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HP iPAQ Pocket PC H3950

  • Editors' rating
    7.3 Very good


  • XScale processor
  • fits existing iPAQ sleeves
  • consumer IR
  • built-in Secure Digital card slot
  • terrific screen.


  • Expensive
  • no built-in CompactFlash card slot.

Compare HP's iPAQ H3950 to the company's iPAQ H3835, and you'll notice two important upgrades: a new, transflective LCD and the faster Intel XScale processor, which runs at 400MHz instead of 206MHz. That's all well and good, and we expected a price bump for these improvements. Unfortunately, the £500 H3950 is not only expensive, but it costs slightly more than competing products such as Toshiba's e740, which has more features, including Wi-Fi connectivity.

Cosmetically, the H3950 looks identical to its 3800-series brethren. At 185g, it's fairly compact but not as lightweight as Toshiba's e310 or the Asus MyPal A600. Like the 3800-series, this handheld has a sleek silver case and a dark-plastic bulge at the top of the screen that houses the speaker and the Secure Digital (SD) card slot. The nicely designed fold-over screen-cover sleeve remains on-board, and most users will prefer it to the slipcover protective cases that ship with the majority of Pocket PCs. Another plus: since the 3950 is the same shape as earlier iPAQs, this model is compatible with all existing iPAQ sleeves and accessories. As noted, the one major external change is the screen: it's transflective, meaning that it's backlit for use indoors and in dimly lit situations but also reflects ambient light for viewing outdoors in sunlight. The 2.26in.-by-3.02in. LCD is brighter, has better contrast, and boasts more vivid colours than those of previous iPAQs and Toshiba's XScale-based competitor, the Pocket PC e740. It's also a bit easier to tap accurately on the new iPAQ's screen because the LCD and the digitizer -- the glass or plastic that you tap with the stylus -- are closer together. The sidelight used to illuminate the reflective displays found on other Pocket PCs requires a larger gap between the LCD and the digitizer. The unit comes with both a cradle and a relatively compact power adapter. We have no major complaints about either, but if you want to recharge your iPAQ on the road, you'll need to attach a small, easy-to-lose dongle to the end of the power cord in order to adapt it to the device's port.

Under the bonnet, you'll find Intel's new XScale processor, the 400MHz PXA250, along with 64MB of RAM and 32MB of ROM. The additional speed will eventually enable better video playback, more sophisticated gaming and better data-security systems, but you'll need to wait for new applications that take advantage of this chip (see the Performance section for more detail on the 3950's processor). As noted, you get one SD/MMC card expansion slot, but there’s no second CompactFlash slot as on Toshiba's e740. Step up to the £595 H3970, and you'll get an integrated Bluetooth chip as well as 48MB of ROM. In both the 3950 and the 3970, not all of the ROM is used for the system software: the remaining memory is employed as non-volatile storage space so that you won't lose critical data if you run the battery all the way down -- a nice plus. In the Settings menu, there's a program called Permanent PIM that lets you keep your contacts and appointments in system ROM. However, Permanent PIM can't store files, applications or other data. iPAQs generally come with a healthy set of extra software on top of the standard Pocket PC 2002 applications, which include Pocket versions of Outlook, Word and Excel, as well as Windows Media Player and Reader (for viewing e-books). iPAQ Backup is a more comprehensive backup program that lets you store all kinds of data on an SD card so that if you ever run the device's batteries down completely or hard-reset the device by accident, you can easily restore your files. iPAQ Image Viewer does just what you'd expect -- it allows you to view JPEGs from digital cameras as well as create photo albums and slide shows. Finally, Nevo -- with a little help from the H3950's consumer-grade infrared -- turns your iPAQ into a universal remote control for your home-entertainment system. The 3950 is no Philips Pronto, but it's easy to use, and if you have the patience to program it, this handheld makes for a serviceable remote. HP also bundles IBM's Embedded ViaVoice Mobility Suite, which lets you dictate commands to your calendar, your contacts and your in-box. The iPAQ can even read back the contact names, numbers and addresses that you request. Also included on the CD-ROM are a special data-encryption package, Insignia Java Virtual Machine, and other useful software.

