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.: Home :: Articles :: Hardware reviews :: Detailed view


.: Big review of HP iPAQ h6340

Author - Pavel Koza :: User rating - 4/5 gems   (168 votes) :: Views - 25433
February 01, 2005 :: The HP iPAQ h6340 is a relatively new device yet its look, code name and OS version ranks it among the previous generation of pocket computers from HP. This should not deter your as it is an interesting and extremely power-efficient gadget. I could get hold of one relatively long after its launch, still I believe this review may help you decide if this is the right device for you.

The HP iPAQ h6340 is not the first Pocket PC of this make that offers an integrated GSM/GPRS module on top of common PDA features. As far as I can remember, Hewlett-Packard produced two such devices but neither of them could be deemed as a special success. More precisely, the devices came to being at a time when HP competed with Compaq on the PDA market, a couple of months before their merger. HP produced its Jornada 928 that it called Wireless Digital Assistant. Unfortunately, it was marketed in just a few countries, and in this part of the world, we could only read reports about it. On the other hand, Compaq worked on a similar device with its manufacturer HTC. The device reached the production stage but for several different reasons, HTC eventually started selling it as its own product (and offering it to mobile phone operators). I should also mention Compaq GSM/GPRS jacket for devices that were compatible with this type of extensions (iPAQ h3800, h3900, h5000) but this attempt was nothing but a failure. The jackets were unreliable, over-priced and bulky so that the device with the jacket on resembled a brick both by the look and weight.

HP iPAQ h6340
HP iPAQ h6340

Today, I would like to introduce a device which is HP's second attempt at a PDA with an integrated mobile phone. You can buy it from mobile phone operators like competing device. As far as I know, there are several models. HP iPAQ h6310 and HP iPAQ h6365 are identical but the former is being marketed under the T-Mobile brand. The one I could review is h6340 and differs from the other models by the absence of an integrated digital camera with a resolution of 640x480 pixels. I would like to thank Hewlett-Packard Czech for lending me the device for testing purposes.


What is in the box?

A usual iPAQ box contains quite a lot of interesting items. I am not offering its photo as it was all covered with paper but I believe you won't mind.

Pacakge contents iPAQ in my hand iPAQ with keyboard attached in my hand
  • HP iPAQ h6340
  • Li-Ion battery
  • Synchronisation USB cradle
  • Power source with an adapter for direct charging
  • Plug-on miniature keyboard
  • Case with a belt clip
  • Stylus
  • Mono headset + 2.5 mm jack adapter
  • CD-ROM
  • Quick start guide
  • FAQ brochure
  • iPAQ Choice voucher
  • Warranty information and a few promotional leaflets

The cradle is severely simple, I would say plain and uninspiring. Its black-and-silver combination matches that of the device, so do its slanted edges and overall angled design. The base is 80 by 100 millimetres large with four rubber feet that ensure stability on the desktop despite a relatively low weight. The cradle offers a slot for charging a spare battery (standard as well as extra large). A LED indicator shows charging status on the front. On the back of the cradle is a power cable connector, and a fixed 120 cm / 5ft long USB cable. What I see as a weakness is that when the device is charging, you cannot eject or insert an SD card. If your card sticks out of the slot, you will not be able to put the device in the cradle at all. This could be a problem with combined memory+something cards..

Cradle Rear of the cradle iPAQ in the cradle, an extra battery charging

Elaborating on the AC adapter would be a waste of time. It is the same as in any other iPAQ. Its parameters (5 V, 2 A) are common to many other pocket devices. It is compact with a fixed cable 180 cm / 7ft long. A rubber band at the end of the cable holds an adapter for direct charging of the device.

AC adapter

The bundled keyboard is a welcome accessory for SMS maniacs who send dozens of messages a day pr anyone who just does not like tap-typing on the miniature software keyboard. The keyboard resembles that offered by Compaq for its early iPAQs - tiny keys are arranged in four rows of ten, with the space key occupying two positions. 39 is not a sufficient number of keys for all required characters, so there is a function key (blue) which almost doubles the keyboard's capabilities. There are also two system keys on the keyboard to accept call and hang up, and a pinhole that leads sound to the microphone. One of its disadvantages is an absence of the system connector, which means you cannot use the keyboard when charging. Characters with diacritics are an insoluble problem as well. An advantage over competing devices with an integrated keyboard is that you do not have to use it:)

