John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Hp Ipaq 910C Review

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Cingular 3125 (HTC Star Trek) that I last wrote about. It was very phone like and you had no idea it was a PDA to boot. Battery life was very usable. I ran into a couple limitations. 2G max micro SD card, couldn’t get voice dialing to work properly, and I totally could not get use to T9. Other than that I enjoyed this unit. The mobile 6 upgrade really breathed new life into the device.

Tragedy be felled this device and the hinge broke barely two months into me owning it. No idea why. But it was a used unit and well over 2 years old. And given how little I paid for it what can you do. Couple that with the limitations mentioned above and … yup, new phone time.

I have been totally curious about the blackberry like form factor of few devices. Let’s face it BlackBerry know how to do things. So I jumped on an HP iPAQ 910C: Most other iPAQs have been made by HTC anyway, but this one it turns out is made by Invetec for HP.

Let’s just do the summary since some folks are finding my ramblings and waxing lyrical a bit long in the tooth. This is the perfect form factor for Windows Mobile. I rarely needed the stylus (more details below). Now while the form factor is perfect the unit is far from it. HP have done a totally crap job. The software is buggy as hell. The worst I’ve seen in quite some time. The microSD card randomly stops being seen by the unit (HP admitted after a lengthy call with lots of denials) that this is a known issue. The mail stack freezes regularly. Battery life is horrible in spite of a 1940mA battery (WTF). And the screen is a little limited at 320×240. I suspect the battery life and the bugs are directly related. When I turn off mail the battery life is WAY better. But what’s the point of this device if not email? Whatever you do don’t buy this unit.

That said, everything wrong with this unit could be fixed by a firmware update if HP ever got off there ass to release one. Last one was in July.

Ok now the long winded version. I really wonder if anyone will actually read on …

Windows Mobile touch screen is terrible. The OS was truly built for a stylus. Companies like HTC have added customizations to hide this OS but in the end you eventually get to the native OS and have no choice but to pull out the pen. HP have made no attempt to customize the OS in this way. That said, the fabulous D pad, up front keyboard, numerous buttons and side jog wheel mean you rarely need the stylus. You can largely control this device with one hand. Something that could not be said for the TYTN or TyTn II. I think I have finally found a form factor that Windows Mobile Pro (touch screen) actually is usable on for me! With the touch screen it means you now have a whole lot more software available to you than on the smartphone edition (non touch screen). Why MS don’t merge these OS’s is beyond me. I finally can use the current version of TomTom and even got the brand new version 7 cracked with a North American map (a review on this one to come later)!

This is truly an all in one device. It has everything. Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, GPS, WIFI, 3G and HSDPA support everything you would want. And with a 1940 mA battery you would think this would amount to very good battery life. You’d be quite mistaken. By comparison the TyTn II has a 1350 mAh battery and my HTC S710 had a 1000 mAh battery. And you can’t fault the processor because it is 412 mHZ only slightly faster than the TYTN. I believe the buggy OS is the reason for the poor battery life. I think the hangs I experienced kept the processor doing stuff chewing up the battery.

It has taken some time, frustration a number of support calls and a warranty return. Don’t ask me why but HP turn off the microSD card when the device is not being used. You can see this in a number of ways. In file explorer you see the location in the sort list of the Storage card change. You can also see media player looses it’s place in a song being played off the microSD card. And media player also sees the microSD card as a new card and asks if you want to scan for new media when the card comes back. When the device comes back on it remounts the microSD card. When all is well this happens quickly but sometimes it takes a bit of time, and sometimes it does not come back at all. I suspect it fails to mount it for some reason. The fix is to simply power it back off wait a bit and then power it back on. This solves the problem. The card never disappears while the unit is powered on. Only when it is in suspend mode. So what this means is you can not use the microSD card for storage for anything that runs in the background. Don’t pull ring tones off the card etc. And if you are running a program like TomTom where the maps are on the card, if you turn the unit off and back on with TomTom running, sometimes I’ve found TomTom crashes. Some programs when the storage card is pulled out from under them react badly. Sometimes hanging etc. I’ve had this result in shorter battery life as the crashed program grinds the processor. I’ve tested this thoroughly with two different 2G cards (by the way HP only officially support up to 2G cards. I was reminded of this a number of times by HP support) as well as on an 8G card. By the way I played with a TyTn II upgraded to 6.1 and it did not do this.

The GPS has the new A-GPS which downloads the location of satellites over WIFI or your cell connection to help the GPS get a fast fix. And it works well. Amazing difference. I really like it. Sensitivity was acceptable although not as good as my SIRF III which I consider the benchmark today.

WIFI was good but given the battery life problem was almost unusable. As soon as you turn it on you can watch the battery start to drain.

With GPS on using a program called RunGPS and doing email every 15 minutes (IMAP/SMTP) I got a whopping 3 hours before the battery was pretty much dead.

Using some battery monitors I was able to observe totally bizarre behaviour. I would more often than not see 95-100mA draw. And then I would see a gradual decline over time almost like it was shutting things off. Eventually to be followed by the microSD card disappearing from view not to be seen again without a reboot or a wack of patience.

Believe it or not there are 3600 mAH batteries available for this puppy. That’s nukkin futz. Of course there is no cradle for the device so how do you charge a spare battery anyway. But at least you can buy them. I checked out a MWg UBiQUiO 503G which expansys are practically giving away only to discover you can’t get spare batteries for them. And there’s lots of complaints about battery life on that one even without a GPS!

Being a big battery I found it took a while to charge. I also found this device to be more picky on chargers. Only some would properly charge the device. They have built in over heat protection into the battery, a good thing given how many batteries break into flames. This means that if the battery gets too hot it shuts down. I had this happen a couple times during charging from being totally flat.

Once I even had the WIFI stick in the ON position so that once again it was reboot time again. Grrr.

Weight is ok on the device, it is on the large size, about the same dimensions as my work 8830.

HP like HTC have decided to bastardize the mini USB. You can use standard mini USB (which is good) and then they have extended it to include audio. Of course HP and HTC couldn’t just agree. Oh no, HP have done there own thing. For goodness sake just give use a 2.5mm or 3.5mm audio jack PLEASE.

Phone quality was ok, but strangely enough I could hear my own voice through the speaker. Not quite a echo but close. Took some getting use to.

Bluetooth on the device seems a little off. More than once I had to repeatedly try to pair devices. I had it happen on a number of different devices too. Odd. I also could not get my stereo to work both as a stereo and a hands free device.

Software load is nothing special. They have included Cyberon Voice Commander which I find totally unusable. MS Voice dialer is so much better. It takes 10-20 seconds on first start to get the program even to the point to be ready to accept a voice command. And sometimes even longer. This is a program that belongs in the trash bin. I immediately removed it from the key assignment on the device.

It really is unfortunate that HTC don’t make a device in this form factor. I’ve been reading lots of good stuff about the new Palm Treo Pro. I must say I always blew off Palm devices with Windows Mobile. They seem silly. What’s the point. But I’ve got past that. This looks like an interesting device. Specs seem good. They also have bought some of HTC’s customizations, although not all. HTC kept the Touch flo stuff for themselves

October 6, 2009 - Posted by | Electronic gadget reviews

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