A Mobile Media Companion has to provide for more than just video and stills, though, and a second button on the bespoke Today screen is labelled ‘mobile media’. Tapping this takes you to a new screen offering locally stored and streamed material, the latter accessed across the built in 802.11b and requiring that you install the provided Mobile Media for PC software on a Windows XP machine. If you use an older operating system, or run a Mac, you’ll need to find a different streaming solution. While on the subject of wireless, you get Bluetooth functionality too, so you should be able to stay connected pretty much anywhere.
This ‘media access’ screen also provides a route to one of the unexpected successes of the PDA world – infrared remote control. Hewlett Packard has taken its media streaming software from Nevo and has also chosen to put Nevo’s infrared remote control tool onto the ROM of the rx3715, thereby providing couch potatoes with control over TV, VCR, DVD player and whatever other infra red hardware they happen to have.
There are settings for a huge array of devices already built in, and the software can learn from your infrared handsets if what’s provided doesn’t suit. There is plenty of customisation on offer. For example you can set up configurations for different rooms in the house and for different users and have one-tap activities – think of these as macros for the control of several infrared devices at once.
There is a copious amount of help in the printed manual covering set up and use of all this multimedia, installing and using the PC applications, streaming and downloading to the iPAQ rx3715.
To round off the software range HP has included Dockware’s screensaver (which presents date information over an image), the PocketTV MPEG player, and the iTask application switcher that HP uses more often than not. This now includes a button to move to landscape mode (a feature allowed by Windows Mobile for Pocket PC 2003 Second Edition but rather poorly implemented by Microsoft in that it requires you to go to the Settings area to make the change.) There is also a backup utility which, oddly, doesn’t seem to want to send backup data across a wireless network to your PC.
None of the software and features on the iPAQ rx3715 are impossible to configure on other Pocket PCs. But three things make this Pocket PC unique: the integration of all these elements onto ROM, the provision of copious amounts of memory in which to run locally stored media and saved images (152MB of available memory really is a vast amount for a Pocket PC), and the means to access all those multimedia odds and ends from a single non-standard main screen.
As for the more usual Pocket PC side of things, all of the Windows Mobile usual fare is here and accessible, as already noted, from the Start button. Notably absent, as it is not part of Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition by default, is Microsoft Reader. It isn’t stretching the imagination too far to expect that a multimedia user might want to read the odd ebook, so I’d have liked to see a reader on ROM, though not necessarily Microsoft’s own.