Close-up of iPAQ with keyboard attached Plug-on keyboard Comparison of external keyboards Setting up the keyboard

The case included in the package surpasses anything I have seen bundled with PDA by the manufacturer. Not only is it made of genuine leather but also looks great. Well, the case alone would cost you 40 bucks! It consists of two pieces of leather joined together by four flexible rubber stripes. This is useful if you buy an extra large battery, which is twice as thick; the rubber stripes will stretch to adjust to the bigger size. There are two pockets for SD cards on the front piece; a belt clip is attached to the back one. The device is protected against slipping out by a flip that snaps on the lower part by two pairs of magnets. My only criticism goes to zero protection of an SD card in the device. The device being positioned horizontally in the case, the SD slot always faces down. Considered I accidentally pulled out the card three times (the slot is on the side), it was probably just a matter of time before I would loose it. If it is necessary to take the device out of the case whenever you need to use it, it is a mystery why the slot is permanently accessible.

Leather case Leather case Leather case Leather case

There is only one stylus in the package. Considered it is a plain piece of hard black plastic, the number is one less than I would expect.

The supplied headset is not a full-fledged headset in fact but just one earpiece and a mike. Nevertheless, you can use any other model with a standard jack. I was surprised to see a gold-plated connector. An adapter 3.5 mm jack -> 2.5 mm jack will come handy, otherwise nothing to write home about. A volume control would be greatly welcome, if nothing else.

Headset

As usual, the package includes a package of printed materials and a CD-ROM. Brochures and leaflets are listed above, the CD-ROM carries bonus applications from Microsoft and other software makers. Most high-end iPAQs come bundled with a voucher for free software from the iPAQ Choice on-line store. With your h6340, you get 4 points you can exchange for applications of your liking.


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Design

As I have noted in the introduction, this device is quite different from the latest HP models, such as HP iPAQ hx4700 and HP iPAQ rx3700 but it has much in common with HP iPAQ h2210, a generation older device. This could be seen as a plus by many users, because not everyone finds the daring design of the new models particularly appealing. The antenna's aesthetic value is disputable. It is supposed to improve WiFi performance but the device would look much better without it. The device is 119 mm / 5.42 in long, 75 mm / 2.94 in wide and 18.7 mm / .82 in thick, and weighs 190 grams / 6.7 oz.

iPAQ from the front and back:) Comparison with LOOX 720 Comparison with iPAQ h4150
Pocket PC with GSM/GPRS Dimensions (in / mm) Weight (oz / g)
HP iPAQ h6340 5.42 x 2.94 x .82
119 x 75 x 18.7
6.7
190
XDA III 4.92 x 2.83 x 0.74
125 x 72 x 19
7.23
205
XDA II 5.11 x 2.75 x 0.74
130 x 70 x 19
6.7
190
AnexTEK SP230 4.29 x 2.71 x 0.86
109 x 69 x 22
5.57
158
Yakumo Omikron 4.60 x 2.63 x 0.90
117 x 67 x 23
5.82
165

The new iPAQ looks robust at first sight. The shape is a rectangular block with slant edges, the upper and lower edge being slightly rounded. The dominating colour is silver, contrasting with dark grey bottom part to liven up the plain look. Rubber strips on the sides ensure comfortable and safe grip. They are different than those in the , so problems should not repeat. The device holds well, only the bottom left corner felt uncomfortable when I worked with the device for a long time.

HP iPAQ h6340 HP iPAQ h6340 HP iPAQ h6340 HP iPAQ h6340

The front panel is dominated by a standard QVGA display. Placed below the display is a conventional arrangement of a joypad and four buttons. Unlike in other iPAQs, only the outer two of them are user-configurable. The other two with icons of a handset are permanently set to control the phone. Each of the programmable buttons can be assigned one action only. By default, the left one launches Contacts, the right one Mail. The buttons can be disabled to prevent waking up the device from the sleep mode accidentally. To the left of the leftmost button is a pinhole that leads sound to the microphone. A speaker for the phone subsystem sits at the top centre with three LEDs by its side that indicate wireless activity (left GSM/GPRS, middle Bluetooth and right WiFi). Another LED is hidden in the power switch and glows to inform of current status and notify of events, including charging, appointments etc.

