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Mini-review of MiTAC Mio 339
We won’t focus your attention on every function of this handheld, as they were described in the review on Rover P4 (available only in Russian) based on the MiTAC platform. We’ll dwell on the features that distinguish the model, i.e. built-in camera and mp3 function (the standard kit includes the remote control of mp3, that’s unusual for the Pocket PC market).
It’s a usual matter for Palm OS powered handhelds to have a built-in camera. Almost every top model by Sony is equipped with the camera, PalmOne can boast with its Palm Zire 71. However the Pocket PC market in the whole lacks cameras. The Mio339 is the first and the only Pocket PC [March 2004] model (not a smartphone), that comes with an integrated camera. There is also Toshiba e550c, but the device didn’t reach countries other than Japan.
The camera is located at the back side near the silo. It has no cover, so you risk touching and scratching the lens while removing the stylus. Lower is a tiny mirror that helps you make self-portrait. There is no special button to switch the camera on. However you may assign a standard button to launch Mio Camera application (we’ve chosen the dictaphone one). The application needs four seconds to be started. After that you can work with the camera, shoot photos or video. The screen takes an album regime, and you control the camera with the 5-way D-pad that comfortably fits the right hand (you can change settings to the left hand). By the way you may use the stylus here. The screen acts as the video finder displaying also an extra info: files destination place (the main memory or an SD card), image category, video mode, time and data, charging scale and the number of photos left. The image from the camera to the screen gets transferred without any delay, as the case with Palm Zire 71. However you should wait a little time while the photo is taken after you pushed the joystick (a trigger). For this reason sometimes you receive blurred or even no photos (if you push the button and move the camera), but it’s not that difficult to get used to such peculiarity. As the result the camera has a long start (it takes minimum 6 seconds to make a photo). It’s possible to miss the event, if the camera fails to quickly shoot it.
The built-in flash! It’s still a rarity in handhelds and smartphones (I remember only Sony NZ90 and Sendo X). If you make photos outside at night or in a dark room, the flash won’t be of great help o you – it provides a sufficient light within a half meter. If you proceed the objects would be hard to distinguish (examples of night shots in the dark: at a long distance, at a short distance). You can make the flash permanent, so it functions as a torch and shoots video clips at the dark.
Some words about camera settings. The camera supports VGA resolution (640x480 pixels) and QVGA resolution (320x240 pixels). Manually or automatically you can change the contrast and the white balance. The click sound during the shot can be switched on/off. In the standby mode by moving the joystick right/left you manage the digital zooming (up to 2x). In all, the integrated Pocket PC camera amazes with its functionality.
As for the picture quality it’s an average one compared to other VGA cameras. Nothing to boast, nothing to complain about. The camera fits best at the daylight within a 1-2 meters distance (pictures of friends, plain architecture views). Judge by yourself; see the photos made at the separate page.
The camera supports two resolution modes to make video clips: 320x240 and 176x144 pixels. The duration of the clip depends on the memory space available. Clips suffer a poor quality while playing them on the handheld. To run the clip on the desktop computer (though it has .mpg extension) we had to download the codec from the MiTAC site.
A peculiar feature of this handheld is that it comes with a remote control. You can attach it to the overcoat, so you don’t need to take the handheld out to pause the play or pass to another record. Unfortunately the remote control manages only the built-in player – MP3Player. Exterior player applications do not “find” the device, so you can’t reassign the button. The music sounds good in the headphones (since the player is equipped with an equalizer), however I wish the maximum volume could have been louder (in noisy places music gets inaudible). Should the battery discharge to 20%, the player stops providing a notification of a low charge.
Listed for $330-350 the given handheld is a good acquisition, which offers entertaining functions with the camera, mp3-player and the full-fledged Pocket PC at the minimum price. Other low-end handhelds with built-in camera Palm Zire 71 and Sony TJ37 cannot directly compete with it, as they run other operating systems. If you don’t badly need the camera in the handheld (a separate one is bought, or the handset is equipped with it) have a look at Toshiba e350, iPaq 1940 and Rover P4, they cost less. Read about other cons and pros of the Mio 339 in the review on Rover P4.
Published (Russian) – 15 March 2004
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