While many in the corporate world see Windows CE-based handheldC docking station as standard. machines as little more than useless gadgets for showing off in the pub, they do offer several real advantages over full-blown laptops. For a start, they're far smaller and lighter than even the slimmest laptop computer, and yet still enable you to carry out most of the common functions you would use a notebook for, such as Email, word processing and even presentations.
Certainly, if you're only really using a laptop so you can stay in the email loop, then you'd arguably be much better off with a handheld.
Among those that did recognise and appreciate the abilities of handhelds, the original Philips Velo was highly popular and the new 500 model is likely to be greeted with equal enthusiasm. Based on a Philips 75MHz 32-bit MIPS-based RISC processor, the 500 is doubtless one of the fastest CE machines on the market, and if you're used to the older, slower machines, you'll certainly notice a considerable speed difference when running applications on this model. The machine ships as standard with 16Mb of EDO DRAM, and can be upgraded with additional memory modules. Also, Philips has made the machine flash ROM upgradeable so that it can be made to run future versions of the Windows CE operating system.
Starting with its best features, we were pleased to find that the 500 comes supplied with a docking station which you can leave permanently attached to your PC. Once installed, this makes for very easy connections between your desktop and the 500; all you need to do is place the 500 into its cradle and fire up the data transfer software on your desktop, quickly, simply and painlessly. While many manufacturers would have no scruples about charging you a small fortune to buy such a feature, Philips has included it in the asking price.
Obviously in a very giving mood, the company has also included a 28.8bps soft-modem (a modem which runs in software, rather than hardware) as a standard feature. However, somewhat perplexingly it doesn't supply the required cables to connect the 500 to a phone line and use the modem.
This seems a bit odd, as the cost of including the cable would surely be worth the kudos of being able to say its machine ships with a fully operational modem, out of the box. Also, unlike some of its competitors, Philips has also neglected to supply the cable required to plug the Velo into a VGA monitor for the purpose of running full colour presentations with Pocket PowerPoint. To include these cables in the bundle would only have added a small amount of cost to the system, which we feel sure most buyers would be happy to pay.
As with many of these machines, the Velo 500 features a voice recorder which, rather neatly, can be activated and deactivated without having to open the machine up. The 500 features a good screen, with 640x240 resolution and 16-level grey scale. Physically, the device is very compact, measuring 173x30x96mm and weighs a mere 425g, including the rechargeable lithium ion battery which provides around 10 hours of usage. The keyboard is perfectly useable, but don't expect much in the way of high-speed data entry.
Philips Velo 500
A good, reasonably priced machine which enjoys a good feature set in a very compact shell. Certainly one of the best CE machines available.
- docking station included - strong features
- VGA and modem cable not supplied as standard
- Price: #449 (inc VAT)
- Contact: Philips 0181 689 4444
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