My Windows Mobile History

This page contains the following sections:

My Windows Mobile History and Experience

I've been involved in Windows CE since very early. I had seen a Palm Pilot in 1996 or so, and wasn't thrilled with having to learn Graffiti. They were also relatively expensive, so I waited.

While browsing an online auction site in December 1997, I saw a Hitachi Handheld PC. It had a keyboard, so no Graffiti, a larger screen than Palms had, a 28.8 kbps modem and a PC Card slot. Best of all, it was "only" $285, so I bought it.

It was OK, but in April 1998, I saw what looked like a good deal on an auction site for a Sharp Mobilon 4500. It had a color screen and more. I bought it for over $400, but, after it arrived, I saw it was a monochrome Mobilon 4100. It was OK, but used AA batteries very quickly, and I decided to return it.

In June 1998, I saw a Mobilon 4500 for about $600 and jumped at it. It was great, with a 640x240 color screen, faster processor and supposedly faster modem. I say "supposedly" because it was a 33.6 kbps software modem, and using it slowed the rest of the system to a crawl; I could type several characters before they actually showed up on the screen. It wasn't that bad, though, as I rarely used the modem.

Unfortunately, the screen cracked from overuse sometime in 2000, I think. I could still use it for almost everything (one of the benefits of having a keyboard), but games with drag-and-drop were out.

I had seem the old Palm-sized PCs, and considered getting one, but they didn't thrill me. Without a keyboard, and with a smaller screen, they seemed so much less than my Mobilon; they were more like Palms. True, I couldn't take my Mobilon everywhere easily, but it did what I needed it to.

At my job in 2000, though, I saw a Jornada Pocket PC. It looked very cool, with a media player even. Still, I wasn't tempted enough to get one. Then I saw the iPAQ!

The iPAQ was bright and sexy, but also in such demand that people were paying more than list price. It also didn't have any built-in memory expansion, so I put off getting one. However, I came into some money in July 2001 (in other words, I got a severance package after getting laid off), so I looked into getting an iPAQ again. I was torn between the 3650, which only had 32 MB RAM but cost about $430, and the 3670, which had a whopping 64 MB RAM but cost over $550. In the end, I figured that $100 for 32 MB was too pricy, and 32 MB should be good enough; after all, my Mobilon had 16 MB memory and I got almost everything I wanted on that. Little did I know.

When Pocket PC 2002 was introduced in September 2001, it sounded great, but there were a few problems. First, it was too big to all fit in ROM, so I'd have to give up some RAM for everything -- and my RAM was pretty full. Second, Compaq was only giving free upgrades to people who bought an iPAQ after Pocket PC 2002 was introduced; they were going to charge $30 or $40 for the upgrade for everybody else, even though I had only had my iPAQ for two months. I decided the upgrade wasn't worth it.

I did want a new machine, however, and started looking into the iPAQ 3800 series. They had 64 MB RAM, 32 MB ROM and a new screen with more colors. I was torn between the 3850 and 3870. Was Bluetooth really worth $50, considering I didn't have any other Bluetooth devices? In the end, I decided that it was probably the future, and I'd have bragging rights with the best Pocket PC out there, so, in January 2002, I bought one for $650. I haven't regretted that decision.

I had been keeping a list of bookmarks for Windows CE and Pocket PC sites, but the list was getting unwieldy. I decided to do what I did with my regular bookmarks — turn them into a Web page. As long as I was making a Web page, I figured I should put it on the Web for the benefit of other Pocket PC fans, so, in late February 2002, I put the first version of this page online.

When the iPAQ 3900 series came out, it looked awesome, but there were two problems. First, the price -- $750 for the 3970! Second, the screen was incredible indoors, but was said to be slightly worse than the 3800 screens outdoors. As I use my iPAQ as a GPS device in the car, and find the screen too dim as it is, I decided the upgrade wasn't worth the price.

I almost bought the iPAQ 5450. With built-in WiFi, I wouldn't need my Dual PC Card sleeve, and could get a regular Compact Flash sleeve for my memory card. However, mediocre XScale performance, problems with battery life and the lower audio levels turned me off, and I decided I could use the $700 better for other things.

In January 2003, domain prices had fallen a lot, and I had heard about a company (MyDomain) that did free URL forwarding. I figured that it was time to create a separate domain for my Pocket PC addiction, and Silicon Valley Pocket PC was officially born.

