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REVIEW: HTC Himalaya CF & VGA Backpack for Himalaya Pocket PC Phone Edition
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 14.05.04 - 00:08:03 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 14216x
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As announced, long time ago, the HTC Himalaya also features the backpack concept - something similar to the previous iPAQ Jacket concept. The first - and maybe the only Backpack we will ever see is HTC's own CF card and presentation Backpack.

I've tested this 3-in-1 Backpack with an additional battery, Type II CF slot and VGA output for projection to projector during the past weeks with my PPCW.Net i-Mate (which is an HTC Himalaya).

Features

  • Support normal CF Type I and II expansion cards.
  • Support VGA/TV output.
    It allows you to play video and presentations stored on your device through a PC monitor/Projector via VGA jack, TV via video or s-video jack.
  • Additional 600mAh Li-ion battery.


As you can see below, the Backpack replaces the Himalaya battery cover and attaching it to the device takes seconds only.

However, and from my point of view, this is one of the most important issues, the Backpack isn't half that stylish as the device is. The black plastic isn't the problem at all (even if it looks ugly) but the problem is the shape. It's pretty square-edged which doesn't feels nice in your hand, not to say holding it longer hurts.
The SD card slot is located on the bottom while the VGA output is located on the side. The good point is that the Backpack doesn't covers camera lens.


The CF slot supports CF I and the thicker II cards. As soon as you plugged in the CF card, the Pocket PC platform recognizes it as a new storage card and it can be used immediately.

The VGA output plug is on the left side of the Backpack and requires the included cable. The cable is long enough to be used in public environments to connect it to video projectors or even monitors.

The Backpack supports standard VGA out but also Video out as well as S-Video out to be used with TVs. For monitor use it supports a screen resolution of 800x600 and 640x480 pixel while 640x480 pixel is used for TV (which supports both - NTSC and PAL)


To show your presentation from your Pocket PC, the Backpack comes with two applications: ClearVue Presentation and Screen Mirror.

ClearVue PDF is already well known - after it's opened and the presentation was selected the external video adapter can be selected (in this case it is HTC External VGA):


That's it and from now the selected presentation can be watched on the wall, through a connected video projector.

Screen Mirror, which is developed from the previously acquired IA Style copy's the Himalaya screen 1:1 to show the current Pocket PC display on an external video projector or TV.


These two programs are all you need to use the Backpack professional.

Final Conclusion

To be honest, I've used the Backpack mostly for this review since I don't like the it at all. It makes a "beast" out of this "beauty" Pocket PC! It makes it heavy and hard to hold as well as it looks ugly. For sure the added features like an additional CF slot and the second battery adds a real value to the Himalaya. However I thought HTC learned more from their previous iPAQ Jackets which fits nicer.
In my tests, the second battery almost doubled the standby time of the device - for sure since the battery also powers the Pocket PC itself but everybody have to decide if this added value is worth the money. If you are a real road warrior and the standard standby time of the Himalaya isn't good enough, you might should consider buying a second battery instead of the Backpack. If you want to replace your Notebook to hold your presentations from your Pocket PC the Backpack might be the best solution. If you need a solution to use CF cards with your device, the Backpack is the only solution.

The HTC Backpack for the Himalaya platform (which includes the o2 Xda II, T-Mobile MDA II as well as the i-mate Phone Edition) is available from several sources like expansys for around 160 US$.

Cheers ~ Arne

Related Links : [More Information] [Buy Here]


 

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Comments
Posted by farnold on 14.05.04 - 11:17:07

Arne, thanks you for the review! Open and based on experienced as per usual - and not based on marketing collateral as you find it somewhere else. Yep, I agree - that thing is as pretty as a brick. I was hoping to see something much nicer and smaller. Since I really like to have both VGA and CF with my XDA II it may be inevidable for me to get this brick... but I'm less optimistic than I was before and may take that thought with me for a while before I decide...

Q1: How does the Power Settings display show both batteries and their current status? Can you add a screen copy of this?

Q2: The battery inside the pack isn't user replaceable, is it?

Cheers

Frank

Posted by Matt M on 15.05.04 - 03:54:19

It's easy to see why O2 didn't offer a side-on photo of the thing when I initially saw it. That thing is so huge, but I love the functionality. I've been patiently waiting for their general availability in Australia, but they keep coming in dribs & drabs :-(  I can handle the size in exchange for what it offers, although I wouldn't be inclined to have it attached all the time!

Posted by Dale Reeck on 15.05.04 - 04:35:48

Actually, they AREN'T available most places and haven't been since an initial shipment in February as far as I can tell. Every web site I've contacted in several different coutries only have it on backorder. That has been the case for months. Only a few places in Asia, like Singapore, have it in stores. HTC's delivery of accessories for the XDA II has been absolutely pathetic.

