Toy Box: One out of the box from Toshiba

Toshiba may have been one of the last to the party when it comes to handheld PCs, but it's a welcome latecomer.

Toshiba may have been one of the last to the party when it comes to handheld PCs, but it's a welcome latecomer.

The market is dominated by Palm, but its dithering ("I'm a software company, no I'm a hardware company. Software. Hardware.") has left the door open to devices based on Microsoft's Pocket PC.

As we all know, Microsoft's products never fire on the first two versions -- Windows CE as it was known didn't really cut it against the Palm OS. WinCE is long gone, however, and despite having lousy battery life compared with Palm, Pocket PC-based systems have been proving ever more popular.

Toshiba has upped the ante with its new top-of-the-line model, the prosaically named e740 -- the first Pocket PC with either built-in 802.11b capability or Bluetooth. This means users won't have to muck about taking up a valuable expansion slot with their wireless cards to connect to the network, and next time we go hunting for insecure wireless LANs on Queen St we'll be able to carry less gear.

Oh, did I mention the colour screen and MP3 player? For more work-related needs there is an expansion pack that hooks the e740 up to a projector or monitor for those PowerPoint presentations.

But battery life, despite Toshiba's best intentions, remains lousy at 25 hours maximum. My ageing Palm Vx makes it last for weeks, but then it's black and white and has no connectivity to speak of.

The e740 will set you back around $2000 when it arrives in the next couple of weeks.

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