In June 2003, I was making some suggestions to improve pocketnow, and the CEO of the site thought they weren't too stupid, so he asked me if I would be willing to be a contributor there. How could I say no? So, on June 17th, I made my first post as a contributor.

After Thanksgiving 2003, I found out that Staples was selling the ViewSonic V36 for $300 with a $100 rebate. As this had a built-in digital camera, I figured it would make a great Christmas present for my daughter. Before Christmas, though, I got to play with it as I loaded some games and contacts on it for her. It's actually quite nice, and the price was great (especially after I got Staples to match Amazon's price of $280 and used a $30 coupon, too). Imagine a Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PC for $150!

I couldn't let my daughter have a more modern Pocket PC than I had, of course. I had been looking at the iPAQ 5550, but couldn't justify the $650 price. Just before Christmas, though, I found that ThinkPad Depot was selling a refurbished iPAQ 5550 for $472, with no sales tax here and free shipping. How could I resist? My iPAQ 5550 was delivered in early January, and I'm loading it with software as I write this.

In November 2004, I started working on a contract doing quality assurance for Mobile Crossing's WayPoint GPS-enabled Pocket PCs. Check out the Mobile Crossing Web site to find out more about them. I also ended up writing a couple of programs for the WayPoint — one to locate satellites and a system information settings applet.

On June 21, 2006, I got a Motorola Q to review for pocketnow. It's a very cool device, even without a touchscreen. This was the first Windows Mobile 5 device that I used extensively, my first Smartphone and my first connected PDA. All in all, I'm very happy with it, although the Smartphone OS is missing some things I'm used to on Pocket PCs. Nonetheless, I liked it so much that I ended up buying one in October after I completed the review.

On Labor Day 2006, I was browsing at CompUSA and they had an iPAQ hx2795 for a very good price. It turns out that all they had was the display model (which was missing the HP AC adapter and the stylus), so they gave me another 20% off, bringing the price to well under $300. Because they did have an AC adapter for it (just not the HP one that could attach to the cradle) and the styli were cheap, I bought one. I've had some issues with things, though, so the jury is still out on it. I'm rebuilding it now, and if things go smoothly, this will become my everyday Pocket PC; my wife will get my old iPAQ 5550.

In 2007, I was sent a Verizon Wireless Pantech PN-820 to blog about for pocketnow. It's a very small clamshell Smartphone with good battery life, but I still prefer my Motorola Q.

In February 2008, I was eligible for my New Every 2 discount at Verizon, so I picked up a Motorola Q9m for free (after rebates and discounts, and before tax). It was basically the same as my older Q, but with Windows Mobile 6, a better keyboard and a black rubberized case. Getting Windows Mobile 6 meant that I could finally read HTML E-mail, which is very cool.

In January 2009, I joined Mobility Site as a Contributing Editor. I liked what Chris Leckness had done with AximSite, iPAQ HQ and Mobility Site, and when I read that he was looking for new contributors, I wanted to be a part of his team.

On March 28, 2009, my Motorola Q9m decided to die. Needing to have a phone and wanting to keep using a Windows Mobile device, I went to my Verizon store. I'd previously checked out the Samsung Omnia and thought that it was pretty cool, but I was also interested in the Samsung Saga, which was a QWERTYbar phone like the Q9m. Verizon didn't have the Saga in store, but was selling the Omnia for half off, which meant that I could pick it up for just sales tax after my discount and a rebate, so I got the Omnia. This was my first WM Professional/Pocket PC Phone device, and getting used to not having a keyboard, soft key buttons or a back/OK button was a challenge.

My Samsung Omnia's touchscreen started to become less responsive in 2011, so I was looking around for a new phone. Unfortunately, Microsoft has phased out Windows Mobile in favor of Windows Phone 7, their new phone operating system. While it has a cool look, it was missing many features that Windows Mobile had (and still is, even after the Mango 7.5 upgrade). I had a chance to get an LG Windows Mobile 6.5 phone for free, which would have kept me in the Windows Mobile fold for another two years, but I wasn't thrilled about getting a device with no real future. To make a long story short, I decided to switch to Android and bought a Motorola Droid 3. I still think that Windows Mobile had some features that Android could really use, but so far it's proven to be a decent phone. So, unless something drastic happens, Microsoft has lost me as a customer (at least in non-PC devices; I still use Windows on my PCs).

