- Light and stylish
- competitively priced.
- No CompactFlash support
- minimal RAM.
The e310 is Toshiba’s second European handheld, and it follows in the footsteps of the well-received e570. In the world of popular music it’s often said that if an artist has had a first-time hit, the follow-up is always a much tougher proposition. This analogy transfers nicely to the handheld world. Toshiba has come up with a very different device second time around -- but will it be as strong as the company’s first effort?
Toshiba claims that the e310 is a ‘strategic mobile computing device that fills the void in the current handheld market’. We aren’t entirely sure about that. It has been priced to be competitive at around £314 (ex. VAT; £369 inc. VAT) and this will certainly enhance its appeal. However, many of its specifications are mirrored elsewhere. Like its Pocket PC 2002 rivals, the e310 sports a 206MHz Intel StrongARM processor. It only has 32MB of on-board memory, which these days is really a minimal amount, to complement its 32MB of Flash ROM. The 3.5in., 240 by 320 pixel display is a reflective TFT that handles 65,536 colours. Toshiba claims a maximum life of ten hours from the Li-ion battery.
Where the e310 differs from the rest of the Pocket PC crowd is in its size and weight. Toshiba has gone for portability in a big way, and the e310 is just 1.2cm thick and weighs a mere 140g. It’s hard to imagine these dimensions, we know, but take our word for it that ‘featherweight’ is an apt description.
To help keep the price, weight and overall size down, Toshiba has abandoned CompactFlash. Toshiba’s first European device, the e570, carried both CompactFlash and Secure Digital slots. This was one of the features that made it a very desirable device. Toshiba, like so many other portable hardware manufacturers, is keen on wireless networking, and having both slots in a device allows for memory expansion and a card-based wireless connection at the same time. By omitting a CompactFlash slot this time, Toshiba has forced reliance on a wireless SD card which, when in use, precludes the expansion of that 32MB of internal memory.
Toshiba’s usual design strengths show through, however, and help to increase the desirability of the e310. Overall it has a ‘flat’ appearance. The front of the metal casing houses application shortcut and directional movement buttons that protrude only slightly. On the left and top edges there's a very smooth jog-dial wheel, a record button and a power switch, all of which are discreet -- there is no chance of hitting one of these accidentally, which is a common design fault with some other handhelds. There is also a headphone jack for stereo sound output in case the built-in speaker isn't up to the job.
Overall, the e310 stands up well in comparison with other currently available Pocket PC 2002 devices. It’s a bit short on RAM, and the reliance on SD expansion is irritating (although nowadays increasingly common). On the plus side, it's thin, sleek and very portable, and has considerable minimalist appeal. Pricing is competitive too.