.50"
120 | 4.23
HP iPAQ h4150
4.47" x 2.78" x 0.50"
132 | 4.60
HP iPAQ h5450
5.43" x 3.30" x 0.63"
206 | 7.26
Dell Axim X3i/X30
4.60" x 3.21" x 0.58"
138 | 4.80
Dell Axim X5
5.00" x 3.20" x 0.71"
196 | 6.90
Toshiba e740
4.90" x 3.10" x 0.60"
190 | 6.70
Toshiba e310
4.90" x 3.10" x 0.40"
138 | 4.90

BOX CONTENTS

    The iPAQ rx3715 comes with all the accessories you would expect including AC adaptor, leather slip case, and USB docking cradle. HP also includes a set of Platronics earphones for use with the standard size headphone jack on the Pocket PC.

From left to right: power adaptor, iPAQ rx3715, leather slip case, USB docking cradle, Platronics earphones.

In best HP tradition, the AC adaptor comes with the power adaptor for connecting it directly to the device.

The USB docking cradle has simple lines, and gives a clean appearance. Absent, however, is any type of secondary battery charging cradle. This, in my opinion, is a big omission considering its predecessor, the h4150, had one included in its cradle.

HP is now producing one cradle for all its new Pocket PCs. To use a different Pocket PC, simply change the connecting base. This is an excellent idea and should have been implemented from the beginning. The only Pocket PC which will not fit with this standard is the iPAQ h6315 Pocket PC Phone.

In the cradle, the iPAQ looks reminiscent of the older HP Jornada Pocket PCs with its dark color and square edges.

THE DEVICE

    Let’s take a closer look at the HP iPAQ rx3715.

The sides of the iPAQ are clean, nothing exciting.

The back of the device is more interesting as it houses the user-replacable 1440 mAh Lithium-ion battery along with the 1.2 megapixel Photosmart camera.

All and all, the rx3715 looks professional in the hand, it will not be confused with a toy.

The bottom of the device features the reset pin-hole and connector.

The one and only button on the side of the device is for the Photosmart camera. It is used to launch the application, and then to snap the photo.

The camera has a small mirror next to the lens to aid with self-portraits.

The front of the device features the application buttons and a 4 way directional pad. At the center of the directional pad is the action button. The directional pad actually has very fine pictograms on each edge which correspond to functions in Windows Media Player such as previous track, next track, etc. The center of the pad has a play/pause pictogram. Application
buttons have complete focus on the multimedia functions of the device. They are (from left to right): iPAQ Mobile Media, HP Image Zone, Nevo, and iTask.

The power button, SDIO slot, infrared port, and headphone jack are positioned on the top of the device.

Many thanks to HP for simplifying the LED situation on the top of their Pocket PCs. The rx3715 has two LEDs; one to indicate charging and one to indicate a wireless connection. Any wireless connection at all gets a steady blue light, whether Bluetooth or WiFi.

PICTORIALLY – HP iPAQ rz1715 AGAINST OTHER SEGMENT DEVICES
   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 rx3715 up against several other Pocket PCs.

From left to right: Dell Axim X30, HP iPAQ rx3715, and HP iPAQ h6315. The rx3715’s screen is equally rich in color when next to the other devices.

From left to right: HP iPAQ rz1715, HP iPAQ rx3715, and HP iPAQ h4150. Note how more sleek the h4150 is when compared to the two newer iPAQs.

From top to bottom: HP iPAQ h4150, Dell Axim X30, HP iPAQ rz1715, HP iPAQ rx3715, and HP iPAQ h6315.

Note that the Dell Axim X30 and HP iPAQ h4150 maintain a thinner profile than the HP iPAQ rx3715.

And finally from the bottom...

 

THE DISPLAY

    The display is quite impressive. The colors are warm and vibrant, but the text is not as smooth as on the Dell Axim X30’s display.

The following photo was taken in a room that was completely dark to show the true color of the screen.

The display on the rx3715 does well displaying photographs.

INTEGRATED SOFTWARE

    The rx3715 comes standard with Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. From there, HP has done an excellent job of bundling some great software with the device. The software alone is one of the few reasons this device may be able to distinguish itself from competitors and/or its predecessors.

Upon starting the device for the first time, I was greeted with this hideous menu. It’s almost as if HP is trying to make this Pocket PC look barren of functionality. But since HP is branding this is a Mobile Media Companion beyond just being a Pocket PC, I suppose the dumbed down menus have their place.

