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Designed not to be accidentally pressed, the four separate keys have a nice firm tactile response. The joystick, however, is a bit different. [Left], [Right] and [Enter] commands are firm, similar to the other keys, but the [Up] and [Down] motions are different; softer. This is likely because the joystick doubles as the equivalent of a vertical scroll wheel in most Pocket PC applications, and the designers didn’t want the other motions to be accidentally pressed. Buttons are positioned a little low for comfortable channel surfing, but are still workable.
The bottom of the remote sports two complicated-looking connectors. The small one is used for recharging and docking with a full-sized computer, while the larger one is for attaching optional items such as keyboards, wireless networking, memory expansion, modems, extended batteries, et cetera. A tiny reset button to the right can be used to reboot the machine in case of a crash (something that Microsoft products are rumored to do).
Recharge your clicking experience.
Included with the iPAQ is an elegant desktop docking cradle that both recharges the unit and connects it to a full-sized computer. Both serial and fast USB connectors are provided. The Windows driver required is a generic one intended for all Pocket PC based systems, so compatibility should be widespread. Although only Windows-based PCs are supported out-of-the-box, it looks as if some third-party products are available that will connect a Pocket PC to a Mac. The cradle features vertical slots designed to guide the unit down onto the connector, but even so, a successful docking required finesse.
If the cradle is inconvenient, you can also plug the AC power pack directly into the iPAQ for quick recharges. A large LED on the front of the handheld unit flashes during recharging and glows solid when finished.
The H3950 uses a next-generation Lithium Polymer battery. Lithium Polymer is a new type of battery based on Lithium Ion technology. Where Lithium Ion batteries required a rectangular shape, due to their liquid chemical composition, Lithium Polymer uses a new technique that allows it to take on irregular shapes that can be moulded into any space available. Like Lithium Ion, Lithium Polymer is completely memory free and packs more juice per ounce than NiMH or NiCad.
Official Compaq specifications are inexplicably vague on battery life expectations and basically say that it “depends on usage”. One number I found indicates that users can expect about 14 hours of running time from the 1400mAh cell, but with heavy LCD and backlight usage I’d expect a lower number. So, plan on recharging the unit every week or two during normal remote control use. Detailed battery level statistics can be found on one of the Pocket PC’s settings screens, along with an estimated remaining running time.
Since the 64mb storage memory on the iPAQ is volatile – meaning it’s wiped out unless power is continually applied – you really wouldn’t want to let the unit run completely dry. Fortunately, UEI thought of that and actually stores Nevo’s data files in the “Compaq File Store”, which utilities the 32mb non-volatile flash ROM (48mb on the H3970). The handheld can also be fully backed up to a PC.