One of the few drawbacks of Toshiba's Wi-Fi-enabled e740 was its less than stellar screen. So it comes as no surprise that the company has endowed that model's successor, the e750, with a much-improved display. There's more good news: Toshiba has also thrown in an extra 32MB of storage space and slightly refined the design, making a good PDA even better. If Toshiba had also tossed in a juicy software package to sweeten the pot, the e750 would be irresistible. As it stands, however, the e750 and the e755 (which includes ArcSoft PhotoBase software) are nevertheless quite desirable PDAs for power users. The Toshiba is a big boy, just like brother e740, at 4.9 by 3.1 by 0.6 inches and 6.9 ounces. Of course, the device needs the extra space to accommodate its Wi-Fi (802.11b) adapter and dual expansion slots. What's new here is the unit's big, 3.8-inch transflective screen. The e750's screen has the same resolution and color depth of earlier Toshibas, but it is much brighter and more uniform.
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|The Toshiba is among the larger handhelds.|
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|Its thickness is necessary to accommodate its CompactFlash and Secure Digital slots.|
The device has the same button layout as most Pocket PCs, with four function buttons girding a five-way directional pad. For a navigation alternative, you can use the thumb scroller on the unit's left side, which is nice. We also appreciate the placement of the e750's microphone and speaker. The mike's at the top of the unit, next to the record button, which makes it easy to talk into, while the speaker sits below the function buttons rather than inside the directional pad, as is the case with HP's iPaqs.
Toshiba put a duo of switches on the bottom of the device. The first, labeled with a wireless icon, activates Wi-Fi connectivity. The second, unlabeled switch is a hard-reset switch (watch out!). For soft resets, use the small Reset hole on the device's left side.
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|The cradle and its cables are included in the box.|
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|The e750's battery is rechargeable and easily replaceable.|
The Toshiba ships with the same sturdy cradle and AC adapter that comes with the e740. Like the earlier model, the e750 has an AC jack to let you recharge the battery without the cradle if you want to travel light. Another plus: The unit's battery is removable, making it easy to replace or swap out if necessary. A leather slipcover protects the device against harm and gives it a bit of '70s-calculator style. The Toshiba comes with a 400MHz XScale processor and runs Pocket PC 2002, but the real step up is in its storage capacity. The unit has that standard 32MB of ROM and 64MB of RAM, but Toshiba tosses in another 32MB of nonvolatile flash ROM for extra storage space. If you run out of space there, you can always add more storage via CompactFlash or SD media.
The biggest benefit of the extra 32MB of ROM is for data backups. In conjunction with the built-in backup program, you can safeguard all or most of your applications and data against hard resets or other types of power loss.
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|Pick a card: The Toshiba maximizes your expansion options with two card slots.|
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|The Home program organizes applications and lets you view or stop any running programs.|
Built-in Wi-Fi is an obvious selling point. With an ever-increasing number of hot spots (wireless access points) popping up in cafes and hotels, the Toshiba positions itself less as a wireless gadget for the home network and more of a business tool for the corporate traveler.
There's nothing to crow about in the e750's Spartan software bundle. The major software is ActiveSync and Outlook 2000, though you can also find a couple of ATI presentation apps and a program that lets you send images wirelessly to a Wi-Fi-enabled projector. The e750's sister product, the e755, also includes ArcSoft PhotoBase software for viewing, manipulating, and editing images.
While we were a little disappointed with the bundle, it's worth noting a couple of small but important Toshiba software enhancements. These include a power-stepping control panel that lets you reduce the CPU speed to 200MHz to lengthen battery life, as well as Home, an app that separates the e750's programs into tabbed categories. The best feature is the one tab that shows all running programs and lets you stop any or all of them quickly.
The e750's much-improved screen renders text and images well.
The e750's screen is a great improvement over that of the e740. It's still 320x240 pixels and displays the same 65,000 colors, but the newer transflective TFT display is much brighter and more uniformly so throughout. The screen has no problems in different light levels with the backlight on and is readable, if not color-true, in sunlight with the backlight off.
Wi-Fi performance was above par. In informal testing, we had the Toshiba up and running on a wireless network in no time. Web browsing was about the same as with any Wi-Fi-enabled handheld, which means browser pages load more slowly than what you'd expect from a notebook or desktop, but it was still quick for a handheld. Testing the unit with graphics-heavy HTML pages, we noted that the Toshiba loaded pages about 33 percent faster than the Wi-Fi-enabled HP iPaq H5450.
Battery life is pretty good as well. Playing MP3s with the backlight at 75 percent, the Toshiba pumped out tunes for 3 hours, 55 minutes before the battery ran too low to play music. However, there was 14 percent of a charge left in the battery, and the unit still ran for another 45 minutes after the music ended. However, don't expect such longevity while your Wi-Fi is on.