It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s shaped like a brick. While many users will be turned off by the E-125’s bulky appearance in favor of the Compaq iPAQ’s sleeker design, Casio’s newest handheld truly earns the Pocket PC moniker. Its 65,536-color display is crisp and gorgeous, its built-in support for CompactFlash Type II memory cards makes it instantly upgradeable and its generous 32MB of built-in RAM means it’s ready to be loaded up with tons of software. While its 150MHz Mips CPU isn’t quite as fast as the iPAQ’s 206MHz StrongARM CPU, what it lacks in speed it makes up for in design. This is truly a high-powered pocket computer, dampened only by its astronomical price.
The price of the unit is the real problem with the E-125. It currently retails for $599, $100 higher than the faster Compaq iPAQ. But as a Pocket PC, the E-125 is fantastic. Its high-color, backlit display is simply gorgeous, which is truly apparent when users load up picture-viewing software for viewing standard picture images. The display has only one problem — it’s backlit and not reflective, which means the unit is difficult to see in direct sunlight. However, the display is easy to view in just about any indoor environment, and we don’t find ourselves looking at the display too often outdoors, although this might be a consideration for some users.
The design of the casing has some definite problems, but is overall quite nice. It’s a square block that doesn’t have the pleasing curves of its smaller brother, the EM-500. However, it rests quite comfortably in the hand, and the addition of several key buttons on the side of the unit makes its blocky appearance forgivable.
The left-hand side of the unit contains a power button, a menu button, a three-way switch, and a notes button. The power button is self-explanatory. Tapping the menu button is equivalent to hitting the Windows icon on the top-left of the screen to pull down the program menu, which makes jumping from program to program that much easier. Hitting the Notes button brings up the unit’s Notes program. Holding down the same button automatically makes the unit start recording voice memos. The real beauty, however, is the three-way switch. It’s a small wheel on the side that lets users cycle though items in a list, page through documents in Pocket Word or flip pages in the reader. It works the same way as the up and down directions of the four-way button on the front. Pressing the wheel into the unit is the same as clicking an item on the screen. The three-way switch makes one-handed use of the unit quick and easy, which is a must for things like reading e-books or paging through large documents.
The software on the unit is standard for the new Windows CE 3.0 Pocket PCs. It comes with Pocket Word, Pocket Excel and personal information management (PIM) software that syncs seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook. It also has Microsoft Media Player and Microsoft Reader built in, for listening to standard MP3 files or reading e-books in the Reader format. The cradle for the unit lets users place the unit right on the desktop, and the ActiveSync software that syncs with the PC can be configured to sync in a variety of ways. The fact that it rests upright in its cradle also makes it a prime candidate for portable keyboards, such as the Stowaway.
The E-125 also comes with a slot ready for CompactFlash Type II memory cards (unlike the iPAQ, which requires the purchase of a CF card jacket). Using a CompactFlash card is as simple as sliding it into the slot and then copying files to the new card. We took the 64MB CF card from our digital camera, popped it in the unit and instantly had enough room to download enough MP3s to satisfy our musical needs while reading an e-book.