MobileTechReview.com Home

Phone Notebooks & Tablets Gaming Gadgets iPhone & iPad Shop Discussion

 

Advertisement

 


Which Windows Mobile 2003 PDA is for you?
Posted September 7, 2003

There are quite a few Pocket PC 2003 PDAs on the market these days, so I'll break them down into 2 price categories: the under $400 and over $400 units. For detailed review of a unit, click on its hyperlink. To see a comparison matrix, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Under $400
ASUS MyPal A620, Dell Axim X3, Dell Axim X5 Basic and Advanced, iPAQ 1935, iPAQ 1940, iPAQ 2215, Toshiba e405 and ViewSonic V36.

HP iPAQ 1935 and 1940
The HP iPAQ 1935 and 1940 are the smallest Pocket PCs on the market. They build on the success of the now discontinued iPAQ 1910 Pocket PC 2002 PDA, and look the same too. They have a beautiful industrial design, and are close to the size and weight of a Palm m500 series PDA. Like most iPAQ models, they are well made, are reliable and sync consistently. These units have 3.5" transflective displays (transflective displays are the best on the market and have become ubiquitous), 64 megs of RAM with 56 available to the user, and an SD slot that supports SDIO (SDIO is necessary if you want to use anything other than memory cards, such as WiFi cards). Some users aren't fond of the yellow color cast on the display, but it certainly isn't all that bad, especially for the price and features you get with these units.

Both units use a processor that's new to the Pocket PC platform: the Samsung S3C2410, which is in the ARM family. The 1935 has a 203 MHz XScale processor, while the 1945 has a 266 MHz processor. While these numbers are the lowest among Pocket PCs, neither are shabby performers, and the 1940's 266 MHz processor is even up to the task of some serious gaming. HP claims the Samsung processor is faster relative to some competing processors, and that's likely what helps it run at decent speeds.

The battery is user replaceable. These models targets entry level buyers and folks who are tempted to switch from a Palm and desire a small, attractive PDA. Unlike higher end iPAQs, it is not expandable via iPAQ sleeves. It's a great starter unit.

The 1940 adds built-in Bluetooth wireless networking, and is 63 MHz faster. The 1940 and 1945 are the same, the model numbers vary to track whether they're sold in retail vs. corporate channels.

Dell Axim X3
The Dell Axim X3 line, introduced in the Fall of 2003 addresses the most common complaint about the Dell Axim X5: it's large size and weight. The X3 is a compact PDA that offers most all features of the X5 line except the CF slot. It has an SD slot supporting SDIO, a 3.5" transflective display and a fast Intel XScale processor. The X3 is available in three models: Basic, Advanced and X3i which is the same as the Advanced but adds 802.11b WiFi wireless networking. The X3i is the most affordable Pocket PC with integrated WiFi. Processor speeds range from 300 to 400 MHz depending on model and have either 32 or 64 megs of RAM.

Dell Axim X5
The Dell Axim X5 models give you a lot of bang for the buck: they have both CF and SD expansion slots, however they do not support SDIO. Since they have CF slots, this probably isn't much of an issue. You'll also get a 3.5" transflective display that offers good color saturation, but isn't as bright as the iPAQ 2215 and iPAQ 5555. The X5 Basic model has a 300 MHz XScale processor which performs quite well, while the X5 Advanced has a 400 MHz XScale processor, which is as fast as the XScale comes these days. The Basic model has 32 megs of RAM and the Advanced model has 64 megs, and both have user replaceable batteries. With so much being good about this unit, are there any drawbacks? It's larger, heavier and less sexily designed than other current Pocket PC models and the range of accessories is limited compared to the high end iPAQs and Toshibas.

HP iPAQ 2215
The HP iPAQ 2215 has been a hot seller since the day it hit the shelves, and it's a great unit! It's higher priced than the low end models in this group at $399 list, but still significantly cheaper than the high end units. It does offer a lot of bang for the buck, and despite the mid-range price, has features that power users covet, such as Bluetooth wireless networking and both an SD and CF slot. Like most iPAQ models, it's well made, reliable and syncs consistently. The 2215 has a 3.5" transflective display like all low end units, but it's one of the nicest out there for the price. The SD slot supports SDIO. It has a top of the line 400 MHz XScale processor, and overall benchmarks as the fastest Pocket PC. The battery is user replaceable. This model targets mid to power-user buyers who desire a small, attractive PDA with a CF slot and wireless networking. Unlike higher end iPAQs, it is not expandable via iPAQ sleeves. If you need LEAP support for WiFi, the iPAQs are you only choice right now.

