ASUS MyPal A716 Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PC with WiFi and Bluetooth
Posted June 3, 2004 by Lisa
Gade, Editor in Chief
You won't find too many PDAs with both WiFi and
Bluetooth built in: the higher end Dell Axim
X30 models, HP iPAQ 4150, iPAQ
5555 and Sony Clié UX50 are
currently your only choices. The ASUS MyPal A716 not only offers
dual wireless but it ups the ante with its CF slot. Yes, you can
buy a CF sleeve for the iPAQ
5555, but that's an expensive package, with the handheld alone
selling for $650 and the sleeve adding another $50 or more. The
A716 in contrast lists for only $450 with street prices even lower.
The A716 is a power-user's Pocket PC with great
benchmarks, a 400 MHz processor, 64 megs of RAM, dual expansion
slots and dual wireless. It has a large battery that offers very
good run times, and that battery is user replaceable. Though ASUS
isn't a household name for PDAs (they're a well-respected motherboard
manufacturer and make the slick S5Ne ultralight notebook we reviewed here),
they're starting to make their presence known in the US. Later
this year they'll even offer a VGA Pocket PC running Windows Mobile
2003 SE. And they'll be offering a free upgrade to Windows Mobile
2003 SE for the A716 on their web site soon.
Design and Ergonomics
The ASUS A716 is a large Pocket PC that's close
to the size of the iPAQ 5555 and Toshiba
e805. But it's hard to pack all those features, especially
the large CF slot in a tiny package. The WiFi antenna is mounted
on the top right side of the unit and protrudes about 1/2".
You'll find the standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack as well as
the CF and SD card slots on the top edge. The ASUS
MyPal A620 was popular with gamers thanks to its great graphics
benchmarks and gamer-friendly buttons, and the A716 should also
appeal thanks to ergonomic buttons and directional pad. The four
application buttons are large and easy to press, while the circular
d-pad moves fluidly in all directions and supports diagonals. The
ASUS has enhanced button settings, which allow you to assign an
application to a button (as do all Pocket PCs) but also allow you
to assign another app or function to the same buttons when they're
pressed and held.
The enter button, up/down navigation buttons
and IR windows are on the left side while the power jack in on
the right. The user replaceable battery is located on the back,
and locks in place with a switch on the unit's left side. There's
also a backup battery on/off switch located under the battery.
The mic is located on the bottom edge, next to the sync connector.
LEDs above the display indicate wireless (the blue LED lights when
either WiFi or Bluetooth is turned on), charging status and alarms.
The MyPal comes with a USB cable, charger, cradle that
can charge the unit with the standard or extended battery, a ballistic
nylon case with belt clip and a software CD. You can plug the USB cable
and charger into the cradle or directly into the Pocket PC.
The ASUS has an Intel XScale PXA255 processor running
at 400 MHz. That's the standard processor used by high end Pocket PCs
in 2003 into 2004. It's a fast performer, and as you can see from our
benchmarks below, the A716 turns in some very impressive numbers. The
unit feels fast and is up to the task of gaming and multimedia playback.
The unit has 64 megs of RAM with 55.79 available to
the user. It has 64 megs of NAND Flash memory, 25 of which is available
as persistent storage (the data in NAND will survive a hard reset). That's
a healthy amount of memory for a Pocket PC in this price range, and you
can expand it using SD and CF storage cards.
Screen, Sound, and Gaming
The ASUS has a 3.5" transflective display capable
of displaying over 65,000 colors. This is a gorgeous display that rivals
high end iPAQs. It's exceptionally bright, very contrasty and has excellent
color saturation with no discernable color bias. I love it!
from the built-in speaker won't wake the dead, it's adequate
for alarms and movie playback. Sound quality and volume through
the standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack is excellent. The ASUS
Settings applet allows you to adjust mic sensitivity (or use
auto gain control) and set the recording volume. You can also
adjust playback volume, balance, treble and bass settings. That's
a more full-featured set of controls than most Pocket PCs offer.
