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TEST DRIVE: Day 7 - Is Windows Mobile 2003 worth the upgrade?
Posted by Carlo Guerrero - on Saturday, 26.07.03 - 21:29:37 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 6380x
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Having to live for a day without an Internet Connection and with no electricity made me take a different look at Windows Mobile 2003 Software for Pocket PC. Since I couldn't do much, I decided to set aside my other Pocket PCs which I've used for comparison to the ASUS MyPal A620. This time I relied only on one device - the MyPal A620. I tried living with just the MyPal A620 for one day which left me curious about how I would take it if I were to go back and settle for Pocket PC 2002.

Snappier than ever

I really enjoyed the snappier response of the Windows Mobile 2003 powered MyPal A620 which made activating applications so much easier and less time consuming. Moving from application to application was never a problem. Having noted all the basic differences between the older Pocket PC 2002 and Windows Mobile 2003 devices, I made use of the improved interface design which I feel should have been there in the first place.

D-Pad + Stylus, the best way to get around

I really enjoyed the new navigation system which now takes full advantage of the D-Pad. Coupled with the use of the stylus, it not only improves the ease of operation, it also cuts down the time it takes to complete certain tasks. Since Pocket PCs are designed to be used with two hands (although one-handed operation may be possible for some applications), the current interface and navigation system now splits the task between the left and the right hand.

An example is scanning through the calendar using the D-Pad, This can be easily done with the use of the left hand while the right hand is used for the stylus in highlighting a specified time-slot. This is also possible with Pocket PC 2002 but since navigation using the D-Pad is limited, stylus taps are required more than D-Pad use.

The addition of more shortcuts like those on the Today screen, specifically the email accounts an the connections settings are a welcome change. This time, the implementation smart controls have proven to be truly smart.

Global ClearType

Global ClearType has been one of the things that has made viewing data on the MyPal A620 such a pleasing experience. The screen was so easy on the eyes, coupled with the ASUS Settings which allowed the screen brightness to be adjusted in 255 steps. The Pocket Internet Explorer too was so much easier to read. What I noticed is that it renders the fonts slightly differently from the previous Pocket PCs. In all other applications that use the Tahoma font, the display seemed to be finer and more proportional.

Are there any Gotchas?

Are there any Gotchas? You bet! Sad to say that while the Windows Mobile 2003 OS was very impressive, it is now plagued with incompatibility issues with existing software. We've heard some developers claiming that they have tested their applications with the Windows Mobile 2003 Emulator that comes with the SDK, but still they ended up with some incompatibility issues altogether. While some have already released their tested applications, some are still not really available for Windows Mobile 2003 yet. It seems that one of my favorites, Spb Pocket Plus, while it no loads up and works well with certain components, a certain feature which deals with alarms seems to cause the Pocket PC to hang and even miss some alarms. Some applications may load up but may not appear at all. One of them is Pocket Hotmail, which simply is not yet Windows Mobile 2003 compatible (although I received word that it will be coming soon). This meant that some of my favorite applications were simply useless as of now.

Going back to Pocket PC 2002

Well, using all the new, updated applications, experiencing the improved performance, experiencing the true power of the PXA255, was such a pleasing experience. So it was time to go back to my tried and tested Pocket PC 2002 device. After getting used to Windows Mobile 2003, my Pocket PC 2002 seems to fall short on ever aspect. My reliance on the D-Pad has now made it evident that Pocket PC 2002 was indeed lacking in certain navigational features. That extra tap of the stylus is now annoying. The limited implementation of the D-Pad makes you think why it was called a 5-way directional pad when it could only work on at the most 3 ways. The Connection Manager seems as if it mismanages everything, and why does my Pocket Internet Explorer not open the pages I was enjoying a while ago?

Windows Mobile 2003 is the way to go

Well, I guess the choice is obvious. Windows Mobile 2003 is the way to go. I know it will take some time until all applications are made fully compatible with Windows Mobile 2003. I am willing to wait. What I can't wait for is to get my hands back onto a Windows Mobile 2003 powered Pocket PC. I guess there is no other way to go but forward. And Windows Mobile 2003 is indeed a step forward.

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo


Related Articles TEST DRIVE Day 7 Is Windows Mobile 2003 worth the upgrade

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Posted by Scott on 29.07.03 - 13:47:18

Looks good. How do you upgrade? Where is the download link?

Posted by Arne Hess on 29.07.03 - 13:51:47

@Scott: Please check here for Microsoft's FAQ regarding upgrading to Windows Mobile 2003: http://.../

There is no direct download available but you will have to buy the Windows Mobile 2003 upgrade from your OEM.

Posted by Paul on 29.07.03 - 16:41:31

Yeah, unless your OEM supports an upgrade path, your are out of luck.  This is a major "downfall" of buying PocketPCs in my opinion.  Upgradeable OSes isn't possible on the majority.

Basically if you want MS Windows Mobile 2003, you have to fork out another $400-500 (USD).

For a developer this is even worse, they have to learn a new APIs (not bad), but keep two code bases in embedded C/C++ (3.0 and 4.0 -- bad) -- well if you use the Microsoft SDKs.

I can understand cellphones not being upgradable, but PDAs should be OS upgradable by atleast one version.

Posted by MichaelA on 29.07.03 - 22:06:47

Is the A620 available for purchase in the US, or has it not been released yet?  I wonder if any stores will carry them or if they can only be purchased online.  I'd love to get my hands on one.

Posted by Andy on 30.07.03 - 14:20:28

I believe Paul above is only half right. All of the current shipping Pocket PC 2002 products are upgradable - this is a hardware requirement placed on the manufacturers by Microsoft - even back to my Ipaq 3600 which was upgradable from PPC 2000 to 2002.

If the OEM choses not to ship an upgrade, that is a different matter but not a hardware limitation.

Posted by PROPortable on 04.08.03 - 07:28:06


We currently have plenty of stock of the A620 in the US.  Drop us an email or give us a call.  -Thank youl; Justin

Posted by rich on 30.08.03 - 19:08:14

I have the ASUS A600 with 2002 will asus offer an upgrade to 2003. Its only a few days old, I didnt know upgrading was so hard.

Posted by Matt on 07.12.03 - 06:11:12

Where did you hear that pocket hotmail for Windows mobile 2003 was coming out? and from who? i would LOVE to have it work with my ipaq 5455 and sync with my mail on my home's LAN. it worked with my old axim running 2002 and i love the new OS and ipaq but I MISS POCKET HOTMAIL!!!!

if anyone has any info on it, please please email me with the details



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