Viewsonic has entered the cluttered PDA fray with a new (to Australia at least) handheld, the Pocket PC V35.
It comes with a modest array of specifications, however don't expect 64MB of storage from the advertised 64MB of RAM, as only 36.45MB is available. You can add more via the SD slot, but many programs prefer to run from main memory.
One nice touch is the 5.1MB of Flash ROM Viewsonic provides for backing up data. This is a quick and easy process, although when we restored our data we discovered our appointments had all disappeared. Still, it avoids the dreaded scenario of having to set up the V35 with ActiveSync every time the battery runs dry.
We're less impressed by the V35's integrated battery, but Viewsonic helps to make up for this with an app called Smart Battery, which adjusts the speed and power consumption of the CPU depending on the active task. However, we found the V35 lasted for about three hours.
This rather optimistic time assumes no use of the backlight, but we found half-brightness to offer the best compromise – and even at this setting, the V35's screen impresses. With a 3.5in viewable diagonal coupled with transflective technology, it's easy to read in all conditions. Another plus is the carry case – it's good to see this bundled and, because the front is reinforced it should withstand a direct hit.
Sadly, this level of quality doesn't stretch throughout the build, with a mediocre silver-plastic finish on the front and black plastic on the back. We were also disappointed to see the headphone socket on the bottom-right-hand side of the machine – this means you can't listen to MP3s without taking the V35 out of the carry case. The infrared port is more sensibly placed at the top of the machine, while a jog dial graces the left-hand side.
One weapon the V35 lacks is expandability. The only accessory worthy of note is a foldable keyboard and, as the SD card slot doesn't support the SDIO standard, you won't be able to add Bluetooth or 802.11b cards.
But perhaps we're expecting too much for only $599. After all, Viewsonic does get the basics right: it's fast enough, thanks to the 300MHz processor; you get a USB docking station as part of the package; and don't forget the excellent screen. And, as Viewsonic assures us you will be able to upgrade the V35 to Pocket PC 2003, means it should keep up to date for still some time to come.