The 2210 and 2215 are the same, the model numbers vary to track whether they're sold in retail vs. corporate channels.

Toshiba e405
The Toshiba e405 offers a good transflective display, a slim design and good looks thanks to its midnight blue casing. It has a 300 MHz XScale processor and 64 megs of RAM, which is nice as some budget Pocket PCs like the Dell Axim X3 Basic only give you 32 megs. It has an SD slot that supports SDIO and SDIO Now! so you'll be able to use SD networking cards and more. The unit does not have a user replaceable battery. The e405 and e805 are the only units that come with voice recognition software (for voice commands) and can read text aloud (read the review for full details).

What's the difference between the e400 and e405? The e405 comes bundled with ArcSoft PhotoBase software.

The ASUS MyPal A620 isn't on every retailer's shelf, but it's worth taking a look at. ASUS is a well-known motherboard manufacturer, and entered the Pocket PC marketplace with the discontinued Zayo Razor Pocket PC 2002 PDA. Now they're marketing Pocket PCs under their own name, and the MyPal A620 and A620BT are their two current devices.

The A620 and A620BT are identical, with the A620BT adding built-in Bluetooth. They have 400 MHz Intel XScale processors, 64 megs of RAM and have transflective displays. All Pocket PCs have SD slots, and a few have CF slots. The ASUS bucks that trend and has only a CF type II slot that accepts type I and type II cards. While the transflective display isn't as bright as HP's offerings, it does offer good color saturation and contrast, and is very usable at higher brightness settings. It's a mid-sized unit that's very pocketable, and is quite light at 4.9 ounces.

The ViewSonic V36 came out at the end of October 2003, and is the first Pocket PC (not Phone Edition) to have a built-in digital camera. Like most PDA cameras, it take still pix at 640 x 480 (VGA) and can also shoot videos. It has a 300 MHz XScale processor that benchmarks well, 57 megs of available RAM and has an SD slot. The SD slot supports SDIO, which means you can use SD WiFi and GPS cards with the V36. We tested it with the ViewSonic, SanDisk and Socket SD WiFi cards and it worked well with all of them.

Conclusion

If you're a power user who doesn't want to spend $500 or more on a PDA, the Dell Axim X3 Advanced and the iPAQ 2215 are strong contenders. If size, weight and style are issues, focus on the iPAQ. If you're new to PDAs or just want the smallest, lightest and most attractive Pocket PC available, the HP iPAQ 1935 or 1945 are hard to beat. If you want a fast PDA with a CF slot, but want to save money and don't need Bluetooth or an SD slot, check out the MyPal 620 which sells for $339. If you're a shutterbug and taking impromptu photos is your thing, check out the ViewSonic V36 with integrated VGA digicam. If WiFi is your thing, check out the affordable Dell Axim X3i with integrated 802.11b wireless. If you want an attractive and slim Pocket PC that doesn't look like every other model out there, consider the Toshiba e405, which also offers voice command and text to speech capabilities.

Over $400
ASUS MyPal A716, HP iPAQ 4155, HP iPAQ 4350, HP iPAQ 5555, Mitac Mio 168, Toshiba e750 (being phased out) and Toshiba e805

ASUS MyPal A716
This model packs a lot of features for a modest $450 price tag. It has both an SD slot and a CF slot, WiFi 802.11b and Bluetooth wireless networking. The ASUS has a speedy 400MHz processor and 64 megs of RAM, and gets good benchmarks. If you're looking for a Pocket PC with a CF slot and are into wireless networking, this is a good choice. It's cheaper than the iPAQ 5555 and adds a CF slot, though the iPAQ does have more memory. Drawbacks? This is a large unit, and is a bit bigger than the iPAQ 5555, though no larger than the Toshiba e805.

HP iPAQ 4150
If you're looking for an incredibly small and light Pocket PC with both Bluetooth and WiFi 802.11b wireless networking built-in, check out the 400 MHz iPAQ 4155. Previously, if you wanted both networking technologies in a PDA, you had to go with the larger, powerful but pricey models such as iPAQ 5555 or the Toshiba e805. the 4155 is considerably smaller than those two models, yet offers great processing power and networking. However, if you want to use expansion sleeves, have even more built-in memory use biometric fingerprint security, look to the iPAQ 5555 because the 4155 doesn't offer these features.

