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Toshiba e740 Pocket PC

(Discontinued)
Posted by Lisa Gade, Editor-in-Chief

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.

Toshiba e740

 

 

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 below)

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 buying one.

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.

 

 

 

 

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Post them in our Discussion Forum!

 

Benchmarks

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.

Benchmark Data

Test Compaq iPAQ 3835 ROM 1.15 (StrongARM, 206 MHz) Toshiba e740 (XScale 400 MHz) iPAQ 3970 (XScale 400 MHz) Toshiba e330/ e335 (XScale 300 MHz)
CPU Floating Point 8.05 12.66 12.66 9.49
CPU Integer 15.53 26.92 26.95 20.11
Graphics Bitmap BitBlt 8.2 76.31 26.42 56.41
Graphics Bitmap StretchBlt 0.55 0.25 0.79 0.30
Graphics Filled Elipse 0.54 1.00 0.51 2.14
Graphics Filled Rectangle 0.56 5.26 2.10 6.52
Graphics Filled Round Rect. 0.52 0.74 0.50 1.32
Memory Allocation 8.71 11.48 11.16 9.53
Memory Fill 0.54 0.95 0.95 0.95
Memory Move 0.86 0.39 0.37 0.36
Text 2.40 1.48 (1.30 with ClearType enabled) 3.24 3.88 (3.80 with ClearType enabled!)
SD Storage Cards 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used  
LRR/LRW 0.04/0.02 0.46/0.24 0.50/0.24 0.52/0.34
LSR/LSW 0.04/0.01 0.46/0.33 0.84/0.35 0.52/0.41
SRR/SRW 60.10/0.84 13.46/0.86 166.32/0.84 18.10/0.84
SSR/SSW 1.29/0.51 12.43/10.15 21.71/10.27 16.65/2.05

DivX Multimedia Player Dropped Frames (movies stored on built-in memory, not expansion card). Latest version: v. 8k

Movie iPAQ 3835 Toshiba e740 iPAQ 3970 Toshiba e330/e335
Spiderman 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!)

0 (zero) dropped! Av. fps: 24.00

263 dropped out of 2639. Av. fps: 21.61
Matrix Reloaded 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. fps: 23.90

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.

Suggested list price $599.

Pro: 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.

Read our comparison of the Pocket PC 2002 brands

 

Specs:

Display: Reflective TFT color LCD, 65,536 colors, Screen Size Diag: 3.5", Resolution: 240 x 320. ATI Imageon Graphics chip with 384k video memory.

Battery Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user-replaceable.1000mA.

Performance: Intel XScale 400 MHz processor., 32MB Flash ROM, 64 MB built-in RAM.

size: 4.9 x 3.1 x 0.6. Weight Approximately 6.1 oz.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and stereo headphone jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player included.

Software: Pocket 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.

Expansion: 1 SD (Secure Digital) slot, 4 bit data bus, supporting SDIO.1 CompactFlash type II slot.

 

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