(Discontinued, the e830 replaces
it in Europe, Canada and Asia)
Review by Lisa
Gade, Editor in Chief, posted Dec. 9th, 2003
Note: the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition for US owners is
now available from Toshiba here.
Toshiba's had an epiphany this fall, and the
budget-minded e405 and high end
e805 models are the proof. Once know for bland styling and missing
out on the SDIO bandwagon; both these new models overcome that
with their sleek new styling and SDIO Now! support.
The Toshiba e805 is simply an awesome device,
thanks in part to a kind developer who released a free application
which allows all apps to run in VGA mode. The e805 is the most
innovative Pocket PC since the iPAQ 3600, thanks primarily to its
superb 4" VGA display, and secondly its very functional voice
command and text to speech software. The e805 can run in standard
Pocket PC QVGA (quarter VGA) resolution at 240 x 320 pixels or
in VGA mode at 480 x 640 pixels. The catch is that as shipped,
only the Westtek ClearVue Suite runs in VGA mode. 3rd party apps
designed to work in VGA such as the NetFront 3.1 web browser will
also work. As mentioned, an add-in application from a developer
will allow all apps to run in VGA, and that's when this unit really
To top it off, the e805 has integrated WiFi (US
models, overseas folks get Bluetooth or WiFi), 160 megs total memory,
SD and CF expansion slots, a fast ATI graphics controller with
2 megs of video RAM and a very stylish design. While not perfect
(what PDA is perfect?), this is a fine unit for power users. What's
the difference between the e800 and e805? The e805 includes
ArcSoft PhotoBase image viewing software, while the e800
does not .
The e805 is finished in a midnight blue color,
with a shiny black plastic inset above the display and brushed
aluminum side grips. The case has stylish curves and feels good
in hand. Build quality is good, with no creaks or misaligned parts.
The telescoping metal and plastic stylus lives in a silo on the
upper right corner of the PDA, and is not the Toshiba's strongest
point: it's small and doesn't always stay extended. It has a fairly
narrow tip, and that's because you need a smaller tip to improve
accuracy when the unit is in VGA mode (other units with high pixel
density displays such as the Sony
Clié UX50 and Samung NEXiO
S160 also come with small-tipped styli). As with the Toshiba
e405, the power button on the top left edge is the smallest I've
seen on a PDA. This is a large Pocket PC, and that's the price
you'll pay for the 4" display (the largest available on a
Pocket PC) and good sized user-replaceable battery.
There are two LEDs. One is located to the left
of the d-pad and that can glow either amber or green and indicates
charging status and alarm notifications. The small LED at the top
glows amber when WiFi is turned on. The recessed record button
is located on the upper left side just above the jog/action dial
(press it in to launch a highlighted application, but have a steady
hand). The IR port is located on the lower left side (not ideal
for IR keyboards) and a hold slider switch sits below the jog dial.
It's great to have a hold button, a la Sony, so that accidental
button presses don't turn the unit on when in pocket or purse.
The soft reset hole is located on the right side, and the headphone
jack and SD slot are on the top edge. The WiFi switch is located
on the bottom (you can also use software to turn WiFi on/off),
and thankfully Toshiba has put a rubber cover over the hard reset
switch so users will no longer accidentally erase their PDA when
intending to slide the WiFi switch as with the Toshiba e750.
Toshiba came up with a new d-pad
and application button design for the e405 and e805. The large, square-ish
5-way center d-pad is surrounded tightly by the standard 4 application
buttons, making for a larger rectangle. The d-pad moves easily in all
directions, and though the bottom two application buttons (Tasks and
Calendar) are made of one sheet of metal connected by a thin center
band, they operate independently and simultaneously when needed for
gaming. Oddly, the Home button doesn't do anything if you're simultaneously
pressing the d-pad, which means you won't want to assign the Home button
an important or oft-used function in games that also make heavy use
of the d-pad. There is a slight lag in response when using the d-pad,
but you'll only notice this when playing games that require close timing.
When I played Hexacto's Bounty
Hunter Pinball, the few milliseconds made a difference between
getting good action off of the flippers vs. having the ball roll out
of play. There's an option to change the d-pad from 4-way mode (not
counting the center press which brings it up to 5-way) to 8 way mode,
thus supporting diagonal movement.
The e805 comes with a USB sync cradle that has a weighted
round base and a clear back support for the PDA. You can swap the plastic
back support between two different slots on the cradle, depending on
whether you're placing the e805 in there with the standard or extended
battery attached to the PDA. The bottom edge of the base has a clear
plastic ring that lights electric blue when the Toshiba is in the cradle— pretty
cool! Though it's a high end Pocket PC, the e805 doesn't come with a
case or a spare stylus.
