Built into the chassis above the screen, is an ambient light sensor that will adjust the brightness of the display depending on your surroundings, boosting it in bright daylight and toning it down under dimmer conditions. Better still, the screen is visible even outdoors.
Slip the stylus out from its home in the top right-hand corner of the device and you begin to feel spoiled. It’s weighty, not plasticky, and precise to use too. Other nice touches include a simple, yet flexible button panel below the iPAQ’s lovely screen: four shortcut buttons (including Start and ok) flank a five way d-pad and each of these can be held down to launch alternative, useful tasks. Press and hold the Start button, for example, and you’ll get to the Today screen; do the same with the ok button and the screen rotates.
Underneath it all is a highly capable processor: a 624MHz Marvell PXA310 processor backed with 128MB of RAM and a generous 256MB of ROM. It helps to push even the most sluggish of applications along at a fair old lick and searches complete as swiftly as I’ve seen on any Windows Mobile 6 device.
A dual SD/CF card slot on the top of the PDA means there’s a wide range of potential expansion options available, and a battery with a huge capacity of 2,200mAh ensures that plugging the iPAQ into the mains is a thing you only need to do once every few days.
The nice touches aren’t confined solely to hardware, however. As you might expect, there’s a host of useful software extras installed as standard here, not least HP’s superb Bluetooth tools which are designed to help you set up and manage the connection with your phone, PC or Windows Mobile device. I was synchronising with my Exchange server via Bluetooth and the HSDPA Internet connection in my phone – not usually a task that’s particularly easy to achieve – in a matter of minutes.