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(Pocket-lint) - HP's pre-Compaq takeover range of PDAs was led by the Jornada, placed carefully in a Bond film in 1999. While the top of the range iPAQ 5550 also looks like it could defuse a bomb, the 2210 favours gadget fans on a budget and doesn't lose too much from taking two steps down the range.

The 2210 rests in the middle of HP's current handheld line-up. It's smaller with rubberised size grips and its battery is physically installed and covered instead of integrated into the back cover. Despite the fitting difference the battery costs the same £50 to add or replace as the iPAQ 5550, but the 2210's street price is as compact by comparison- £310 online.

Bluetooth is the sole supported wireless standard and the RAM measures 64MB of which 57MB is usable. The emergency data store uses 3.8MB of ROM. Of course you can also add your own memory card and make greater use of the synchronisation functions to protect vital files. Best of all there's no drop in processing speed, it's the same 400MHz Intel Xscale processor embedded in the 2210 as the 5550.

For the £140 saving comes a reduction in battery life, so if you want music, buy another one. However this has been anticipated. Anyone buying that second battery for extended travel or road work can charge the additional cell in its own physical tray slot, which is not an option on the flagship model.

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There is no drop in quality of the 2210's screen despite the reduced size. In fact this eliminated any chance of black text on the brilliantly backlit TFT from becoming hard to read. In the daytime there's no need for the extra light, but it's there in case you're trying to work in fading autumn afternoon and suddenly find yourself in four o'clock twilight. According to your needs the 2210 may even be more versatile, as it sports the Type II Compact Flash slot missing from its big brother, as well as the combination SD/MMC slot which has respective Microdrive and SDIO support as well. It's true that the Palm Tungsten C features some similar internal components, but the screen's square rather than allowing the extra 20 vertical pixels as a trade off for the rival physical keyboard- whose keys are small enough to dilute their usefulness.


Following the pattern of the graphics card business, the middle way usually gives the best balance between price, performance and features and it's the same in HP's current iPaq range. If you need that Compact Flash slot then it's standard here rather than a chargeable extra on the 5550. £310-330 is a great price for a great PDA- but before shelling out check this king of the WinCE PDAs against its long running rivals from Palm.

Writing by Kenneth Henry. Originally published on 9 December 2003.