Fusing good looks and functionality, three new PDAs are set to give Palm a run for its money.
Toshiba Pocket PC e310 and e740
When it comes to choosing a PDA you might want the functionality offered by a Pocket PC-based device but be put off by the high price and bulky design of many units. Toshiba's new e310 and e740 models make this trade-off a thing of the past, providing a Pocket PC PDA in a slim, lightweight chassis and at (especially for the e310) a reasonable price.
Both PDAs look remarkably similar to Palm devices. The e310 weighs 140g, just 1g more than the Palm m515, and its measurements of 80x125x12mm mean it is slightly thinner, too, while the e740 weighs 180g and measures 79x125x15mm.
In order to keep the e310 so trim, Toshiba has dispensed with a Type II CompactFlash slot in favour of the SD (Secure Digital) expansion method. The e740, however, has slots for both SD and CompactFlash. The e310 also has less onboard memory than the e740, with 32MB of RAM compared to 64MB of RAM.
Both devices have a 3.5in reflective colour LCD screen that is bright and offers a maximum resolution of 240x320. The e310 uses a 206MHz StrongARM processor, but the e740 sports the newer Intel Xscale 400MHz processor. Another boost to the specification is Toshiba's built-in MP3 player and voice recorder.
You can add Bluetooth support to the e310 using an SD card and Toshiba has enabled it for Bluetooth synchronising with a PC. With the e740, you can choose either Bluetooth or integrated 802.11b for wireless connectivity.
Sony Clie PEG-NR70VG
Dedicated Palm users will want to consider Sony's new Clie. The device runs Palm OS 4.1 and has an innovative design. Much like the viewers on some camcorders, the screen can flip up and twist around 180º. When the clamshell is open, you can hold it to view the screen while you're typing on the keyboard; or you can twist the screen around, close the unit, and write or tap on the screen just as you would with a conventional handheld. A camera is contained inside a small cylinder at the hinge and takes pretty good photographs at a resolution of 320x240.
The Clie's 320x480 screen has six times the resolution of the 160x160 display typical of most Palm-based PDAs. The screen looks great in all lighting conditions and its software-based graffiti area vanishes when you run Sony's included software, so you can scribble on the full screen.
The Clie comes equipped with headphone sockets and with software for playing digital audio; Sony also throws in a wired remote control for the music player, as well as a hold switch that turns off the screen, thus extending the battery life.
In brief: Toshiba Pocket PC e310 and e740.
Seriously smart PDAs offer heavyweight features in an attractive slimline chassis. The combination of power, price and petite good looks should make the e310 a real winner. Extra expansion options, integrated wireless and an up-to-the-minute processor mean the e740 is no slouch, either.
Price: $899 for the e310, $1499 for the e740.
Phone: 13 3070.
Sony Clie PEG-NR70VG
A stylish, fully-featured device for well-heeled users who like the new thumbpad keyboards.
Phone: 1300 137 669.