NEC MobilePro carries on
- By Lisa L. McNair
- Apr 12, 2000
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Instead of revamping its highly regarded MobilePro 770, NEC Computers Inc.
has wisely chosen the path of buffing the shine with its new MobilePro 780.
The enhancements in the new model — including a faster 168 MHz CPU, a thumb
wheel for easier vertical scrolling and enhanced software — are worthwhile,
but users of the MobilePro 770 will be glad to hear that NEC has left the
basics of the handheld unit unchanged.
Although we don't yet have benchmark tests available that apply to the handheld
units, the faster CPU in the MobilePro 780 results in notably snappier performance
than we saw in the 770 model.
And we liked the MobilePro's implementation of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows
CE Handheld PC Professional 2.11 operating system and Version 3.01 of Microsoft's
Pocket application suite. The applications are powerful and easy to use.
At first glance, the display seemed cluttered with shortcuts, but we soon
discovered that it's easy to remove shortcuts and clean up the interface.
Besides the host of pocket applications, the 780 also ships with Microsoft's
Active Sync 3.0, which performed adequate synchronization depending on file
size. When uploading large files, the unit is a bit sluggish — but performance
overall is good.
The new thumb wheel, while a great idea, was a little hard to use. Located
on the right under the display, the device was too small and difficult to
manage when wielding the stylus in your right hand. We often found ourselves
setting the stylus down to use the scroll feature. Eventually, we found
it simpler to pass on using the wheel altogether.
Designed for the extremely mobile customer, NEC stays with its tradition
of the "lightweight PC companion." And the 780 has the same physical appearance
as the 770 — measuring 9.6 inches wide, 5.2 inches deep, 1.1 inches high
and weighing a mere 1 pound 13.5 ounces.
Both the 770 and the 780 ship standard with: 32M of RAM, a 56K v.90 modem
for Internet and e-mail viewing, a 8.1 inch half-VGA 640 x 240 resolution
touch-screen display, a 78-key keyboard, one Type II PC Card slot and one
Type II CompactFlashT slot for expandability and VGA port.
The MobilePro is well-designed for users who rely on their handheld unit
for accessing e-mail, with the ability to connect to a server using either
POP3 or Internet Message Access Protocol 4. On the downside, there is no
interface with Lotus Notes.
With the 780 model, however, NEC has increased the MobilePro's connectivity
options by including Extended Systems Inc.'s Adaptive Speed Leveling (ASL)
Connect Client software and Citrix Systems Inc.'s Independent Computing
Architecture Client. ASL provides access to applications, including Lotus
Notes, that are located on a server, while the Citrix client basically turns
the MobilePro into a handheld terminal.
NEC has also bundled its virtual private networking client with the MobilePro.
This client enables users to access the network via the Internet without
The MobilePro 780 also comes with a stylus pen, a lithium ion battery, an
AC adapter, a VGA connector cable for connecting desktop monitors or projectors,
a serial PC Connect cable for easy synchronization and a RJ-11 telephone
The MobilePro 780 is priced competitively at $799. Agencies and departments
looking for a handheld unit that provides easy and fast connectivity for
e-mail and Internet access will find the MobilePro 780 to be a strong choice.