For its latest Pocket PC, Toshiba simply took a good handheld and made it better — at least when it comes to technology. While the e755 may look nearly identical to its e740 predecessor, it’s actually significantly better in several ways. For one, it sports a new and improved display, bigger and brighter than before. It’s also noticeably faster, possibly the fastest handheld we’ve ever used, thanks to its updated Intel processor. And finally, there’s more memory packed into the e755 — a whopping 128 megabtyes in all. Add to these features its built-in Wi-Fi capability, a carryover from the e740, and the Toshiba e755 Pocket PC is clearly one of the most capable handhelds on the market.
But if you’re looking for a handheld that not only does the job but also turns a few heads while doing it — and is affordable, the e755 may not fill the bill. Its design is, well, ordinary, and at $600 it’s clearly not within everyone’s budget. Still, overall it’s one of the best Pocket PCs we’ve reviewed.
As we mentioned, the e755 likely won’t win any beauty contests. It’s mostly rectangular (with a slight curve to its corners) and mostly silver (with a touch of black plastic piping on the sides and top). In general, the word that comes to mind when describing the e755 is plain; while it’s not unattractive, it’s certainly not attractive.
And size-wise it’s a bit on the stout side, weighing in at 6.8 ounces and measuring 4.9″ tall, 3.1″ wide, and 0.6″ thick. Perhaps in the next round of improvements Toshiba should concentrate on design.
As far as hardware controls, there are four application launch buttons and a five-way directional pad on the front of the unit, fairly standard for Pocket PCs. Below that, and to the right, is the monophonic speaker.
On the left side of the device are the Record button (the mic is conveniently located near it on the top to make it easy to record voice notes), the Scroll wheel, and the IR port. We found the Record button much too easy to accidentally press, especially when removing from the included slipcase, and chose to disable it in the Buttons Settings panel.
The top of the e755 is packed with goodies. There are the two expansion slots — a Compact Flash slot and a Secure Digital slot, the release button for the Compact Flash slot, the microphone, the stylus, the stereo headphone port, the power button, and two LEDs (one for the battery and alarms, the other for wireless communications). Two complaints: the stylus and the eject button. The stylus was awkward to remove and insert, and the eject button for the CF slot required you to use the tip of the stylus.
On the bottom of the unit are two switches, one to turn on and off the wireless radio and the other to turn on and off the battery (which hard resets the device); the DC-in socket; and the cradle connection port.
Overall, we give the Toshiba e755 Pocket PC a GOOD rating based on form. It packs a lot into a relatively small space but could use a little polishing on the design side.
Speed. If speed is your game, the e755 is just the handheld for you. It’s the first Pocket PC to use Intel’s new PXA255 XScale-based processor. While both the PXA255 and its elder cousin, the PXA250, operate at 400Mhz, the PXA255 has a faster system bus — 200Mhz vs. 100Mhz — so it can retrieve data from memory and send images to the screen twice as fast. And it does this while consuming less power — 30% less when running applications and 60% less in idle mode, according to Intel.
This new processor certainly makes a difference. Applications launch quickly, lists display almost instantaneously, and pictures pop up faster than before. Toshiba even provides a simple way to adjust the CPU’s speed in the Power Settings panel, so you can step it down to 200Mhz to extend your battery life, if you wish.
Memory. Here’s where Toshiba has raised the bar. Not only has Toshiba packed 64 MB RAM and 32 MB ROM into the e755 — both fairly standard in today’s high-end Pocket PCs — but it’s tossed in a 32 MB Flash disk. This gives the device a massive 128 MB of built-in memory — 96 MB of which is available for your use.
The e755’s unique Flash disk is actually 32 MB of non-volatile NAND Flash memory. Applications and data can easily be stored in the Flash disk’s memory and will survive a hard reset, making it an excellent place for a backup of your important information.
