NEC's MobilePro 800 looks like a laptop, yet performs like a revved-up H/PC. Despite a few relatively minor shortcomings, this versatile tool holds its own among Windows H/PC Pro devices.
The MobilePro mimics the design of full-featured laptops, yet measures 1.1 by 9.6 by 7.5 inches and weighs just 2.5 pounds. It distinguishes itself by offering one nice added touch: a wonderfully sharp screen. Measuring 9.4 inches diagonally, the MobilePro's screen is capable of displaying 16-bit color in SVGA mode. The unit doesn't have a touchpad like Hewlett-Packard's competing device, the Jornada 820, but offers instead a touchscreen and a stylus. This H/PC has an NEC VCR4121 MIPS processor for power and comes with 16 megabytes of RAM and 24 megabytes of ROM. However, it does not have a parallel port. The chassis has enough room to house a Type II PC Card and a CompactFlash slot. External connections include a port for connecting to a VGA monitor, a USB plug, a serial-cable jack and a built-in 56Kbps V.90 modem.
The MobilePro comes with all the standard Windows CE applications, including a voice recorder and Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint. It also bundles two distinguished software additions: Puma's IntelliSync software and Westtek's Jetcet PowerPoint Companion. IntelliSync lets users synchronize the MobilePro with their Lotus Organizer and Symantec ACT! PIMs. The Jetcet software provides the tool to create and edit new PowerPoint presentations, eliminating one of the biggest problems business people have when using Windows CE for presentations.
Although Microsoft improved the synchronization capabilities between CE devices and PCs over the previous version of CE, the synchronization procedure is still complex with far too many steps required. Unfortunately, NEC doesn't make this process any easier. 3Com's Palm product (See the reviews of the Palm IIIx and Palm V in this issue) solved the synchronization problem a long time ago, and its method is still the easiest. Too bad NEC hasn't followed suit.
With an unusual set of touch-sensitive buttons lining each side of the screen, NEC gives users quick and easy access to applications and system functions. The buttons on the left activate functions such as the memory-allocation program and the alarm-clock settings. On the right, the buttons are easily programmed to launch tasks.
The MobilePro is an agreeable traveling companion, but it isn't perfect. Typing on the cramped keyboard is unpleasant because it simply doesn't provide enough hand space. Also, the peculiar design of the modem port causes the cover to remain partially open to hold the RJ-11 jack in place-making it easy to break if you're not careful to close it after you use it.
The MobilePro lists for $949. For more information, contact NEC at www.nec.com or 888-8-NEC-NOW.