Since the e805's VGA display makes it the perfect companion
for writing on the road, you'll be happy to know that the new ThinkOutside Stowaway
Wireless IR keyboard works perfectly with the Toshiba.
Horsepower and Features
The e805 has an Intel XScale PXA263 processor running
at 400 MHz, and 400 MHz is the top speed for current Pocket PCs. It performed
well in all tasks, including game playing and video playback. In QVGA
mode, it performed exceptionally well for video playback, and was quite
good in VGA mode. If you so desire, you can leave the processor speed
at 400 MHz, or use the power control panel applet to set the speed down
to 200 or 100 MHz to extend battery life.
It has 128 megs of RAM, and has 32 megs of non-volatile
NAND flash ROM where you can store programs, data and backups. Flash
ROM won't be erased even if you hard reset your Pocket PC. The operating
system itself is stored in a separate 32 meg flash ROM area.
The Toshiba runs Pocket PC 2003 Premium Edition, which
is the full featured version of the OS (compared to PPC 2003 Professional
Edition). This means MS Reader, Terminal Services and Microsoft's new
Images program are pre-installed in ROM.
For expansion, you've got the IR port, an SD slot supporting
SDIO and a CF slot that works with type I and II cards. That's quite
a range of expansion possibilities, and the CF slot allows you to use
commonly available networking, modem and GPS cards as well as MicroDrives.
While older Toshiba's had SD slots that didn't play nicely with SD networking
cards, the e805 which supports SDIO and SDIO Now! and is compatible with
SD networking cards.
The e805 has USB host capability, which means you can
plug in USB peripherals such as mice, keyboards and some mass storage
devices. To do this, you'll need to purchase Toshiba's $20 adapater cable
which plugs into the sync port on the bottom of the PDA; or get Toshiba's
Presentation Pack which clips onto the bottom of the PDA and provides
both USB and VGA ports.
Screen, Sound, and Gaming
The Toshiba's 4" transflective display is its
biggest selling point. Ironically, this is the best PDA for both those
with poor and excellent eyesight. Because it has the largest Pocket PC
screen on the market, everything is large and easy to read in standard
QVGA resolution, making it a great choice for those with old or tired
eyes. If you have good eyesight, you'll fall in love with VGA mode, which
shows you 4 times as much as you'd see on a QVGA display. The display
is exceptionally sharp with a high dot pitch to support 480 x 640 resolution
in a 4" diagonal area. it's also very bright, color saturated and
sharp. It shows no discernable color bias and is a pleasure to use when
viewing photos. It has 10 brightness gradations and an option to allow
the unit to automatically set the screen brightness in relation to remaining
battery power (this seems to keep the screen at 50% brightness on battery
power most of the time). I like bright displays and rarely run my PDAs
a low illumination settings, and I never felt a need to run the Toshiba
above 2/3rds brightness. I purchased my unit from a local retailer (it
wasn't an intentionally perfect review unit) and it had no bad pixels.
Because the e805 uses an ATI graphics accelerator chip
with a whopping 2 megs of video RAM (most other Pocket PCs have 384k),
the unit far exceeds other Pocket PCs in graphics benchmarks when running
in QVGA mode. Even running in VGA mode using the freeware resolution
fix application, the e805 benchmarked about as well as the Dell Axim
X3i in most graphics tests. As you can guess, this is great PDA for watching
So how exactly does VGA mode work on the e805? Out
of the box, the Toshiba comes with a resolution switching application
that allows you to switch back and forth between QVGA and VGA modes and
requires a soft reset (reboot). When the unit is in VGA mode, it runs
Toshiba's launcher that only has icons for the Westtek ClearVue Suite.
These are MS Office viewer apps and an image viewer. The hardware buttons
will not launch any other apps, and the Start Menu is disabled. Suddenly
a remarkable PDA that's so ahead of its time has become less remarkable.
Toshiba likely locked other apps out of VGA mode to avoid support calls
from folks who weren't happy with the way apps that weren't made specifically
for VGA worked. 3rd party developers can develop VGA apps if they wish,
Systems did with their must-have version of NetFront 3.1 made for
the Toshiba e805.
So why am I glowing about VGA mode? Because a kind
and talented soul who goes by the screen name "deez" has developed
a small, free application that unlocks the e805 and allows it to run
completely in VGA. That application is available here: http://home.comcast.net/~swdeveloper/ResFix1.zip .