The H3950's XScale processor is supposed to offer not only faster performance but also energy conservation. In our tests, this model fared slightly better than the 3800-series. Playing MP3s with the backlight set to 50 percent brightness, the H3950 lasted for 4 hours and 34 minutes before switching off; the H3835 lasted 4 hours, 2 minutes under the same conditions. That's not bad considering the H3950's better, brighter screen. All in all, we were very impressed with the iPAQ's transflective, TFT LCD, which is capable of displaying 65,536 colours at 320 by 240-pixel resolution and a 0.24mm pixel pitch. In fact, the 3950 has the best screen that we've seen to date on a handheld -- it's definitely superior to that of the Toshiba e740. When we played games such as Bounty Hunter 2009 Pinball and Tennis Addict, we noticed that the picture was sharper and the colours were more vivid. Still images also looked better. Many handhelds fail to produce really deep colours and have hazy-looking screens, but the 3950’s colours were deeper and more true to life. We were also pleased with the processor's performance, although it wasn't the best we've seen to date. Games certainly played smoothly, with few or no hiccups, and MP3 playback was also fine. But while video performance was generally acceptable, the system faltered a bit when we challenged it with an MPEG encoded at a high frame rate. In scenes involving lots of action and movement, the 3950 stuttered and dropped frames. This is equivalent to the video performance of the Toshiba e740 but slightly behind that of the Asus MyPal A600.


Packaged Quantity 1
Built-in Devices Display
Resolution 240 x 320
Pixel Pitch 0.24 mm
Type LCD display
Technology TFT active matrix
LCD Technology transflective
Diagonal Size 3.8 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 9.7 cm
Output Type color
Color Support 16-bit (64K gray levels)
Native Resolution 240 x 320
Technology SDRAM
Installed Size 64 MB
Max Supported Size 64 MB
Type XScale PXA250
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 400 MHz
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 10 - 90%
Type 5-way joystick, touchscreen
Input Device
Type 5-way joystick, touchscreen
Card Reader
Supported Flash Memory Cards SD Memory Card
Type power adapter
Min Operating Temperature 32 °F
Max Operating Temperature 104 °F
Brand Compaq
Product Line Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC
Model H3950
Localization English
Country Kits Latin America, United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Platform Windows
Handheld Type handheld
Diagonal Size 3.8 in
Pixel Pitch 0.24 mm
Color Support 16-bit (64K gray levels)
Wireless Connectivity IrDA
Compliant Standards C-Tick, FCC Class B certified, VCCI
Included Handheld Accessories stylus
Dimensions & Weight
Width 3.3 in
Depth 0.6 in
Height 5.3 in
Expansion / Connectivity
Device Type Docking cradle
Free 1
Free Qty 1
Included Expansion Base(s) docking cradle
Audio Output
Type speaker
Digital Audio Formats MP3
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 1 year warranty
Installed Size 32 MB
Audio Input
Type microphone
Physical Characteristics
Weight 6.49 oz
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows Mobile for Pocket PC 2002
Technology lithium polymer
Run Time (Up To) 14 hour(s)
Expansion Slots
Type SD Memory Card
Total Qty 1
Interface Provided
Interface headphones, serial RS-232
Qty 1
OS Provided
Type Microsoft Windows Mobile for Pocket PC 2002
PDA Software
Type ActiveSync 3.5, Backup, Bust'em, Calculator, Calendar, Clock, Contacts, File Explorer, Data Encryption Package, Image Viewer, Inbox, Infrared Beaming, Jeode Java Virtual Machine, MSN Messenger, Margi Presenter-to-Go (Trial), Memory, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Microsoft Reader for ebooks and audio books, Notes, Peacemaker Professional, Pocket Excel, Pocket Internet Explorer, Pocket Word, Quick View Plus, Solitaire, RealOne Player, Spell Checker, Tasks, Terminal Services Client, Utilities, VPN Client, Voice Recorder, Windows Media Player 8.0 for Pocket PC, iPAQ Task Manager, Xcellenet Device Management Agent (Trial), iPresenter PowerPoint Converter
Power Device
Type power adapter
Nominal Voltage AC 120/230 V
Frequency Required 50/60 Hz
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty, technical support
Service Included parts and labor, phone consulting
Location carry-in
Full Contract Period 1 year, 3 months