HP iPAQ Evaluation
One of the things I was quite interested in was syncing a Windows Mobile device with a Mac. While it would be pretty simple for device OEM's to make an iSync plugin for their devices, or for Microsoft to provide one like they do for Windows, none of them do. On the one hand, this makes sense. Most Windows Mobile devices are sold to corporations, and their sales to individuals are weak at best. Most enterprise environments want the complete Exchange + Outlook + Outlook Mobile stack, so support for OS X or Linux isn't needed.
I was going to write up an article about the significant issues browsing in IE on Windows Mobile 5. Before I could write it though, Ars Technica beat me to it. The article is completely correct; Pocket Internet Explorer is pretty much worthless. I've only found one good feature: when you download a program's setup CAB file, it offers to open it to install automatically.
Back when wifi was first becoming standard on Windows laptops, it seemed that every laptop had it's own user interface for connecting to a network. On many machines, it usually went like this:
- There was the configuration provided by the manufacturer of the wireless card.
- Often, the OEM of the laptop included their own configuration tool as well.
- Finally, once Windows XP SP2 came out, there was the wireless configuration built into the operating system.
Today I thought I'd try setting up the iPAQ to read PDF files. After using Linux and OS X so much, I'd forgotten that Windows-based OS's don't include a PDF reader. It's inexcusable given that Adobe has released the specification under very liberal license terms.
Sometimes, I decide to stop being a rebel. I follow the instructions, pretend OS X and Linux don't exist, and do as I'm told. I decided to take that role, that of someone who just doesn't care about the how or the why, and just wants things to work.
The first thing I did was take a look at the manual. I'm running Vista Business on my sacrificial Windows box. I noticed that the manual only mentioned Windows XP, and didn't I see a "Sync Center" in the control panel? After all, a lot of hardware broke with the update to Vista; no point in installing old, XP-centric drivers and risking breaking my system. I opened up the Sync Center, and saw "Set up sync partnership" as an option. Great! On the iPAQ, in the Bluetooth options, there was the ability to create an "ActiveSync" partnership. Clicking the help link on the Vista machine, I see that ActiveSync has been replaced by the Mobile Device Center on Vista.
I use the Bluetooth control panel to connect to the iPAQ; it works pretty well. According to the Vista help, from the iPAQ, I should be able to create an ActiveSync partnership, and it should show up in the Sync Center.
Except it doesn't.
One of the unexpected features I've found in the HP iPAQ hx2790c is that it has a dedicated button for voice recordings. Given the issues with using the device with one hand, being able to record quick notes by holding a button should be very useful. Unfortunately, the hardware uses a button which is very difficult to press, and the software expects the button to be "push to record", and not a toggle. While recording notes over a 15 minute period, at least a third of my notes were cut short as the button became unpressed.
Update: I found out how to get the battery information in two clicks. Click the Start menu, and click "Today". The Today screen shows some system information, including battery levels. It only shows a percentage, and not an estimate of the time remaining.
Today I borrowed the iPAQ purchased for the ICC lab. After performing a full reset (so I could see the "out of the box" experience), I proceeded to set it up and see what it could do after a few hours of use. So far, the experience has been pretty poor. Here are some of the issues I noticed in the process of connecting to the uog-wifi network and browsing Slashdot: