(Discontinued) Posted by Lisa
Toshiba is a relative newcomer to the US PDA
market. The e310 which came out
a few months before the e740 is being strongly marketed and sold
through many retail channels and we expect the same of the e740.
This is the first Pocket PC with the new XScale processor running
at 400 MHz to hit the US market. Previous Pocket PC 2002 PDAs have
206 MHz StrongARM processors. Note that the Toshiba
e750, released at the end of March 2003, replaced the e740,
and the e805 will replace the e755.
Numbers? Does 400 MHz mean 2x faster?
It seems that the e740 does not run noteably
faster than StrongARM 206 MHz processor Pocket PCs such as the
iPAQ 3800 series. It most certainly doesn't run twice as fast, as
one might first expect given that the XScale runs at 400 MHz and
the StrongARM at 206 MHz. Both pocketnow.com and pocketmatrix have
posted benchmarks comparing performance of the iPAQ 38xx vs. e740
(and other Pocket PCs using the StrongARM processor).
We've run benchmarks using
VOBenchmark from Virtual
Office Systems and we've recorded the dropped frame rate in
some popular movie files using Pocket
DivX and have to say that the XScale is not wildly faster
than the StrongARM (see Benchmark tables
Microsoft has stated that they hadn't seen the
performance improvements they'd hoped for in the XScale. So should
you run out and buy an e740? If you've got an old and inadequate
PDA you're looking to replace then yes. If integrated WiFi (802.11b)
is something you're after, than this is the machine for you! If
you're looking for a radically faster Pocket PC than your current
Pocket PC 2002 PDA, I'd wait for improvements in performance before
That said, the Toshiba e740 has some really cool
features for the $599 list price. If we consider this as another
Pocket PC 2002 device, and forget about the expectations surrounding
the XScale, then it's still a very nice entrant into the PPC arena.
I used VOBenchmark v.
2.12 from Virtual
Office Systems to test the e740 vs. iPAQ 3835 (ROM 1.15 processor
rev B4) vs. the new XScale iPAQ 3970. I've also included Benchmarks for
SD card speeds since the iPAQ 3835 has a 1 bit bus SD slot (slow) and
the Toshiba and iPAQ 3900 series uses a 4 bit data bus (wider data bus
means faster speeds). Higher numbers are better
(shown in bold).
Below the benchmark table, you'll find a comparison
of dropped frame rates playing some popular movie (.avi and .mpeg) files
using the latest version of Pocket DivX.
From the VO Office benchmarks we can see that the Toshiba
e740 is somewhat faster than the iPAQ 3835 and is very competitive with
the iPAQ 3970. Graphics numbers are much higher thanks to the ATI Imageon
graphics chip in the Toshiba. We haven't seen better games performance JadeDragon,
our game reviewer has thrown about every currently popular game at it,
and most ran fine, though not faster or smoother. Which games didn't
work? Icy Maze, Reflect It, FogNog Blaster and Warring States.
Using Pocket DivX, an excellent and popular multimedia
player that handles MPEGs, MP3s and AVI files, the iPAQ 3835 drops almost
no frames playing the popular high quality movies listed above. The iPAQ
3970 dropped no frames (we used a patched version of DivX from Project
Mayo since the current release version doesn't run on the 3900 series).
The e740 drops a shameful number of frames, though it's interesting that
I couldn't perceive this when watching the movies (and I used to work
for Avid, a computer that makes video post-production systems, so I usually
notice these things!). The cache option in DivX was turned off for all
tests. Marc of Pocket
DivX sent me a pre-release version for the e740 that did show amazing
improvments, so take heart if you're an e740 owner or future owner.
3835 ROM 1.15 (StrongARM, 206 MHz)
Toshiba e740 (XScale
iPAQ 3970 (XScale
e335 (XScale 300 MHz)
1.48 (1.30 with ClearType enabled)
3.88 (3.80 with ClearType enabled!)
128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech
128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech
128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech
DivX Multimedia Player Dropped Frames(movies
stored on built-in memory, not expansion card). Latest version:
trailer 240 x 136, high quality 5.95MB .mpeg
0 (zero) dropped!
497 dropped out of 2639 frames.
(New pre-release version drops only 2 frames!)
dropped! Av. fps: 24.00
263 dropped out of 2639. Av.
trailer, high quality 2.6MB .avi
7 dropped out of 1887 frames
164 dropped out of 1887 frames.
New pre-release version drops only 3 frames!)
0 (zero) dropped! Av. fps: 24.00
8 dropped out of 1887. Av.
Epandability and Wireless
The e740 is the first Pocket PC to come with
integrated 802.11b (aka WiFi) wireless. Now you don't have to use
up your CF Card slot or buy a wireless card to enjoy the freedom
of surfing without wires. To use WiFi, you'll slide a switch on
the bottom of the unit (right next to the hard reset switch, make
sure you're flipping the right one!) When not using WiFi, do remember
to set the switch to the off position, as an active WiFi connection
cuts your battery life in half.
The wireless works well, though it doesn't have
the range of a CF 802.11b card. It has about 1/2 the range of the Socket
WiFi card when WiFi automatic power savings is checked (default)
and about 3/4 of the range when power savings is turned off. It
worked well with WEP enabled and when the base station was set
to not broadcast its presence (for security). The WiFi software
comes in the form of a control panel applet under the Settings
menu and has full features including link strength, connection
info (base station you're connected to, transfer rate, channel),
WEP (64 and 128 bit), and MAC address (a must if you have a closed
network where you manually enter the MAC address of allowed network
adapters). You can also specify whether you want the connection
speed to be set automatically depending on signal strength or you
can manually set it to 11 mbps (max) all the way down to 2 mbps
(mbps=megs per second). When I set it to use 11 mbps in a max signal
strength location the unit ignored me and stayed at 2mbps until
I did a soft reset. The unit beeps if you're in range but not connected
to a base station. When turning WiFi on I often had to do a soft
reset (the PDA kept telling me to turn on wireless after I turned
it on and accessed the control panel until I did a soft reset!)
It's pretty darned cool to have built-in WiFi and saves you the
$100 US or more you'd spend on a CF Card.
And now that you've got your CF slot freed up,
you'll enjoy using IBM Microdrives, CF memory and modems in the
type II slot. Like the Casio E-200, this unit also has an SD card
slot, making it a top of the line unit in terms of expandability.
The SD slot suports SDIO, which means communications SD cards like
Toshiba's Bluetooth card will work with the e740. And the slot
is 4 bit, meaning it runs at maximum speed for data transfers!
Also very cool!
Battery Life, Screen, Sound, Software and Gaming
The e740 comes with a very basic software bundle:
Pocket PC 2002 operating system, Pocket Word, Excel, Internet Explorer
and Outlook, Windows Media Player, MS Reader and IA Presenter.
You won't be getting the big selection of bonus 3rd party software
as you do with the iPAQ and Jornada. Battery life isn't fantastic
(remember to use the switch at the bottom of the unit to turn off
the WiFi when you're not using it so that it doesn't drain power
needlessly). However, the battery is user-replacable, and Toshiba
offers an extended battery pack that clips on the back of the PDA.
The screen is sharp and reasonably bright, though
the lighting is not completely even. The speaker is not very loud
compared to other Pocket PCs. The directional pad, which is round
and rotates in any direction like a joystick with no clicks or
tactile feedback is comfy but hard to control when playing games.
The unit, like some other recent Pocket PCs,
doesn't have much in the way of style or curves, it's a business
like angular device. It's like an oversized credit card shape.
But boy is this thing thin! This is the one of the slimmest Pocket
PC's on the market.
Has built-in 802.11b WiFi networking. Replaceable battery. Very
expandable with both a type II CF card slot and an SD slot capable
of SDIO and is faster than iPAQ 3800 SD! Very slim. Con: No performance
gain over the StrongARM processor running at 206MHz! What's up
with that? Poor mulitmedia performance.
x 3.1 x 0.6. Weight Approximately 6.1 oz.
in speaker, mic and stereo headphone jack. Voice
Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player included.
PC 2002 operating system. Microsoft Pocket Office
suite including Pocket Word, Excel, Internet Explorer,
Reader, and Outlook. Also, Terminal Services, MSN
Instant Messenger for Pocket PC and Voice Recorder
as well as handwriting recognition.
SD (Secure Digital) slot, 4 bit data bus, supporting
SDIO.1 CompactFlash type II slot.