Posted by Ed on 15.05.04 - 05:51:29

I have had my backpack for a while and though it does add alittle bulk I'm very happy with it because it does everything it is supposed to extremely well. I really like the ability to view you speaker notes & slide on the XDA II but only project the slides via the attached projector. Not eaven my notebook has that feature.  I don't have it fitted all the time, just when I want to make a presentation or when I want to use my CF WiFi card. The additional battery power in both instances is VERY handy. Main disappointment with the unit is that is cannot be charged without being attached to the XDA II. Now if someone could make an adapter that fits to the backpack's internal bus slot and will accept the stardard XDA II USB charge cable I'd buy one immediately.

Posted by Starstreak on 15.05.04 - 13:54:46

I wish they would just make a 1200mAh battery for the back.  it shouldn't make it anywhere near as thick and it would get rid of one of the reasons why I sold my XDAII.One day of use was too low.  Considering I used the phone for only like 15minutes in that day.

Posted by farnold on 16.05.04 - 01:39:26

Hm, Starstreak, with some hope I think we will see a third party offering a battery for the XDAII that offers more capacity than the original one... something like 2,000 to 2,500 mAh...

Posted by Wijnand on 16.05.04 - 21:19:27

I'm surprised there are amongst you that have power problems. I own a Qtek 2020 (XDAII or whatever) and use it now for some time. My Qtek stays standby for the whole weekend with some power to spare for the monday until I drop it in the car loader. In the meantime I use it for some phonecalls, a little bit of web-browsing etc. No complaints about the battery. I would like to have the CF card option though, because SD card + wifi looks very fragile to me.

Posted by Michael G. on 17.05.04 - 18:46:53

I love my Backpack wink! But i only use ist for presentations an connect it just before i start to work with it.

Posted by xristos on 17.05.04 - 21:26:33

what about the video quality in use whith a projector?

Posted by Starstreak on 18.05.04 - 02:31:54

I had mine for about two weeks (I think) before I sold it.

Just with 2 phone calls totalling around 15mins, and using the organizer for address lookup and such.  Nothing time consuming, by the end of a 8 hour work day I had abour 32% or something like that.  Really bad.  Dunno why. signal str was good too.

Posted by Helio Diamant on 18.05.04 - 04:45:48

The BackPack can also be bought at ClubiMate.com for $124.95 .

Great review, Arne!

Posted by Saif on 18.05.04 - 14:12:24

You can also use this on the M1000 on Orange.

Also, a quick question.

how does this affect the usage of the keyboard? Can you still sit it on the keyboard with the backpack on? It would be a shame if you can't. means you'll have to carry about the original battery along with the backpack....

Posted by Dale Reeck on 19.05.04 - 14:47:22

Big surprise - Club iMate is also out of stock of backpacks.

Posted by Dj Holistic on 05.06.04 - 13:09:17

I have just been looking at TV tuners at http://www.eopstech.com and they say that I gotta buy a backpack to fit it to my XDA II...Can you imagine the final size of the thing with all that attched to it!?!? No thanks!

Posted by Stewart Adam on 20.06.04 - 11:33:53

I have a Sandisk CF Wi-Fi card in the backpack on my XDA II.  My first backpack was a dud, but the replacement works on projectors and external monitors .. bit slow, but a good image. As for the Sandisk Wi-Fi card that I use in the backpack ... well that's a sad story. 

The Sandisk CD-ROM that came with the XDA II seems to have been designed for WinCE, and not Mobile Windows 2003 for the PPC. As a result I cannot get rid of the Sandisk 128M+WiFi CompactFlash Card settings from the 'Configure Network Adaptors' area. I have to go in via my PC and ActiveSync (3.7) and rename the two offending .dll files before the CD-ROM software removes the drivers. I manually delete the renamed .dll.old files from the XDA II.

Sandisk seem pretty useless. I let them know of these problems and the link they gave me was to the straight wireless LAN card ... That didn't work, so go figure!

I am told the Sockets drivers out of the UK are better (for basically the same card), however, their FTP site does not work .. some say it hasn't worked since April 2004. More useless information, except that their docs. leave Sandisk for dead!

I keep wondering what the so-called 'Zero Configuration' tools that are supposed to be part of Mobile Windows 2003 actually do?

I just can't see why the Sandisk card works with my D-Link DWL-900AP+ (802.11b/g) and with my ancient Airport access points on my notebook, but not on the XDA II on the rare occasions that I get the blinking green light (very rare and I don't know why???). <sigh!> :cry:

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