Casio E-15 Review
The Casio E-15 is clearly an improvement over the first generation Palm-size PCs (P/PC). The E-15 is one of the smallest and the thinnest P/PC to date at 3.25" x 5 "and a mere .6" thick. It would be thinner if Casio had left out the CompactFlash slot and used thinner batteries rivaling the Palm V in thickness. At 6.47 ounces, itís not the lightest P/PC yet but it is the only second generation gray scale P/PC announced.
The E-15 uses a 16 gray scale FSTN backlit LCD display. It is the standard 320 x 240 pixels and is approximately 4" diagonally. The screen is sharp and easy to read, although you have 16 gray scales, the only application to take advantage of that is the Mobile Channels Viewer. Since most P/PCs have 4 gray scales, the channels have been optimized for that, however I anticipate that they will use color more extensively in the future. The backlight is not as bright as the E-10/11 but brighter than the Freestyle A-20 making the unit easy to read in the dark.
Clearly, Casio has kept the same design of prior models. The E-15 follows the same layout as the E-100 does with the power button on the top left, followed by the Exit, thumbwheel (Up/Down and Action) and then the Microphone button. On the top, Casio has added a finger joystick for Up/Down/Left/Right movement as well as the 3 application launch buttons. Clearly this unit is setup for a Right handed writer to hold in their left hand. A Left handed user may have to get used to using their finger tips instead of their thumb to push the buttons. The finger joystick and buttons on the top make the unit great for games or navigational programs that will take advantage of this capability instead of using the touch screen or buttons on the left.
The E-15 comes with a docking cradle to connect to your desktopís serial port. The serial port is on the bottom of the E-15 and has a sliding cover to keep the connector clean. The unit also has an infrared IrDA 1.1 (115.2k baud) port on itís side. It also has a headphone jack as well as an AC Adapter plug on itís side so you donít have to carry around the docking cradle to use it but the NiMH batteries are only charged when the unit is in the cradle.
The E-15 uses a NEC Mips Vr4111 CPU which operates at 69 mhz. It has 16 MB of ram that by default is partitioned into 8 MB of storage and 8 MB for executing programs. I recommend adjusting the ram to 12 MB for storage and 4 MB for executing programs to maximize your ram usage. The unit ships with a NiMH AAA battery pack which charges when the unit is in the cradle or 2 AAA alkaline batteries giving the unit a battery life of approximately 20 to 25 hours (your battery life will vary significantly based on communications, backlight, voice recorder and CompactFlash card usage).
The E-15 uses Windows CE Services 2.2 and runs Windows CE 2.11 just like the H/PC Pro and the Color P/PCs. It includes the standard P/PC applications (Pocket Outlook (Calendar, Contacts and Tasks), Inbox, Channels, Notetaker, Calculator, and Voice Recorder). Casio has added in rom Casio Menu for easy launching of 9 applications, Schedule Viewer, Pocket Database, CompactFlash Backup/Restore for easy backups and restores while on the road, and a Financial Calculator. On Casioís website (www.casio.com) they offer desktop software for Palm Pilot data conversion, AvantGo Client 2.0 and Audible player for audio books.
Casio has improved itís design to create a smaller, faster and more ram in the same box for $399 which is the same as last years model. The E-15 seems faster than the prior generation of systems, I suspect itís because of the additional ram, faster CPU and the Windows 2.11 operating system. The applications have not been enhanced since the original P/PC other than to add color to them so if your existing unit is serving you well then the only reason to upgrade is for color or more gray scales. It is an important machine for the user looking for the ultimate in battery life and does not need color.
For a complete comparison of all the Wyvern based P/PCs, check my P/PC 2.1 Comparison
For a visual comparison of P/PCs check my P/PC Visual Comparison.