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ViewSonic V35 Pocket PC

(discontinued)

ViewSonic is well known for making quality monitors and LCD screens. Now they've jumped into the Pocket PC marketplace with a PDA that has, what else? A beautiful screen. The V35, priced at a competitive $299 US, features a transflective LCD, currently the best technology in PDA screens. The iPAQ 3900 series and higher end Sony Cliés also have transflective LCDs, but this is the first bargain-priced PDA to offer this technology. Though the iPAQ 1910, also priced at $299 and announced Nov. 18th at Comdex, and the recently released Dell Axim X5 models also have a transflective screen. What's the big deal about transflective displays? They look very color-saturated, bright, are evenly lit and have blacks that really look black. You'll easily see the difference!

If you're in the market for a Pocket PC, this is a great time to buy, because there will be a few $299 and under models to choose from.

ViewSonic V35 Pocket PC
side view of the ViewSonic V35

 

Size, Weight and Build Quality

The ViewSonic V35 is the smallest Pocket PC, beating out the Toshiba e330 by a few tenths of an inch in all but thickness, where they are equal. The V35, which weighs in at a mere 4.2 oz., is lighter than the e330 by 1.7 ounces. Despite its light weight, it feels solid in the hand, and the build quality is excellent. The two-tone case is made of plastic, with a silver metallic front face and black back. It's fairly angular and business-like.

Power under the Hood

The V35 has an XScale processor running at 300MHz, and 36.45 megs of available RAM, though some of the first literature incorrectly stated 64 megs. 36.54 is an odd number since other Pocket PCs have either 32 or 64 megs. The XScale has recently replaced the Strong ARM processor which ran at 206MHz, and promises to be noticeably faster than the Strong ARM once XScale optimized software is available.

 

 

 

 

 

Read our Interview with Marc McConnaughey, Senior Vice President of ViewSonic's Advanced Technology Group!

 

Questions? Comments?
Post them in our Discussion Forum!

 

The XScale emulates the Strong ARM for compatibility with existing Pocket PC software, but it will run much faster when it executes native applications. While higher end Pocket PCs such as the iPAQ 3900 and Toshiba e740 have XScale processors running at 400MHz, I didn't feel that the 300MHz V35 was slow. It benchmarks numbers are not exciting, but it feels plenty fast (see table below).

Note that while Toshiba PPCs perform very well on graphics benchmarks, their real world performance is not superior. The V35 comes with a control panel applet called "Smart Battery", which allows you to run the machine in one of three modes: auto, low performance (maxes battery life) and high performance ( at the expense of battery life). For most uses, including games, auto mode runs speedily enough. If you want to watch videos, you really must set the unit to high performance, otherwise you'll see choppy video and lots of frame drops.

Expansion

The V35 has one SD (Secure Digital) expansion slot at the top of the unit. It can accept memory cards, giving you additional space to store programs and data. The V35 supports SDIO (Secure Digital I/O), which means you can use SD Bluetooth cards as well as SD WiFi cards once those become available.

Battery Life, Syncing, Sound, Display

Battery life has been very good so far in auto mode, outlasting the Toshiba models and getting about 85% of the runtime our iPAQ 3970 gets in a mix of gaming, contacts/calendar access, movie playback and MP3 playback.

 

The V35 comes with ActiveSync 3.5 and Outlook 2000. The USB connection was a bit cranky on a Sharp Actius UM 30 subnotebook running XP Pro, but worked perfectly with the Toshiba 3505 XP Pro Tablet Edition. With the Sharp, after installation, I rebooted (not required, but I tried it in an attempt to get connected), and plug/unplug the cradle a few times before Windows recognized the device and installed a driver rather than reporting it as an unknown USB device. After that initial glitch, syncing went well except when I tried to install large games (between 3 and 10 megs). The connection would drop 3/4 of the way through installation. The second attempt always worked. The Toshiba (which has USB 2.0, though Pocket PCs are still USB 1.1) never had a glitch. Let us know how you do by posting in our forum.

As mentioned, the display is fantastic! I think the iPAQ 3900 edges it out, but you must put them side by side to really notice a difference. The colors are a bit more vibrant on the iPAQ 3900, but of course, it costs a few hundred dollars more. The speaker is quite loud, and the headphone sound is on par with other Pocket PCs: very good.

Software and Gaming

The V35 is a standard Pocket PC with the Pocket PC 2002 operating system, Pocket Word, Excel, Internet Explorer and Outlook. Also included as part of the base Pocket PC package are MS Reader, Media Player 8, Terminal Services and MSN Messenger. Note that Microsoft is now including Outlook 2000 rather than Outlook 2002 with Pocket PCs. You won't be getting a generous selection of bonus 3rd party software as you do with the iPAQ (but you're paying less).

