Long before picking up the Sony U-70 and incorporating it into my daily work regime I was happily using a Windows Mobile based Pocket PC. I first described my typical work day with the Toshiba e-805 earlier this year and felt it time to update that a little. I do not think many people realize the utility of well equipped Pocket PCs and mobile professionals should not overlook them as valuable tools. I still use the Toshiba quite a bit, although the Sony has replaced a lot of the heavy work stuff. Most people probably don’t realize that a properly equipped Pocket PC can provide 90% of the functionality of a good laptop or ultra-portable computer (UPC).
Pocket PC devices with VGA screens are now readily available and it is this screen advancement that makes these devices a serious alternative to the UPC. After all, VGA was all we had for a very long time in the early days of computing. Now you can put these VGA devices in your back pocket (just don’t sit down). The advantages of Pocket PC devices over UPCs are primarily: smaller/ lighter, cheaper, true instant on, inexpensive software, and very long battery life.
The Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard I use with the Sony also works very well with the Toshiba and has replaced the IR keyboard I used in the original article. It is smaller, lighter, and I can position the Pocket PC more comfortably for viewing with the keyboard’s detachable stand. Since the Toshiba is running Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, which makes it a snap to switch from portrait to landscape orientation with the touch of a button, I use the keyboard in both orientations from time to time depending on the actual task at hand. Stowaway has recently announced a Bluetooth mouse for Pocket PCs that is compatible with most devices with integrated Bluetooth. The mouse should be available in December and coupled with the keyboard can produce a very similar desktop solution to my UPC configuration.
Communications is a snap with integrated WiFi found in most high-end Pocket PCs and many also have Bluetooth. The Toshiba doesn’t have Bluetooth but I use a Socket Compact Flash card to provide the connectivity to the keyboard. I can also connect wirelessly to my bluetooth cell phone for those times when WiFi is not to be found. Web browsing is very nice with the VGA screen and more than adequate. Outlook users can have full use of their email on the Pocket PC with two-way synchronization.
Pocket PCs with VGA screens will cost you about $500- $600 making them a fraction of the cost of a UPC or laptop. Throw in good accessories and a Windows Mobile based device can become a very capable traveling companion and you’ll still have money left over for room service. Mobile professionals looking for a serious alternative to a laptop should not overlook the Pocket PC and all it has to offer.