Power in Hand
The BE-300 is powered by a 64-bit, 166MHz NEC Electronics Inc. MIPS processor, which, according to Casio officials, is faster than the 206MHz StrongARM that powers the e570 and its Pocket PC brethren. At 16MB of RAM, the BE-300 is something of a lightweight, memorywise, but this is in keeping with the low cost of the device.
Both devices store their operating system and key applications in flash ROM—32MB for the e570 and 16MB for the BE-300. We were disappointed that the e570 has no utility for saving files to flash ROM, where data is safe from a power loss or hard reset. The BE-300 has such a facility, as does the Jornada 560.
The e570 has the standard slate of Pocket PC applications—shrunken versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, Media Player, Messenger and File Explorer, as well as an e-book reader and a Terminal Services client. The BE-300 comes with calendar, contacts, tasks and notes programs, along with a mail application and a Web browser.
We found these applications, although Spartan, did the job and synchronized well with our desktop data.
The BE-300 lacks the Word and Excel file-editing capabilities of the e570 but ships with Inso Corp.s Quick View Plus, with which we could view Word and Excel files, as well as various image formats. This came in handy because the Photo Viewer application that ships with the BE-300 could not display images that were better than 640-by-480-pixel resolution—rather low for todays digital cameras.
The e570 features a front-lit, reflective thin-film-transistor display that measures 3.5 inches diagonally and is very readable outdoors. However, wed like to see the e570 include a brightness control that responds to ambient light, as do Compaq Computer Corp.s iPaq 3600 and the Jornada 560 series.
The BE-300s display measures 3.2 inches diagonally and features standard backlighting, which makes for excellent indoor viewing but often-problematic use outdoors.
Both systems displays have a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels. The BE-300 has a stereo headphone jack and a serial port for synchronization. (A version of Pumatech Inc.s Intellisync software comes bundled with the device.)
To install additional applications on the BE-300, we had to use versions of the applications that came with a Casio installer program. As a result, we couldnt install drivers in the same way that we would for other Windows CE devices.
The e570 synchronizes using Microsoft Activesync 3.5 and includes Universal Serial Bus and Infrared Data Association ports, as well as a stereo headphone jack and an internal speaker.
Both units are powered by non- removable lithium-ion batteries that should last 6 to 8 hours between charges.
The machines have very similar footprints. The 5.6-ounce BE-300 is 4.76 inches long, 2.99 inches wide and 0.7 inches thick. The e570 is 4.9 inches long, 3 inches wide and 0.7 inches thick. It weighs 6.3 ounces.