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Toshiba Pocket PC e350

Toshiba's range of handhelds comprises a high end and an entry-level range. Both strands have recently been refreshed with new models, the entry-level newcomer being the Pocket PC e350. In many ways, it's typical of the increasing number of low-cost Pocket PCs that are emerging today. But affordable handhelds appeal to consumers as well as business buyers, and Toshiba may have missed a trick by failing to include a strong software bundle.
sandra-vogel.jpg
Written by Sandra Vogel on
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7.3

Toshiba Pocket PC e350

Very good
Like
  • High-quality transflective screen
  • pleasing look and feel.
Don't Like
  • Meagre software bundle.
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

Toshiba's range of handhelds comprises a high end and an entry-level range. Both strands have recently been refreshed with new models, the entry-level newcomer being the Pocket PC e350. In many ways, it's typical of the increasing number of low-cost Pocket PCs that are emerging today. But affordable handhelds appeal to consumers as well as business buyers, and Toshiba may have missed a trick by failing to include a strong software bundle.

Design
The e350 looks very much like its predecessor, the e330. The livery has changed from rather bright silver to slightly more tasteful slate grey, but the design remains pretty much unchanged. The characteristic arrangement of four application shortcut buttons and directional cursor beneath the screen is familiar, as is the positioning of the speaker on the bottom right of the fascia. The left-hand side of the casing houses a scroll wheel and voice recording button. On top are a stereo headphone jack, SD card slot, microphone, infrared port and power switch. The bottom of the case houses a jack that allows mains power to be delivered without the docking cradle. All this mirrors what was found on the e330. The display is now transflective rather than reflective, and is very good with brightness set to maximum. Its 3.5in. size appears small in comparison to the larger 3.8in. screens we are starting to see, but it's fine for everyday use.

Features
The e350 is powered by one of Intel's latest PXA255 processors. These have crept quietly in as replacements for the PXA250, and should show a faster turn of speed and be more battery efficient than their predecessors. The Toshiba e350 has a 300MHz version of the processor, which we expect to be plenty fast enough. There is 64MB of RAM, which is pretty standard. If you want Windows Media Player, Microsoft Reader or Transcriber you'll have to devote some of that RAM to them, as the version of Pocket PC 2002 used on the e350 does not include these on the ROM. Toshiba falls down with the e350 in precisely the area it has disappointed before: its software bundle. When producing hardware aimed primarily at the corporate sector this is not really an issue, but the affordable e350 will have consumer appeal too, and Toshiba would have boosted its prospects there with a better software bundle. As it is, all you get is an application called Data Backup that will send key information to an SD card, plus Home -- an icon-based alternative to the Today screen that also provides quick access to running applications, either for switching or closing. Both applications are useful, but Data Backup is flawed. It shows how much space each of your data sets requires on the currently inserted SD card, presents the total amount of space required, and displays the capacity of the SD card. But if your card has less space than a backup requires, you may be annoyed to discover that it doesn't allow you to select particular data types to send to the SD card.

Performance
Toshiba has considered quite carefully where to put the emphasis with the e350, and for the most part has made good decisions. A slightly less than top-of-the-range processor is not a problem. A 3.5in. display is fine, while 64MB of RAM is standard. The battery, for which Toshiba claims ten hours' life in normal use, and which delivered precisely half that when playing MP3s for as long as possible, is OK. The hardware design is familiar and easy on the eye, and the casing is tough -- this device's look and feel is certainly more pleasing than some bulkier low-cost models. In the end there's only really one thing that lets the e350 down, and that's the poor software bundle. On the other hand, if you don't want to add more software to your handheld, or would rather buy exactly what you require than get a free bundle of stuff you might not actually need, then the Toshiba e350 is an enticing buy.



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