There was once a time when the next HP iPAQ handheld was awaited with great expectancy. At a time when mobile phones were pretty basic, the pocket PC was the ultimate in corporate gimmickry: a place to store all your contacts, calendar info, notes and something you could expand to include even GPS functionality, pocket PCs running Windows CE were seen as rightful heirs to the Filofax crown of the Eighties and early Nineties.
But things, as they tend to do in the world of technology, have moved on dramatically since then. It's now a rare sight to see a device running the latest version of Microsoft's mobile device operating system that doesn't have phone technology built in as standard. And, rather than those famous 'jacket' add-ons so prized amongst iPAQ enthusiasts of yore, advanced features such as Wi-Fi, high speed mobile data connections and GPS are increasingly being thrown in as standard
So it's hard, initially, to see a market for the latest phone-free iPAQ - the 114 Classic Handheld, based on Windows Mobile 6.0 Classic. But I suppose it could fill a niche. After all, not everyone wants their phone and organiser on the same device. If you want to be free from your work schedule and email when you get home, for example, splitting your workload across two devices makes some sort of sense, and it also makes sense if the handheld organiser has other benefits, such as a fast processor, a good quality screen and is stuffed with other useful features.
And to some extent the iPAQ 114 meets those requirements. The first thing to say about it is that it looks every bit the smart-suited businessman's or woman's accessory. It may not have the chic appeal of, say, the E-TEN Glofiish PDA phones I reviewed earlier this month, but it is slim at just 13mm and its understated grey fascia and rubberised plastic rear lends it an air of understated quality. I also really liked the controls, which are simple and responsive, and the HP customisations on the Today screen which display battery life, memory usage and a brightness control are handy too.