By Colin Duwe
Makers of Palm OS devices have a great deal to fear from Toshiba's Pocket PC e310. This thin, lightweight, and affordable handheld delivers more powerful features, such as the ability to play MP3s, than the Palm OS offers. The e310's lack of a CompactFlash expansion slot will be a deal-breaker for certain users, but for most people, this PDA is worth a very serious look.
The e310's edge
Toshiba took some styling cues from the Handspring Visor Edge and crafted a silver handheld that is by far the smallest and lightest Pocket PC—4.9 by 3.1 by 0.47 inches and 4.9 ounces—that we've tested. In fact, the e310, the Palm m515, and the Sony CLIE PEG-T615C all weigh the same.
Despite its small size, the $399 (list) e310 has everything that we've come to expect from current Pocket PCs, including a 206-MHz Intel StrongARM processor, 32 MB of RAM and ROM, and a 3.5-inch reflective color LCD. Don't fret too much about having only 32 MB of RAM; there's a Secure Digital card slot on top so that you can pop in a card (sold separately) to hold applications, data, music, and video clips. There's even a jog dial on the side, something that Toshiba didn't include on its previous handheld, the e570.
As noted, the one element missing from the design is a CompactFlash expansion slot for adding accessories, such as modem, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi cards. If you want to use such add-ons, you'll need to step up to a more expensive Pocket PC, such as the $499 Audiovox Maestro PDA-1032.
We were initially concerned that battery life would be a problem with the tiny e310, so we were shocked when it held out for more than eight hours with the backlight set at medium. That's longer than any other Pocket PCs that we've tested. However, if you're really interested in long battery life, you should stick to a Palm OS device.
|The Toshiba Pocket PC e310 earns an 8-out-of-10 rating from CNET’s editors.|
In full color
The e310's 320x240-pixel screen easily equals those of other Pocket PC units we've tested. It’s capable of displaying more than 65,000 colors, and its reflective quality makes for relatively easy reading outdoors, even in bright sunlight.
Toshiba includes its Home software, which is handy when you need to manually stop an application that's running in the background. But otherwise, the e310 comes with only the basic Pocket PC 2002 bundle: Outlook 2002 and ActiveSync 3.5 for your PC (there's no support for Mac users), along with pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and the other typical software.
Among Pocket PCs, the e310 is a relative bargain at $399. Its only shortcoming is its lack of a CompactFlash expansion slot. If you can live without that, then this Toshiba is an excellent choice. Compared to similarly priced Palm OS handhelds, such as the Palm m515 and the Sony CLIE PEG-T615C, the e310 is a more powerful device and is far superior in terms of multimedia. If you're looking for a PDA that can also double as an MP3 player, this is the ticket. Palm OS 5 devices that can keep up with the e310 may show up before the end of the year, but for the moment, Toshiba is a few steps ahead of the lightweight pack.
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This article was first published by CNET on 6/4/2002.