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Hewlett Packard has established its handheld computing name firmly in the corporate sector. It proudly holds a pivotal position here: you’ll see executives toting their iPAQs on trains far more often than you’ll see them with rival Pocket PCs, and only RIM’s Blackberry seems to come near the iPAQ for popularity. You might think HP would be happy with that niche, and concentrate on consolidating its position, but it would appear that this isn’t the case.
The company recently announced four new Pocket PCs, two of which are squarely aimed at consumers. The rx1710 is the entry level device, but by far the more compelling of the two is the rx3715, which HP is calling its Mobile Media Companion.
In a world where Pocket PCs can be hard to differentiate (many have silver casings, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software is always there, WiFi and Bluetooth are becoming ubiquitous), and differentiation is often made on the basis of things like processor speed (which can frankly be negligibly important for many home users), installed RAM (the more the better), or the size of the navigation button (a matter of personal preference), launching a device which is radically different from the rest is quite a bold move.
Differentiation is really the name of the game for HP with this Pocket PC though. The company has gone for a rather sedate slate grey casing leaving brash corporate silver behind. And Microsoft’s dull old Today screen has gone, replaced by a screen that throws you straight into many of the multimedia offerings available.
One of these is a built-in Photosmart digital camera capable of shooting stills and video, the former at resolutions up to 1,280 x 960 with resolutions of 160 x 120, 320 x 240, 640 x 480 also available. The latter at 160 x 120, 176 x 144 and 320 x 240. Where the still camera is concerned there are colour filters (black and white, sepia, negative, cool), white balance settings (auto, sun, tungsten, fluorescent), three data compression settings, and a self timer to play with. Image and videos are viewable on the hardware and HP replaces the Windows Mobile Pictures software with its own HP Image Zone which lets you view images, share them, print and draw on them, and works in conjunction with the supplied PC desktop version of the Image Zone software.