Toshiba Pocket PC e800 review: Toshiba Pocket PC e800

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MSRP: $599.00

The Good 400MHz processor; 128MB of RAM; dual expansion slots; impressive software bundle; integrated Wi-Fi connectivity; large, high-resolution screen; user-replaceable battery.

The Bad Bulky; no protective case included; separate service subscription required for VoIP functionality; expensive.

The Bottom Line While not the lightest or cheapest PDA, the e800 offers road warriors powerful performance and robust software.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

Review summary

The successor to the Pocket PC e750, the Toshiba Pocket PC e800 is the company's latest and most advanced model. For this review, we tested the Pocket PC e805, which is identical except for its inclusion of ArcSoft's PhotoBase software. Like its predecessor, the e800 runs Windows Mobile 2003 on a 400MHz Intel PXA263 processor. The PDA has plenty of features, including built-in Secure Digital and CompactFlash slots; integrated Wi-Fi capabilities; a solid 128MB of RAM; and a large, high-resolution screen. The handheld's speed and robust feature set will suit business users seeking full functionality, but the e800 costs an expensive $600 and faces stiff competition from HP's iPaq H4350, which throws in Bluetooth and an integrated keyboard for $100 less. The Toshiba Pocket PC e800 has many of the e750's features, but when it comes to design, the new model recalls the simple, square aesthetics of the earlier e405. Measuring 5.3 by 3 by 0.6 inches, the e800 is bigger than the e750, and the two expansion slots bring the bulk to 6.8 ounces. The solid-feeling handheld has an eye-catching cobalt-blue casing.

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Size matters: The e800's footprint measures 5 by 3 inches.

Offering a generous 4-inch view, 65,536 colors, and a 240x320-pixel resolution that you can change to 640x480 for full VGA support, the transflective TFT display is the e800's main attraction. Below it are navigation controls closely resembling the e405's. A rectangular four-way toggle encloses a small but easy-to-press Select button. Clustered around the pad are four standard Windows shortcut keys. They're customizable, but their icons denote their default assignments: the calendar, the task list, your contacts, and the Home menu. A small speaker in the lower right enables voice recording and audio playback, and an indicator light glows during alerts and battery charging.

We like the jog dial, which doubles as a Select button and is easy to use one-handed. It sits on the unit's left side beside the voice-recorder key, which can also activate a different function. The nearby infrared port lets you transfer data between the e800 and another handheld. A tiny hole for soft resets is on the right-hand side.

On the bottom of the device are the cradle/accessory port, the power cable's socket, and switches for hard resets and Wi-Fi connectivity. The memory-expansion slots, the 3.5mm stereo jack for headphones or a microphone, the power button, and the stylus holder are on top. Pulling out the stylus is rather difficult, but once you have it, you can collapse it to a smaller size.
The Toshiba Pocket PC e800's feature set packs a powerful punch. The handheld's zippy 400MHz Intel PXA263 is on a par with the e750's and a step above the e405's. The included memory is generous: 128MB of RAM, 32MB of ROM, and a separate 32MB of flash storage. You can even expand the capacity via the dual CompactFlash II and Secure Digital media slots.

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Two expansion slots make it easy to add memory.

In addition to 802.11b Wi-Fi connectivity, the e800 supports Voice over IP (VoIP), which allows you to make phone calls via an Internet connection. However, to use VoIP, you'll need to subscribe separately to VLI's Gphone Buddy Service, and prices vary according to the options you choose. The e800 offers no integrated Bluetooth capability, but you can purchase Toshiba's Socket SDIO Connection Kit With Bluetooth Wireless Technology for $135.

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Stay in sync with the e800's included cradle.

The e800's Windows Pocket PC 2003 operating system includes all the staples: Word, Excel, Outlook, and Internet Explorer. You also get MSN Messenger, the Solitaire and Jawbreaker games, and more. With ClearView Suite, you can access but not edit native files from Microsoft Office 97, 2000, and 2002; PowerPoint; Excel; and Word. The same program displays JPEG, Portable Network Graphics (PNG), and Windows bitmap (BMP) images. The Terminal Services Client enables you to connect to and control a Windows XP Professional system.

The e800's multimedia features include Windows Media Player 9.0, Microsoft Reader, and a voice recorder. And the ATI video controller has its own 2MB of memory, which results in faster and better graphics. Unlike the Toshiba e805, the e800 doesn't ship with the ArcSoft PhotoBase image viewer and editor.

Along with the virtual keyboard, the letter recognizer, and the transcriber, you'll find a fourth input method: the Block Recognizer. It's a Graffiti-like program that uses a pop-up area on the screen. You can also navigate and operate apps with Toshiba's text-to-speech feature and Microsoft's Voice Command software.

We did have a couple of complaints with the included accessories. The AC charger's cumbersome design leaves you tangled in cords. The cradle enables charging and PC synchronization, but if you want to connect the e800 to other USB devices, such as a keyboard or a mouse, you'll need to purchase the $19 USB host cable. Toshiba also sells a $99 presentation pack, which lets you run an S-Video cable from a projector to the handheld.
We were generally pleased by the Toshiba Pocket PC e800's performance. Thanks to the 400MHz processor, programs loaded painlessly and video ran smoothly. Our Jawbreaker gameplay suffered a couple of hiccups, such as the occasional frozen image, but we didn't experience anything too distracting.

The e800's display is among its finest attributes. A large size, crystal-clear resolution, and rich colors make the screen easy on the eyes. Ten brightness levels keep the view just as usable in sunlight as in dim conditions, and you can set the backlight to sleep after intervals ranging from just a few seconds to several minutes. We had to bump the speaker volume quite high to fully hear the sound, but it was clear.

The e800's videos were a mixed bag. The fast processor ensured that clips never hit any speed bumps, but the picture sometimes looked pixelated and blurry, especially during action scenes.

When we first tried to establish a Wi-Fi connection, the device couldn't locate the IP address. But once we'd switched Wi-Fi off then on again, we were up and running in no time, and we were impressed. Web pages loaded quickly; the wait for even graphics-intensive pages was relatively short.

The e800's battery life came in at 30 minutes longer than the rated 4 hours. That lasting power is above average, beating the e750's by 30 minutes and the HP iPaq H5550's by 65 minutes. Another positive is that unlike the e405, the e800 lets you replace the cell yourself; Toshiba sells backups for $49 each. A high-capacity battery is available for $109; it promises a weighty 12 hours of handheld use.

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