HP iPAQ 4350
The iPAQ 4350 is the larger cousin to the iPAQ 4150. It offers the same processor, memory, wireless and display specs. Why is it larger? Because it's the first Pocket PC to have a built-in thumb keyboard. If you do a lot of data entry, want to use the unit for emails or simply don't like handwriting recognition, then this could be the unit for you. HP targets the unit at heavy wireless and email users, so the battery has a large capacity and an extended battery is also available.

HP iPAQ 5555
The venerable iPAQ line changed the Pocket PC roadmap back when the 3600 series came out in 2000. They've been the best selling Pocket PCs to date. The iPAQ 5500 series is the latest high-end iPAQ and is very mature and stable. The 5500 series has the best transflective display (not that any are poor!) and like the e755 is larger than most other Pocket PCs at 3.8". It offers the most features and expandability of any current Pocket PC. It comes with built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and a biometric fingerprint scanner for security. It also has more memory, with 128 megs of RAM and 17 megs of additional non-volatile Flash storage space (read the complete review for more info). It runs on a 400 MHz XScale processor and performs very well in standard apps, multimedia and gaming. The battery is user replaceable, it has good runtimes per charge compared to other Pocket PCs. The 5500 series models, like prior 3000 and 5000 series iPAQs, can use iPAQ expansion sleeves. These allow you to add sleeves that let you use CF cards, PCMCIA cards, GPS, cameras and more. See our sleeves page for details on the various models. It has an SD slot that supports SDIO.

The 5550 and 5555 are the same, the model numbers vary to track whether they're sold in retail vs. corporate channels.

Mitac Mio 168 (has GPS)
The Mio line of Pocket PCs and MS Smartphones have been available in Asia, and the Mio 168 is the first unit sold in the US market. The Mio 168 is the first Pocket PC with an integrated GPS. The unit is amazingly compact, attractive and has a great display and a loud speaker you'll easily hear in the car. It's a 300 MHz model with 64 megs of RAM, and has an SD slot that supports SDIO. If you want a GPS, do check out this reasonably priced unit.

Toshiba e750
The Toshiba e750 has a great set of features at a relatively low price. It has a decent transflective display, 64 megs of RAM RAM and 32 megs of NAND Flash available as non-volatile storage, a user replaceable battery and both an SD and CF slots. It also has built-in WiFi. This stable unit offers a lot of great features for the price and sells well. It's predecessor, the e740 was a bit buggy, but the e750 is more reliable. Toshiba PDAs don't have as many expansion possibilities as the iPAQ 5500 series, and their customer service record in terms of reliability and updates isn't as good.

What's the difference between the e750 and e755? The e755 comes bundled with ArcSoft PhotoBase software.

Toshiba e805
The e805 came out in the late Fall of 2003 and is gradually replacing the e750. It's currently the only Pocket PC that has a VGA 640 x 480 display. While the unit is one of the larger Pocket PCs, it needs to be a bit larger to accommodate the 4" transflective display. This 400 MHz unit is a real powerhouse and is my favorite Pocket PC at the moment. It has 160 megs of total available RAM (128 megs RAM and 32 megs NAND flash), a CF type II slot, and SD slot that supports SDIO and integrated WiFi 802.11b (European models have Bluetooth instead of WiFi). While only select apps run in VGA out of the box, there are freeware apps that allow you to run all programs in VGA (see review for further info).

What's the difference between the e800 and e805? The e805 comes bundled with ArcSoft PhotoBase software.

Conclusion

The ASUS A716 is a great bargain and is perfect for power users who want lots of expansion and dual wireless. If you don't mind a large Pocket PC, do consider it.

The iPAQ 4155 is a great choice if you're looking for a very small and light Pocket PC with an attractive and great networking features. It has a fast processor, a lovely display and a decent 55 megs of available RAM. If you need LEAP support for WiFi, the iPAQs are you only choice right now.

The iPAQ 4350 is everything that the 4150 is, except it's larger. If you're a thumb keyboard fan, then this model should be on your short list, since it's the only Pocket PC to offer an integrated thumb keyboard. Dual wireless, a large battery and the keyboard make it a great unit for folks who want to do lots of emails or instant messaging.