It requires the free eVB (Visual
Basic runtime) for Windows Mobile 2003 available from Microsoft. Deez
continues to improve on his application, and another developer is working
on an additional solution as well. Deez's application can switch between
QVGA and VGA modes (also requiring a soft reset), and unlocks the buttons
so you can use them to launch the applications of your desire. Do not
use Toshiba's resolution switcher after you've installed Deez's application,
or it will disable Deez's app and the hardware buttons, necessitating
a hard reset. For now, the one drawback is that the upper left corner
of the screen is still disabled, so you'll need to press the Home button
to open and use the Start Menu, or use another program such as WisBar
Advance that allows you to tap on the menu bar to bring up the Start
Menu. In addition, another talented and kind-hearted developer has released
a free fix that replaces a display DLL and removes the "dead zone" area
on the Start Menu so you can access it with the stylus. The "UnDead
Hack" is available at http://aibohack.com/pda/undead.htm.
Deez released version
2 of ResFix at the end of Dec. 2003, which costs $10, and adds support
for landscape in QVGA and VGA modes (version 1 is still free, and doesn't
offer landscape mode). Another app called MyVGA is free and offers a
host of features such a VGA mode, landscape support and more. You can
downoad it from www.pocketpctools.com.
So if you're a power user and don't mind these sacrifices/accomodations,
then this may be the model for you. Even if you're not a power user willing
to use these workarounds, but are an avid digital photographer who wants
to use a PDA to preview camera images on CF or SD cards, this could be
the PDA for you. Previewing digicam images using the e805 and Westtek's
VGA-native image viewer is a wonderful experience.
How do apps run in VGA? Most all of the built-in apps
run full screen (Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Inbox and IE). Windows Mobile
2004, due in the Summer or Fall of 2004 is slated to support VGA as well
as landscape mode, and it's obvious that Microsoft has been building
early support into the Windows Mobile 2003 OS, given how well these apps
scale. Warfare Inc., which seems to support
every available resolution (it even runs full screen on large screen HPCs)
runs in full screen, and you can even rotate the game to landscape if
you like. Many other 3rd party apps, such as Pocket TV, Pocket WiNC,
MorphGear (depending on the game ROM) and Resco's apps run full screen.
If an app doesn't run full screen, it will use only the upper left quarter
of the display and still run correctly (it will literally only use a
quarter VGA area). Games not designed for VGA should best be run in QVGA
mode. These are the only apps I've found that may crash in VGA mode,
not to mention it's no fun playing on 1/4 of the screen. I can't wait
until developers release VGA versions of their games, though this may
not happen on a large scale until the release of Windows Mobile 2004.
The sound volume is OK, and Toshiba still hasn't decided
to improve much on their famously quiet and tinny speaker. I could hear
alarms, movies and MP3s in quiet environments, but not in noisy environments.
What a shame since we'd all like to hear that nifty text to speech in
a variety of environments. Of course if you're listening to MP3s, you'll
want to use headphones that connect to the standard 3.5mm stereo headphone
jack. With a decent set of headphones, music will sound great. Like all
Pocket PCs, the e805 has a voice recorder, and Toshiba has included their
own recording app which is more full-featured than the standard one built
into the Notes application. Sound recording quality is better than other
Pocket PCs, and I assume that Toshiba used a better mic to ensure that
voice command works well. The e805 includes an Audio control panel applet
that allows you to adjust the microphone EQ for "Short Range Recording", "Normal" and "Conference
Recording". You can also set the headphone volume independent of
the speaker volume and even set the right and left headphone channel
The e805 performed well playing intensive games including
NES emulators. Other than the slight button lag which can mess up your
timing in some games, gamers should enjoy this unit.
The e805 comes with a 1320 mAh Lithium Ion
battery that is user replaceable (you can swap a fresh battery
in, as you can with a mobile phone). That's a decent sized battery
and the e805 needs it to drive the large display and WiFi. If
you need more power, Toshiba sells an optional 2640 mA extended
battery, and like all extended Pocket PC batteries, it will increase
the thickness of the PDA. How have battery run times been with
the standard battery? I was pleased with my unit, which outran
my power hungry HP iPAQ 5555. I had
the unit set to 2/3 brightness, speaker volume set to max with
WiFi set to auto power saving mode. In a mix of PIM usage, eBook
reading, light work in Pocket Word and Pocket Excel, video watching
and gaming with WiFi off, I've been getting 4 hours. Gaming and
watching movies will decrease your run times, while eBook reading
and PIM usage has much less impact on run times. With WiFi on,
I was able to get an average of 2.75 hours when surfing the Net.
