Review: HP iPAQ 110 Classic - PDA Like It's 1999
It was the cell phone that killed off the PDA, as phones grew to take on PDA features and we collectively decided that we didn't want to carry two handheld devices at the same time. But the iPAQ 110 reminds us of what we gave up when we let the PDA go: the 240 x 320 pixel, 3.5-inch diagonal screen seems impressively large compared to most smartphones, and using a stylus with handwriting recognition is a pleasure after years of thumb-typing on Chicklet-sized keys.
HP hasn't updated the design terribly much, giving the iPAQ 110 Classic a look that would have been right at home in 1999. It measure 2.7- by 0.5- by 4.6-inches and weighs 3.9 ounces, which makes it thinner and lighter than anything comparable at the time.
The large screen sits over a directional click pad and four dedicated buttons for opening the calendar, opening the Windows menu, clicking OK, or opening the e-mail app. You'll find an SD card slot on the left and a power button and audio note button on the right. The top hold the stylus and a standard 3.5mm port for headphones or a microphone. That's it for controls -- the styling is kept elegantly simple. There's no camera lens on the back; there are no slide-out phone controls.
The iPAQ 110 Classic runs on Windows Mobile 6 Classic and is powered by a 624-MHz Marvell PXA310 processor. It comes with 256MB Flash ROM memory, 195MB of which was free when we got the device.
We liked the improved Windows interface right off the bat, as the home screen lets you see at a glance how much power and space is left on the device. You can also change the brightness and turn WiFi or Bluetooth on or off from the home screen. Of course, this screen still handles the traditional job of telling you what tasks you have to do that day and how many e-mails you have unread.
The iPAQ 110 has some connectivity options you wouldn't have found in 1999, including 802.11b/g WiFi and Bluetooth. If you're only going to be using it in home and office locations that have wireless networks, you won't miss the lack of cellular connectivity.
You can use Bluetooth to help a notebook that lacks WiFi go online, and you can use the device to place VOIP phone calls. Telephone software isn't loaded onto the iPAQ by default, but the installer on the included CD can do the job.
Getting in touch with our PDA past was fun, and showed us how unproductive many smartphones are for anything except messaging. The included Office Mobile collection (with pocket versions of Excel, PowerPoint, and Word) is far more usable on a device this size.
HP apparently sees some life left in the PDA market ,and we hope it's right. Smartphones are getting smarter, but they're still not a substitute for a good PDA.