HP iPaq Pocket PC H4150
With both Wireless LAN and Bluetooth as standard the H4150 boasts impressive connectivity and also offers a good processor and an ample 64Mb of memory all in a lightweight 132g package. Battery life is also commendable at 12 hours. A slightly larger screen would be nice, particularly since the wireless features mean these devices are more likely to be used for web access. The H4150 comes supplied as standard with file encryption software to help ensure the security of your data.
PalmOne Tungsten C
The most notable feature of the Tungsten C is its miniature qwerty keyboard for data entry as opposed to the more usual handwriting recognition system. The other strong point from this machine is its 168 hour battery life, which is far superior to most of the Windows based PDAs. The device offers Wireless LAN connectivity but no Bluetooth option. The 400Mhz Intel processor and 64Mb of RAM are pretty much standard fare for mid-range machines such as this one, as is the medium sized screen. The Tungsten C is ideal for people with wireless office networks or mobile workers who can easily get access to hotspots, but the lack of Bluetooth means that there are no alternative options for getting online if you’re out of range.
Sony Clie PEG-TH55
Although it only features 32Mb of RAM as standard the PEG-TH55 has plenty of good features that more than compensate for this small failing. The device offers both Wireless LAN and Bluetooth connections, providing plenty of options for getting online. Also the screen resolution of 320 by 480 is impressive for such a compact device, although the 310,000 pixel built in camera is rather low spec by current standards. The device doubles as an MP3 player and as well as that popular standard it can also handle Sony’s proprietary ATRAC digital audio file system. Sony has recently ceased shipping its PDA range to the international market, so you may find it difficult to track one of these units down.
MIO Technology MIO 558
The Mio 558 is a fairly run of the mill mid-range device which does not appear to have any major omissions but at the same time offers nothing to separate it from the rest of the pack. Integral Wireless LAN and Bluetooth are bonuses, but the 320 by 240 screen is a little mean compared to some of the other devices in this price bracket. The addition of a Compact Flash slot on top of the standard SD and MMC slots will be welcomed by users who wish to exploit a wider range of add-ins. Also consider the iPaq H4150 which offers a similar specification at lower price.
Toshiba Pocket PC E800 BT/Wifi
With 128Mb of RAM and a 4 inch screen the E800 leans towards the high end of the market. Rather than putting both Bluetooth and Wireless LAN into the same package, Toshiba supplies two versions of the E800 with either one or the other technology, although aside from this difference the two variants are otherwise identically specified. Despite the larger than average screen and giant memory, it is still a little overpriced considering that both wireless technologies are not included in the same unit. Also, while the screen may be slightly larger physically than its rivals, the resolution is not especially high compared to devices such as Clie PEG-TH55.
Dell Axim X3i
The Axim X3i is the wireless enabled version of the X3 model. Essentially it is the same device as the X3 Standard except that it also offers Bluetooth and Wireless LAN connectivity. In addition to this it features a faster 400Mhz processor and 64Mb of memory instead of the standard 32Mb.
Fujitsu Siemens Pocket Loox 610 (BT/BT WLAN)
The Pocket Loox 610 comes in two flavours, one with Bluetooth only and another featuring Bluetooth and Wireless LAN. The Bluetooth only version features 64Mb of RAM while the second model comes with 128Mb. While both versions offer a good specification, there is little to justify the high price tag, since the screen, processor and other key features are all largely the same as those offered by other, far cheaper, PDAs featured in this article. Perhaps a larger or higher resolution screen would make the additional cost worthwhile, but as it stands this machine does not offer enough to warrant the price.
Mio Technology Mio 168
The Mio 168 is one of only a few handheld devices to offer a built in GPS receiver, and is certainly the cheapest PDA on the market to do so. It offers no wireless connectivity as standard, but this is by the by since the device will be primarily of interest for people seeking a reasonably priced combined PDA and navigational aid. In that respect it is hard to fault the device. The 300Mhz processor is a little slower than the 400Mhz part found in similarly priced units, but the 64Mb of memory is plenty. Since GPS navigation is a key application for many PDA buyers, it makes perfect sense to combine the two devices and to do so in such a reasonably priced device is highly commendable.