Soft buttons setting Key lock Close-up of the iPAQ

The back is dominated by the battery compartment (there is no cover; the battery itself makes the back of the device). The battery is held in place by a metal locking switch. Above the battery is a shaft for the stylus, camera lens (a plastic cover in h6340 instead), system loudspeaker and (most likely) an external antenna connector protected by a rubber plug. However, I could not remove the plug without damaging it, so I gave up trying. A SIM card holder is located under the battery.

Back of the device Close-up of the SIM card holding mechanism Close-up of the iPAQ (with extended battery, the standard one is level with the back of the device) Close-up of the iPAQ (with extended battery, the standard one is level with the back of the device)

Unlike other iPAQs, there are a number of items on both sides. On the left-hand side is a headset connector covered with a rubber cap, below is a sound record button and further down a sunken software reset button. On the right-hand side is a pair of volume control buttons, changing the volume of system sound or the phone, depending on the current status. Below is an SD slot, which is quite an unusual location, and a rather inconspicuous button that launches the iPAQ Wireless application.

Comparison of right-hand sides (iPAQ h4150 top, LOOX 720 bottom) Comparison of left-hand sides (iPAQ h4150 top, LOOX 720 bottom) Close-up of the iPAQ (with extended battery, the standard one is level with the back of the device) Close-up of the iPAQ (with extended battery, the standard one is level with the back of the device)

The top of the device is free of any surprises, offering nothing but an infrared sensor. Likewise, there is nothing but a standard data connector, which is compatible with all other iPAQs.

Close-up of the iPAQ Comparison of the top sides (iPAQ h4150 top, LOOX 720 bottom) Comparison of the bottom sides (iPAQ h4150 top, LOOX 720 bottom)

Parameters

Only rarely does a planned introduction of a new device arouse so much emotions and speculation as it happened in the case of the HP iPAQ h6340. Until now, new devices except entry-level ones have always offered the greatest possible performance. However, in this case, HP focused on optimising power consumption and battery life rather than crude computing power, which met with negative reaction from many reviewers as well as users. I'll get back to this issue in the Evaluation chapter but now, let's review the device's parameters the usual way.

System version Basic system information

Unlike in its other models, HP chose a processor neither from Intel nor Samsung but another leading chip producer, Texas Instruments. Its TI OMAP 1510 processor offered the best computing power/consumption ratio, which was decisive for this device. The processor clock speed is laughable in comparison with other novelties; the 168 MHz is even less than in the first iPAQ h3630. Needless to say, there is no way to adjust the processor speed. If you one of those users who judge computers by processor speed, you can stop reading because this device is nothing you could be interested in - the h6340 is slower than any other Pocket PC with or without an integrated mobile phone. The rest of us will examine the memory:)

Basic system information

HP designers were not very generous in this parameter either. The device's 64 MB of RAM and 64 MB of FlashROM is not much for a device with a 800-dollar price tag, especially if the user can access only 43 MB of RAM and 20 MB of FlashROM as an iPAQ Store. This is very little, unfortunately. Little else to say about the memory, perhaps just that there are no useful utilities such as the Format Storage as in the iPAQ h4150.

Information about memory Memory settings FlashROM disc size

Unfortunately, the display did not please me very much either. For some of you, it will be sufficient to write that the display is in the same category as that of the HP iPAQ h4150, i.e. looks good by specification but not so good in real life. It is a transflexive TFT display with LED backlight, supporting 65 thousand colours, with a resolution of 240x320 pixels, 89-millimetre diagonal and pixel distance of 0.24 mm. The main problem is the backlight which is visibly yellow. In addition, its intensity is lower than in other Pocket PCs. No need to elaborate and repeat what I wrote before. I should stress though that most users see no problem with the display, it is just me and a few other nitpickers:) If you would like to learn more about the "yellow syndrome", please refer to previous reviews of iPAQs. Another minor drawback is an excessive black margin around the display. 20 backlight intensity levels set separately for battery and mains operation do meet my strict criteria but do not expect automatic backlight adjustment. Readability of the display outside is quite well, comparable to most other devices. The touch layer is sufficiently sensitive and evenly responsive all around. As usual, you can activate the ClearType technology for all applications but that's about it for the display's features. The OS is not the Second Edition, which means no support for screen rotation or system font change. According to the latest reports, no upgrade is in the pipeline...

