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Toshiba e750 & e755 Pocket PC

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Posted by Lisa Gade, Editor-in-Chief

The e750 is Toshiba's follow-up to the successful e740. It uses the same case design as its predecessor, and has built-in WiFi, SD and CF type II slots just as the e740 did. What's new? It thas the new PXA255 XScale processor running at 400 MHz, and a transflective display making it competitive with the iPAQ 5555 and the Dell Axim X5. Many users wrote to us stating that they'd buy an e740 if only it had a transflective display, so this is an important step forward for Toshiba. You'll also get 32 more megs of memory available on the e750.

Toshiba e740
back of Toshiba e750

 

The e750 runs the new Pocket PC 2003 OS (also called Windows Mobile). The first version of the e750 came with Pocket PC 2002, but is upgradeable to PPC 2003. Toshiba switched the e750 to PPC 2003 in July 2003. Pocket PC2003 is based on Windows CE 4.2, while prior Pocket PC and Pocket PC 2002 PDAs were based on Windows CE 3.0. Microsoft is calling all new devices based on Pocket PC 2003 "Windows Mobile 2003". What's the difference between Pocket PC 2002 and Pocket PC 2003 PDAs? You won't notice much difference at all. There are numerous bug fixes, improvements in page rendering times and standards support for Internet Explorer, a new user interface for setting up networking that uses a Mobile version of Windows XP's zero config networking, and support for 3rd party applications that are written for the XScale processor. The OS itself still doesn't run natively for XScale, but now developers can offer enhanced versions of their applications that should run noticably faster. Basic apps like PIMs can only run so fast, but gaming and multimedia applications can really benefit from native code.

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

Horsepower and What's New Under the Hood

As stated, the e750 was the first Pocket PC to use the Intel XScale PXA255 processor (now all high end Pocket PCs use this processor). How is it different from the Intel XScale PXA250 processor used in previous Pocket PCs? The PXA255 has a 200 MHz internal system bus, while the PXA250 has a 100 MHz system bus. This means the CPU can talk to the memory controller and LCD controller (graphics processor) 2x faster. Note that Intel's spec for the PXA255 states that the system memory interface calls for 100 MHz SDRAM, not 200 MHz. The chip is also more power efficient than the PXA250, consuming 30% less power when running apps, and 60% less when in idle mode, according to Intel. The PXA255 will replace the PXA250 on future Pocket PCs. If you're interested in seeing a simple block diagram of the chip's architecture and what the system bus connects to, click here to see a diagram taken from Intel's documentation.

The e750 has 64 megs of RAM available to the user, and 32 megs of NAND flash memory also available to the user. NAND flash memory is gaining popularity with manufacturers thanks to its low cost. The NAND flash memory appears as an additional location for installing applications using ActiveSync (destinations are internal, CF, SD and Flash ROM Disk). In File Manger, it appears as an additional folder, just as your storage card does. In terms of use, it functions like the iPAQ File Store (which is flash ROM, not NAND), and is a non-volatile memory area, which means if you hard reset (erase) the e750, the contents of the NAND flash area will remain intact. This makes it ideal for backups using the included backup program, or storing applications that you can't live without should your PDA get wiped out while you're on the road.

toshiba e755 bottom view

Left to right: power jack, sync connector, hard reset switch and WiFi on/off switch.

Expandability and Wireless

The e750 comes with integrated 802.11b (aka WiFi) wireless. 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.

 

 

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The wireless works reliably and has good throughput, though it doesn't have quite the range of a CF 802.11b card. 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 HEX and ascii), and MAC address info (a must if you have a closed network where you manually enter the MAC address of allowed network adapters). There's also a scan function that will list all WiFi access points within range. You can 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). New for the e750 is the ability to store multiple wireless profiles (home, work and Starbucks, for example), an 802.1x server validation option (to make sure you're connected to the right server) and support for certificates used in 802.1x authentication. If you wish to use certificates, you'll use Toshiba Enroller, an application that lets you create, edit and install certificates on the PDA. It's nice to have all these settings available, since many other WiFi drivers leave you with the dumbed down (though newbie-friendly) Pocket PC 2003 OS Zero Config WiFi only.

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 (which, like all type II slots, can accomodate both type I and type II cards). There's also an SD card slot which supports SDIO, making it a top of the line unit in terms of expandability. What is SDIO? It means communications SD cards like Toshiba's Bluetooth card will work with the e750. And the slot is 4 bit, meaning it runs at maximum speed for data transfers (though the iPAQ does post better speed numbers for the SD slot). You'll also be able to use existing e740 accessories, including the high capacity battery pack, VGA + USB adapter, along with chargers, cables and cradles.

Benchmarks

I used VOBenchmark from Virtual Office Systems to test the e755 vs. the e740 and iPAQ 5555. Our e750 ran Pocket PC 2002 OS. 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 PocketMVP (formerly Pocket DivX).

Test Toshiba e755 (XScale PXA255 processor, 400 MHz, PPC 2002) Toshiba e740 (XScale 400 MHz) iPAQ 5555 (PPC 2003)
CPU Floating Point 12.69 12.66 12.66
CPU Integer 26.96 26.92 25.82
Graphics Bitmap BitBlt 141.94 76.31 39.76
Graphics Bitmap StretchBlt 4.93 0.25 73.50 (grow), 29.90 (shrink)
Graphics Filled Elipse 3.70 1.00 4.96
Graphics Filled Rectangle 11.14 5.26 9.41
Graphics Filled Round Rect. 2.03 0.74 3.78
Memory Allocation 13.24 11.48 11.31
Memory Fill 1.69 0.95 1.99
Memory Move 0.47 0.39 1.34
Text 6.04 1.48 (1.30 with ClearType enabled) 21.00, 4.80 with ClearType Enabled
SD Storage Cards 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used 256 meg SanDisk card was used
LRR/LRW 0.82/0.32 0.46/0.24 0.68/0.08
LSR/LSW 0.82/0.34 0.46/0.33 0.1.19/0.32
SRR/SRW 22.80/0.84 13.46/0.86 303.44/0.18
SSR/SSW 21.59/2.06 12.43/10.15 24.53/7.20

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

Movie Toshiba e755 iPAQ 3970
Spiderman trailer 240 x 136, high quality 5.95MB .mpeg 6 dropped out of 2639 frames. Avg. fps=23.96

0 (zero) dropped! Av. fps: 24.00

Matrix Reloaded trailer, high quality 2.6MB .avi 0 dropped out of 1887 frames. Avg. fps=23.97 0 (zero) dropped! Av. fps: 24.00

As you can see, the graphics processor really shines in many tests, and surprisingly, the CPU doesn't rate significantly higher than the e740 running the PXA255 processor. The faster system bus should show higher numbers than we see here for the two CPU tests. Granted, nothing will improve XScale performance as much as a native OS (Pocket PC 2002 and 2003 OS's was written for the ARM processor, so the XScale runs in compatibility mode without faster XScale native code). How does the e755 feel? Very fast, and all basic operations feel zippy. Movies play back flawlessly at near 24 fps (frames per second) and action and graphically intensive games run exceptionally well. You won't be disappointed by the performance of this PDA.

Battery Life, Screen, Sound, Software and Gaming

The e750 comes with a very basic software bundle: Pocket PC 2003 operating system, Pocket Word, Excel, Internet Explorer and Outlook, Windows Media Player, MS Reader, IA Presenter and IA Mirror. You'll also get Toshiba's Home applet, which serves as a tabbed application launcher, their backup program which can backup the contents of main memory to NAND flash or a storage card, and a secure certificate app (Toshiba Enroller) that lets you use certificates for secure web sites (nice touch for corporate users). The e755 adds ArcSoft's PhotoBase software, which allows you to view albums and slide shows on the PDA and create and edit these on the desktop.

Battery life has improved compared to the e740, likely thanks to the new more power efficient processor. The battery is a user-replaceable 1000 mAh unit. Toshiba's extended battery pack for the e740 will work on the e750. It clips onto the back of the PDA.

The screen is sharp and exceptionally bright at 75% and 100% brightness settings. It's not as bright as the iPAQ 3900 series, but it is noticably brighter than the Dell Axim X5 (comparing all with brightness set to max). White backgrounds appear bright cold white, compared to the more neutral tones on the iPAQ. The e750 has 4 brightness settings represented by a slider with 4 gradations. These settings are effectively equal to off, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%.

As with all Toshibas so far, the speaker is not very loud compared to other Pocket PCs— don't expect to use it as an alarm clock substitute. The sound through headphones is excellent: loud, clear and it has decent bass. The directional pad, which is round and rotates in any direction like a joystick is improved over the e740 and feels great playing games.

This is a great gamer's PDA. Games play fast and smooth. The only significant problem we saw was in Racing Days: the game didn't respond to the d-pad at all. Playing Age of Empires, often the map would scroll uncontrollably after pressing the d-pad in a diagonal direction (same problem the Dell Axim had before Dell issued an updated driver). Games that played well include Interstellar Flames, EverQuest, Siberian Strike and Geopod.

Suggested list price $499.

Pro: New Intel processor which feels fast even if the benchmark numbers don't impress. Has built-in 802.11b WiFi networking. Replaceable battery. Excellent 3.8" transflective display, equal to Dell's, but not as good as HP's. Very expandable with both a type II CF card slot and an SD slot capable of SDIO. Very slim. Con: Speaker volume is too low. I'd like to see more software bundled, but at this price, the lack of bundled software is acceptable.

Read our comparison of the Pocket PC 2003 brands

 

Specs:

Display: Transflective color TFT LCD, 65,536 colors, Screen Size Diag: 3.8", Resolution: 240 x 320. ATI Imageon Graphics chip with 384k video memory.

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

Performance: Intel XScale PXA 255 400 MHz processor. 32MB NAND Flash available to user along with 64 MB built-in RAM. 32 megs ROM (for OS).

size: 5.0" x 3.2" x 0.7". Weight Approximately 6.9 oz.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and stereo 3.5mm headphone jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player included.

Software: Pocket PC 2003 operating system (the first version of the e750/e755 came with PPC 2002 but is upgradeable). 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. ArcSoft PhotoBase included with the e755 only.

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

 

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