HP iPaq Pocket PC H5550
Clearly aimed at the security conscious user the H5550 features a built in fingerprint scanner which can be used to lock unauthorised users out of the device. It also comes with F-Secure’s FileCrypto data encryption software to ensure that your data remains safe from prying eyes. It features a whopping 128Mb of RAM as standard and includes both Bluetooth and Wireless LAN connectivity. The screen is also worthy of note since it is a little larger than the 3.5inch displays used on many of the PDAs featured here. The price may be a little high, but this is a handheld device for serious power users who are likely to fully exploit the device’s capabilities.
Sony Clie PEG-UX50
Featuring a clamshell design, landscape format screen and full qwerty keyboard, Sony’s top of the range PDA model could almost be mistaken for an especially tiny sub-notebook. The device features Wireless LAN and Bluetooth, not to mention a built in 310,000 pixel camera. As handheld devices go it is an impressive looking machine, but that is reflected in the price and it is worth comparing against devices such as the Treo 600 which offer integrated voice and data communications. Also, note that this model will not be available for much longer since Sony is pulling its Clie range off the market.
Garmin Ique 3600
Garmin is a successful manufacturer of GPS systems, and it is not surprising that the company decided to launch an integrated PDA and navigational system. Based on Palm OS the device offers a fairly rudimentary specification, the only real high point is the large screen. Other than this the PDA features of the device belong firmly in the low end of the market. The Mio 168 offers a better specification complete with integrated GPS at a much lower price, albeit with a smaller screen. Not a bad machine, but substantially overpriced compared to the competition.
Not strictly speaking a PDA, the IT-500 is an industrial wireless terminal designed for use in physically demanding environments. It features a built in barcode scanner and digital camera. The IT-500 is available with Wireless LAN or Bluetooth as optional extras.
Dell Axim X30 Wireless
Dell’s top of the range PDA offers a lightning fast 624Mhz Intel processor, the fastest of any machine featured here. Whether you will be able to find any applications advanced enough to demand that sort of computing horsepower from a handheld device is a different matter entirely. Also included are both Bluetooth and Wireless LAN connections and 64Mb of memory. The screen is a fairly average sized affair, for such a high specification machine it would be nice to see a slightly bigger viewing area. Dell don’t release specific battery life claims, so it will be interesting to see how the high processor speed affects the device’s power consumption.
Mio Technology Mio 8390
The Mio 8390 is a fairly low end smartphone which, with its small screen, has more in common with a typical clamshell mobile phone than with a PDA. It is based on Windows Mobile for Smartphone and is equipped with a 200Mhz Intel processor. It uses a standard numeric keypad, so users will need to enter email text in the time honoured SMS text input style. At under 125g the Mio 8390 is a light and compact device which should go unnoticed in your shirt pocket.
A 3G smartphone from Motorola which runs on a proprietary operating system. Designed in much the same fashion as a standard mobile phone the A835 features email and web browsing capability. The phone supports Java, so you’ll be able to run third party applications written for this platform, although the number available is tiny compared to Windows or Palm OS. A personal information manager is included along with software for synchronising the phone with a desktop PC.
The A925 is a 3G smartphone based on the Symbain operating system which means that you should be able to find plenty of third party applications to run on the phone. It only comes with 8Mb of memory as standard but this can be expanded via the SD/MMC slot. The 208 by 320 pixel screen is fairly impressive for such a device, although at over 200g this is certainly a heavy phone. In true PDA style the A925 has a touch screen and features handwriting recognition convenient text entry. It also features a Bluetooth connection to make life easy for those who want to hook it up to other devices such as a desktop computer.
A Windows based smartphone from Motorola. Comes with 10Mb of memory as standard but can be easily upgraded using the SD/MMC slot. With Pocket versions of Outlook and Internet Explorer the phone will allow you to access your email and get online, although do not expect to see too much detail on the relatively small 176 by 220 pixel display. Unlike most other Motorola smartphones the MPX200 does not feature an internal camera.