A620 has a great reputation as a gaming machine thanks
to its very fast CPU and graphics performance and ergonomic
buttons. A716 is also a speedy performer, and games played
very well with the exception of two. Hexacto
Bounty Hunter Pinball doesn't get along with the A716's
buttons and is unplayable. Bust
'em was playable, but the game felt a little slow and
jerky and the sound didn't work well. Bust
'em 2 did much better and plays well on the A716. Doom
fans will be happy to know that gfDoom runs extremely well
on the ASUS, as does Blade
Like the iPAQs and the wireless Dell Axim X30
models, the A716 uses the Widcomm drivers and Bluetooth stack.
That's good news because the software is very user-friendly by
Bluetooth standards and quite reliable. To use Bluetooth, simply
tap on the Bluetooth icon on the taskbar. To create a new connection
you'll use the wizard, which first has you select the type of
device before you pair with that device. The ASUS supports the
headset profile in addition to the standard profiles found on
other Bluetooth enabled Pocket PCs (mobile phone, ActiveSync,
Internet access point, other PDAs and more). The iPAQ 5555 and
Dell Axim X30 wireless models are the only other Pocket PCs that
support Bluetooth headsets, so if that's important to you, you'll
should consider the ASUS when shopping for your new PDA.
The A716 has built-in WiFi 802.11b wireless
Ethernet networking. The WiFi antenna is located on the top right
of the unit. While most Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PCs rely on
Microsoft's Connection Manager to manage WiFi connections, the
A716 comes with a full-featured tool called WiFiME. This is a
great bonus since Connection Manager has very few features and
has been dumbed down to the point where it's not useful for doing
more than making a basic connection to an access point. You can
launch WiFiME from the Programs group, or you can access it from
the taskbar where it's always resident. Tap in the taskbar house
icon to turn the radio on and off, or manage a connection. You'll
see a tabbed interface, with IP Config, Wireless, Survey, Profile,
Statistics, Power and About tabs. The IP Config tab shows you
info about your current connection (DHCP or static, IP address,
MAC address, subnet mask, gateway, DNS) and has a Renew button.
The Wireless tab shows connection state, base station ID, current
channel, data rate, link quality and signal strength. The Survey
tab shows access points within range, and provides their names,
channel, BSSID and signal strength (it doesn't indicate whether
the access points are using WEP). Networking power users will
love this utility and even novices will find it helpful for troubleshooting
connections. And of course it makes connecting to new access
points when traveling much more simple.
Above, the Bluetooth wizard,
below the WiFiME site survey screen.
We've run benchmarks using spb
Benchmark. I've compared the Dell
Axim X30 312MHz wireless model, iPAQ
5550 , and our ASUS A716. All tests were run with
units fresh out of the box with no other software added.
All units have Intel XScale processors and run Windows
Mobile 2003 (Second Edition, for the Axim). Higher
numbers are better (shown in green bold).
ASUS created a very useful applet called
ASUS Settings which allows you to set CPU speed, automatic
power savings, specify whether button presses will wake
up the unit, set IR to FIR (4Mbps) or SIR (115.2kbps),
control audio in and out settings and set screen brightness.
This applet is a great time saver since it allows you to
adjust many common system settings in one place.
You'll also get a backup application
permanently installed in ROM that allows you to back up
all data or just PIM data to a storage card or internal
NAND flash memory. The MyPal comes with several useful
applications on the included CD. Pocket Painter is a very
nice painting/drawing program, Presentation DX PowerPoint
viewer, MoneyTracer finance manager, RealOne Mobile Player,
Engineering calculator and a few games such as Dung Cleaner
and Reversi. Since ASUS sells Pocket PCs in Asia, there
are also two mapping programs (maps of China, not US),
and Monster Chinese and Monster SIP for displaying and
inputting Chinese characters on English language Pocket
The A716 comes with a user replaceable
1500 MAh Lithium Ion battery. That's a large capacity battery
that beats out other Pocket PCs' standard batteries. The
optional extended 3000 MAh battery is the largest extended
battery on the market in terms of capacity. It fits like
a sled onto the back of the PDA, increasing its thickness.
