WHAT'S HOT: Compaq's original H3600 series IPaq Pocket PCs were breakthrough products that finally helped Microsoft's OS for handhelds make inroads into the Palm-dominated market, and the H3850 is a worthy successor. Based on the Pocket PC 2002 operating system, the H3850 includes a built-in Secure Digital slot for additional storage (and the coming slew of hardware add-ons, such as GPS modules and wireless networking cards). The H3850 ships with a slide-on module that includes a smoky plastic protective cover you can flip to the side (you can even move the hinge to change which side opens).
Compaq bundles a set of custom applications to help you manage the device: For example, a Dashboard app lets you display two days' worth of appointments, a program launcher, and power status on the opening screen. You also get voice recognition software, games, a presentation conversion app, a file encryption utility, and other third-party programs.
WHAT'S NOT: Without its plastic cover module, the H3850 is thinner and lighter--but much more difficult to sync since it doesn't fit properly into its syncing cradle. And unlike some new Pocket PCs that have both SD and CompactFlash slots built in, to add CompactFlash capability to the IPaq you must slide off the cover module and replace it with an expansion module. (However, there's also an expansion module for PC Cards, which most new Pocket PCs don't support.) Finally, like other Pocket PCs, the H3850 isn't cheap--especially if you factor in the additional adapters required to take advantage of the OS's powerful e-mail, messaging, and browser capabilities.
WHAT ELSE: The less-expensive H3700 series dispenses with the built-in SD slot and uses a 4,096-color display (in contrast to the 64,000-color display of the H3800 models). The H3700 also has a less-powerful, 950-mAH (milliampere-hour) rechargeable lithium polymer battery instead of the 1400-mAH battery of the H3800 series. Lower-end H3700 series models have 32MB of RAM, whereas the higher-end units and the H3800 series have 64MB.
Compaq has announced a new expansion pack that will add wireless data and voice capabilities on GSM/GPRS networks, such as those operated by Cingular and AT&T. Additional expansion packs accommodate Bluetooth, two PC Cards, a single PC Card, or CompactFlash. A slide-on keyboard like those popularized on RIM Blackberry devices is available for the H3800 series only.
UPSHOT: This Pocket PC is ideal for a corporate traveler who wants to stay connected and productive on the road, and who has the budget to pay for a powerful PDA and the wireless services that make it so useful.