Voice Command and Text to Speech
Now this is pretty neat, and not only that,
it's useful! The e805 and its little brother the e405 come with
Toshiba's Voice Command and Text to Speech applications. Simply
install these from the included CDROM and you're on your way
to having meaningful dialogs with your Pocket PC. The Text to
Speech application requires about 5 megs of space and the Voice
Command takes under 1 meg. When you install Voice Command, you'll
likely assign it to the record button. Press this button and
the Toshiba beeps to let you know it's listening and displays
an icon on the taskbar. When it recognizes a command it will
play a pleasant sound and do whatever you'd asked it. If it doesn't
hear or understand you it plays a drum beat sound. I didn't have
great expectations for this application given the weak voice
command functionality in first generation Windows XP Tablet PCs
and Microsoft's own $40 Voice Command software for Pocket PC;
however the e805 proved nearly 100% accurate! The Toshiba had
no problems recognizing a range of voices (it doesn't train to
your voice, which is probably a good thing), and even lightly
accented speakers had no trouble getting things done. There are
quite a long list of possible commands, including button emulation
(enter, move up/down/left/right and power off); program launching
(run Today, IE, Calendar, Contacts, Appointments, Inbox, Mail,
Media Player, Home, Backup, Text to Speech); Time and Date (today's
date, what is today, what is the date, what is today's date,
read the date, read today's date, date, what time is it, what
is the time, what is the current time, read the current time,
current time, time); Help (show commands, show help, help); Controlling
volume (volume up, volume down); and several Misc commands such
as Start Menu, OK, cancel, yes, no and escape. There are also
commands to insert text, run up to 10 programs of your choice
and many commands specific to the built-in Pocket PC applications.
The large selection of commands and common ways to issue them
should suit most folks. Other than the customizable program launching
for 10 applications, you can't add further commands.
Below are images of the Toshiba e805 with
the extended battery. It increases the thickness of the unit,
but the battery has rounded corners that make it feel comfortable
to hold. The battery has a matte black plastic finish.
Text to Speech is actually comprised of 3 applications:
Speech Settings, Text Speech and Mail Speech. As you can guess,
Mail Speech will read your email messages aloud, including sender's
name, subject and other info if you wish. Text Speech will read
text files (not Pocket Word) up to 32k in size. I do wish it could
handle even larger files and Word documents, but it does an excellent
job of reading text files, and it's not that much of a pain to
save files as .txt. Remember that you can use Pocket Word to save
existing Word or RTF files on your Pocket PC as text files so that
they can be read aloud. Speech Settings allows you to set the speed
at which text is read (setting it to higher rates will increase
pitch) and set the tone (or pitch) of the voice. There is a single
male voice, and these settings allow you to set how high or low
pitched his voice sounds. The range for speed and tone is -5 to
+5, and all are very usable. The voice is easy to understand and
does a good job of pronouncing words in various contexts. For example,
the word "lives" is pronounced differently and correctly
in the sentence "He lives here" and "The lives of
the rich and famous".
If you've used the older Toshiba e750, you'll
be at home with Toshiba's suite of wireless networking software
applications. While some WiFi cards and Pocket PCs with integrated
WiFi rely solely on Windows Mobile 2003's Connection Manager to
setup and monitor WiFi connections, Toshiba provides several additional
tools. Under Settings you'll find the Wireless LAN Manager, which
provides you with link information (current SSID, channel, Tx Rate,
IP address, subnet mask and gateway address); allows you to set
power savings (auto, enable,disable), set whether the radio will
turn off after a specified period of inactivity; allows you to
turn on Toshiba's wireless indicator which lives on the menu bar,
and manually set the channel, Tx Rate, preamble (long, short or
auto) and more. There's also an icon labeled Wireless Networks,
which takes you to the available WiFi networks listing in the Windows
Mobile Connection Manager. Toshiba's ConfigFree tools are located
in the Programs group, and are comprised of the following applications:
Profile Settings, which allows you to save several profiles (i.e.:
home, work and Starbucks); Search for Wireless LAN, an access point/hot
spot locator that displays access points in range in a concentric
circle (there's a PDA icon in the center, and the closer an access
is to the center, the stronger its signal); Connectivity Doctor,
which helps you troubleshoot connection problems; and finally the
ConfigFree Launcher application itself.
How is signal strength? It's adequate for most
settings and is middle of the pack in terms of range. While it
doesn't beat out the iPAQ 5555 and 4150 for
range, it should be more than strong enough for home, work and
commercial locations such as Starbucks and McDonalds.
The Toshiba e805 comes with a decent software
bundle. You'll get a healthy dose of Toshiba's own applications
such as Voice Command and Text to Speech, which are great value-added
applications. Toshiba also provides their Home application, which
is one of the more full-featured OEM launcher screens to date.