 


Since the menu was a Today item in the Settings panel, it can be easily disabled.


The iPAQ rx3715 comes bundled with an application called Dockware. Whenever the device is on the cradle and goes idle, it brings up the date and time and begins cycling through photos on the device slideshow-style.

Naturally, its fully customizable and easy to disable if needed.

HP, as always, has included a powerful backup utility with both a simple and advanced mode.

The HP Image Zone is handy for viewing, printing, and emailing photos on the device.

It’s interoperability with the included HP Mobile Printing is handy. The device can only print images using what’s in ROM, if you want to print more HP suggests installing the full version of their Mobile Printing program.

Photos can be directed to three different places for what HP bills as "hassle-free sharing".

   

The iPAQ rz1715 has 57 MB of main memory. The iPAQ File Store has over 96 MB of space.

iTask has undergone a facelift while still preserving its basic functionality. Applications can be closed while a handy set of icons allow you to control other features on the device.

The iPAQ Mobile Media suite will stand to be the biggest eye-raiser. It takes a moment to load.

From the main menu, there are 5 options to choose from.

Media Control

allows you to use your Pocket PC as a remote control to play music, display photos, and play videos on your desktop PC.

There are many options by which to list your media so as to make finding the right media a quick and easy process.

Once a song, photo, or video is found, the Pocket PC controls it while the PC plays it. When playing music; volume, track location, shuffling, and play/pause/stop/next track controls are all on the Pocket PC side.

The desktop PC is fully controlled, and the music comes out of its speakers.

The Media Control also allows for full searching based on any keywords.

The rx3715 can browse the desktop PC for a photo, select it, and then display right on the PC.

The desktop PC’s window is resizable, and displays the photo without lag.

Media Stream

allows you to use your desktop PC as a server and stream music over-the-air directly to your Pocket PC. The rx3715 has access to every album, artist, and playlist.

When browsing through music, its easy to keep track of where you are thanks to the Quick Links hierarchy.

A huge disappointment, however, is the lack of support for MP3 files. The device can only stream and play WMA music files. For many people, MP3 is the one and only format used in their media library. To me, this is a catastrophic oversight. The rx3715 loses value really quickly if not everyone is able to take full advantage of its bread and butter capabilities.

Local Media

is HP’s alternative to Windows Media Player. You can play music and enjoy niceties such as the album art.

Media Copy

allows you to pull music, photos, and videos off of the connected desktop PC over-the-air.

After selecting the files you want to pull down and targeting a destination, the process begins.

Copying files over a WiFi network is extremely fast.

When done, the files can play in the standard Windows Media Player (assuming they were in WMA format).

Home Control

is the same basic Nevo Remote software included with iPAQs since the Compaq iPAQ h3900 series used to control everything from TVs to DVD players to music receivers.

INTEGRATED CAMERA

   HP refuses to be second to none. Taking a lead from Sony and i-mate devices with built-in cameras, HP has done the same with it’s iPAQ rx3715. Except this time, the camera is capable of 1.2 megapixel resolution.

Upon startup, the iPAQ’s screen becomes a large viewfinder.

Tapping on the options button leads to a menu with several different preferences. White Balance, Color, Compression, and Resolution can all be adjusted.

The camera can also record digital video and audio in two formats: H.263 and MotionJPEG (MPEG) with a maximum size of 320X240, listed above.

From the viewfinder mode, a digital zoom can be applied twice for a maximum of 4X magnification. When at 2X zoom, the image size cuts in half to 640X480.

At the 4X level, the image size is reduced to 320X240.

The actual photo from the device. Click on it to see the full size uncompressed image.

The actual digitally 2X zoomed photo from the device. Click on it to see the full size uncompressed image.

The actual digitally 4X zoomed photo from the device.

   Call me a pessimist, but I simply don’t see the benefit of having an onboard camera packed onto a device like this until it has a real (optical) zoom and a flash. Without those, I’m still bringing along a Sony Cybershot if I really want to take photos. I think this camera had the potential to be useful, but would never find it a suitable camera replacement.

 

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 iPAQ rx3715. All of these benchmark results come from the Pocket PC application Spb Benchmark from Spb Software House.