Looking back, I still think the Handheld PCs were the coolest devices I've had, but I love being able to take my Pocket PCs and Smartphones everywhere.

If you want to know more about me (although I don't know why you would), you can check out my personal site.

My Devices

Here's a list of the Windows CE and Windows Mobile devices I've had:

Device Features
Hitachi HPW-10 Handheld PC
[Hitachi HPW-10 Thumbnail]
  • Windows CE 1.0
  • SH3 processor
  • 4 MB RAM
  • 480x240 2-bit gray-scale screen
  • PCMCIA slot
  • 28.8 kbps modem
Sharp Mobilon HC-4500 Handheld PC
[Sharp Mobilon HC-4500 Thumbnail]
  • Windows CE 2.0
  • MIPS 74 MHz processor
  • 16 MB RAM
  • 640x240 8-bit color screen
  • PCMCIA slot
  • 33.6 kbps software modem
Compaq iPAQ H3650 Pocket PC
[Compaq iPAQ H3650 Thumbnail]
  • Pocket PC 2000 on Windows CE 3.0
  • StrongARM 206 MHz processor
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 240x320 12-bit color screen
Compaq iPAQ H3870 Pocket PC
[Compaq iPAQ H3870 Thumbnail]
  • Pocket PC 2002 on Windows CE 3.0
  • StrongARM 206 MHz processor
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 240x320 16-bit color screen
  • Secure Digital slot
  • Bluetooth
ViewSonic V36 Pocket PC
[ViewSonic V36 Thumbnail]
  • Windows Mobile 2003 on Windows CE 4.2
  • XScale 300 MHz processor
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 240x320 transflective 16-bit color screen
  • Secure Digital (SDIO) slot
  • 640x480 VGA digital camera
HP iPAQ H5550 Pocket PC
[HP iPAQ H5550 Thumbnail]
  • Windows Mobile 2003 on Windows CE 4.2
  • XScale 400 MHz processor
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 240x320 transflective 16-bit color screen
  • Secure Digital (SDIO) slot
  • 802.11b WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Fingerprint scanner
HP iPAQ hx2795 Pocket PC
[HP iPAQ hx2795 Thumbnail]
  • Windows Mobile 5 on Windows CE 5
  • XScale 624 MHz processor
  • 192 MB Flash memory
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 240x320 transflective 16-bit color screen
  • Compact Flash slot
  • Secure Digital (SDIO) slot
  • 802.11b WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Fingerprint scanner
Motorola Q Smartphone
[Motorola Q Thumbnail]
  • Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone on Windows CE 5
  • XScale 312 MHz processor
  • 128 MB Flash memory
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 320x240 landscape transflective 16-bit color screen
  • QWERTY thumb board
  • MiniSD slot
  • Bluetooth
  • 1280x1024 1.3 megapixel digital camera
Motorola Q9m Smartphone
[Motorola Q9m Thumbnail]
  • Windows Mobile 6 Standard on Windows CE 5
  • XScale 312 MHz processor
  • 128 MB Flash memory
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 320x240 landscape transflective 16-bit color screen
  • QWERTY thumb board
  • MiniSDHC slot
  • Bluetooth
  • 1280x1024 1.3 megapixel digital camera
Samsung Omnia Pocket PC Phone
[Samsung Omnia Thumbnail]
  • Windows Mobile 6.1 on Windows CE 5
  • XScale 312 MHz processor
  • 256 MB Flash memory
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 8 GB built-in Flash memory
  • 240x400 transflective 16-bit color screen
  • MicroSDHC slot
  • 802.11g WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • 2560x1920 5 megapixel digital camera
  • Gravity sensor

Hardware and Accessories

Here's a list of the hardware and accessories I currently have for my Pocket PCs, broken down by category. The categories include the following:


Product Usage Reviewed?
Piel Frama iPAQ 5400 Series Dual-Slot PC Card Expansion Pack Case Carrying my iPAQ 5550 in its NexiPak dual CF sleeve with me No
RhinoSleeve aluminum holster Carrying my iPAQ with me, as it allows me to take any sleeve YES

Compact Flash & PC Card Peripherals

Product Usage Reviewed?
iBiz pocketRADIO Compact Flash card Listening to the radio when I don't want to listen to my MP3s No
Prolink Microsystems PK203 Compact Flash Presentation System Presentations and demonstrations No
SMC 2632W 802.11b Wireless LAN PCMCIA card Browsing the Web, getting E-mail and chatting with AOL Instant Messenger on my older iPAQs No

