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8 марта 2005, 00:00

ASUS MyPal A730W: shines and warms

One of the best PDAs to date. ASUS MyPal A730W is a combination of mobility, usability, nice-looking design with an impressive set of features. At the same time the price for this computer falls within reasonable limits. A superb choice for exigent users.

Spring is indeed a wonderful season. Especially it is renowned for dandified pretty girls proudly clattering with their high heels along the still cold asphalt, and of course cheerful cabby lads called Amours hovering in the air and shooting with their arrows at anyone who happens to come across. This time you've got to smartly hide from those cunning marksmen. But they are invisible and so nimble for their build. It turns out that the joy of March mood gives itself over to your heart, and the rhythm is certainly slower than the pace of time, say, in winter. Do you think it is magic? Not a bit.. No magic! Nothing at all! Leave the princes riding white horses and dragons to the children fond of fairy tales, but this is more serious - love, for example. You know, you feel so nasty when you can't do without the most ordinary creature being not different at all from others. Just fancy that - the same feet, arms, eyes, the same lips and hair.. All seems to be the same, but anyway it is all so special as if magical. The miracle which might not be there, but who is near, quite close to you. Of course, equipment is devoid of human emotions, the cobwebs of feelings and treachery of heartfelt emotions, but even in our relationships there sometimes comes the thing called love at first sight. Something similar to that happened when a small miracle appeared at the editorial board - that was a new modification of ASUS MyPal A730 having the "W" index at the end of the name. And I couldn't resist the temptation to get acquainted with that PDA closer...

ASUS MyPal A730W Specifications
Operating SystemWindows Mobile 2003 Second Edition
ProcessorIntel XScale PXA270, 520 MHz clock speed
DisplayViewable image size – 3.7”Resolution – 480 x 640 pixelsColors displayed – 65,536
Camera1.3 MP
Memory capacity, MB128 (RAM) and 64 (ROM)
Expansion slot(s)SD/MMC with support for SDIOCompactFlash
CommunicationsIR-port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Power supplyLi-Ion, removable, 1100 mA*hr
Dimensions, mm118 x 73 x 169
Weight, g170
Approximate price, $555

Our regular readers can easily remember that last summer we were thoroughly trying the predecessor of today's guest - ASUS MyPal A730. But that specimen was a pre-release sample which was given some allowances, as you understand. This time, we decided not to sacrifice the circumstances and arranged a rendezvous with A730W with all the attire on. Candles, music, wine... Sorry, of course nothing like that. That was a strict squint of the executioner, a gray scaffold and night. Yes, that's night. What sort of an execution is there without the lonely moon and malicious hail of a raven flying by. The hero will sigh sadly, but what's the use - hardly can he tear himself from our tenacious claws. They will stick into the body and without haste will torture the guinea pig to the heart's content. But before we satisfy our curiosity, we first rummage in the belongings. Even the most austere executioner would be touched by the package bundle of our guest. Two battery cells immediately stand out among the other stuff in the heap. There are also two styluses of course, but that is not so significant plus. Besides, there is a cradle, a sync cable, a USB host adapter, a compulsory kit "manual-charger-software" and an uncommonly well made case. As you can see, it is particulars that do adorn our guest. Meanwhile, the prisoner is already quiver with horror walking along the weak bridge leading to the very scaffold. Don't be afraid, little one, run on, we've turned more kind over the contents of your rucksack and stopped to think how severely we should execute you.

Exterior

The exterior of the latter-day leader in the MyPal team hasn't changed essentially. That is still the same exquisite dandy with integral combination of colors and delicacy of shapes. What makes A730 different is a bit darker coloring of the front panel of the higher-end modification. In all the other respects, the models are identical, so we are not dwelling on the details – to get a closer idea of them, read the review on the predecessor.

ASUS MyPal A730W

ASUS MyPal A730W has turned dark in the face since the times of its predecessor, as if frowned, but remain the same pretty one – elegant and stylish.

