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Toshiba e400 review: Toshiba e400

Toshiba e400

John Falcone Senior Editorial Director, Shopping
John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
Expertise Over 20 years experience in electronics and gadget reviews and analysis, and consumer shopping advice Credentials
  • Self-taught tinkerer, informal IT and gadget consultant to friends and family (with several self-built gaming PCs under his belt)
John Falcone
3 min read

The e400 shares the entry-level position in Toshiba's updated Pocket PC line with its twin, the e405. The hardware is identical, but for the same price ($300), the e405 comes bundled with ArcSoft's PhotoBase image-editing software. Digital photography aficionados will want to seek out that model instead.


Toshiba e400

The Good

Attractive design; dedicated 32MB of flash memory for data backup; 300MHz processor; 64MB of RAM.

The Bad

Lackluster software bundle; only 16MB of ROM.

The Bottom Line

Except for its better-looking case, there's little to distinguish the Toshiba e400 from its predecessor.

Measuring 4.9 by 3.0 by 0.4 inches and weighing 4.6 ounces, the e400 has a standard Pocket PC layout, albeit with some nice design flair. The case comes in an attractive cobalt blue, and the front has a squared-off four-way navigator surrounding the detached Select button. Clustered around the navigation area are four standard Windows shortcut buttons--for your calendar, your task list, your contacts, and home--as well as a small speaker and an indicator light. A jog dial and a voice-recorder control are located on the top-left edge, while a hold button and the IR port are at the bottom. The microphone, the power button, the SDIO expansion slot, and the stylus receptacle are all found along the top edge. There's also a 1/8-inch headphone jack, so you can use your standard Walkman-style headphone.

The bottom edge has a power jack and a docking connector, along with a hard-reset switch hidden behind a rubber cover. Rather than a cradle, the unit is bundled with a bulky AC adapter and a separate USB sync cable. Unfortunately, the e400's rechargeable battery is not removable, so you're left in the lurch if any power problems develop.

The e400 packs a formidable 300MHz Intel XScale PXA261 processor and 64MB of RAM but only 16MB of ROM. To fit the Windows Mobile 2003 operating system into that tight ROM space (most current models have double that amount), Toshiba ditched the Windows Picture application. In addition to the standard Pocket editions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, Outlook, and Windows Media Player 9.0, Toshiba has included a voice recorder, a world clock, a text-to-speech app (for reading schedules and other text aloud), and a voice-command app (for hands-free access to certain functions). Unfortunately, the last two were unavailable for testing by press time.

While other Pocket PCs allow the extra ROM space--sometimes as little as 2MB--to be used for data backups, Toshiba has included a fully separate 32MB of nonvolatile flash memory. Using the included backup application, that entire space can be used to store important contact and calendar information, which remains safe even when the battery completely dies.

Like virtually every other handheld we've seen this season, the e400 sports the same high-quality, 65,536-color, 3.5-inch (diagonal), 320x240 transflective backlit screen. As a result, Windows Media videos looked great. Audio quality was equally smooth, but volume levels--while stronger than some other handhelds'--still won't overcome excessive street noise. Those wanting to take full advantage of the e400's multimedia features will want to invest in SD or MMC media.

The rechargeable 980mAh lithium-ion battery yielded average performance. Playing a looping WMV file with the screen at 50 percent brightness, the e400 lasted for 3 hours, 35 minutes. Like other Windows Mobile handhelds, video playback was disabled once battery life hit 14 percent.

In the end, it's hard to find anything too bad to say about this Pocket PC--but there isn't much to rave about either. Except for the additional 32MB of flash memory, the snazzier case design, and some nifty voice software, the e400's specifications are almost identical to those of its predecessor, the e350.