Compaq chose well for its iPAQ H3670 handheld, which now sports 32MB more memory than the original model. Combine the unit's 64MB of memory with a speedy 206MHz processor and color screen that's actually readable in sunlight, and you have the handheld to beat.
The iPAQ features all the standard Microsoft PocketPC programs, which include 'Pocket' versions of Word, Excel, and Outlook, as well as Internet Explorer. You'll also find a bundle of other Microsoft Pocket programs, such as Microsoft Money, Reader (eBook software), and Active Sync (for synchronizing with your desktop apps and moving files). Compaq's 'Q' menu provides additional functionality. A gaggle of applications and utilities from third parties are available and greatly extend the unit's value to business users.
One of the ingenious features of the iPAQ handheld is the expansion sleeve concept. The sleeves fit around the unit and hold compact flash memory cards or PCMCIA cards (e.g., wireless modems, LAN/WAN cards, and specialty cards, such as barcode readers and GPS devices). A newly introduced sleeve can hold two PCMCIA cards simultaneously.
The downside of Compaq's expansion approach is that the PC Card sleeves transform the svelte iPAQ handheld into a chunky iPAQ handful. With a Ricochet modem card installed in the sleeve, you have a truly ungainly package. Still, while the expansion sleeves bulk up the iPAQ, they do transform the unit from PDA to workhorse; add a fold-up keyboard, and you might be able to leave your laptop at home for certain business trips and meetings.
One thing that isn't oversized about the iPAQ is the documentation, most of which is electronic. It's slick but maddeningly inadequate; you'll need to learn about features and navigation by experimenting or reading info at one of the many sites devoted to the product.
In the past, two factors had worked against the iPAQ: the cost and the availability. The bad news is that the units still aren't cheap. The good news is that the iPAQs are more plentiful, as are the sundry accessories.
So given all the PDA options, why opt for an iPAQ H3670? If you're going with a Pocket PC - rather than Palm OS-based device - the iPAQ H3670 is clearly the Porsche, with its dazzling screen, powerful processor, hefty memory, sleek form factor (sans expansion sleeve), and ergonomic button arrangement.
Compaq iPAQ H3670Rating: 90
Manufacturer: Compaq; 800-888-5858; www.compaq.com
Configuration: 206MHz Intel StrongArm; 32-bit RISC processor; 64MB of SRAM; 16MB of Flash ROM memory; color 240- by 320-TFT LCD display; Windows PocketPC; Infrared; 6 ounces
Pros: Great screen; fast processor; 64MB of memory
Cons: High price; poor documentation; heft and weight with expansion packs