Interior

Under the elegant suit of the guest being on trial, the number of metamorphoses is also not great. In fact, if you remember, all was OK in A730 in terms of the interior, so cardinal changes would not be of good sense. Remember that the palmtop is based on the fast PXA270 processor running at 520 MHz clock speed. This processor easily cracks the hardest stones, including the playing of quality video and emulation of Sony Playstation game-sets. If we abstract our minds from the groundless personal observations and face the dry facts, we get the following results:

Operation speed test results (VOBenchmark 2.12)
Test/model 
Power Saving ModeStandard Mode + Enable Automatic ModeStandard ModeTurbo Mode + Enable Automatic ModeTurbo Mode
CPU (Central Processing Unit) – testing the CPU's operation speed
CPU Floating Point3.289.849.8416.4016.41
CPU Integer7.0620.8820.8834.9034.90
Graphics – testing the operation speed of the video drivers and the CPU
Graphics Bitmaps BitBlt5.7514.3314.8715.2715.49
Graphics Bitmaps StretchBlt0.310.650.680.740.75
Graphics Filled Ellipse0.511.331.351.801.82
Graphics Filled Rectangle1.653.303.303.483.48
Graphics Filled Round Rectangle0.471.091.091.561.56
Memory – testing the memory operation speed (has most effect on the speed)
Memory Allocation2.928.768.7614.6414.64
Memory Fill0.691.301.321.331.33
Memory Move0.591.171.171.241.24
Text – testing the speed of drawing text on the PDA screen
Text (handling text)3.488.959.2411.3011.31

As is seen, in terms of performance the device looks pretty poor evidently being inferior to its smart competitors like HP iPAQ hx4700. However, that is merely the merit of accuracy of synthetic tests. Indeed, the device is able executing the most demanding tasks of the host.

ASUS MyPal A730W - Upper side of the housing

The upper side of the housing, apart from the two expansion slots, also contains an IR port, so with A730W you can get a fine universal remote control for household electronics.

According to the principles of a true high-end, A730W now contains 128 MB of RAM which is twice as much compared to the predecessor. An undisputable merit. But in view of the two expansion slots at a time, it is losing its fascination. Support for two standards of memory cards and peripherals allows not to worry about upgrading the capabilities of a PDA - all is done with a couple of finger clicks, or even faster. By the way, both the slots are providently positioned on the upper side of the housing and are closed with caps, so you may not worry about the dirt and dust that may penetrate inside and not to grumble about the usability.

ASUS MyPal A730W - Wireless module indicators

Both wireless modules in A730W are providently equipped with respective indicators. The LEDs are positioned on the upper part of the front panel and timely signals the host on the work progress with winsome winks.

The wireless communication of the new MyPal is remarkable. The model offers an IR port and a Bluetooth module familiar since the A730 module, and is equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities. The latter may seem an amusing toy for the elite, but upon a closer look you can see that it is quite a useful an necessary tool for everyone. That is why the novelty deserves a big plus in favor of A730W. We decided to test the wireless capabilities, to be more precise, one of them - Bluetooth, using a fresh "Luch" keyboard with the respective interface ($100). This accessory appears to be a full-size version with a standard layout, therefore it has every chance to gain awards and praises from the host. During the tests, it was found out that the keyboard has a very convenient pedestal for holding the PDA during printing - cheap but very useful. Another nice trifle of the "blue-toothed" Luch is the standard way of powering the keyboard. The source of life-giving moisture for it are two most regular AA cells which can be made available at any street stand in more or less crowded place. Albeit a trifle, but so nice. The last surprise from the authors of the keyboard on trial is the abundance of control slide bars - as many as four. And that is regardless the latch. Needless to say, a very important nuance for better usability. In all the other respects, nothing remarkable was found in the combination. The harmonious tandem was running surprisingly in a well-coordinated way, and during the tests there was nothing worth of complaints found.

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ASUS MyPal A730W and Luch-Bluetooth keyboard

Our hero nourishes quite moderately. On its lacquered saucer, there is a cell of merely 1100 mA*hr, which is definitely not much for a true high-end. Craftsmen from ASUS became aware of that and equipped their offspring with a spare battery. Therefore, you can increase our test results by two. But that is up to you, and we are bringing in figures produced during tests run with a single battery:

Results of testing the the offline operation times(SPB Benchmark 1.1.0, Build 40)
ModeTime,hr:min
Video, maximum screen brightness, speaker2:03
MP3, screen disabled, headphones9:11
Regular operation, maximum brightness2:10
Regular operation, medium brightness3:53
Regular operation, minimum brightness5:18

As is seen, the results are not really impressive. If it were not for the spare battery, our guest could be regarded as falling within the group of weak middling devices. With the additional battery cell, A730W looks quite decently even against the more tenacious competitors.

