When it comes to choosing a Pocket PC, most buyers will instantly think of HP and its range of iPAQs and who can blame them? However, there are an increasing number of manufacturers who are getting their act together and threatening the once all-dominant HP.
While Fujitsu Siemens has always been a constant presence in the handheld market, it has never really developed a style or identity of its own. Its early attempts were bulky and rather ungainly affairs. So, we were more than surprised when the LOOX 420 arrived with its trim and slim 125g chassis looking like a bantamweight contender ready to spar with the best of them.
It’s not only the weight that is impressive, as Fujitsu Siemens has put a good deal of thought into the overall design of the handheld. Finished in dark grey and silver, the rounded edges of the unit make it comfortable in the hand. The navigation buttons are of a good size and being slightly raised means they are less fiddly to execute. They sit above a 3.5-inch screen, which is bright and the use of Windows Mobile 2003 2nd Edition means that the latest software is loaded, including Media Player for video and audio. Fujitsu Siemens has bundled in a wide array of software of its own, which helps make setting up and maintaining your wireless connections a good deal easier.
Powered by an Intel PXA272 processor that runs at 400MHz, this isn’t the fastest PDA on the market but it’s quick enough for most users’ needs. Memory allocation is very much in keeping with the price point and consists of 64MB user memory of which 34MB is free, with the remainder being taken up by the bundled software. The addition of 32MB of ROM memory is low. Support comes in the form of the standard SD(IO) slot, which is located on the top of the unit.
Thankfully, for the LOOX 420, the lower specification works in its favour as we found that it would comfortably run for five hours when used as an audio player. This easily translates into a couple of days’ use if used as a normal PDA - sufficient for a business trip or a long weekend away if used with are. True, there are units available that offer longer battery life but the ease of use of the LOOX more than compensates. At this price, you won’t find a docking cradle with the device but there is a cable hat allows you to synchronise it with your desktop PC. When it comes to usability, a handheld is only as good as its battery life, so this will do just fine.
There are no hidden surprises in the Fujitsu Siemens LOOX 420. However, with the inclusion of wireless LAN and Bluetooth it can be used for either business or pleasure with ease. The lightweight and trim design make it pleasing on the eye and the price makes it an affordable and all-round friendly portable.