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June 23, 2004

HP iPaq h5555 review, worth while accessories. and programs

After the premature death of my Palm IIIc and looking at the benefits of and software available on the Pocket PC platform I decided to make the switch and get a Pocket PC PDA. After lots of research and speaking with friends that own PPC devices I decided on the HP iPaq h5555.

Processor: Intel® XScale™ 400MHz
Operating system: Microsoft® Windows® Mobile 2003 Premium for Pocket PC
Memory: 128MB SDRAM, 48MB Flash ROM
Display: 3.8" 240 x 320 16-bit color transflective TFT LCD
Weight: 7.29 oz.
Battery: Removable, rechargeable Lithium-Ion (1250 mAh)
Expansion: Secure Digital (SD) card slot, SDIO, MMC, and PC card support, CF and other iPAQ expansion packs
Integrated wireless: Integrated Bluetooth™ (ver. 1.1), WLAN 802.11b
Security: Integrated biometric fingerprint reader
Input mechanism: Soft keyboard, voice recorder
Included accessories: AC Adapter, battery, charger adapter, USB cradle/charger, iPAQ Pocket PC companion CD
I've had the h5555 for about two months now and been using it on a daily basis. Overall I'm happy with it despite a few quirks and problems encountered.

My biggest issue with it has been its built in wireless card. I've found it slow to detect open wireless LANs and sometimes it wouldn't even detect them at all, even if the signal is strong. HP Tech Support led me to believe this problem was a caused by a program I installed. Their advice was to perform a hard reset on the device which I did. This caused more problems. Since reseting the device it wouldn't complete synchronization. Worse it would sometimes crash upon completing the sync. After reinstalling active sync a few times, repairing Outlook and performing many more hard resets and attempting to get the sync to complete properly the device just locked up and wouldn't even hard reset anymore. At least HP was cooperative and picked up the device last Friday and I got it back today. Not bad turn around and I didn't have to pay anything for the shipping either.

Today I figured out that the syncing problem was caused by a corrupt calendar entry and HP said the wireless problem turned out to be due to a defect (which HP took care of.) Its been my experience that when things go badly wrong OEM tech support will often do little to resolve the problem and try to blame everything on you. Many times they won't even issue a service order without giving you a run around. I've found the opposite from HP despite the problems encountered at first. Overall I'm very satisfied with how they handled the situation and the professionalism and knowledge of their iPaq support personnel.

In my opinion one of the best features of the h5555 is its biometric fingerprint reader. Once programmed and you've had a chance to practice using it, you can gain access to your PDA a lot faster than you can type in your password. If desired you also have the ability to require the password to be entered in addition to your finger print. Also, nothing beats the wow factor of this feature. It simply impresses people.

While I find it invaluable to have the Car adapter so you can charge the unit while in the car I find that my favorite accessory is the Foldable keyboard. Its a royal pain in the ass to use the on screen keyboard with your stylus as each letter is pretty small and it takes a lot of concentration to hit the proper key. The Foldable keyboard makes typing much faster and easier once you get used to using its smaller keys and unique layout. I estimate I'm able to type about 60-70 words per minute on it (down from 110 wpm on my desktop's Logitech diNovo.)

In closing I would recommend the h5555 if you can afford and find it. HP and most retailers seems to always be out of stock of it as corporations and government contracts gobble them up simply for the added security of the finger print reader.

Essential PPC software:

This list is not the ultimate or all inclusive list of PPC software available. Its simply a list of software I find essential and worth the free download or purchase price.

My favorite program is VOShoppingList and Windows ShoppingList. Use them on your Pocket PC and desktop to keep track of anything you need to pick up the next time you're at the store. You can put in your own items, or choose from a list of predefined items. Also, you can optionally put in the estimated price of each item and how many you want, and let VOShoppingList tell you how much you can expect to pay when you check out. I've tried a lot of the free Shopping List programs and other List Programs and I haven't found anything else that compares.

eWallet stores, protects, and back ups your important information so you can find it very easily as soon as you need it. All data is encrypted and password-protected for security. Plus, you can access all your stored information or enter it on your Windows PC and easily synchronize it with your handheld! I use it to store passwords, serial numbers, membership and identification information, credit cards, frequent flier numbers, PINs, lock combinations, and lots more.

SBP Pocket Plus is one of the coolest Today plug-ins I've seen. It will also make the close button really close programs and create ZIP support in File Explorer.

SBP Imageer is the most powerful image organizer and viewer I've seen for the PPC. One of the nicest features is the one-click slide show with smooth transitions. You can even do picture editing (red-eye, brightness, contrast, and more), batch editing of photos, web publishing, and rich picture notes (text, drawing, and sound.)

IP Dashboard is a Today Screen plug-in that enables you to quickly and easily monitor the state of all your wireless and wired network connections. It is essential for anyone who connects to wireless networks from their Pocket PC!

VXIPConfig is an IP configuration tool. With it you can view the properties of the PPC's network adapters, IP, ICMP, TCP and UDP statistics and Release/Renew the adapter's DHCP lease. Like IP Dashboard, if you don't connect to wireless networks this program will be useless to you. But if you do, you'll find it very handy.

VXUtil is a suite of internet utilities including, DNS Audit, DNS Lookup, Finger, Get HTML, Info, IP Subnet Calculator, Password Generator, Ping, Ping Sweep, Port Scanner, Quote, Time Service, Trace Route, Wake On LAN, and Whois! Best of all its free for personal use. Like IP Dashboard, VXIPConfig is only useful if you connect to wireless networks.

MiniStumbler allows you to detect Wireless Local Area Networks. It can be used to verify that your network is set up the way you intended, find locations with poor coverage in your WLAN, detect other networks that may be causing interference on your network, Detect unauthorized "rogue" access points in your workplace, help aim directional antennas for long-haul WLAN links, and best of all it can be used for War Driving. Personally, I haven't had much success with it but many of my friends swear by it.

Tipster is a simple tip and tax calculator that's easy to use and is free.

I'd like to thank Vinny for turning me on to SBP Pocket Plus, SBP Imageer, VXIPConfig, and VXUtil.

Whats on your Pocket PC? Let me know in the comments or trackbacks which PPC apps you can't live without.
Posted in Product Reviews & Purchases by usrbingeek at 2004-06-23 22:01 ET (GMT-5) | 1 Comments | Permalink


Cool. I purchased the 5455 (5555 replaced it) in may 2003. I have been mostly happy with it except for the little quirks. I usually don't recommend the device, because of them though. I have had many problems with wm2003's wlan control panel, which sometimes shows aps as connected, even when not in range. Also a problem with Terminal Services Client where after extended use, it would lock up the device to the point of not even soft resetting. The only way to access the device again, is to remove the battery, then replace. This will cause the device to hard reset, even though its not supposed to. But I would say I am happy with my device.

Posted by: Brian Bitzkowski at September 19, 2004 08:02 PM

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