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REVIEW: Fujitsu Siemens Pocket Loox Part 2 - The Device
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 13.08.02 - 18:39:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 7798x
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The second part of the PPCW.Net Loox review is about the device, software and built in services. How does the Loox works, What else is included beside the Pocket PC 2002 Windows CE edition? Does its Bluetooth makes a good job and how fast is the new Intel XScale 400 MHz CPU?

The Pocket Loox 600 includes the well known Pocket PC 2002 programs, here - for sure, nothing new as this part of the device is delivered by Microsoft and isn't customizable by any OEMs. More interesting are the 3rd party apps which comes with the Loox. Here Fujitsu Siemens really did a market research and added the latest top applications for Pocket PCs to increase the productivity.

What's in the Box or better - the Device
On a separate CD-ROM Fujitsu Siemens will ships the following programs:

Well, KSE Truefax makes me a little bit wonder. Today it doesn't supports the Pocket PC Phone Edition which means you have to upgrade later (if available) when you will upgrade the Loox Pocket PC to the Loox Pocket PC Phone Edition. The Phone Edition isn't included today but will be delivered as an upgrade CD-ROM with the GSM/GPRS Plug-on later (October) this year.

While most other Pocket PCs doesn't includes its own Today skins, the Loox is delivered with a device specific skin. :-)

Fujitsu Siemens added, beside the already well known Pocket PC 2002 programs, its own apps, right from the beginning into the ROM. There you have the "LX-Backup" for backups to and from storage cards, the "FSC SpeedMenu" which gives you a fast access (through a hardware button on the left device side) to already running applications and acts as a kind of program launcher too and last but not least Pocket "Plugfree" which is the Bluetooth wizard for the Loox.


Also added is the "FSC Menu" which gives you a fast access to some important applications like "Align Screen", "Connections" with a direct link to the Connection Manager" and "Running Programs" with a direct link to the Running Program List.

Beside that programs, the most interesting part might be the "System Settings". Here you will also find a new application, you haven't seen before on any other Pocket PC 2002. The "CPU Settings".

This let you configure the CPU/battery performance. While the "Standard mode" require more battery, it (should) gives you the full flavor of the 400 MHz XScale. The "Power-saving mode" increase the battery life-time but reduces the CPU speed.

Some other standard settings are "Display lightning", "Expansion Pack Viewer", "Memory" (to check if your Loox really has 64 MB on board ;-) and the "Power" status.


Beside this, specially for reviews, a "Systems information" program is interesting. Here we go for a more detailed technical view of the Loox:



How fast is the Loox
With the Intel XScale PXA250 Application Processor the Loox is in the to league of today's available Pocket PCs. No other Pocket PC runs a faster CPU but it is equal to the Compaq iPAQ H3900 processor. In the PPCW.Net Benchmark tests (which is launched too soon), the Loox is the fastest device, tested until today (maybe because no other XScale Pocket PC was tested beside the Loox? ;-).
VOBenchmark Results
CPU  
The CPU test show the performance of the Central Processing Unit (Main Chip) of the deice
Floating Point

12,65

Integer

26,93

   
Graphics  
Bitmap tests rate how quickly graphics can be drawn on display. These tests both - hardware and video drivers.
Bitmap: BitBlt

48,28

Bitmap: StretchBlt

0,95

Filled: Ellipse

2,60

Filled: Rectangle

4,15

Filled: Rounded Rect

1,92

   
Memory  
These tests show internal memory usage performance. This is a major factor in application performance.
Allocation

10,78

Fill

0,93

Move

0,36

   
Text  
Tests how fast text can be drawn to the screen by drawing the text in red, green and blue from the upper left to the lower right corner of the display, one pixel at a time.
Text

4,79

However, I can not see or feel the difference in the daily usage, compared to StrongARM Pocket PC 2002s, which are running on 206 MHz only. One reason for the shipment delay of the Loox series was that Fujitsu Siemens wasn't satisfied with the general performance of the device. That was also the reason, that I got my test sample so late because I discussed this with Fujitsu Siemens and we decided that it wouldn't make sense to give me a pre-version.
However, I wonder how slow the pre-version was in that case?

Starting programs keeps near as long as on an iPAQ and also CPU intensive applications like Tom-Tom CityMaps doesn't zooms faster within the map. I think here we have to see the previously announced improvement by Microsoft on the Windows CE 3.0 platform for XScale CPUs. This is out of the scope of the OEMs and have to be fixed by the OS vendor I think.

However, according to the PPCW.Net Offline Battery Benchmark, the XScale CPU really saves the battery and drives the Pocket Loox to the first position in the Offline comparison - beside the o2 xda, which is a Pocket PC Phone Edition.
Device Stand-by
Casio E-200G 3:25
CPQ iPAQ H3870 4:08
FSC Loox 600 4:31
HP Jornada 565 3:40
o2 xda 5:51

Connectivity
Even more important for me is the connectivity. If a Pocket PC isn't a Phone Edition Pocket PC it has to include at least Bluetooth which allows the Pocket PC to connects with a Bluetooth enabled cellular phone.