It gives you a quick launch pad for applications; shows and allows
you to close running applications; gives you a Today Screen view
of upcoming appointments, tasks and more; and shows you battery
status plus giving icons for quick access to common settings such
as brightness, sound volume and memory status. Toshiba's backup
program allows you to back up the PDA (either everything or just
PIM data) to either internal flash ROM or a storage card and Toshiba
also includes their World Clock application, which allows you to
track the time and date in your home city and two others. Lastly,
you'll get Toshiba's IP Phone application, which requires a separate
subscription service. With the exception of the voice command and
speech applications, all Toshiba apps are pre-installed in ROM.
In addition, you'll get the standard Windows Mobile 2003 (aka Pocket
PC 2003) applications pre-installed in ROM. These include Pocket
versions of Internet Explorer, Word, Excel, Outlook, MSN Messenger,
Terminal Services, MS Reader and Pocket MSN. The 3rd party software
bundle is comprised of IA Presenter for ATI, IA Screen Mirror for
ATI and the Westtek ClearVue Suite which runs in VGA out of the
box. The Westtek apps allow you to view but not edit MS Office
documents and images. The e805, but not e800, comes with ArcSoft's
PhotoBase software, which allows you to view images, create photo
albums and make minor edits to photos.
We've run benchmarks using VOBenchmark 3 from Virtual
Office Systems. I've compared three 400 MHz Pocket PCs with
built-in WiFi: the Dell Axim X3i , iPAQ
5555 and the Toshiba e805. The test was run in standard QVGA
mode on the Toshiba. All tests were run with units fresh out
of the box with no other software added, and the storage cards
were 60% full with data and applications. Higher
numbers are better (shown in bold).
Wow! Look Mom, a VGA Pocket PC with WiFi. And
I can talk to it too. . .
Pro: Top of the list: that amazing VGA display,
which also looks wonderful (though a little stretched thanks to
the large screen size) in QVGA. Very good performance, excellent
display and extremely fast graphics, lots of memory. Very stylish,
and comfortable in hand. Voice and speech applications work very
well and are quite useful. Supports SDIO cards and has a CF type
I/II slot for even greater expandability. Good capacity battery
and decent battery life that beats out my iPAQ 5555. Cons: If you
want to run everything in VGA mode, you'll need to get Deez's free
application and remember to not use Toshiba's resolution switcher.
You'll also want to get the UnDead Hack so that you can access
the Start Menu with the stylus in VGA mode. To switch between resolutions,
you must soft reset (reboot) the Toshiba. Application buttons aren't
an action gamer's dream, thanks to some milliseconds of button
lag. The unit is not small, being on par with the iPAQ
5555 and iPAQ 4350 in weight and
size, but that's the price you pay for a 4" display and decent
The e800 and e805 are the same unit. The e805
is more commonly found in retail markets and includes ArcSoft PhotoBase image
viewing software. A USB cradle, charger, and software CD and manuals are included.
The charger is not the same as that used on older Toshiba Pocket PC models
(it's 3 amp rather than 2 amp, though it uses the same connector).
TFT color LCD, 64K colors, Screen Size Diag: 4",
Resolution: 240 x 320 in QVGA mode and 480 x 640
in VGA mode.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1320mA.
Optional 2640 mA battery available for separate purchase.
XScale PXA263 400 MHz processor. 128 megs RAM, 32
MB CMOS Flash ROM (where the OS is installed), 32
megs NAND Flash memory (non-volatile) for your use.
x 3.00 x .60 in. Weight: 6.8 oz.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack (4 ring, so can be used with combined mic/headset
units). Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media
Player 9 included for your MP3 pleasure.
PC 2003 Premium operating system (aka Windows Mobile
2003). Microsoft Pocket Office suite including Pocket
Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and Outlook. Also,
MSN Instant Messenger for Pocket PC and Voice Recorder
as well as handwriting recognition, Terminal Services,
MS Reader, Pocket MSN, Solitaire and Jawbreaker.
Toshiba value added software: Voice Command, Text
to Speech, Backup, Toshiba IP Phone (requires service
subscription), Toshiba ConfigFree WiFi configuration
tools and World Clock. 3rd party Software: IA Presenter
for ATI, IA Screen Mirror for ATI and Westtek ClearVue
Office Suite. ArcSoft's PhotoBase image viewing software
included with the e805. ActiveSync 3.7 and Outlook
2002 for PCs included.
SD (Secure Digital) slot, supporting SDIO and SDIO Now!.1CF
type I/II slot. IR port.
802.11b on US models, Bluetooth instead of WiFi available