Backlight settings Display information

Audio features are extremely important in a device with an integrated mobile phone, so we shall pay proper attention to them. Quality of the audio output (standard 3.5-millimetre jack) cannot be judged by the bundled mono earplug but listening experience with my Koss Porta Pro earphones was absolutely perfect. There was no noise whatsoever, and even though the iPAQ offers bass and treble adjustment at five levels, the sound was rich and dynamic even without those aids, as far as I can judge by my lay ear. (I am no hi-fi freak who would buy a gold-plated audio cable for 1000 bucks a metre.) The maximum volume is just right; it does not burst the eardrums but suffices for a commuter bus. The integrated loudspeaker is not as good. It offers standard PDA sound quality (read: poor), and quite soft output. The maximum volume is adequate for a quiet environment but insufficient in busy places. Finally, I should mention sound recording capabilities. The iPAQ's performance is very good in this respect; it records sound in good quality at a distance of a few centimetres as well as several metres. Automatic sensitivity adjustment works fine but if you are dissatisfied, you can set sensitivity manually. I did find a flaw, though. If you like recording your phone conversations, the quality is tolerable with the right sensitivity setting. However, if you use the handsfree, the device will record the other person's voice well but yours will be almost inaudible.

Audio settings

Onto communication options, and in contrast with some other features, the iPAQ stands out in this area. A USB port is a matter-of-course; you will use it mainly for synchronisation with a desktop PC. An infrared port supports only 115.2 kbps and does not work as a remote control for home electronics. I tried several software applications but none of them worked. Whenever I tried to "teach" the device new commands, it would freeze and required a soft reset. I will elaborate on the telephone module in the next chapter, so let's move onto the wireless modules. According to the technical specification, the Bluetooth is version 1.1, which could theoretically cause problems with simultaneous operation of BT and WiFi. I have not encountered any and have no means to measure performance of the wireless modules. The Bluetooth module is from Widcomm, which implies flawless operation. The WiFi module integrated in this iPAQ supports the IEEE 802 Part 11b (802.11b) standard at 2.4 GHz. More technical information is available here. From my point of view as a user, everything worked fine but I did not venture to play with advanced settings. All three wireless modules are controlled from a single application called iPAQ Wireless.

HP utility for installation of certificates Basic information about Bluetooth Basic information about WiFi Bluetooth settings iPAQ Wireless We are connected

Finally, here is a parameter in which the iPAQ excels all competitors by a class. Yes, it is battery life. You can see precise test results in the charts (the battery was the STANDARD 1800-mAh cell). I can confirm that the result is not a one off but commonly achievable in everyday use. I could test also an extended battery which is bulkier but last longer. The iPAQ can charge over the USB port in two modes, you can also set a period of time you require the device to retain memory contents when the main battery runs dry.

Battery status information Setting a period of time the memory will retain data on flat battery Charging over USB
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iPAQ as a mobile phone

The iPAQ is a standard Phone Edition device, carrying all Microsoft applications for phone-enabled Pocket PCs. (More information in an old but still topical review of MDA II). It is a quad-band phone supporting 900/1800 and 850/1900 MHz bands, which means it should work anywhere in the world. It offers all standard telephone features, such as call redirect and call waiting as well as cell broadcast. You can choose between audio (any WAV, WMA or MIDI type 0 file) and vibrating alert. There are a few utilities to make using the phone easier. SIM Contacts can copy contacts from the SIM card to the device's memory. GSM/GPRS Settings simplifies configuration of all connections. However, its use - like in the case of most of the other tools - is rather counterproductive. The settings did not work very well. In addition, the ROM version 1.00.06 contains a wrong number of my cellular operator's SMS centre, which is quite stupid (if you do not receive any SMS messages, check this first). Unfortunately, SIM Toolkit is not implemented to the detriment of those who use it to manage their bank accounts. And more bad news - I just could not make MMS messaging work.

Basic information about GSM Basic phone settings Available services Cellular network settings Supported bands Cell Broadcast settings

As far as data communication is concerned, the iPAQ supports Class B GPRS Multi slot Class 10. In other words, you can use up to 4+1 timeslots at the same time, which, combined with the CS4 coding, provides quite a decent transmission speed. Unfortunately, the manufacturer omitted EDGE, a promising technology which has been gaining momentum of late. A bigger problem arises when you try to use the device as a modem for your desktop computer. I managed to make it work over Bluetooth (not very well, though) whereas my efforts to connect over IrDA and USB failed altogether. It looks like I did not have the right drivers but I could not find a way to obtain them.

