An Honest Review of the HP RX4240 PDA

If nothing else, the 4000 series has nice styling

Somewhere in 2006, HP released it’s RX4000 series PDAs or Mobile Media Companions. This device is a non-PDA-phone which comes in two models. The MMC includes a good selection of wireless and multimedia choices. While this unit is deemed by HP as an “everyday user” product, I have not found it to be all that comfortable to work with.

Since purchasing the RX4240 some months ago, I have compiled a mental list of pros and cons to comment about. Rather than re-list the hardware specs which are easily found on countless Web sites. Here is one of those countless sites which I visited for specs, photos, etc. while in the period of indecision (be patient, the site is a slow loader!). Rather than go into all of that detail, I’d rather just give my assessment. So let’s start with the cons since that is always my primary interest during all product reviews.

  • Wireless (not 100% reliable)
    • Getting a connection to my router is unreliable. There have been many occasions when a soft reset of the RX4240 was necessary to get successfully connected. Note: I have no problem with my other wireless devices, so that eliminates the router as the source of the problem.
  • The Overall Design (awkward at best)
    • The buttons are poorly placed, hard to work with or perhaps just there to fill a void on the outside of the case.
      • For example, the button to change the screen orientation is too close to the power button.
      • The Scroll/Selection wheel is stiff and unresponsive. For that reason I abandoned its use.
      • Other buttons (in my opinion) just take up space. Selecting any application with the stylus is easier than playing with a thumb wheel located in an odd spot.
    • Holding the device for any period of time is tiring. Its landscape equivalent is a lot like holding a deck of cards “the long way”. Portrait mode is better ergonomically but not much fun for using the Media Player to watch videos or running the photo slide show.
    • When connected via USB the desktop Auto_Sync process does not have a “disable” option (at least I have not found it yet). So the choices are to remove the application from desktop startup or shut the app down manually after desktop boot (counter-intuitive I’d say).
    • Auto-Sync also causes the unit to power on periodically even if the intent of connecting via USB may have been to only slow-charge the battery.
    • The stylus is poorly located. In landscape mode the stylus is on the lower left hand corner of the back of the unit. In portrait the orientation its location is the lower right back corner. This is better but still awkward.
    • I get the impression that part of the design team focused on portrait orientation such as the pleacement of the stylus and thumb-wheel but the product logo and (some) applications just look better in landscape orientation.
    • The Rx4240 has no camera (although I really don’t consider this a con). I have never liked the quality of any of my phone/PDA cameras.
  • The pros list could be longer but I won’t bother stating the obvious.
    • The large 2.8 QVGA screen is clear and sharp. Kudos
    • Persistent storage during dead battery occurrences is a huge asset. Kudos on this one also.
    • Software installation under Windows Mobile 5 has been reliable and easy to perform.
    • The desktop Auto-Sync (via USB) is also reliable and consistent (unlike a Palm V that I had some time ago).
    • The RX4240 is bundled with a subset of Internet Explorer, Media Player, Photo Manager and the usual productivity tools.
    • Overall Windows Mobile 5 O/S is easily mastered and for a PDA the O/S does not lack in performance or the features one would expect from a Windows driven PDA.
  • 3rd party applications.
    • Skype ( runs well as long as the EQ and other special Mic functions are disabled. The correct version is also required (according to Skype Tech Support it’s version to maintain a reliable connection.
    • Airscanner AntiVirus is a good, fast and reliable virus scanning application. I have not investigated signature updates yet. Airscanner is not “freeware” which us Hams readily gravitate toward.
    • Hitchhiker is supposed to find and “auto-magically” connect to open Wireless Access Points (WAP’s) “yet another acronym” wherever you may be. More to follow on my review as I become more familiar with it.
    • Also check out WiFiFoFum, (yup that’s really the name of the application) I did. As a side note I checked the Hitchhiker site yesterday and found that it was down. If this happens to you, message me and I will email the copy which I downloaded.
  • Of course when it comes to applications, I am always looking for Ham Radio related applications. Has anyone heard of Echolink for Windows Mobile 5? ( Just Kidding)
    • If you get a chance, check out the link to the right of this article. If you are not familiar with him, n0hr is a developer and has a site which contains (among many other things) Amateur radio themes for Windows Mobile 5.
    • n0hr also gives away other Ham Radio (XP desktop) software. One of my desktop (Browser) favorites is PropFire. Check out this link if you are interested in propagation statistics.
    • PocketDigi… Just downloaded it and will review soon.
  • Overall, I’d rate the RX4540 about a 3.5 out of 5.