IntroBuilding on the business-centric , Asus is back at it with the MyPal A730. The company supercharges this model with a 520MHz processor, an integrated camera, Bluetooth, and a VGA screen. But because the A730 doesn't match the performance of the best PDAs we've tested, lacks integrated Wi-Fi, and carries the relatively high price tag of $499, users will better meet their needs with products such as the and the . The Asus MyPal A730 is more stylish than its predecessor, the . The dark-gray bezel that surrounds the 3.7-inch, 640x480-pixel VGA screen contrasts nicely with the silver-plastic back cover, and the A730's smooth, rounded edges provide a comfortable grip. Asus has also trimmed the device down to a more compact 4.6 by 2.9 by 0.6 inches. Despite weighing a relatively hefty six ounces, the PDA doesn't feel particularly heavy, thanks to its having a plastic back cover rather than a sturdier aluminum frame.
Below the screen are the navigational toggle and four programmable application buttons that default to the usual functions: Today, Calendar, Contacts, and To-Do. Serious gamers, however, will want to steer clear of this model because of the raised Select button in the center of the toggle, which we frequently pressed by accident while trying to navigate up or down.
On the left side below the power control is a button marked with a camera icon. Strangely, our review unit arrived with that button programmed to operate the voice recorder. This proved an insignificant problem, though, as the button was easy to reprogram. Along the top of the device are the headphone jack, the IR port, and a slot for CompactFlash and SDIO/MMC expansion cards. The back of the handheld houses a speaker, a camera lens, and a small mirror for self-portraits. The A730 features a 1,100mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which users can replace by sliding off the back cover.
We had one major gripe about the A730's design. The stylus resides in a slot on the bottom of the handheld, which proved both inconvenient and unnatural. We often used the device when it was in the cradle, but to get at the stylus, we first needed to lift up the PDA. As a consolation, a stylus holder is built into the cradle. Aside from the desktop synchronization cradle, other extras in the box include a travel charger and a protective case.
Designed with the business user in mind, the Asus MyPal A730 has a 520MHz Intel PXA 270 processor and 64MB of RAM. Though only 48MB are user accessible (for storing files and applications and providing processor headroom), the A730 has both SDIO/MMC and CompactFlash expansion slots, so you have plenty of room to grow. And although the device has built-in Bluetooth support, we were disappointed by its lack of Wi-Fi, which is quickly becoming the norm for PDAs in this price range. We used thewhen testing the A730, and it worked seamlessly. You can also use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions simultaneously.
Of course, the A730's standout feature is its VGA screen, which has twice the resolution of those on most Pocket PCs. The difference is quite noticeable, even when looking at raw text. Microsoft has updated the OS with a bevy of visual improvements, including new icons, onscreen keyboard buttons, and graphical touches such as more smoothly rounded corners and gradients that take advantage of the increased resolution.
Mixing a little work and pleasure, Asus includes a 1.3-megapixel digital camera that snapped surprisingly good still shots at resolutions up to 1,280x960. But its video abilities were perhaps even more impressive. The A730 can record MPEG-4 videos with audio at resolutions of up to 352x288 pixels. Asus also built in a small flash--a feature that we always want with PDA cameras. Unfortunately, the flash was so dim that it was pretty much useless. Still, the camera worked better than most in dimly lit environments.