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Long term useage - gets my 'thumbs up'

17.06.2005 (18.06.2005)

A pc in the pocket

screen difficult to see in bright sunshine

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Look & Feel

Memory / capacity

Comfort & Portability

Ease of use

Value For Money


Robustness & DurabilityGood

Range of Extra FeaturesSatisfactory

Instruction manualVery useful

Manufacturer SupportExcellent

5 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
very helpful by (64%):
  2. Miles13
  3. sandemp
and 4 other members
helpful by (36%):
  1. laropmet
  2. D_bo
  3. taran36
and a further member

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I was loooking for a satellite navigation system a couple of years ago so that I would not need to carry a lot of maps with me at work (country wide delivery driver at the time) & the way to go seemed to be a pocket pc with the 'plug in' extras.

I ended up with a second hand iPAQ 3870 (from eBay) and added (from anther seller) TomTom Navigator3 (just released) & Haicom GPS receiver which plugged into the cigarette lighter & the iPAQ, charging the internal battery whilst in use and giving the GPS data to the software at the same time.

Although second hand the iPAQ came with all the disks, the data cradle and power supply/charger + all manuals (as was described by the vendor)

Setting up my desktop pc to 'talk' to the 3870 was easy, install software & plug in the cradle (USB or serial (I used USB)) and after sliding the 3870 into the cradle connection was established.

Now to set up the TomTom, installed the program - no problems there - but oh dear! I discovered that the iPAQ memory (64Mb) was insuffiecient for the map for the whole of the UK (101Mb), which I needed for work, so a quick dash to the local PC supplier and the purchase of a 128Mb SD card to slot into the top of the 3870 set me to rights on that score, no add on jackets etc, just slot it in the top and switch on. Oh dear again! An error message on screen 'do you want to format the memory card for use?..... OK and DONE all systems go again, how easy was that?! (i have now updated to a 256Mb SD card because of greater, private, demands - again just insert card, switch on and answer in the affirmative and all done!)

Well now to every day use, everything works well although the 3870 does sometimes 'freeze' in use - I tracked this down to the infra red receiver thinking that the sun (a good source of infra red ) was trying to make a connection, this can be over come by removing the tick in a check box in START / SETTINGS / CONNECTIONS / BEAM. there is only one check box so its quite easy.
The sun is the culprit again for this problem as well, when using in vans & cars if the sun is bright & shining across or onto the screen it becomes difficult to see, this is a problem of all lcd screens that I have used, not just the iPAQ so positioning out of the way of the sun is something to consider when using this versatile device.

Versatile device? Yes it certainly is, I have also purchased a 'jacket' (add-on device that the iPAQ literally slides into) which is a digital camera! Also availble for the 3870 are a mobile phone jacket (hey the PC is now a phone!) Compact Flash jackets (for memory, modems etc) and even PC card jackets (so you can use PCMCIA (laptop) type expansion cards. Some jackets have batteries in them to extend the use between cherges.

Talking of battery life I currently (no pun intended!) get around 3 hours constant use from a full charge and it is still (as far as I konw) on the original battery.

I do use, and advise the use of, screen protectors - a thin clear film that sticks on the screen so that the protector gets scratched, not the screen! Protectors are a few pounds for 10 whereas a new screen is, well I wouldn't like to think about it!

This device is also VERY connective (is that a word?) sporting a serial port on the bottom (front) which is also the power connector, an expansion connector bottom (rear) (for jackets to connect to), Bluetooth for other bluetooth devices (a pig to set up but works well when set (if a little slowly as it uses the serial uart chip so you may need to slow down the 'connected' device to work correctly) and an infra red data transfer port as well (I use mine as a remote controll using 3rd party software!). Also there is a 3.5mm jack socket for stereo headphones (or a line in to the car stereo to play MP3s)
Add to this a range of external keyboards and up to 1Gb SD ram for the top slot this turns into a very powerful machine!

I've had this for about 18months now and don't know what I would do without it, I did have a major problem the other evening as I could not get it to turn on but a quick online chat with one of the customer support team (online until 11PM UK) soon had it up and running again (my fault for letting the battery discharge fully)


If, like me, you let the battery run 'flat' all the programs loaded into main memory are lost ,the iPAQ file store and SD card retain their information but


as this is all RAM and needs power to keep it. There are warnings in the manual so beware! (I believe this to be true of most pocket devices though (please put me right if I am wrong))

Sadly I believe that this lovely little machine is no longer available new, certainly HP, who own Compaq , no longer have it listed to purchase as new in their online shop. (the 38xx series has been replaced by the 39xx) but many are available on eBay and similar, some with extras, usually around £200 mark.
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Comments about this review »

Miles13 17.06.2005 21:58

Good review, thanx for sahring Milt

nigeofnewbury 17.06.2005 17:18

Great review - looks like a good bit of kit.

bluetack33 17.06.2005 16:41

Good review with all the information I would need to know...and I know nothing about this sort of thing. Well I do know. Connective is a word but not an adjective ;-)

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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

You want to do more with life? The iPAQ Pocket PC H3870 is designed to ride along on the voyage of life - in your p...


MPN 230398-031, 230398-021, 230398-041, 230398-001, 230398-031,217883-021, 230398-051
Product Type Handheld
Operating System Microsoft Windows Mobile for Pocket PC 2002


Type 3.8" colour TFT ( transflective )
Resolution 240 x 320
Colour Depth 16-bit (64k colours)

Show all Product Information

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Review Ratings »

This review of Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC H3870 has been rated:

"very helpful" by (64%):

  2. Miles13
  3. sandemp

and 4 other members

"helpful" by (36%):

  1. laropmet
  2. D_bo
  3. taran36

and a further member

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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