Multimedia. The Toshiba e755 Pocket PC is a capable multimedia handheld. I played several MP3 formatted songs using Windows Media Player 8.5 for Pocket PC, including a bass-rich song by Everlast and an acoustic tune by Shawn Mullins. The sound was acceptable through the front-mounted monophonic speaker and very good — clear, crisp and full — through headphones connected via the 3.5 mm stereo jack on the top of the unit.
It also rendered video quite well. I watched the movie To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) recorded in Windows Media Format at a bit rate of 100 kbps and it played smoothly and clearly, as did several music videos.
Screen. As mentioned earlier, the e755 has an improved display. While it’s still the same resolution (320×240 pixels) and the same color depth (16-bit, capable of 64,000 colors) found on the e740, it’s bigger and brighter. It’s now 3.8″, rather than 3.5″, and it’s transflective, making it brighter and more uniformly lit. However, it still has the slight milky cast found on earlier Toshibas.
Communications. As with the e740, the e755 has an integrated 802.11b radio. It’s initially turned on with a switch at the bottom of the unit, but afterward can be turned on and off through software. We easily connected to our office wireless LAN and to the T-Mobile Wi-Fi network at our local Starbucks. Performance was about what one would expect from a WiFi-enabled handheld, slower than a laptop computer, but with adequate range.
Toshiba includes Wireless LAN Utility software to assist you in connecting to wireless networks. You can create and retain profiles for different networks (as we did with our Office and Starbucks connections) that include information such as WEP security and MAC address.
Expansion. The Toshiba e755 comes with two expansion slots — a Compact Flash Type II slot and a Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard slot capable of SDIO (4-bit, for you technophiles) — both located conveniently at the top. All of the cards we tried, including a Compact Flash card, a MultiMedia Card and an IBM Microdrive, worked as expected. As mentioned earlier, the only issue we had was the clumsy release button for the CF card slot, which requires the use of the stylus. The SD card slot, thankfully, is spring loaded.
A carryover from the e740 is Toshiba’s unique Expansion Pack, which clips onto the bottom of the unit much like the clip-on modem for one of our old favorites, the Philips Nino Palm-size PC. However, the Toshiba Expansion Pack isn’t a modem but a port creator (as opposed to a port replicator). It provides a USB port and a standard 15-pin RGB port, so hooking up a USB keyboard or a monitor or projector is a possibility, provided you use the correct hardware and software. For the keyboard you’ll need the optional USB Host Cable and for the monitor you’ll need to use IA Presenter and IA Screen Mirror.
Power. The 1000 mAh lithium ion battery is rechargeable and user replaceable. It can be charged either in the cradle or straight from the AC adapter, sans cradle (take note Palm). Toshiba also offers a high capacity battery pack that attaches to the back of the e755 — and still fits in the cradle; you’ll probably need it if you do heavy Wi-Fi access. Overall, we got about 4 hours playing MP3s but only 2 hours using Wi-Fi.
As mentioned earlier, the CPU speed adjustment is available in the Power Settings panel. Changing it from 400 Mhz to 200 Mhz (or vice versa) results in a brief black screen before it comes back under the updated speed. Intel also lowered the voltage to 1.3 volts at 400 MHz through a variety of manufacturing techniques, resulting in more than 30% lower power consumption in run mode and more than 60% lower in idle mode.
Applications. The e755 comes with the standard Pocket PC 2002 applications, along with IA Presenter, IA Mirror, and ArcSoft PhotoBase software for viewing, manipulating, and editing images. It also has a Data Backup app that can be used to backup the content of RAM to either the Flash ROM disk or to a Storage card.
Overall, we give it an EXCELLENT rating based on function.
The Toshiba e755 Pocket PC is a bit pricey at $599. However, it does includes the fastest processor available, an excellent display and built-in wireless. Still, it could use a better suite of included software.
We give the Toshiba e755 Pocket PC an EXCELLENT rating based on value.
The Toshiba e755 Pocket PC is much like its e740 predecessor…only better. It’s got a better screen, a faster processor and more memory. Plus, it supports a bevy of expansions options, from Compact Flash to Secure Digital to Toshiba’s own accessories.
Now if only Toshiba would take a little more time with esthetics.