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Mini-review of Asus MyPal A716
Very often companies that produce devices on ODM-contracts aspire to issue products under their own trademarks (to the local markets, in case of Asian makers). Such products turn to be cheaper as they do not bear brand costs. However if manufacturer’s brand is world known, do not expect a much lesser price.
Why have we started the review from this point? The matter is that today we discuss Pocket PC Asus A716. This very platform is used in FSC Pocket LOOX 610. The same design (try hard to find any differences) is applied, the same hardware, except for the fact that there is no Asus modification without Wi-Fi. The rest features do not differ much. We wouldn’t review the model if it had the same software; however the A716 comes with other Wi-Fi manager and different Bluetooth drivers.
As for the productivity indexes, battery life, screen, design, control buttons and other features of the kind read the review on the Pocket LOOX 610. In this mini-review we’ll remind you of the key thesis and speak about the software.
The shell feels firm. One can mix the silver plastic with metal. The device is larger than most recent dual slot handhelds. The external antenna looks old-fashioned as main PDA makers have already learned to produce wireless handhelds without external antennas (the iPaq 4150, MiTAC Mio 558). Even if we don’t take into account the antenna, the device is too massive compared with its direct rival the Mio558 (Rover P7). Asus could have suggested a 4” screen for such dimensions.
On the front side there is a strip-indicator that differs from the traditional one in the Pocket LOOX 610. If you have either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth activated, the indicator glows blue. And the green light stands for a reminder. The screen edging is made of silver plastic like other shell details. The LOOX 610 features black colors. The power button represents an oval instead of the circle. So that’s enough for distinction factors concerning the outlook.
There are four buttons for launching applications (Tasks, Contacts, Calendar and the button that starts Asus Launcher). The dynamic is placed to the left.
The left side contains “up”, “down” and “enter” buttons that replace the jog wheel. Below them there are the reset button, the infrared window and the battery cover latch. The right side has the plug to charge the battery without the cradle. At the bottom there are the built-in microphone and the plug that joints the device with the cradle or a cable.
The top has quite a collection of elements: two extension slots (CF and SD/MMC), the headphones jack, the silo and the external antenna.
Asus A716 is powered by Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Premium Edition. Read about standard applications for this operating system in the respective review on our site. Here we’ll deal with extra applications.
Asus Backup. This is easy program to back up data. It features poor settings compared with similar programs, but it doesn't fail to perform its main functions.
Asus Launcher. This is an alternative program to the task manager, with poor settings it proved almost useless. Only fresh PDA users might use it at the first time.
Asus Settings. Here you can tune extra settings (frequency rate, backlight, microphone sensitivity, button assignment). This is a very useful program as it automatically and intelligently backs up existing system status and data in order to prevent loss when the power level is low.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Incidentally, you can't have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth activated at the same time. But there are some substantial differences compared with the LOOX 610. Firstly, the adapters get switched on/over faster. During the start no lengthy initialization process occurs. However it’s peculiar to notice that if you want to switch Wi-Fi on you should prior switch it off.
A special Wi-Fi manager WiFiCFG is provided to control the Wi-Fi connection. It proved good during networking. After 2 seconds of detecting an access point you can work in the Internet or with e-mails.
Remember that the Pocket LOOX 610 involves the own development of Fujitsu Siemens the PlugFree to manage Bluetooth. Thus there occur constant problems with it: you should keep the manager always launched and the Internet connection via Bluetooth gets often broken. Asus A716 is equipped with standard drivers by WIDCOMM. The fact stands for the maximum networking opportunities. In practice the handheld really proved so working stable with SE T630 and Nokia 6230 handsets (the file access through FTP profile, the Internet connection) and the desktop.
In conclusion we’d say the A716 has the same features as the Pocket LOOX 610, no dramatic changes have happened to it since then. The model may attract your attention if you really need Wi-Fi. There are two serious rivals. The first one is MiTAC Mio 558: wireless adapter also do not work simultaneously, however it features smaller size and lighter weight, internal antenna and better price. The second model is the iPaq 4150: a tiny model with two wireless adapters that work perfectly. There is no Compact Flash slot – a decisive criterion to choose a handheld. In all, the A716 won’t enjoy mass popularity like Asus A620 Bt, still it will be interesting to those looking for the maximum functionality, high productivity and good off-line indices. Surely the model will be in demand for several months anticipating the release of Asus MyPal A730, a likely top hit.
Published (Russian) – 13 April 2004
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