About a year after it released its first Pocket PC, the V35, ViewSonic has rolled out the V37. Like its predecessors, the $349 (list price) V37 is a powerful but basic, no-frills PDA. Though it doesn't offer such increasingly popular features as built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a dedicated CompactFlash slot, it boasts a speedy processor and long battery life packed into a slim casing.
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Pocket-friendly: The V37's attractive, slim shape makes it easy to carry around.
Clad in a front-silver finish and bearing a simple, minimalist design, the V37 feels solid in our hands. This thin and light model, weighing only four ounces and measuring 4.7 by 3 by 0.5 inches, easily fits in a coat pocket.
While the V37 may be small, we were glad to see that its screen size was not compromised. At 3.5 inches, the entire area of the 64,000-color, 320x240 display is available to view applications. Below the screen are four programmable buttons and a five-way navigation key, while the speaker, which provides somewhat mediocre sound, sits in the lower-right corner.
At the top of the unit you'll find an infrared port for wireless communication, a Secure Digital Input Output (SDIO) expansion slot, the power button, and the stylus holder. A handy jog dial for quick maneuvering between items is on the left side, along with the voice-recorder button and an audio-out port that accepts any Walkman-style headphones. The sole feature on the V37's black-plastic back is the battery switch. A word of caution: The unit doesn't have a backup battery. Thus, if you turn the switch to the Off position, you will hard-reset the PDA and lose all the information stored on the ROM. The same thing happens if you let the battery, which is not user-replaceable, run out completely. We found this to be the biggest flaw of the V37, so make sure you always carry a charger.
Powering the V37 is a zippy 400MHz processor and 128MB of combined memory (64MB of ROM and 64MB of SDRAM). After accounting for the OS and the preinstalled software, the user can access 36MB of ROM and 36.5MB of SDRAM storage. Consequently, you should use a SD card if you want to carry a lot of music or data on the V37.
Although the unit doesn't come with integrated Bluetooth or Wi-Fi support, you can purchase an 802.11b SDIO card (available from ViewSonic for $129). When placed in the SDIO slot, the card supports wireless functionality and Bluetooth. In our tests, we found that the card worked fine, with an easy setup process.
Our V37 came with Windows Pocket PC 2002, but ViewSonic has since upgraded the OS on currently selling models to Windows Pocket PC 2003. (Upgrades from 2002 to 2003 are available for $39.95 on ViewSonic's site.) As the first Pocket PC to support Microsoft .NET Compact Framework, the V37 is the best choice for developers. It also comes with a standard package of software, including Microsoft's ActiveSync, Outlook, Word, Excel, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger, and Voice Recorder; ClearVue Image and Presentation; and ViewSonic Visual Solutions Developer Tools.
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We liked the wealth of accessories included in the V37's package.
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The handy SDIO slot adds the wireless support you'll need on the road.
A desktop cradle that doubles as a charger and a base station to connect to your PC is included in the package, and you can charge the V37 with the separate AC power adapter--a very useful feature while you are on the road. Furthermore, you can add a full-size foldable keyboard for $59.
Sporting the Intel XScale PX A255 processor running at 400MHz, the V37 offers speedy performance. All applications instantly open, even when you run multiple programs simultaneously.
Battery life was just as impressive. In our anecdotal tests, the cell lasted up to 6 hours in continuous usage, but you can increase battery life by lowering the speed of the processor. However, we found that the PDA refuses to run intensive applications such as Windows Media Player when the battery has about 14 percent left. And when the V37 is down to approximately 10 percent of battery life, it often puts itself to sleep to avoid losing data.
On the downside, we noticed that the LCD, though sharp, is dimmer than that of most PDAs we've reviewed, such as the Dell Axim or the . It's also hard to view in bright sunlight.