Here Fujitsu Siemens is on top of all today's Bluetooth solutions, doesn't' matter if for Pocket PCs or Notebooks. The built-in Bluetooth stack is a Class 1, Point to Multipoint module. This means that it supports, beside the for Class 3 typical 10 meters range, also connectivity up to 100 meters. Maybe today this isn't so important but in near future it will becomes even more important as we will see increasing counts of Bluetooth Access Points for W-LAN access. Also Class 1 can connects in future to other Bluetooth enabled devices like video projectors.
The Point to Multipoint allows the device to connect to several other Bluetooth devices in parallel. Something we've never seen before on Bluetooth enabled Pocket PCs.

Also the Pocket Loox allows profiles like no other Pocket PC support today. This even includes the long awaiting headset profile. So you can listen your favorite song today wireless through a Bluetooth headset as well as using the Bluetooth headset in future with the GSM/GPRS extension. That's great and a step into the right direction.

A little bit annoying is pairing the devices. This isn't so easy as I thought it could be with such a powerful wizard and even if you finally paired the devices you will not know which one is which in the Connection Manager.
In the following example I have added two cell phone to Pocket Plugfree, an Ericsson T68 and a Sony Ericsson T68i which have different names. In Pocket Plugfree everything is right but which one is which in the Connection Manager?

The first entries in the modem list are the T68 and T68i but not provided with it's pairing names but with the Bluetooth ID only. Doesn't makes it easy to select the right one. However, here you can also see the difference to other Bluetooth enabled Pocket PCs like the Compaq iPAQ H3870. While you have to select in the Bluetooth Manager - on the iPAQ - which cell phone should be your standard modem, the Pocket Loox provides not only "Bluetooth" as the modem but all bonded (not only available - unfortunately) cell phones.

Interesting is the power consumption of Bluetooth. While the Loox is better in the Offline Comparison than the iPAQ, it's weaker in the Online Comparison! Doesn't matter if it is used with Bluetooth Class 1 or 3!
Device GSM Stand-by GPRS Connected
CPQ H3875 Bluetooth 3:46 3:43
FSC Loox Bluetooth Class1 3:21 3:29
FSC Loox Bluetooth Class3 3:27 3:34

GSM Stand-by means that the Pocket PC is connected through Bluetooth with always the same cell phone. For the connectivity I'm using Running Voice GSM 2.0. The Pocket PC as well as the mobile phone are in the idle mode, just logged into the GSM network.
GPRS Connected means that the Pocket PC dialed into the the GPRS network. In the background is MSN Messenger running while the Pocket PC sends every 10 minutes five 32 KB pings to the same IP address.

While, on all other tested Pocket PCs and Pocket PC Phone Editions, the GSM Stand-by is always longer than the GPRS Stand-by time, it's vice versa on the Pocket Loox.
Also Running Voice doesn't identifies the Bluetooth module as Bluetooth but shows it as a GSM card, which is normally used for CF and PC cards only.
This results are very strange and I didn't found an answer to it. Normally I do 3 test runs but because of this results I've took 5, always with the same result. Also the differences between Class 1 and 3 isn't as strong as I've expected it before.

Final Conclusion Part 2

The Pocket Loox makes its work pretty well and it includes everything you need to start using your device from the scratch. I like that Fujitsu Siemens adds so much additional 3rd party software and they don't take any Freeware/Shareware versions only but you will get a real valuable software pack with your device.
From the performance site I was a little bit irritated or maybe not? Even if no StrongARM Pocket PC can compares with the Loox in the benchmark tests, in reality I didn't found the speed improvement. Well, unfortunately this is something I've seen already before with the Compaq iPAQ H3970. It seems that the XScale CPU can not deploy its power on today's Windows CE 3.0 platform - unfortunately. However, it's not slower than StrongARM Pocket PCs and finally that's the most important. Also I think, in the long-run,  we will see XScale optimized versions of Windows CE as well as of today's 3rd party applications. On the other hand, the stand-by time is great and makes the Pocket Loox more than useful for day in day out usage!

Beside this I was really  irritated about the Bluetooth performance. Bonding a device isn't just a finger snip which I've expected. The Pocket Plugfree reminds me a little bit to the the Connection Manager. A powerful application with some weaknesses on the front-end. However if you paired your devices successful, everything works - mostly. In my tests the Loox lost the Bluetooth connection to the Ericsson 3 times, something I've never seen before.
Beside this the Bluetooth implementation is done pretty well! Supporting Class 1 and Point to Multipoint is a real benefit and also supporting the Bluetooth headset profile is a must for a Pocket PC (Phone Edition). I'm happy to see that the engineers already thought about this and added this feature.
A little bit more disappointing is how the Bluetooth stack seems to drain the battery. While the Loox runs - compared - to the iPAQ - 30 minutes longer in the Offline Mode, it runs 20 minutes less if it is connected through Bluetooth. Something I don't understand at all.

I will think about all the experiences I made with the Loox in the past days and will post my overall conclusion a little bit later, maybe tomorrow or so. On one hand, the Loox really fascinates me with design and features it's packed, on the other hand I'm a little bit disappointed about the overall performance, so give me that time to made my final decision. ;-)

REVIEW: Fujitsu Siemens Pocket Loox Part 1 - The Hardware

Cheers ~ Arne