HP iPAQ rx1955

By Joseph Moran

November 21, 2005

A small, light and inexpensive Windows Mobile device perfectly suited for Web browsing.

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If you've been looking for a solid but inexpensive Windows-based PDA for mobile Web browsing, you might want to check out the latest offering from Hewlett-Packard. The company's newest iPAQ is the rx1955, a slim and lightweight mid-range handheld that sports Windows Mobile 5.0, Microsoft's most up-to-date operating system (OS) for mobile devices.

Physically speaking, the rx1955 appears almost identical to its 1900 series predecessors. Often handhelds at this level feature blunt and unimaginative styling, but the rx1955 is svelte and curvy, measuring a mere 4.47 x 2.78 x 0.5 inches and weighing in at a scant 4.4 ounces.

Like other recent 1900 series models, the rx1955 eschews the ubiquitous Intel XScale processor in favor of one from Samsung; specifically a 300 MHz SC32442 300 CPU (up from a 266 MHz processor in the h1940).

Built into the rx1955 is a meager 32MB of RAM along with 64 MB of ROM: 36 MB of the total memory is available to users. The user-available memory is non-volatile so it will remain intact even after a drained battery or hard system reboot. This capability was available in prior iPAQs under the nomenclature iPAQ File Store, but it's now common to all Windows Mobile 5.0-based devices since they use Flash memory in place of conventional RAM.

The rx1955 doesn't come with a cradle, so you must sync and charge the unit via a USB cable/AC adapter pair, and a durable and fairly snug-fitting nylon slip case protects the unit while traveling. 

Wireless

You can augment the Pocket PC's memory capacity via a Secure Digital (SD) slot at the top of the unit, and you won't need it for wireless capability since the rx1955 features built-in 802.11b Wi-Fi. Unlike many Wi-Fi PDA implementations, the rx1955 lacks a protruding antenna, which is a plus for many.

The unit doesn't automatically turn Wi-Fi on or off however, so you still somewhat inconveniently need the stylus for that. A blue LED above the screen lets you know when Wi-Fi is enabled.

Surprisingly, the rx1955 does not include Bluetooth capability (making it one of the few PDAs that offers Wi-Fi but not Bluetooth), though it does provide 4 MB IrDA for wireless synchronization.

The rx1955 uses a conventional 3.5-inch, 240 x 320 resolution TFT display, and features the standard compliment of four application buttons and directional thumbpad. All of the button functions are fully customizable, and the right-most button sports a wireless icon and can be used to quickly summon the wireless connection dialog.

view 1955 in use

Battery

Powering the rx1955 is a removable1100 mAh Lithium-Ion battery, but it's behind a thin and somewhat flimsy cover that can be tough to remove and even tougher to get back on properly. (An 1800 mAh battery is also available as an option.)

There are enough power-saving options available on the rx1955 to coax reasonable life out of its standard battery, at least when you're not using Wi-Fi too heavily. A side benefit of the use of Flash memory should be increased battery life since power is no longer required to keep the contents of memory intact when the unit is turned off.

Software

Given its relatively low price-point, the rx1955 doesn't come with a lot of bundled software aside from what is standard fare with Windows Mobile 5.0. This includes familiar Outlook productivity applications like Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Messaging along with the other Office mainstays of Word and Excel.

New to Windows Mobile 5.0 is Microsoft's PowerPoint Mobile for viewing your .ppt files, a task which used to require third-party software. You can't use PowerPoint mobile to edit or author presentations (though it unlikely you'd even want to on a handheld in the first place).

As for Windows Mobile 5.0 itself, many of the changes are tucked away behind the scenes but there are several that make themselves immediately apparent. One is the aforementioned new memory usage model, and another is soft buttons which reside at the bottom of the screen and operate much the same way that they do in mobile phones—they change based on the application being used. Windows Mobile 5.0 supports USB 2.0, so when used with the also included ActiveSync 4.0, synchronizing your device should go a lot faster.

Conclusion

The rx1955 won't impress you with a lot of bells and whistles, but its reasonable $299 price tag makes it one of the lowest-priced Windows-based handhelds with integrated Wi-Fi. By comparison, Dell's similarly-priced entry-level Axim X51 lacks Wi-Fi, though it does include Bluetooth, a faster processor and more ROM than the iPAQ.

Indeed, we'd prefer to see Bluetooth and more storage capacity in this newest HP, but those concerned primarily with a device for Internet access that won't weigh you down or break the bank will likely be more than happy with the rx1955.

Reprinted from PocketPCcity.



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