Hewlett-Packard iPaq 310 Travel Companion

GCN Lab review

The most underrated aspect of a technology product is its documentation. Even the simplest product will require you at some point to go online or check the user manual for the answer to an obscure question.

In the case of the iPaq 310 Travel Companion, I found myself constantly searching the sloppiest user reference I have ever seen for answers to questions that were not that obscure, such as how to change my point of origin in the Global Positioning System application.

My mixed feelings about the 310 stem from the fact that I enjoyed its simple, custom HP user interface that masks its cumbersome Windows CE 5.0 operating system.

HP's improvements on this interface are phenomenal. They make it simple to learn all about the handheld's seemingly endless features, including the GPS engine; cell phone pairing capability; video, picture and MP3 playback; and Outlook contacts compatibility.

The true test of the handheld came when I took it on a weeklong cross-country business trip. Although I enjoyed the GPS while driving through states I had never previously visited, I found myself frequently stuck in the 'Please wait' mode while the 310 paired with my phone or attempted to get its bearings.

A couple of times I had to reset the device because it froze on that message.

Eventually I got so tired of not being able to use it that I switched to another handheld and just stuck with its cool media functions, such as video playback. For $399, I'd rather get a dedicated media player.

Measuring 3.4 inches by 4.3 inches by 0.7 inches and weighing only 6.6 ounces, the 310 is a perfect size for a travel companion, if only the 600 MHz Centrality Titan processor, 128M synchronous dynamic RAM main memory and 2G of Flash ROM were enough to power all the unit's features efficiently. One big plus is the 4.3-inch, 16- bit RGB (65,000 colors) transmissive TFT, WVGA 800 x 480 pixel anti-glare touch-screen display.

Ultimately, however, all those features aren't enough to make up for the issues and cost associated with the handheld.


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