Introduction:

Since the inception of the PDA, many men and women have embraced this mobile solution to suit their busy lifestyles. Thus, the PDA has evolved rapidly in the past few years, from simple organizers to graphical mini-computers called Pocket PCs; and justifiably so. The need for a super-compact computer is very common amongst businesspersons, and many companies are vying to take advantage of this potential market.

Perhaps one of the most prominent companies in the market, not to mention the developer one of the longest standing operating systems, is Palm. However, Palm’s own line of PDAs has, as of late, met some very stiff competition from popular handhelds such as Compaq’s Ipaq and Dell’s Axim.

However, as the demand for handheld computers grows, several other less prominent computer-hardware companies have turned their development teams to incorporate PDAs in their product line, not the least of which visual display giant Viewsonic.

We will be taking a look at their most powerful Pocket PC to date, the Viewsonic V37. Can this relatively newcomer in the handheld market compete with PDA giants such as Palm and Compaq? Read on to find out.

The Package

The Viewsonic V37 arrived packaged in a nice, solid box. It bore the Viewsonic logo, along with their standard trademark which consists of three vibrant birds perched in a line. The Microsoft Windows Powered logo is also shown on the front of the box.

The box is not overly-bloated, nor is it side-heavy and can be easily picked up with one hand. On each panel, there is information about the V37 including product specs and features which are printed in English on one side-panel, and French/German/Spanish on the opposite. Here are the features as seen on the box-

The Pocket PC V37 —

The perfect solution for a mobile world.

>Develop. The first Pocket PC to include the Microsoft .NET Compact

Framework tools, enabling developers to create applications specifically

for the Pocket PC V37.

>Manageability. ViewSonic’s airsync™ software enables administrators

to wirelessly distribute applications and update images remotely.

>Bright color display for indoor and outdoor use. Indoors

or out, colors are bright and text is sharp on the full-color 3.5" transflective screen

>Super-slim, lightweight design. Fits easily in your pocket, briefcase,

purse, backpack, or hand — wherever you need it most.

.

>Bring files from your PC with you — MP3 music, too.

The Pocket PC V37 has everything you need in one convenient package:

type a memo, work on your budget or relax with your favorite MP3 music.

>Do what you want to do. Microsoft Pocket PC applications you

already know from your PC come preloaded on the Pocket PC V37. You’ll

get Pocket PC versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, Windows® Media Player,

even Solitaire.

>It’s really fast. With an Intel XScale 400MHz processor, the Pocket PC

V37 can keep up with you and all you do — think, live, play.

Contents

Inside the box and tucked snugly inside brown, environmentally safe, recycled cardboard holders is some pamphlets, software, and the actual unit itself. Featuring a basic chrome finish and bearing the words "Pocket PC" in the top right hand corner, the Viewsonic V37’s no-nonsense design is simple and ergonomic. Four shortcut buttons, a four way directional pad, and the V37’s speaker are located at the bottom of the handheld. They each serve default functions, but can be programmed to the user’s preference.

It bears a relatively slim profile at 13.2 millimeters thick, and has a very good viewable to unit area ratio. There is a handy little jog dial, in addition to an equally useful audio record button positioned decisively on the left side of the unit. The power button, stylus retrieval, SDIO card slot, and IrDA (Infrared Data Association) module are all located at the top edge of the V37.

Also included is a USB cradle and power adapter. One of the best features of the V37 Pocket PC kit is the cradle/adapter integration. Not only is the cradle stylish and well-built (the raised back nicely supports the V37 and prevents unnecessary falls), but can be combined with the power adapter to simultaneously charge and sync your handheld. Just insert the power cord into the slot on the USB head, and you never have to worry about charging your V37 separate from your cradle. Of course, you may detach this plug for charging on the run.

Software

Included is a set-up CD which includes the ActiveSync program required to transfer data between Desktop PC and Pocket PC, a complimentary copy of Microsoft Outlook 2002, and a few extra programs that were obviously just thrown in for the sake of occupying space. Because the V37 runs on Microsoft’s Windows 2003 Pocket PC Edition, the transfer of messages, contacts, and notes from Outlook is seamless and easy.

We mentioned before that the Palm hardware is being widely challenged by such newcomers as Viewsonic. However, not only are these newcomers ousting Palm’s hardware, but the Palm OS is being challenged as well; by Microsoft’s own Windows Pocket PC OS. As more and more technology corporations begin production of next-gen Pocket PCs, it is becoming apparent the majority of companies are implementing the Window’s OS. The executive minds at Microsoft obviously know what they are doing, because Microsoft is once again gaining ground with appealing and efficient operating systems that are even more efficient and appealing due to their painless integration between Desktop and Pocket PC versions. We will take a look more in-depth at software functionality in the next section.

