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You are probably wondering why I am writing a review on a product which is no longer in production, as least I think it is no longer available. However this little pocket PC when it was introduced in 2004 was voted Best PDA of the year by the influential PDA Essentials magazine & many of them turn up on Ebay on a fairly regular basis. Do they make good second hand buys?
The technology used on these handheld devices such as HP ipaq 4150 is changing rapidly, when it came out about four years ago it was the leader of the pack, today it is already trailing behind an average Smartphone. They do make good second hand buys simply because they are so adaptable to peoples needs, they can be picked up for around £50-£100 depending on condition. Just look at its specifications, it weighs only 132g, its dimensions are only 113mm x 70mm x 13mm, not much bigger than a mobile phone. The touch screen (with stylus) is 3.5 inch diagonal, about the size of a credit card but bigger than most mobile phones. It has 64mb of RAM & an expansion slot for a SD card if you need more; it features a 400MHz Intel XScale processor & has Bluetooth & Wi-fi as standard. Even in its supplied padded holder it will easily fit into a shirt or jacket pocket or small handbag. It features Windows Mobile 2002 or 2003 software (in portrait mode only on 2002), Word (without spell check & formatting), Excel (limited), MP3 player, word recognition, voice recording, alarm features with two clock functions, calculator including currency conversions, games, diary features as per desktop PC. It has tasks & notes as per desktop PC, Adobe software to read pdf files, email facility, internet explorer, the ability to read electronic books & to store pictures & videos, MSM messenger & much more.
You can add an optional camera, an optional QWERTY keyboard instead of the standard touch screen one & an optional receiver for sat nav. About the only thing it can't do is make a phone call. They come with a docking station with USB connection & can be synchronised with a desktop PC allowing for transfer of files, pictures etc & for back up. As these little devices have no hard drive, when you switch them on its instant, there is no waiting for the system to 'boot up'. It is easy to transfer maps, documents, pictures etc from the PC to your PDA.
I purchased mine around four years ago for £235.00 & have taken it all over the world in my pocket; it has become truly indispensable & a great travel companion. There are many web sites offering free software, these I have added some to allow me to monitor credit card spending, my banking is monitored via encryption, monitoring expenses & world time differences. The free software has limited abilities but the software you pay for is usually sourced from America & is usually very good & good value for money. It's great being able to browse the web sites on the move but it can be difficult reading the ones that are not set for PDAs. My mailbox won't allow me to open attachments but I believe later ones are OK for this. The battery in the PDA is removable but you must back up before removing it or risk losing all your files except for the main software loaded at the factory. The batteries last for about three days without needing charging but heavy use with sat nav or wi-fi will reduce that to around three to four hours. The system does crash just like the desktop PCs, a simple soft reset can be carried out be inserting the stylus into a reset hole on the side of the case & it usually resets the system back to normal. You can back up the device to your desktop PC or to a SD card; the former is preferred as it's more reliable. The back of the PDA is curved slightly to allow it to rest on the palm of your hand comfortably; I invested £22.99 in leather flip top padded case from Proporta which is ideal should the device be dropped as it is more likely to survive with this protection. Screen covers are essential as the little touch screen is easily scratched when using the stylus with dust on the tip or screen. Any gripes? Well the screen isn't easy to read from in bright sunlight even with the device set for the brightest settings which incidentally uses more battery power. You are at mercy of the battery & when travelling you need to be mindful of losing battery power & your files. A travel charger is supplied but if you are in the middle of nowhere you can really be stuck without sufficient battery power. Other gripes include the switch for the voice messages is easily triggered & can reduce your memory to zero in no time at all, best to disengage it when not being used. The little 'D' control on the front can be used for scrolling & entering a file if you don't want use your stylus but it's a bit fiddly. The on screen keyboard is small & can be enlarged to a point, but when travelling on a train/car/bus it is difficult to write a document with theses keyboards. Also HP helpline leaves a lot to be desired. To summarise, these little devices are ideal & this particular model is better than some of the newer ones currently on the market. The ipaq4150 is well made, looks good & is worth considering even second hand.