Other features include e.g. handsfree speaker, support for a BT headset (Jabra BT-200) etc.


Expandability

Expandability options are multiple. The integrated data connector will most typically be used for synchronisation and connecting some kind of keyboard. It is backwards compatible - competitors should take an example! Another possibility is the SDIO slot which can hold e.g. a digital camera in h6340 which does not have one. Other accessories can be connected via wireless modules, including an infrared, Bluetooth and WiFi. Business as usual:)

The SD slot on the side of the device is not very convenient... iPAQ and a foldable keyboard

Software

It has become a standard for iPAQs to offer a generous choice of bonus applications on top of the standard software package. Contrary to expectations, the pre-installed OS is the basic Windows Mobile 2003 Phone Edition/Premium Edition. An upgrade to the Second Edition will probably not be available despite initial positive signals. It is not so much screen rotation but rather some minor enhancements and bug fixes that matter in the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition.

A backup utility called iPAQ Backup has become a standard in HP devices. It offers two modes, basic and advanced. This is probably the most sophisticated solution for data backup in the Pocket PC world. You can compress and/or encrypt backup files, skip certain types of files, and create executable backup files. You can set up automatic daily or weekly backups or when battery power decreases under a certain level. It is also possible to backup PIM data to the FlashROM, so they are renewed automatically after a hard reset.

Basic mode Advanced mode Settings Planned backups

A Pocket PC version of HP Image Zone has been part and parcel of a package of bonus applications in any iPAQ. It is a very fast image manager with basic editing features. You can easily send photographs by e-mail or to a printer, attach a note to an image or view all images in a slideshow. That's about all this version offers.

HP Image Zone

HP Profiles offers the same functionalities as virtually every mobile phone today - to create profiles with different ringtones, volume, backlight intensity, wireless activity and other settings that you can easily switch. You just press the power switch for a few seconds and choose an appropriate profile from a menu that pops up. Highly convenient.

HP Profiles HP Profiles menu

A utility called SelfTest will do exactly what you would expect - to test all parts of the device, which may come handy when buying a second-hand device.

SelfTest utility

ClearVue PDF and ClearVue Presentation serve for viewing PDF and PowerPoint files, respectively. The former is a handy tool for those who often need to view information in this increasingly popular document format.

There are a few bonus applications also on the bundled CD-ROM. Apart from standard applications, such as Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft ActiveSync, there are some demos and full versions, including Westek ClearVue Suite (for viewing document), HP Mobile Print Center (a solution for printing directly from the device), HP Image Transfer (for automatic image transfer), HP TTY Support, and Pointsec File Encryption (a data protection utility).


Price

The price tag reflects the fact that the device integrates three wireless modules including the most costly GSM/GPRS. The price is set to 600USD but can be lower if you sign a contract with T-Mobile.


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Benchmarks & Testy

My testing SD card contains standard games (Anthelion, Snails and Z-Raid), films (a Shrek 2 trailer in MPEG format, 650-kbps bitrate), the same short movie in Windows Media format (250 and 500-kbps bitrates), newly added DivX video (500 and 1000-kbps bitrates), a few MP3 files of various genres, and some documents and images. A new addition is a great DivX player called BetaPlayer, which, in combination with extremely user-friendly utility PocketDivXEncoder, will make you forget about all other players. I deleted a 1-Mbps Windows Media file and created a 1-Mbps DivX file because Windows Media Player is embarrassingly sluggish in comparison with BetaPlayer. And finally, please be advised that whereas I stick to the fact in the other chapters, here I give way to impressions:)

Let me make it clear straight away. Had this deice been introduced a year ago as a direct competitor to XDA II, you would have been enthusiastic about it. However, the situation has changed. Regardless of the (reportedly poor-quality) XDA III, there are a few things to criticise about this iPAQ.

