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e-Briefing | Hand-Helds

MobilePro P300, NEC's 1st PDA, Gives a Bigger Byte for the Buck

November 15, 2001|MARK A. KELLNER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEC Corp. has made a dramatic entrance into the Pocket PC market with its new MobilePro P300.

The $599 device--NEC's first PDA--sports 64 megabytes of memory, 32 MB of SecureDigital storage memory, a Type II CompactFlash memory card slot and a built-in Universal Serial Bus connection.

The price, which is $50 less than top-of-the-line models from Compaq Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., is a nice advantage in these dollar-conscious times. The fact that you end up with 50% more memory on board is just icing on the cake.

The MobilePro P300, which uses Microsoft's new Pocket PC 2002 operating system, is very much geared toward medium-size and large businesses. Those are areas in which NEC has seen strong sales of its larger, Windows CE-based MobilePro 790 "clamshell" computer, said Joe Harris, NEC's director of product marketing.

Helping to push the P300 into the business market is the inclusion of special synchronization software that lets users connect their hand-helds to a network server back at the office. Microsoft will soon introduce its own synchronization software for the Pocket PC 2002 operating system.

Also included with the P300 are specialized viewers for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, ArcSoft's PhotoBase picture album/sorter and voice-messaging software that works with MSN Messenger.

The P300 has an optional expansion "sled" that allows users to add PC Card devices, such as wireless networking cards. The sled also doubles the battery life of the unit.

Along with the ability to add PC Card devices, the Type II CompactFlash slot means you can add an IBM Microdrive of as much as 1 gigabyte, as well as other devices.

The most exciting expansion option for the P300, in my view, is the miniature USB connector. With a simple adapter, users can attach such devices as keyboards, modems and printers, expanding the device's usefulness.

In operation, the NEC MobilePro P300 is fast and well-designed. On the left side of the unit are the power button, the voice-recorder button and a jog dial to scroll through appointments or contacts. Front-panel buttons include one to launch the main menu, along with buttons to launch the calendar, contacts and to-do lists with one touch.

The unit boasts a good color display, which renders photographic images very nicely. Sound output through the built-in speaker is good, although for music, users probably will want to attach headphones to the built-in jack. A flip-top cover protects the screen.

Having the extra memory card, USB connectivity and a full-size CompactFlash slot makes the NEC MobilePro P300 an ideal choice for company users. It also makes it a wise choice for individual power users searching for good value.

*

Mark A. Kellner is a freelance technology writer and hosts "Mark Kellner on Computers" at http://www.adrenalineradio.com from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursdays. He can be reached at mark@kellner2000.com.

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