HP iPaq 214 handheld - Review

HP iPaq 214 handheld - Review

HP iPaq 214 handheld - ReviewThe HP iPaq 214 handheld features a larger than average screen and a management agent.

Price: £200

Manufacturer: HP

The iPaq 214 Enterprise Handheld from HP is a Windows Mobile device that follows a traditional PDA design, but updates the format with a larger display and a powerful processor for handling applications beyond just keeping track of calendar and contacts. It also includes features specifically for enterprise environments.

The device is aimed squarely at business users who may have already deployed some enterprise applications using earlier devices such as the popular Compaq iPaq Pocket PC models. While the iPaq 214 has 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, it does not support mobile networks and so is more of a data-centric unit running Windows Mobile 6 Classic, which lacks telephony functions.

In use, we found the iPaq 214 made information easier to read thanks to its larger than average 4in screen, which supports 640x480 resolution in some applications.
The unit also supports both a CompactFlash slot and an SD Card slot for adding storage and peripherals. CompactFlash has become rare on mobile devices, but is still handy in many business scenarios for adding devices such as barcode scanners.

The iPaq 214 is based on a 624MHz Marvell PXA310 processor with 128MB RAM and 256MB Flash ROM. This specification ensures the device has enough power for handling most applications, and the two slots mean that workers can use both a plug-in peripheral and Flash cards for storing data at the same time.

While the iPaq’s 4in screen makes the device slightly larger than most rival handhelds, its weight is about average at 190g, and we found the device comfortable to hold - ­but not as reassuringly solid feeling as the Socket Mobile SoMo 650, which targets roughly the same enterprise user base.

The design of the iPaq 214 reflects its PDA heritage, with a stylus-driven touch-screen beneath which is a navigator control flanked by four buttons. These link to functions such as calendar and contacts by default, but can be reconfigured. Holding down the “OK” button changes the screen between portrait and landscape orientation.

In tests, we were able to connect our review unit to our test Wi-Fi access point with ease and were able to browse the internet and connect to other services. Browsing on the iPaq 214 is enhanced by the device’s larger screen, especially as Internet Explorer Mobile can make use of the higher screen resolution available on this device to show more of each web page than would fit on a typical PDA screen.

HP provides several tools with the iPaq 214 to benefit business users. It integrates a client agent for HP’s Enterprise Mobility Suite, which lets administrators provision and configure the device over-the-air.

A print tool, HP PrintSmart Mobile, also lets workers output files to a network or Bluetooth printer. This only lists HP models, but most laser printers are data-compatible with HP’s Laserjet family. We were able to print Word documents over Wi-Fi, but oddly, it only worked if we converted the .DOC file to .RTF before printing.

Other applications include the standard Microsoft Office Mobile tools that let users view and edit Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, and an encryption tool to protect files on removable storage cards. HP’s iPaq Wireless Manager also enables users to easily turn on or off the two wireless interfaces independently from each other.

The iPaq 214 has a removable 2200mAh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers a life of up to 10 hours, according to HP.