Flash Memory Cards

Product Usage Reviewed?
SanDisk 8 GB MicroSD card Storage for MP3s, photos, videos and backups for my Motorola Q9m (and it came with the MobiMate Micro Reader) No
Transcend 8 GB 120x Compact Flash card Storage for MP3s, photos, videos and backups for my iPAQ hx2795 No
Lexar 4 GB MemoryStick Pro Duo card Storage for music, videos and game saves for my Playstation Portable No
Kingston 2 GB MiniSD card Storage for MP3s, backups and so on for my Pantech PN-820 No
SanDisk 2 GB MiniSD card Storage for MP3s, backups and so on for my Motorola Q No
PQI 2 GB 133x Secure Digital card Storage for programs, CoPilot Live maps, Pocket Streets maps, eBooks, MP3s, and so on for my iPAQ 5550 No
SanDisk 1 GB Gaming MemoryStick Pro Duo card Storage for music, videos and game saves for my Playstation Portable No
Lexar 1 GB 32x Secure Digital card Storage for my Pentax Optio S5i digital camera No
SanDisk 128 MB TransFlash card Storage for music and photos for my daughter's Motorola V710 No
PQI 1 GB Secure Digital card Storage for music for my wife's RCA Lyra MP3 player No
PNY Technologies 512 MB Secure Digital card Storage for programs, Pocket Streets maps, eBooks, MP3s, and so on for my WayPoint 200 No
PQI 256 MB Secure Digital card Storage for MP3s for my daughter's ViewSonic V36 No
SanDisk 256 MB Secure Digital card Lost No
SanDisk 128 MB Secure Digital card Lost No
Viking 512 MB Compact Flash card Storage for my CoPilot Live GPS maps No

GPS Receivers

Product Usage Reviewed?
GlobalTop HG 100 HUD GPS navigation with my iPAQ hx2795 or other Bluetooth devices (also has a heads-up display of speed and bearing) No
Garmin Mobile 10 GPS navigation with my older Motorola Q and my Motorola Q9m No
Garmin Mobile 20 GPS navigation with my older Motorola Q that I gave to my wife No
Haicom HI-303 MMF GPS Compact Flash card and Haicom HI-401BT Bluetooth Slipper GPS navigation with my iPAQs No
Mobile Crossing Bluetooth GPS receiver GPS navigation with my Mobile Crossing GPS Pocket PCs and other Bluetooth-enabled devices No
NavMan GPS sleeve GPS navigation with my sleeve-compatible iPAQs (died and replaced with Haicom GPS card) No

iPAQ Expansion Packs

Product Usage Reviewed?
Compaq Dual PCMCIA sleeve Using my wireless network card and CF card with my iPAQ 3650 and 3870 No
NavMan GPS sleeve GPS-based navigation while driving (replaced with Haicom GPS card) No
Nexian NexiPak Dual Compact Flash sleeve Using my various CF peripherals and memory cards with my iPAQ 5550 No


Product Usage Reviewed?
Compaq Micro Keyboard (Out of production?) Typing while chatting on AOL Instant Messenger No
Gold Lantern FreeBoard Bluetooth Keyboard Working anywhere No
Targus Stowaway Keyboard Typing while using my Pocket PC at work No
Yondwin PKB-800 Universal IR Keyboard Typing while IMing or working away from a desk Pending


Product Usage Reviewed?
Belkin Quadra Stylus/Pen/Laser/LED Light Gave to my daughter to use with her Viewsonic V36 No
HP iPAQ Stylus/Pen/Laser/LED Light Replacement for my Infiniter XPII (until it broke) No
Infiniter XP Stylus/Pen/Laser/LED Light Working at my home desk YES
Infiniter XPII Stylus/Pen/Laser/LED Light Carrying with me (the laser is great for pets and kids) YES
Pilot Pentopia TFGP2 Stylus/Pen Working at my home desk No
Platinum Red LED Stylus/Pen Working in bed (OK, not really working, but playing games or reading) No
Stylus Central 3-in-1 iPAQ Stylus/Pen/Reset Pin Carrying in my iPAQ for quick uses when I don't want to take my Quadra out No

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