It s another day and, yes, another PDA. Poet laureate I am not, but a PDA connoisseur I will call myself. On today s plate is the ViewSonic V35 Pocket PC. I ve been playing with this device in between respites of playing with the new HP iPaq 1910 (see yesterday s First Thoughts: HP iPaq 1910). On the whole I believe the ViewSonic V35 is a good device, but I m struggling to see how it has any way to truly differentiate itself from the rest of what s out there. I had the Toshiba e310 as a PDA over this past summer, I liked the e310 and it was a fantastic price (even more fantastic now) for a very functional Pocket PC. The ViewSonic reminds me a lot of the e310, except better in subtle ways. My goal here is just to get you acquainted with the V35, it s all I can do given the short amount of time I ve owned it, and fill you in on what I can call the good and the bad of this device.
First and foremost this PDA is another one of the lightweights on the block. The V35 is 4.2 oz of machine, a feather weight that packs a mean punch with 300 MHz of XScale processing power for $299 (Manufacturer s Suggested Retail Price). This is a step up from the iPaq 1910 I covered yesterday; $299 only bought me 200 MHz of processor in that case. The ViewSonic does seem to move faster than the Toshiba e310 I once owned and is slightly faster than the HP iPAQ 1910. If you re a power user you ll appreciate the extra processing power, if you just use a PDA as a glorified task planner, then why aren t you buying the Palm Zire ($99 bare bones PDA)?
The screen on the ViewSonic is nice, colors are bright and text is sharp on its 3.5-inch transflective screen that boasts a 320×240 resolution with 16 bit color (~64,000 colors). However, as I mentioned yesterday, the screen is not as bright and brilliant as the iPaq 1910 s screen. One might assume that ViewSonic would try and standout with the best screen bar none, their PC monitors are the best in the business, but HP takes the best PDA Screen trophy in this round. From what I ve heard the ViewSonic screen is slightly better than the Dell Axim s, but that s not said from first hand experience and I can only definitively say that when I get the Axim very soon.
The stylus and case that come with the ViewSonic are actually quite nice. The stylus is thick and easy to hold, it is telescopic so that it can be extended to the appropriate length for your hand. The Toshiba e310 came with a really cheesy fake leather case, the ViewSonic on the other hand comes with a halfway decent case, still not great, but for something that is usually not included with a PDA purchase I ll take it.
It was nice of ViewSonic to load all the basic applications onto the device that I generally use, yesterday I was irked when HP made me install Windows Media Player and Microsoft Reader onto the 1910, presumably to make it look like the PDA came with more memory initially. ViewSonic did the right thing and has these applications pre-installed, you can remove them if you wish, but you d be robbing yourself of MP3 playing ability if you carve out Windows Media Player.
The cradle for the ViewSonic is decent, I don t have any problem getting the device in and out of the cradle, it s not tight fitting when in there but not loose either. Overall the cradle is nothing special, simply functional.
Speaking of MP3 playing, being a Pocket PC the ViewSonic of course comes with the ability to listen to your favorite tunes. The speaker in the lower right of the device is nothing to write home about, the iPaq 1910 was far superior in the external speaker category, but the ViewSonic is actually on par with most other Pocket PC devices.
I said the ViewSonic is very light, it is almost exactly the same weight as the iPaq 1910, but the ViewSonic is larger in dimension than the iPaq and it s buttons are larger and easier to push. This is quite a feat in being able to keep weight down correct? Well, yes and no, the plastic body of the ViewSonic is what makes this thing so light. The iPaq is plastic too, but it does a much better job of hiding that fact and the case has a sturdier feel due to a harder casing with some metal embedded. The ViewSonic case just doesn t do a good job of hiding it s plastic existence, this detracts from the look but you must keep in mind your trade off is a lighter weight device.
The screen as I mentioned is very good. I might have a gripe with it though (pending more research), I found there is a slight resistance when writing on the screen, this might be more a problem with the stylus included with the device though, the stylus is good to hold but it s head is broad and could be causing this resistance. That is my hope at least!
I d be amiss if I didn t mention that the ViewSonic V35 advertises itself as being a 64MB memory PDA but that it only comes with 36.45 MB available for the user to get to. This has been covered a lot in PDA related forums around the web as ViewSonic did not disclose this fact initially. It can be a limiting factor for power users but not for general users. If, for instance, you re using a Bluetooth SDIO card in your expansion slot and therefore can t get an SD card in the device, then you re stuck with just the 36.45 MB you have on the device. The reason for this memory limitation is the way the OS is run on the V35, the OS must be copied from ROM to RAM before being able to be executed.
One smaller but slightly annoying feature is that the earphone jack has been placed at the bottom of the device. I sometimes like to place the PDA in it s case while listening to music, but the accompanying case has no hole to get to the earphone jack so there is no way to do this. The iPaq 1910 output is on top, I prefer it when manufactures go with this location.
I ll Be Back:
Far from a complete review I know, but just wanted to get these initial thoughts and experiences with the V35 out there. View the specs and the latest pricing for the V35 here and look forward to a full review and pictures on the V35 coming early next week!