The iPAQ rx3715 scored at an average level. It’s interesting to note how a previous iPAQ model still outperforms the rx3715.

CPU Speed comes slightly below average for the rx3715.

The iPAQ rx3715 loaded a JPG file reasonably quickly.

When it comes to the file system speed, the rx3715 takes the top position.

Overall, the rx3715 carried the best platform index.

After contemplating these test results, I realized that this device is somewhat even with the HP iPAQ h4150. In some areas it shined and in some it didn’t. For a device that has a bigger design than some of its predecessors, HP should be concerning themselves much more with adding extra power as a trade-off. I think they are growing a bit lazy in that regard.

BATTERY LIFE

    Here are the results of our run it to the ground tests:

Full brightness, normal utilization, 72 hours of standby allocated (where applicable):


Device

Time until 0% battery

HP iPAQ rx37157h 13m
HP iPAQ rz17153h 13m
HP iPAQ h6315 6h 42m
Dell Axim X30 3h 38m
i-mate Phone Edition 3h 53m

The 1440 mAh Lithium-ion battery makes the rx3715 a clear leader in battery life. HP has generally been doing a great job raising the bar in battery life while still not sacrificing a whole lot of performance. The Samsung S3C 2440 processor must be operating with relatively low power usage.

Full brightness, WiFi enabled, 72 hours of standby allocated (where applicable):

Even with WiFi on and full brightness, it only shaves 19 minutes off of the iPAQ’s battery life. Excellent!

PURCHASING

    The HP iPAQ rx3715 is slated to be available from HP. The price has been reported at $499.00. This, in my opinion, is a bit expensive considering the only thing setting this apart from the less expensive iPAQ h4150 is iPAQ File Store memory, integrated camera, and bundled software.

PURCHASING

    The HP iPAQ rx3715 is slated to be available from HP. The price has been reported at $499.00. This, in my opinion, is a bit expensive considering the only thing setting this apart from the less expensive iPAQ h4150 is iPAQ File Store memory, integrated camera, and bundled software.

PROS


  • Beautiful screen

  • Integrated 1.2 Megapixel camera
  • Excellent bundle of multimedia applications
  • Large iPAQ File Store
  • Best in class battery life

CONS


  • Square-edged design


  • Bigger than previous iPAQ models


  • Camera lacks real usability (no flash or optical zoom)

  • Overpriced

OVERALL IMPRESSION

   Overall, the software included with this Pocket PC is what makes it a worthwhile purchase. If you are looking for a device that has Bluetooth and WiFi only, look elsewhere (you’ll save a lot of money). However, if you really want to push the limit of what you can do with your Pocket PC in terms of controlling your PC’s multimedia, streaming audio over-the-air, and snapping pictures on the go, than the the rx3715 may be worth a look.

Despite its design, this is a rock solid Pocket PC. If you can justify spending the extra money, you’ll get a tried and true contender from a company who has been consistently a market leader when it comes to mobile devices.

Although this device would be much more attractive with a smaller price tag and a smaller size, it will have to do for now. In the future, though, HP may need to offer a few more than the meager improvements offered in their latest generation of handhelds. Where’s that sense of invention that they are always advertising?

PROS


  • Beautiful screen

  • Integrated 1.2 Megapixel camera
  • Excellent bundle of multimedia applications
  • Large iPAQ File Store
  • Best in class battery life

CONS


  • Square-edged design


  • Bigger than previous iPAQ models


  • Camera lacks real usability (no flash or optical zoom)

  • Overpriced

OVERALL IMPRESSION

   Overall, the software included with this Pocket PC is what makes it a worthwhile purchase. If you are looking for a device that has Bluetooth and WiFi only, look elsewhere (you’ll save a lot of money). However, if you really want to push the limit of what you can do with your Pocket PC in terms of controlling your PC’s multimedia, streaming audio over-the-air, and snapping pictures on the go, than the the rx3715 may be worth a look.

Despite its design, this is a rock solid Pocket PC. If you can justify spending the extra money, you’ll get a tried and true contender from a company who has been consistently a market leader when it comes to mobile devices.

Although this device would be much more attractive with a smaller price tag and a smaller size, it will have to do for now. In the future, though, HP may need to offer a few more than the meager improvements offered in their latest generation of handhelds. Where’s that sense of invention that they are always advertising?

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About The Author
Derek Snyder