Toshiba – e800 review

Bluetooth or wi-fi business PDA
Photo of Toshiba – e800
£469

Toshiba has a long and fairly distinguished history when it comes to Pocket PC. It has also for some time produced hardware that is available in a number of wireless configurations. Both characteristics continue with the e800, though in some ways perhaps the hardware is a little ahead of its time.

The e800 is available in configurations with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Which one you choose has no affect on the overall price of the hardware, and we opted for the Bluetooth model. You can’t get a variant of the device with both wireless flavours on board.

The basic specifications are impressive, though no less than you’d expect for the high price tag. There is a 400MHz Intel PXA 263 processor pounding away at the heart, and a very acceptable 128MB of RAM supplemented by 32MB of flash memory where you can store vital data backups. This is pretty much state of the art stuff.

You also get both SD and Compact Flash card slots, meaning that whichever wireless protocol isn’t built in can be added, and you’ll still have space for a memory card. And of course the e800 supports SDIO so you can add on extra hardware. The e800 also looks rather good, styled as it is in a powerful shade of blue which makes a welcome change from all those silver-coloured PDAs.

But what is most significant about this Pocket PC is its 4 inch screen – the largest yet found on a Pocket PC – which is capable of 640 x 480 pixels. The bad news is that this resolution sounds better on paper than it is in practice.

It only works with applications that support the resolution, and these are currently thin on the ground, although Toshiba does provide some in the shape of Westtek’s ClearVue software tools which allow you to look at, but not edit, Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

Furthermore, to get to these applications you need to go through a soft reset which means a short (but irritating) wait. Users of other Pocket PCs should search the Web as we know of at least one third-party application that can deliver higher resolution viewing to existing devices.

Toshiba provides two voice-related applications. Voice Commands lets you control software by talking, while Text to Speech reads out .txt format documents. Both could be handy; the latter, for example, if you need to listen to important documents while travelling.

Battery life is rated at 10 hours by Toshiba, and to test this we ran MP3s constantly with the screen always on; more drain than the device would normally experience. We got four hours and 15 minutes of music with a total of five hours and 45 minutes of life. You can carry a spare battery to slot in place if needed.

Company: Toshiba

Contact: 0870 444 8944


Verdict
The e800 is very much a Pocket PC aimed at professional users. The high resolution screen is perhaps a bit gimmicky, but at least it doesn't mean that the hardware is over-sized or over-heavy; Toshiba has done well to keep the size and weight manageable. The plentiful RAM and good battery life are plus points.