Games played well, with no discernable dropped frames in demanding games such as Interstellar Flames. Hexacto games ran well, but Jimmy Software's X-Ranger would not run. The round directional pad is great for gaming: it gives good feedback and control, and allows for fluid movement in any direction.

Performance Comparison and Benchmarks

I used VOBenchmark v. 2.12 from Virtual Office Systems to test the ViewSonic V35 against some other XScale Pocket PCs and the older Toshiba e310 with the Strong ARM processor. 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. Note the difference in performance between auto and high performance modes in the Spiderman Trailer! You really must watch your movies with the unit set to high performance in the Smart Battery control panel applet.

Test Toshiba e310 (Strong ARM, 206 MHz) Toshiba e740 (XScale 400 MHz) iPAQ 3970 (XScale 400 MHz) Toshiba e330/ e335 (XScale 300 MHz) ViewSonic V35
(XScale 300 MHz) 
CPU Floating Point 8.02 12.66 12.66 9.49 6.34
CPU Integer 15.50 26.92 26.95 20.11 13.30
Graphics Bitmap BitBlt 56.86 76.31 26.42 56.41 16.66
Graphics Bitmap StretchBlt 0.35 0.25 0.79 0.30 0.50
Graphics Filled Ellipse 2.24 1.00 0.51 2.14 0.85
Graphics Filled Rectangle 7.76 5.26 2.10 6.52 1.02
Graphics Filled Round Rect. 1.72 0.74 0.50 1.32 0.66
Memory Allocation 8.69 11.48 11.16 9.53 6.42
Memory Fill 0.39 0.95 0.95 0.95 0.85
Memory Move 0.74 0.39 0.37 0.36 0.30
Text 3.77 1.48 (1.30 with ClearType enabled) 3.24 3.88
(3.80 with ClearType)
2.20
SD Storage Cards 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used 128 meg SanDisk and SimpleTech were used
LRR/ LRW 0.84/ 0.34 0.46/ 0.24 0.50/ 0.24 0.52/ 0.34 0.62/ 0.02
LSR/ LSW 0.83/ 0.40 0.46/ 0.33 0.84/ 0.35 0.52/ 0.41 0.61/ 0.02
SRR/ SRW 16.0/ 0.80 13.46/ 0.86 166.32/ 0.84 18.10/ 0.84 25.16/ 0.80
SSR/ SSW 15.64/ 1.99 12.43/ 10.15 21.71/ 10.27 16.65/ 2.05 19.16/ 1.00
Movie Toshiba e740 iPAQ 3970 Toshiba e330/e335 ViewSonic V35
Spiderman trailer 240 x 136, high quality 5.95MB .mpeg 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

In auto mode: Dropped 896 out of 2639.
Av. fps: 15.85
In high performance mode: Dropped 146, av. fps: 22:67

Matrix Reloaded trailer, high quality 2.6MB .avi 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

Dropped 106 out of 1887 frames.
Av. fps: 22.65

Conclusion

If you're on a budget and don't need to use CF or PC cards, the ViewSonic V35 is a good choice offers a great screen and excellent battery life for the price. I would like to see ViewSonic advertise the true amount of available RAM, which is meagre compared to other low-priced Pocket PCs. I did suffer occasional sync disconnects with one computer.

Suggested list price: $299

Pro: One of the cheapest new Pocket PC 2002 PDAs available today ( the iPAQ 1910 and Dell Pocket PC share that honor). This PDA allows more people to get into a new Pocket PC 2002 PDA. Very slim and the lightest PPC on the market! Zippy performance and an excellent transflective display that's bright, color-saturated and evenly lit. D-pad is good for gamers and non-gamers alike. Con: While early marketing literature stated that the unit has 64 megs of RAM, it really has only 36.45 megs available for you to use. No CF card slot for cheaper CF memory cards, and modem and network cards. You do get an SD slot. Not as fast as 400MHz XScale Pocket PCs, and one of the slower units in our benchmarks, but a solid performer nonetheless.

Read our Interview with Marc McConnaughey, Senior Vice President of ViewSonic's Advanced Technology Group

 

Specs:

Display: transflective TFT color LCD, 64K colors, Screen Size Diag: 3.5", Resolution: 240 x 320.

Battery Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user-replaceable.

Performance: Intel XScale 300MHz., 32MB Flash ROM, 64 MB built-in RAM, though only 36.45 megs is available to you.

size: 4.8 x 3.0 x 0.4. Weight Approximately 4.2 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. eBackup 2.0 and Westtek's "Clear Vue" PowerPoint presentation viewer.

Expansion: 1 SD (Secure Digital) slot. Supports SDIO.

 

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