BetaPlayer Windows Media Player

The device does not look bad. Its dimensions and weight are reasonable considered the capabilities but the external antenna rather spoils the image and comfort (even though it provides better WiFi reception). The build quality is good, appropriate for the price level. The joypad is comfortable, highly sensitive and accurate, so it was a pleasure to control games with it, although the pair of system buttons cannot be used for anything else than phone functions. By far the greatest problem is the location of the SD slot on the side. It is exactly where I naturally lay m fingers, which makes it quite uncomfortable with an SDIO card that sticks out of the slot. An SD card that was completely hidden in the body was not without problems either. I accidentally ejected it at least twice week and almost lost it once. To say nothing about the fact that the card is inaccessible when the device is placed in the cradle. No, an expansion slot on the side is not a very fortunate solution.

The devices computing power is a much disputed issue. The technical specification looks horrible - to implement a 168-MHz processor in the era of triple or quadruple frequencies is a courageous decision and I think that from the marketing point of view, the excellent battery life does not outweigh the weak processor. I tested many different software applications and I must say that despite relative slow response, the performance is sufficient for common tasks. Performance in games was satisfactory, too, but not always. Z-Raid and Snails were fine most of the time, the snails were rather sluggish:) when computing missile trajectory. However, games like SkyForce, GangstaRace and GTS Racing Challenge had a problem. The graphics were fine but sound was jerky and buttons were slow to respond, so making it to the top ten in the race was impossible. 3D action Anthelion was tolerable, buttons reacted swiftly but the overall performance was unconvincing. All in all, the device is nothing for passionate gamers.

Gangsta Race Z-Raid

As far as video is concerned, performance of the integrated Windows Media Player 9 was atrocious. It could not even play a file with a 250-kbps bitrate. Fortunately, there is BetaPlayer that makes it possible to use this iPAQ as a portable video player. However, films need to be optimised for a resolution of 240x320 pixels - if the device has to resample it, it looks more like a slideshow. MP3 playback is smooth and you can even do some lighter tasks simultaneously. I tried reading pdagold.com over WiFi and it worked.

In general, the device is not designed for everyone. The most typical users will be people who need to carry a mobile office around all the time and use all available communication channels. The device's performance is sufficient for PIM, e-mail, documents and internet browsing but not for multimedia. I don't have a clue why HP did not chose a more powerful processor and add a feature that competitors do offer - clock speed adjustment. I cannot believe that there is such a big difference in power consumption between TI OMAP 1510 and PXA270 @ 200MHz... My guess, have not tested it. in addition, 43 MB of RAM is very, very little.

I have mentioned the display's weaknesses before. It is not bad but other new iPAQs have better displays. It is at least well readable in the sun. The audio capabilities are excellent, as I wrote above. Quality of sound in the headphones is absolutely perfect.

Now, onto the greatest strength of the device - battery life. I was able to test both the standard Li-Ion 1800-mAh battery as well as an extra large one, with a capacity of 3600 mAh. The latter powered the device for an unbelievable six days under heavy workload! By heavy workload I mean permanently active GSM module, dozens of short phone calls, dozens of SMS messages (it was the New Year), several hours of surfing the web, playing Snails for 4 hours uninterrupted as well as a few other games, working with contacts, mail and calendar every day, occasional WiFi connection and many other things. The backlight was reduced to minimum yet active all the time. The result is simply amazing. The smaller battery kept running for half that time. If you add two charging modes over USB (fast and slow) and the possibility to set for how long the device will retain memory contents on flat battery (24-96 hours), there is not a single thing to criticise about power management. Perhaps that the iPAQ could go without a restart after a quick battery replacement but it is just a minor imperfection.

Standard battery test (8:27) MP3 playback, deactivated display (19:26) Video playback, maximum backlight (8:04) GPRS test, maximum backlight (8:56) Bluetooth test, maximum backlight (9:31) WiFi test, maximum backlight (3:55)

Communication capabilities proved to be very good as well. Unfortunately, the GSM module showed the biggest problems. Over the two weeks, I could not receive a phone call three times and it happened twice that an SMS message was delivered only after a switched the PDA part on (the GSM part was active all the time with activity indicator blinking happily). I think this is a fault of this version of the system because an MDA Compact with WM2003 Second Edition worked for a week without any problems. A major upgrade is due any time now, so let's hope HP fixes the bugs. I expect a mobile phone to be reliable in the first place.

