Thursday, July 01, 2004
Building on its previous Pocket PC offerings (the A620 and the A716), Asus is ready to launch its latest model: the MyPal A730. The device features dual-expansion slots (CompactFlash and SD/SDIO), integrated Bluetooth, and an ample 64MB of memory. A bonus is the PDA's user-replaceable battery. The A730 will cost $499 and should be available in late July. Asus plans to release another A730 model with Wi-Fi in August, but pricing has not been determined yet.
Upside: Gamers and multimedia enthusiasts especially will be pleased to see that the PDA sports a high-resolution, 640x480 VGA screen--a great complement to the A730's Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition OS, which supports landscape view. For photo buffs, there is an integrated 1.3-megapixel camera for taking quick snapshots. And like the Dell Axim X30 series, the Asus boasts the latest Intel XScale PXA270 processors, featuring technology to optimize battery life, which is sure to please business users and consumers alike. The A730's chip tops out at a speedy 520MHz.
Downside: Having two forms of expandable media is nice, but it comes at a price: heft. The A730 weighs about 6 ounces. Also, at $500, the A730 is one of the more expensive handhelds on the market today. For this price, it would be nice if Asus had included Wi-Fi connectivity. The similarly priced HP iPaq H4350, for example, has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well as a built-in keyboard.
Outlook: The Asus MyPal A730 is a feature-rich Pocket PC, and the addition of a camera makes it particularly attractive for gadget lovers. However, it faces stiff competition from the Dell Axim X30, which costs $150 less and comes with a faster processor and a wireless combo. Check back soon for a full review.