This post is a review of the new HP Ipaq 111 PDA. I managed to get my hands on a unit for use and review (aka I bought it). I planned on using this PDA for checking email and organizing my life when I’m away from my dorm. When I worked at CompUSA (before it went bankrupt) I sold a great deal of HP PDA’s to people that reported later that they were happy with thier purchase. There weren’t too many reviews floating around the internet when I decided to purchase the Ipaq, but I decided to take a chance on the new, recently released unit. I got a sweet deal direct from HP for drastically less than their normal list price of $299.99. Now that the introduction is over with, lets get to the nitty gritty review.
In The Box
- Ipaq 111
- Battery Pack
- Wall Charger
- USB Connector
- Driver/Software CD
Everything comes packaged nicely and securely inside the box. Instructions make it quite clear how to install the battery and get it charged up and ready to go. I found the Manuals to be quite limited in providing useful information about the unit. Most of the documentation had to do with the EULA and the warranty information. Not even online could I find decent articles to troubleshoot problems or find out info about the product.
The design of the 111 is reminiscent of previous generations of Ipaqs. You get the screen on top with five buttons and a directional pad below it. On the right hand side, you get a SDHC card slot, the power button and the record button. The bottom of the unit has the USB connector used for charging and syncing. The left side doesn’t have anything, and the top has the headphone jack. The back face of the unit has a small speaker, the battery hatch and an overall smooth, rubbery feel to it.
The screen on the Ipaq is a 320 x 240 resolution screen which measures a capacious 3.5″. It is nice and bright and is generally usable in the outdoors. Most programs fit well on the screen without too much scrolling. The exception to the fact is using any internet browser. You may have seen the really cool scrolling on the iPhone. Windows Mobile (and the Ipaq) definitely doesn’t have that. The page renders as a normal site on a really tiny monitor. You have to scroll in order to see anything and this fact really makes browsing a miserable experience. In terms of the touchscreen, the response time is fairly quick. HP makes it quite clear not to mash the screen or push hard on it. This is a downfall of resistive touchscreens, they are very fragile. Not to make another comparison to the iPhone, but the use of the same kind of capacitive touchscreen that it has would make the Ipaq 111 something great. Since the screen collects fingerprints and scratches like a flytrap catches flies, I would recommend a screen protector. Granted, the screen protector slightly reduces the visibility of the screen, but in the long run, it was worth it.
The Operating System that ships with the Ipaq is Windows Mobile Classic 6. It really doesn’t add that much functionality or design from the previous generation of Windows Mobile, but it runs decent enough. I don’t care much for Windows Mobile in general, so functionality was greatly hampered. When I used Sbp Shell, the UI became a lot more intuitive and navigating became easier. Perhaps the greatest drawback is the fact you must use a stylus to navigate in the Windows Mobile Environment. With Sbp Shell on top of Windows Mobile, you can navigate with solely your fingers- a intense luxury.
Additionally, the Ipaq comes with mobile versions of MS Word, Powerpoint, and Excel. I wouldn’t expect anyone to do actual work with these mobile versions, but they are handy for viewing documents on the go. Luckily, you can find a lot of great PDA software online. I found a SNES emulator to play Mario Brothers, a Instant Messaging Client called Palringo, and the Skype app for internet telephony. There are a lot of great pieces of software out there for you to purchase and load up, but I was able to get by with freeware and shareware versions.
The single biggest drawback of the Ipaq was its lack of a real VPN client. Since Penn State requires a VPN to access the wireless internet on campus, I was out of luck. Penn State recommended I purchase a $70 VPN client that may or may not work with the campus network. When I tried to access the PSU internet webmail from a normal wi-fi hotspot, the page would not even load.
This PDA has an updated processor that allows for it to run multiple applications without skipping a beat. Apps opened fast and stayed fast even if other, memory hogging applications were running at the same time. Occasionally, I would hit a speed bump but otherwise I was left with a good impression- something I could not say for any Palm device or even older HP Ipaqs I’ve used. Sometimes, I would be forced to close all applications or perform a soft reset on the device.
As for media playback, I was impressed. Video played back without too much of a problem. Framerate was high so the picture was smooth- no matter what format I wasusing. As for music, the sound was decent enough though not quite as good as my first generation Ipod shuffle which sounds better than any audio device I’ve ever used. For pictures, they came out clear which is something you would expect from its decent and ample screen.
My initial reaction to the Ipaq 111 is a great PDA for anyone who needs a basic organizer with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. Upon futher review, I found the 111 to be a terrible match for me. The lack of connectivity to the PSU network was a deal-killer for me. Additionally, the lack of support and documentation for the device was inexcusable. HP needs to get its stuff together if they are going to release an expensive product from a line that is usually so well recieved. To be honest, I just sold my unit on Ebay a few weeks ago. If you have questions about the unit and my experiences, please leave a comment or email me.