Bluetooth and WiFi fared much better. I paired Bluetooth and used with a MSI USB BT Dongle, Jabra BT-200 headset, Sony Ericsson T610 mobile phone and a few Pocket PC devices. Everything worked perfectly. WiFi was flawless as well. Nevertheless, my impression was that the ugly antenna did not improve reception much as compared to iPAQ h4150 with an integrated one. On the contrary, the older iPAQ seemed more sensitive. If I am to believe the WiFi Graph utility, there was a 10-dB difference! Please do not take it for granted - this was no lab test. Still, the difference is huge.

Finally, some figures. I use Spb Benchmark for a complete performance test. I have reviewed several new Pocket PC devices, so I can compare. If you are interested in detailed results, the complete .XML file is available for download here:: HP iPaq h6340 (2003, 168MHz) [2KB]. To compare with other devices, copy the contents of the file to this form and click on Add device.

ROM version of the tested device :: 1.00.06

Processor performance... What to add?
Processor performance... What to add?

File system performance is better but still far behind
File system performance is better but still far behind

Graphics performance is surprisingly good
Graphics performance is surprisingly good

ActiveSync - average
ActiveSync - average

Overall performance
Overall performance

I tested the graphics performance also with the GXmark utility. It is far less sophisticated than Spb Benchmark and offers comparison only with iPAQ h3600, but at least you can find out how many objects can move on the display simultaneously:)

HP iPAQ h6340
HP iPAQ h6340


Detailed evaluation

The iPAQ is another I subjected to a more detailed and stricter evaluation. This is because the rating of most devices I have reviewed lately ranged from 90 to 95 percent and it was difficult to tell which device is better (I intentionally tried to avoid a 100-percent rating). Another reason is that this new system is more transparent... That is why the final rating is NOT BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE. 90 percent now and 90 percent before are completely incomparable figures.

A few words to explain the new system: Type can be Pocket PC, Pocket PC Phone edition, or Smartphone. Class means the target group, which is key for understanding the other categories. The number of points in the other categories is relative with regard to the class. For instance, a device with a VGA display, two expansion slots, BT and WiFi modules in the high-end category will receive nine points for a certain weight, whereas a device in the "entry" class with a QVGA display, one slot and no radio module will receive three points for the same weight. The date is also important - if I am rating a 1.3-Mpix integrated camera today, it will receive 10 points because there is nothing better available. Half a year later, when 2-Mpix integrated cameras will be available, this one would receive fewer points.

If you would like to comment on the evaluation, please join the discussion. I am not doing it for my own pleasure but to make it easier for you to choose a new device. If you think it is a wrong idea, just let me know:)

Rating
Na,e: HP iPAQ h6340
Type: Pocket PC Phone Edition
Class: High end
Date: January 6, 2005
Design, user friendliness
Design: 8
Dimensions: 8
Weight: 6
Buttons, user comfort: 7
Assembly quality: 9
Performance, memory
Processor: 1
Free RAM: 4
Free ROM: 4
Display
Resolution: 5
Size: 7
Quality (indoors): 7
Quality (outdoors): 9
Podsvícení: 8
Dotyková vrstva: 9
Audio
Microphone: 8
Loudspeaker: 7
Headphones output: 10
Communication:
USB: 8
Infra: 7
Bluetooth: 10
WiFi: 6
Phone
GSM: 7
GPRS: 8
General: 7
Battery, power settings
Features: 10
Battery life: 10
Expandability
General: 9
Software
System, settings: 6
Bonus apps in ROM: 8
Bonus apps in CD: 4
Accessories
Quantity: 9
Quality: 9
Other
Overall impression: 6
Manufacturer support: 9
Price/performance ratio 4
Total
HP iPAQ h6340 7,25 out of 10

Notes :: Rating on the scale from 1 to 10. The higher the figure, the closer to the ideal. If a device receives 10 points for "Design", it means it is beauty from heaven. On the other hand, if it receives 10 points for "Weight", it means it is extremely light.

Well, that's about all I can think of...

Conclusion

Let's recap. The HP iPAQ h6340 is not a bad device, by no means. The strategy to compensate long battery life by low performance is understandable. Some features could have been implemented differently, some could have better. But you can say this about almost every device. Yet I have a rather mixed feeling about it. The excellent battery life is a big plus. The question is whether the sacrifice is acceptable. Technical problems with the telephone are annoying. Hopefully, upgraded drivers will fix the problems but it has been just too long since the device was introduced to excuse them. In any case, it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons:)

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