ASUS MyPal A730W - USB-adapter

With the bundled USB host adapter, standard peripherals can be plugged in to ASUS MyPal A730W. But in most cases we would need drivers, and for some accessories they can't be found at all. So it's better to take care about that in advance.

In the end, let's touch up the fine points since each deserves our close attentions, so it would get offended if ignored. Therefore, the most remarkable nuance is the bundled cable for the USB host adapter. With this magic wand, standard peripherals - storage media, card readers, flash drives etc. can be plugged in to the device. Of course, not every accessory would be glad to such a tandem, so we'd better take care of the compatibility in advance. In our case, ASUS MyPal A730W was running trouble-free with a flash drive and two card readers – easy and convenient. Of course, a weighty plus in favor of the device.

ASUS MyPal A730W case

The case of ASUS MyPal A730W appeared to get firm 5 of 5 score points – handy, high-quality, and presentable – one of the best “attires” normally shipped as bundled item with PDA.

Another spice is the case of the device. That is a handy and well-made specimen. What us pleased is the formidable look - with this attire you won't feel ashamed coming even to a versed community.

ASUS MyPal A730W - Camera

The “eye” of the camera is free from any protection against dirt and dust, but in all the other respects this item can boast among analogs. What especially pleased us was the excellent quality of the built-in camera. Also remarkable is the presence of a flash gun as well as a mirror for the self-portrait.

The camera in A730W remained as before – the way it was in the predecessor, so we'd better stop at it in a few words referring to the test of the previous model. We see that the megapixel version is of superb quality and offers an embedded mirror with a backlit flash gun in addition. As to the practical tests, the photos taken with A730W are inferior at quality to only FS Pocket LOOX 720, albeit not significantly. Other competitors, including the HP iPAQ hx4700, eminent in al respects, are left behind. In fact, as was mentioned earlier, you can read the details in the review on ASUS MyPal A730.

Usability standards

Due to its light weight and compactness, ASUS MyPal A730W is comfortable in your hand as if it has always been there. The device does not cause any discomfort at work, and the components are positioned in a surprisingly reasonable way. Actually, there were exceptions though. As is the case with A730, the stylus positioning proved more than disappointing. The stylus of the palmtop is positioned in the right-hand part of the bottom side, which is rather inconvenient at first and spoils the impression of handling the device. Some time later, the poor impression thins out, but some feeling of deja vu persists. Another blunder made by geniuses from ASUS was the lack of a dictaphone button. That undoubtedly useful item has been artfully removed as if it has never been there. In all the other respects, there is nothing to complain - only the positive sides remained. We covered them in the review on A730.

ASUS MyPal A730W held in hand

ASUS MyPal A730W perfectly fits in the hand, and in general the usability of this PDA produces the most positive emotions experienced from a light, compact, and handy device.

ASUS MyPal A730W - Left side of the housing

On the left side of the housing, there are buttons for power-on/off and invoking the camera control application.

ASUS MyPal A730W - Right side of the housing

On the right side, there is a slider for opening/closing the rear lid.

FE_approved

Shines and warms

ASUS MyPal A730W is indeed an exceptionally worthy product. It is a nice-looking, mobile PDA of good usability and a lot of features at quite a reasonable price. In fact, the palmtop reviewed is free from any serious shortcomings. The moderate time of offline operation is more than compensated by the second battery, and the low operation speed is noticed only against the fastest competitors of the platform but they are no more than fingers on a hand. If we depart from those best among the best, then by the sum of qualities A730W has proved to be a very balanced product, for which it has won our medal of quality.

ASUS MyPal A730W

Summary
Pros:Cons:
Compact and light (for a VGA-PDA)Nice-looking exteriorPerfect screenOutstanding cameraTwo expansion slotsTwo wireless modulesTwo batteries in the bundleUSB host adapterConvenient and well-made caseModerate time of offline operation (from a single battery)Moderate performance (for top-end PDA)Second battery can't be recharged in the cradleLack of the scrolling wheel and a shutter on the camera "eye"
Ferra.ru recommends: One of the best PDAs to date. ASUS MyPal A730W is a combination of mobility, usability, nice-looking design with an impressive set of features. At the same time the price for this computer falls within reasonable limits. A superb choice for exigent users.
Автор: Dmitry Ryabinin