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Toshiba Pocket PC e740 - handheld - Windows Mobile 2002 - 3.5 review: Toshiba Pocket PC e740 - handheld - Windows Mobile 2002 - 3.5

Toshiba Pocket PC e740 - handheld - Windows Mobile 2002 - 3.5

Colin Duwe
7 min read
With its Pocket PC e740, Toshiba becomes the first handheld maker to deliver a device with Intel's XScale processor as well as built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b) connectivity. (The European version of the e740 has integrated Bluetooth instead.) This device is packed with all sorts of other good features, including replaceable batteries and an ATI graphics chip. But despite its 400MHz processor, the e740 doesn't perform significantly faster than previous Pocket PCs.


Toshiba Pocket PC e740 - handheld - Windows Mobile 2002 - 3.5

The Good

Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity; dual expansion card slots; replaceable battery; PowerPoint-viewing software included.

The Bad

Battery switch can result in data loss; 400MHz XScale processor doesn't deliver noticeable performance improvements.

The Bottom Line

While the new processor is a bit of a disappointment, this high-powered handheld is worth the price.
Editors' note:
When initially released, the e740 made a splash as the first handheld with integrated Wi-Fi, as well as all-around decent design features. Since that time, however, there have been great advances in screen technology, making the e740's display look second-rate, so we have dropped its features and performance ratings by a point. The e740 is still a great buy, but if you want the latest technology, look to its siblings, the e750 and the e755.
It's pretty impressive that Toshiba was able to pack such a long list of features into a device this compact. The 6.3-ounce handheld looks similar to the less expensive e310, but it's slightly thicker--0.6 inches rather than 0.47 inches. The extra girth allows room for both Secure Digital (SD) and CompactFlash Type II expansion slots for adding storage cards and accessories. One interesting note: Because the e740's corners are very square, the 4.9-by-3.1-inch device feels a bit larger in hand than Pocket PCs of similar dimensions with more rounded corners.
The e740 stacks up against the deck.Surprisingly thin considering the feature set.

Below the 3.5-inch color LCD are the typical application buttons and the directional pad. In the lower-right corner, you'll find the device's built-in speaker; it doesn't exactly play loud, so you'll definitely want to use headphones to listen to music.
Along the top edge, there's a headphone jack, a CompactFlash Type II slot, an SD card slot, and a stylus silo. We came to dislike the small, spring-loaded button that ejects the CompactFlash card. It works just fine to pop out the card, but when you want to reset it so that it's flush with the top, you have to use the stylus to press it in.
Our biggest gripe with the e740's design, however, is the latch for the replaceable lithium-ion battery. We inadvertently opened this latch three times during our initial testing, which erased all the data on the device. To fix this problem, we had to secure the battery latch with a piece of tape.

The top edge of the e740 hosts both a CompactFlash and an SD slot.The battery latch is sometimes tricky.

On a more positive note, Toshiba offers a larger $130 battery pack for those who need more uptime between charges. In a nod to business users, The comapny also sells a $100 expansion pack that attaches to the bottom of the device and provides a host interface for adding USB devices such as keyboards, plus a VGA output for giving PowerPoint presentations on an external monitor or a projector. IA Presenter PowerPoint-viewing software is also included on the CD that accompanies the e740.
To protect the handheld, Toshiba provides a leather slipcover. It does the job, although we sometimes hit the record button on the left side when pulling the PDA out of the cover--a minor annoyance.
The e740 comes with the same heavy USB cradle as the Pocket PC e310. Thanks to the cradle's heft, it's easy to drop in the handheld and pluck it out. Toshiba designed the cradle to accommodate the e740 with the optional extended battery attached. To recharge, there's a standard AC adapter. You can plug it directly into the e740, too, so you can leave the cradle behind when you go on trips.

Slip into my sleeping bag.This cradle won't rock-a-bye, baby.
The e740 is one of the first handhelds to use Intel's XScale processors. The particular one inside this PDA is the PXA250, which can run at speeds up to 400MHz, and, according to Intel, consumes roughly the same amount of power as the 206MHz StrongARM chip found in previous Pocket PCs. Theoretically, the XScale processor can reduce its clock speed to further conserve battery life when performing less demanding tasks, although new applications that make use of this feature still need to be written.