The impressive looking Nokia 6600 is based on the latest version of the Symbian operating system and also has Java support, allowing access to a wide range of third party software produced for these two platforms. The phone comes with a copy of Real Media installed which allows you to play video clips, either downloaded or recorded using the internal 640 by 480 digital camera. Personal organiser software comes pre-installed and the phone can provide email and web access over a GPRS connection.
Nokia 9210i Communicator
At first glance the 9210i looks like a particularly large and clunky mobile phone, but it actually splits open to reveal a wide 640 by 200 colour screen and fairly impressive qwerty keyboard. It’s practically a sub-notebook in a phone. Its technical specifications are impressive throughout and the device comes bundled with a range of business software including a word processor and spreadsheet. It offers as good a web browsing experience as you are likely to see on a handheld device and the browser features Flash and Real Player plugins for displaying rich media content. Keep an eye out for the replacement 9500 Communicator due out later this year.
O2 XDA II
Styled very much like a conventional PDA it’s hard to guess that the XDA II is a smartphone, since there is no obvious antenna or keypad to hint at its true nature. The device features a fast Intel processor and 128Mb of RAM – if that is not enough for you the expansion slots allow for another 512Mb to be installed. As well as a mobile GPRS connection the XDA II also features Bluetooth, allowing users to connect seamlessly to other devices. Wireless LAN is available as an optional extra. It is based on the Windows Mobile platform and users will find a wide range of third party software for the device.
Orange SPV E200
A small smartphone styled much along the same lines as a typical mobile phone. The screen is not especially large, but this device is for people who want more phone than PDA. It runs on Windows Mobile and features a healthy 64MB of memory for data storage and additional applications. The phone also works as an MP3 player. It provides email and web access, although the latter will be cumbersome on such a small display.
Orange SPV M1000
Orange’s answer to the XDA II, this smartphone looks just like an ordinary PDA except that it features built in voice and data capabilities. With a 400Mhz Intel processor and 128Mb of RAM the specifications are almost identical to the XDA II, although the price is somewhat higher. The M1000 uses a GPRS connection to provide web and email access at speeds similar to those of a dial up modem, if this is not quite fast enough for you consider 3G devices instead.
PalmOne Treo 600
A superb little device based on Palm OS that somehow manages to squeeze a serviceable qwerty keyboard and colour screen into a compact, lightweight package. The screen is only 160 by 160, quite poor by most standards, but the package as a whole works quite well so the reduced viewing area is a price worth paying. You might not be able to write a novel on it, but the keyboard makes life easier for people who send a lot of emails from their mobile device. One of the best designed smartphones available today.
PalmOne Tungsten W
Launched by PalmOne before the company acquired Handspring and the excellent Treo 600 and now overshadowed somewhat by the newer device. The Tungsten W is quite similar to the Treo 600 in its overall design, using a small qwerty keyboard for data input. While the Tungsten W offers a larger screen its processor is older and slower than the Treo’s. In addition to this the Tungsten W is based on an older version of the Palm OS and it is this more than anything else that is likely to sway buyers’ decisions towards the Treo 600.
Panasonic CF-P1 P3CZF6B
Designed to meet military specification for ruggedisation and durability the CF-P1 is a smartphone built for use in harsh environments and this is why it comes with such a hefty price-tag. The technical specification is about average for a high end smart phone, but you pay extra for the fact that it will not stop working if you drop it out of your jeep in the middle of the desert. You will not find the device in most computer or mobile phone stores since is largely targeted at specialist markets, so contact Panasonic directly if you really want one.
RiM BlackBerry 5820
RiM’s entry level model features a low resolution monochrome screen and just 8Mb of memory. What is special about the device is that like all BlackBerries it works with the company’s desktop and server software to ensure that emails are pushed out to the device as soon as they arrive in your inbox. This means that you always have your latest emails in the device without having to regularly log in and check your account. The 5820 does not feature a built in speaker or microphone, so you have to use the supplied headset for voice services.