Battery life depends on your wireless usage. If you don't
turn on the wireless features, you should get about 4 hours
actual usage per charge, which beats out many Pocket PCs.
Some users have reported much better runtimes, but our
unit has been around the block a few times, and the battery
wasn't new when we received it. We ran our unit on Turbo
Mode with Automatic Power Saving turned on. The ASUS Settings
applet allows you to set CPU speed to Turbo (400MHz), Standard
Mode (300 MHz) or Power Saving Mode (200MHz). Automatic
Power Saving Mode can be enabled with any of these speed
Battery life when using WiFi was about
2 hours on average. I would have expected closer to three
hours given the battery's capacity and again, that may
be our unit's problem. WiFi is usually a big power drain
and can reduce run times on Pocket PCs by 50%. Bluetooth
uses less power than WiFi, and thus had less impact on
The unit comes with a standard battery,
charger and a cradle. You can plug the charger into the
cradle or directly into the PDA so you don't have to bring
the cradle with you when traveling. The USB cable can plug
into the cradle or directly into the PDA as well.
While the Pocket PC arena has many competing
offerings, the ASUS A716 manages to hold its own thanks
to dual wireless, a large user replaceable battery and
a CF type II slot for GPS, 56k modem, GPRS and CDMA wireless
WAN cards, wired Ethernet cards and of course memory. A
nice bundle of features at an affordable price.
Pro: Reasonably priced. Fast performer.
Has both WiFi and Bluetooth, The WiFi utility is quite
powerful and an uncommon feature on Windows Mobile 2003
devices. Bluetooth is user-friendly and supports just about
anything you'd want to connect to, including headsets.
The battery is user-replaceable, and an extended battery
is available. The standard battery has very good capacity
and the extended battery packs an amazing amount of juice.
Cons: The A716 is a large Pocket PC and is about the size
of the iPAQ 5555 and Toshiba e805. If you want something
tiny in your Pocket, look elsewhere.
Directory list of 2000 files (thousands
Internal database read (records/sec)
Graphics test: DDB BitBlt (frames/sec)
Graphics test: DIB BitBlt (frames/sec)
Graphics test: GAPI BitBlt (frames/sec)
Pocket Word document open (KB/sec)
Pocket Internet Explorer HTML load
Pocket Internet Explorer JPEG load
File Explorer large folder list (files/sec)
Compress 1 MB file using ZIP (KB/sec)
Decompress 1024x768 JPEG file (KB/sec)
Arkaball frames per second (frames/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MFLOPS (Mop/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MOPS (Mop/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MWIPS (Mop/sec)
test: copy 1 MB using memcpy (MB/sec)
TFT color LCD, 65,536 colors, Screen Size Diag: 3.8",
Resolution: 240 x 320.
Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
1500mA. 3000 mA extended battery available for purchase.
XScale PXA 255 400 MHz processor. 64 megs Flash ROM
with 25 megs available for your use, 64 MB built-in
RAM (55.79 available).
Size: 5.43" (not
including antenna nub) x 3.07" x .69".
Weight: 6.95 oz.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player
9 included for your MP3 and Windows Media format
PC 2003 Premium operating system (aka Windows Mobile
2003). Microsoft Pocket Office suite including Pocket
Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and Outlook. Also,
Terminal Services, MSN Instant Messenger for Pocket
PC, MS Reader and Voice Recorder as well as handwriting
recognition. 3rd party software: Pocket Painter,
RealPlayer, MoneyTracer, Presentation DX, Engineering
Calculator, Dung Cleaner, Reversi, Gobang, Monster
Chinese and SIP. ActiveSync 3.7 and Outlook for PCs
SD (Secure Digital) slot, I CF type
II slot compatible with type I and type II cards.
WiFi 802.11b and Bluetooth.