The iPAQ 5500 series is hard to beat for its quality, maturity and stability. It's got great specs, an excellent display and very good battery life. If you're a power user looking for myriad expansion possibilities, it's hard to beat the iPAQ thanks to all the sleeves and accessories available. If you're hankering to use PCMCIA cards, then the iPAQ is the only way to go, since no other current Pocket PC can use PCMCIA cards. If you need both built-in WiFi and Bluetooth and/or serious security, check out the 5555.

The Mitac Mio 168 is a great choice if you're a GPS user thanks to the integrated GPS receiver. The unit performs well, has a beautiful display, SDIO and an excellent GPS software bundle. While the Mitac brand is new in the US, they've been selling Pocket PCs in Asia for a few years and have a strong track record there.

The Toshiba e750 is also an excellent choice! My job gets hard when there are several models competing for the top spot, but that's a great problem to have. It has top of the line features and has a CF slot which the iPAQ doesn't, unless you add the CF sleeve. It's reliable, and battery runtimes are decent, though not nearly as good as the iPAQ. However, you can swap another battery in if you need longer runtimes. The e750 doesn't have the wealth of accessories and expansion possibilities of the iPAQ, but there are enough goodies out there to make many users happy. If you can find the e750 in stores, you'll likely see a handsome discount since this model is being phased out and the e805 will be Toshiba's high end Pocket PC.

The Toshiba e805 is a must have if you want more screen real estate. It's the only VGA Pocket PC, and that makes a world of difference when reading eBooks, surfing the web and working on spreadsheets. It's got great expandability with dual card slots, plenty of memory and a fast processor. A large unit with integrated WiFi, and a must have for power users.

Comparison Matrix

Pocket PC Processor RAM Expansion Slots Replaceable battery? Built-in Networking? SDIO? List Price $US Picture & Amazon Price
ASUS A620 400MHz Intel PXA255 64 megs (58.7 available) CF no Bluetooth on A620BT only N/A $339 ($419 for A620BT)  
ASUS A716 400MHz Intel PXA255

64 megs RAM (55.79 available)

25 megs of NAND Flash RAM also available

SD and CF yes WiFi and Bluetooth no $450  
iPAQ 1935 203 MHz Samsung S3C2410 64 megs (56 avail) SD yes None yes $249
iPAQ 1940 266 MHz Samsung S3C2410 64 megs (56 avail) SD yes Bluetooth yes $299
iPAQ 2215 400 MHz XScale 64 megs (56 avail) SD & CF yes Bluetooth yes $399
Pocket PC Processor RAM Expansion Slots Replaceable battery? Built-in Networking? SDIO? List Price $US Picture & Amazon Price
iPAQ 4155 400 MHz XScale 64 megs (55 avail) SD yes Bluetooth, WiFi yes $449

iPAQ 4355

(thumb keyboard)

400 MHz XScale 64 megs (55 avail) SD yes Bluetooth, WiFi yes $499
iPAQ 5555 400 MHz XScale

128 megs

17 megs of Flash ROM also available

SD yes Bluetooth, WiFi yes $649
Dell Axim X3
Basic
300 MHz XScale 32 megs SD yes None yes $229 Sold Direct by Dell
Dell Axim X3
Advanced
400 MHz XScale

64 megs

32 megs of Flash ROM also available

SD yes WiFi on X3i model only yes $329 Sold Direct by Dell
Dell Axim X5
Basic
300 MHz XScale 32 megs SD & CF yes None no $199 Sold Direct by Dell
Dell Axim X5
Advanced
400 MHz XScale

64 megs

21 megs of Flash ROM also available

SD & CF yes None no $325 Sold Direct by Dell
Pocket PC Processor RAM Expansion Slots Replaceable battery? Built-in Networking? SDIO? List Price $US Picture & Amazon Price

Mitac Mio 168

(Has GPS)

300 MHz XScale 64 megs SD no None Yes $499  
Toshiba e405 300 MHz XScale 64 megs SD no None Yes $299
Toshiba e750 400 MHz XScale

64 megs

32 megs of Flash ROM also available

SD & CF yes WiFi yes (limited) $499

Toshiba e805

(VGA Display)

400 MHz XScale

128 megs

32 megs of Flash ROM also available

SD & CF yes WiFi yes $599
ViewSonic V36
(has built-in VGA camera)
300 MHz XScale

64 megs
(57 avail)

SD yes no yes $329
Pocket PC Processor RAM Expansion Slots Replaceable battery? Built-in Networking? SDIO? List Price $US Picture & Amazon Price

 

 

 

 

Back to MobileTechReview.com Home Questions? Comments? Post them in our Discussion Forum!