Compaq: They had me...

... and they lost me. Take a look at my old haunt Ars Technica for Caesar's review of Compaq's iPaq 3630. If you're saying "what's that?" then go read the review; the iPaq is a really sweet PDA with a ~200Mhz processor, 32MB of RAM, and a 4096 color screen.

I've been curious (read: trying to ignore its existence so I wouldn't be tempted to buy it) about this thing for a while, so Caesar's review is well-timed (for me, at least) and informative. I was salivating at the gorgeous screen (I've looked at one in the store, it's beautiful) and the speed, and then I hit what I consider to be a deal-breaker: The battery life. Check this out:

How long does a charge last? I could get two hours of reasonable use out of the unit before it clunked. 'Tis short, I know. Why? Chalk it up to that beautiful TFT. You don't get 4096 colors fo' nuttin'.
Man, two hours. That's not cool at all, not for me anyway. I get two weeks or more out of my Visor (probably lower than some other folks, because I'm using rechargeables, not alkalines). Yeah, I know, that's two hours of constant use, but typically that's a few days at best.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the iPaq's battery is built-in, so you can't just swap in a fresh pair of AAA's. Caesar also reported software problems with the cradle when the iPaq was low on batteries; not a good thing considering the cradle is how you charge it.

Caesar points out that some people can do just fine with the two hour limit, and it really depends on your usage pattern. If you're thinking you might be that kinda guy and want the skinny on the thing, go check out the review; chances are good it'll answer all your questions.

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