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HP iPAQ rz1710 Navigator

  • Editors' rating
    7.0 Very good


  • Provides all you need for navigation in a single, well-priced package


  • Neither Bluetooth nor Wi-Fi built in
  • short on memory
  • navigation kit restricted to in-car use
  • a wired solution in an increasingly wireless world

The iPAQ rz1710 was one of the first handhelds from Hewlett-Packard not to be squarely aimed at professionals when it appeared a little over a year ago. It was very much an entry-level device, and although available at an attractive price, HP had clearly cut some corners to achieve this. The device has recently been given a new lease of life, and more relevance to businesses, by being issued with everything needed for navigation -- a GPS receiver, navigation software and car attachments.

The rz1710 itself is a regular-sized and fairly lightweight Pocket PC. At just 120g it feels comfortable in the hand, while its 7cm width by 11.4cm height by 1.3cm depth won’t cause any trouble in a pocket or bag. The hardware design is minimalist, with the rz1710’s black and silver casing unadorned by side buttons, scroll wheels or sliders. The only buttons are a power switch on the upper edge and four application shortcuts and a round navigation pad beneath the screen. Faint markings on the navigation pad and its central select button are a clue that these can be used to manipulate Windows Media Player (version 9). The navigation side of the kit comes in two parts. Kirrio provides the car-mounting kit, GPS receiver and cigarette lighter power adapter, while Via Michelin supplies the navigation software. The car attachment is sturdy and effective but somewhat bulky. It fixes to the car window or dashboard using a sucker mechanism and swivels in three planes, enabling precise positioning. It has a built-in speaker, too, which makes up for the relatively low volume of the rz1710 itself. Unfortunately, the GPS receiver attaches to the car mount rather than the handheld, which means you can only use the navigation software in your vehicle. And since the rz1710 doesn't have Bluetooth built in, you can’t substitute another GSP receiver for ex-vehicle navigation.

The rz1710 is a basic Windows Mobile 2003 SE handheld, powered by a modest 203MHz Samsung S3C2410 processor. On-board memory is limited to 32MB each of ROM and RAM. HP claims 25MB of user-accessible memory, although our review model actually provided a little more -- 27.81MB, just over 10MB of which came from the ROM. There's not much software over and above the standard Windows Mobile 2003 bundle. HP's Profiles for switching between preset configurations is handy, as is the Today-screen-based HP Task Switch that lets you toggle between open applications or close them to conserve memory. Image Zone, for viewing images, seems a little superfluous as there's no built-in camera. Via Michelin’s navigation software covers the UK and is supplied on a 128MB SD card and on a backup CD. It starts to install as soon as you insert the card into the rz1710's top-mounted SD slot; after setting preferences such as the measuring system (miles or kilometres) and map type (3D or 2D), you're ready to go. There's only 5.4MB of free memory on the Via Michelin card, so you'll probably need to invest in further SD cards for data storage, backup and so on. You’ll need to buy some software to backup to SD too. When you reinsert the Via Michelin SD card, the software automatically initialises and asks if you want to run it.

The Via Michelin software is on the good side of adequate, but we can't hand out too many plaudits. The interface is well designed for a Pocket PC screen, making frequent use of large, finger-tappable icons; however, you will need to use the stylus when entering a destination. The routes generated by the software worked fine, while spoken instructions were perfectly audible thanks to the speaker on the car mount. However, in these days of Bluetooth and integrated GPS receivers, the multitude of wires makes for a somewhat messy in-car solution. Also, as already noted, the GPS receiver's mounting system makes it unsuitable for use outside of a car. The rz1710's battery life is one of its best features, which is just as well as the battery is not removable. We constantly looped MP3 music and got a respectable 5 hours 7 minutes of life. The rz1710 is powered via the cigarette lighter adapter when used for navigation, but this battery life should prove adequate in handheld mode.