Functionality

The V37 is definitely not one of your feature-rich, multimedia-station type PDAs. Granted, it has MP3 and MPEG functionality, but that is to be expected in all of today’s Pocket PCs. However, that is not to say that it performs poorly. On the contrary, we found the V37 to be extremely fast and responsive in handling programs. Tasks that may elicit a pause from other Pocket PCs are preformed smoothly on the V37. Perhaps this is attributed to its processor, which clocks at a lightning 400MHz. Here are the official specs from Viewsonic-

Processor

Powerful 400MHz Intel XScale™ processor for

added speed, power savings and efficiency.

Synchronization Cradle

Quickly and easily synchronize documents and

charge the battery with the included synchronization

cradle.

Operating System

Microsoft® Pocket PC 2002 Premium Edition

operating system works much like your PC.

You’ll automatically feel familiar with applications.

Infrared Port

Support for beaming contacts, schedules, or

any file including images, music files or documents.

Memory

Includes 64MB ROM and 64MB SDRAM

(36.45MB user accessible) so you can store

more e-mail, photos and music.

Secure Digital Card Slot

Store additional files and information with

optional Secure Digital memory cards. And, it’s

SDIO compatible!

Size and Weight

With an ultra-thin design weighing about four

ounces, it truly is a Pocket PC.

Quickly Input Information

Naturally input data with the included

Transcriber handwriting software. You can also

use the on-screen keyboard to quickly input

data.

Battery

Long-life lithium-ion battery lasts up to 8 hours.

Synchronization

For your convenience, the Pocket PC V37

supports both continuous or on-demand synchronization.

 

Display

Indoors or out, colors are vivid and text is crisp

with the 3.5" full-color transflective display.

High 320x240 resolution keeps your image

details clear.

Multimedia Functionality

Watch MPEG videos and listen to MP3 files

with the Pocket PC V37. Even play music in

the background while working within other

applications.

Easily Access Information

Quickly access various files or applications with

4-programmable buttons. Also scroll through

and access files and menus with the integrated

jog dial.

Preloaded Apps -

If you need it, it’s got it. Preloaded software

includes: Microsoft® Pocket Outlook®

(e-mail, calendar, contact, notes, tasks);

Microsoft® Pocket Word; Microsoft® Pocket

Excel; Microsoft® Reader; Microsoft® Windows®

Media Player v8.0; Microsoft® Pocket Internet

Explorer; Microsoft® ActiveSync®; AvantGo Sync

Provider; Voice Recorder; Calculator; Solitaire

and Microsoft®.NET Compact Framework.

E-mail

Read and respond to e-mail while on the go.*

Microsoft® Pocket Outlook® provides full support

for POP3 or IMAP4 e-mail including HTML

messages, meeting requests, Word, PowerPoint®

and Excel attachments, plus voice messages.

 

More Functionality

Navigating the V37 is a breeze, thanks to Microsoft’s easy to navigate OS. There is a customizable drop down menu which houses links to essential programs, and a quick launch bar to access your favorite programs.

The ‘Programs’ link in the drop down menu brings you to an icon view of (duh) all the programs on your hard drive. Click any of the shortcuts and you are taken to its respective program. However, if you have moved the program to a different directory, the V37 will not be able to find it. Manually correcting the shortcut is also impossible, and you must either move the target back to its original location or reinstall the program.

The ‘Settings’ link displays vital information about your Pocket PC including backlight adjustment and power saving options. You can also customize your buttons and menus in this screen, or you can password protect your handheld if you would like. You can easily remove any unneeded application view the ‘Remove Programs’ function, and you can adjust data transfer settings.

source: dataharvest.com

Bundled with the PDA is a nice package of useful software. Included are the Pocket Versions of (All Microsoft) Word, Excel, Messenger, Reader (e-books sold separately), a handy eBackup utility, and the Pocket PC rendition of Microsoft’s 9 Series Media Player. While I would like to have seen some more functionality to Excel, Microsoft has defiantly succeeded in developing a user-friendly and intuitive program suite.

In addition, Microsoft has implemented a seamless integration between the Calendar, Notes, Tasks, and Email functions included with the V37 with Microsoft Outlook for PC. As mentioned before, this painless integration is what will put Microsoft ahead of the game in terms of Pocket PC Software development.

In terms of hardware functionality, the V37 is as much give as it is take. Granted, the 400 GHz processor eliminates virtually all symptoms of lag in new Pocket PC Programs, but the lack of integrated WiFi/Bluetooth capabilities is a disappointment. The comparatively small storage space and an unusually soft speaker are also downsides. Yes, you can purchase an SDIO card for either of the former two issues, but who wants to pay an extra hundred dollars when plenty of Pocket PCs have these features built in?

Conclusion

If you are looking for integrated wireless abilities, then the V37 is not the best choice. Viewsonic did include a few frills such as voice recording and MP3 playback, but it is obvious that the V37 is not geared towards those who want a portable media center at their fingertips.

However, for corporate users looking for a budget PDA, or a consumer looking for a highly efficient handheld, the Viewsonic V37 is an excellent choice. The V37 is easy to navigate, mind-numbingly simple to sync with your PC, and gets the job done faster than any Pocket PC in its price class.

Pros:

Cons:

SLCentral Rating: 8.2/10



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