The e740 has two storage-card slots.
To compliment the processor, Toshiba provides 64MB of RAM and 32MB of ROM. The RAM is used both for processing headroom and data storage. You'll have plenty of space for your basic contacts, calendar, and other data, as well as a few extra applications, Word documents, and spreadsheets.
For storing MP3s, video files, or giant databases, you'll want to take advantage of the dual expansion slots. You can add two cards for gigabytes of storage, and you can access data from both.
In our previous reviews of PDAs with two expansion slots, we've recommended using the SD slot for storage and the CompactFlash slot for a Wi-Fi (802.11b) card. But Wi-Fi capability is already built into the e740, a first among Pocket PCs that we've seen.
To provide better graphics performance, this handheld uses the ATI Imageon 100 graphics chip. Graphics coprocessors have been used on handhelds before--Sony's CLIE line, for example--but this is first time that we've seen the feature advertised like graphics cards in PCs. Check the Performance section or our review for more on this chip.

Use the Home application to turn off unused programs and speed up your system.View your favorite PowerPoint slides in IA Presenter.

While there are lots of hardware features, the software package is mostly the standard fare. The device runs Pocket PC 2002, which comes with many built-in applications, including Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and MSN Messenger, as well as a backup utility. You also get Toshiba's Home application, which makes it easier to turn off programs that are running in the background.
To try and woo potential customers into buying the VGA-adapter accessory, Toshiba also includes the ATI Presentation Pack. It includes a very nice little app, IA Presenter, for giving PowerPoint slide shows on your handheld. If you want to present what's on your Pocket PC's screen, you can use IA Mirror. Paired with the VGA adapter, you could give a PowerPoint presentation without a laptop.
We're a little disappointed to report that the speed difference is not immediately apparent to the user. It took only a moment longer to load the Lemonade Inc. game on Toshiba's e310 than it did on the e740. And there was no noticeable quality difference between the two handhelds when watching videos on Windows Media Player or PocketTV. We did find that we had to soft reset our review unit more frequently than with other Pocket PCs.

The Wi-Fi configuration screen.
We also had a hard time gauging the effectiveness of the ATI video chip. It's designed to handle some of the graphics load from the main processor, thereby delivering improved graphics, better overall system performance, and longer battery life. Since the majority of the applications that we tested were not optimized for this graphics chip, the difference was again negligible. However, we did get a hold of a prerelease version of the PacketVideo PVPlayer for the ATI chip, which offloads MPEG-4 decoding duties to the graphics chip. We watched a movie clip on the e740 and noticed smoother motion, more detail, and fewer artifacts than we did when viewing the same clip using the ordinary PVPlayer on the e310. Hopefully, more software will be written that takes advantage of the Imageon 100.
The built-in Wi-Fi connectivity worked quite well, matching PC Card adapters in terms of range, and Toshiba's included setup utility is reasonably straightforward. However, the Connections setup menu that's built into Pocket PC 2002 is baffling. Getting everything configured correctly and keeping it working as you move between wireless networks requires more than a rudimentary knowledge of Wi-Fi and Pocket PC along with a healthy dose of patience. But being able to check e-mail, chat online, and grab data off the Internet is handy.

Full-blown Web browsing is still very slow. It takes a long time for pages to load, and the Pocket Internet Explorer doesn't do a great job of reformatting sites designed for full-sized monitors. You'll need to steer clear of Java-heavy sites or those that require pop-up windows. However, the few Web sites that we found that were specially designed for Pocket PCs work well.
The e740's standard battery lasted for just shy of 7 hours with the backlight set to medium and the 802.11b radio turned off. We got only 4.5 hours playing MP3 music under the same conditions and just 2 hours with the Wi-Fi capability activated. That said, we're not too disappointed in the battery life; it's certainly usable, but you'll need to exercise extreme caution when you turn on the Wi-Fi radio. If you run the batteries down all the way, you'll lose every bit of data on the device's RAM.

The e740's screen photographed indoors with the sidelight on.
The 320x240-pixel reflective LCD, capable of displaying about 65,000 colors, performed quite well and is viewable in bright sunlight. A sidelight along the bottom edge provides fairly even illumination for indoor use. While colors appeared vibrant, we did notice a bit of a blue tinge in the white background. Despite that quirk, this is one of the better reflective LCDs that we've seen, though the latest generation of transflective screens--found on Sony's CLIE line and on the HP iPaq H3900 series--are more vivid and bright.


Toshiba Pocket PC e740 - handheld - Windows Mobile 2002 - 3.5

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8