Upgrading Your iPAQ's ROM

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2002. I'm devoting this issue of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, Pocket PC Edition, to Compaq's Pocket PC 2002 upgrade for iPaq H3100/3600 series devices. Because Microsoft says that device upgradeability is a core feature of Pocket PC 2002, and Compaq is shipping the first commercially available Pocket PC 2002 ROM upgrade, I think this topic deserves a closer look.

But first, I'm sorry to say that I can confirm what several users discovered after reading my December 13 Pocket PC Perspectives commentary: The check box that enables systemwide ClearType is missing from devices that have been upgraded using Compaq's ROM upgrade. However, I have good news—there's a workaround for the problem (see the Mobile & Wireless tip in this week's issue of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, Pocket PC Edition).

What else is missing? Because iPaq H3100/3600 series devices have a 16MB ROM, and new devices have a 24MB ROM; only a subset of the complete Pocket PC 2002 feature set fits in the ROM chipsets. To get full functionality, you have to load some additional programs (notably the Transcriber recognizer) into RAM. As far as I've been able to determine, the systemwide ClearType switch is the only Pocket PC 2002 feature that's not available by installing the add-on programs after completing the upgrade.

In addition, the upgrade process itself is a bit complicated. Before you do anything else, synchronize your device to the desktop and back up any data you want from the iPaq. The upgrade completely wipes the device (both ROM and RAM), so you lose everything that isn't backed up, including contacts, appointments, notes, files, and any add-on applications.

Install ActiveSync 3.5, and only then can you perform the ROM upgrade (the upgrade includes warning notes that remind you that you might lose data and have to reinstall programs). You must connect the iPaq's sync cradle directly to your PC using a serial cable or a USB cable without a hub. You also need to plug in the power module (otherwise the device might power down during the upgrade, with unpredictable results). The upgrade warns you to disable your desktop PC's standby and hibernate functions and to close all applications. (I ignored this warning and kept a Notepad window open for taking notes and a copy of Imaging to process screen grabs during the upgrade process and had no problems; your mileage might vary!)

Next, the system will instruct you to remove any expansion packs from the iPaq, reset it, place it in the sync cradle, and wait at least 30 seconds to let ActiveSync establish a connection. Make sure that ActiveSync is connected and that synchronization is complete. Press Next.

The system will ask you to identify whether the iPaq is connected using a USB port or a serial cable. Select USB or Serial as appropriate, and press Next. A message will indicate that the software is verifying the information on your Pocket PC. Wait until the message disappears; the Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 Upgrade utility will replace it and indicate your iPaq's model, ROM version, and language.

At this point, you can choose to upgrade or restore an older ROM image. Press Upgrade. The system will ask you to verify that you want to upgrade from the old ROM version to the new one (in my case, version 1.32 to 2.14). Press Next.

You can select the option to back up your current ROM image, which lets you restore it if you have any problems with the new image. I highly recommend this option; to use it, press Backup. You can select a directory in which to store the 16MB backup file; select an appropriate directory, and press Save. A "Backing Up the current ROM image" dialog box with a progress bar will appear that warns you not to use or remove the USB or serial port or AC adapter from the iPaq. Wait for the process to complete (it will take about 8 minutes).

The Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 Upgrade Utility will indicate that the ROM backup is complete and that it's ready to upgrade the ROM image. The utility screen describes in detail exactly what will happen during the upgrade and is worth reading. After you read it, press Next.

A message box will indicate that the system is preparing the ROM upgrade; be patient, this process can take a few minutes. Then the ROM upgrade will begin, using a progress bar on the PC display and a similar bar on the iPaq. The iPaq's backlight will turn off, which is normal and doesn't indicate a problem. Don't interfere with this operation.

The Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 Upgrade Utility screen will then indicate that the upgrade is complete. It will instruct you to remove the iPaq from its cradle (the device might be locked up at this point) and perform a hard reset by opening the on/off switch drawer, switching off, waiting for 1 minute, and switching on. Then follow the instructions on the device screen to complete the set up and return the device to the sync cradle. Press Next.

Congratulations; you've now upgraded your ROM. You can now read the readme file; the system will instruct you to refer to your iPaq Pocket PC Companion CD-ROM to install additional programs, such as Transcriber, that weren't included in the upgraded ROM. Click Finish.

At this point, ActiveSync will prompt you to set up a partnership. Do so, and sync your device to restore your contacts, appointments, and notes. You'll also need to reinstall any add-on programs because the upgrade process clears them. During partnership set up, you'll have to select a new device name, which associates the old name with the old device.

I used a trick to quickly reinstall applications. On the desktop PC, select File/Run, and type CEAPPMGR.EXE into the Open field of the Run dialog box. An Add/Remove Programs dialog box will list all your old programs. Select the ones you want to reinstall. The system will automatically install the applications on your device (I also use this trick to install applications on other devices). Depending on how many applications you need to install, the process might take a few minutes. As with the upgrade, don't interrupt this process.

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