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Why I Won’t Buy Another HP iPAQ PocketPC

I started using a PDA in 1996. The original Palm Pilot was a great device and virtually reinvented the category. I was a loyal Palm user for 8 years. I upgraded a couple of times and was generally quite happy.

Last year I decided the Palm platform was fading and the PocketPC was the future. I went out and bought an HP iPAQ 4355. This is a great little device and one that’s worked flawlessly for me from the start; I’m able to connect via WiFi even if I don’t have my laptop handy. I also put all my meeting notes, business plans, etc., on it, along with audio books, MP3 files and more. So why am I such an unhappy customer? It all has to do with Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 2003, Second Edition and HP’s decision to not support it on this device.

Windows Mobile 2003, Second Edition was released last year. It includes a number of useful features that I wanted to take advantage of on my iPAQ. For example, the ability to toggle between landscape and portrait display mode is built into Windows Mobile 2003, Second Edition. (I’m aware of at least one third-party add-on that does the same thing, but I tried it and it was clunky at best.) Despite the fact that the iPAQ 4355 model was only a few months old and was an “Editor’s Choice” in most of the handheld magazines, HP decided to not support Windows Mobile 2003, Second Edition on it. I’ve been told by Microsoft that they can’t really control the hardware vendors. (That seems hard to believe, don’t you think?!) HP officially told me I should consider upgrading to a newer model in their iPAQ line. WRONG! I’m not giving HP another nickel.

Think about it: When was the last time you bought a brand new, state-of-the-art computer and within 3 months it was made obsolete by a new version of the operating system? I’ve never had that problem with a computer and I never had that problem with the Palm platform. Why do Microsoft and their hardware partners think they can be so arrogant about this? OK, no need to reply to that…I already know the answer.

As the saying goes, I’m voting with my wallet next time and it won’t be for an HP product. It’s also unlikely I’ll stick with the PocketPC/Windows Mobile platform. I might pry open my wallet later this year…any suggestions on a good alternative?

Comments

Helmus

I have the HP 4155 model...I liked it for a while, but frankly I have to say I miss my Palm...I had a Palm handheld since the second Palm came out (never get version one of anything) and you know, despite the wifi and the bluetooth conveniences, I am not the happiest camper...I look forward to recommendations too...right now I have my eyes on a Treo...

bear

Joe, you should look into a BlackBerry. I keep all of my information (contacts, appointments, and to do's)and I can access email on one device. I would recommend the 7100t.

Joe Wikert

Actually, I've got a BlackBerry. Unfortunately, however, our IT department opted for the stripped down 5700 series: it's monochrome, no phone and fairly slow, especially when connecting to the web.

To tell you the truth though, I'd prefer the functionality of the PocketPC over the BlackBerry. Sure, it's great getting my e-mail on the BlackBerry, but I like having MP3's, audio books, etc., loaded up on my PocketPC. I think the device I'm heading for is a SmartPhone.

Dave Taylor

Not to sound like a technological luddite, because I'm sure not, but I can't help wonder if you couldn't do without a device at all. I have a Palm unit that I've had for years, and it sits and collects dust...

Joe Wikert

Dave, no way! I got hooked on the old Franklin Day Planner years ago and was always in search of an electronic replacement. I'm a to-do list freak and I've got way too many contacts, business documents, etc., loaded up to ever live without a handheld device. I put all my meeting notes directly into my PocketPC -- I'm sure I've saved loads of notebook paper over the years.

I know lots of people prefer to carry their laptops around and take notes that way. I'd rather carry something I can slip into my pocket if necessary. It would take me a long time to learn how to live without the darned thing!

wilson ng

Dave,

This happens all the time --- there has been several instances where you buy a gadget and pretty soon a new model comes out. I guess you evaluate the value of what you buy by the value you got, but we can't be comparing all the time...

P. Kanavos

HP treats its PocketPC customers as 3rd rate customers - at best! They are so hooked up on selling big iron they can't be bothered with "trivia"!
I bought an iPAQ 3760 a few years back. When PocketPC 2003 came out, HP decided not to offer an upgrade for no valid technical reason (they did create a proof-of-concept version). It comes as no surprise they tried to pull the same thing again.
When I bought by iPAQ 3760, HP was ahead of the competition. Now, its devices are not much better, a lot more expensive, and their support for future OS versions is ...

Douglas Reilly

I fear that HP is not alone in not offering upgrades to Windows Mobile SE. Viewsonic does not, and lots of other device makers are not. Unfortunately, any sort of update on the Pocket PC tends to be a nightmare. I fried 2 T-Mobile Pocket PC Phones on the way to getting Windows Mobile first edition update going.

Joe Wikert

Doug, I think you're right. It's probably not so much "an HP thing" as it is a "greed thing" but the various manufacturers. I do feel like this wasn't as much of an issue on the Palm platform though. As I mentioned in the original post, I owned a few different Palm models over the years and *never* felt as alienated as I've felt with my one PocketPC purchase.

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