NEC MobilePro carries on

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

breaching security.

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.


MobilePro 780 - B+

NEC Computers Inc.


Price and availability: Available on the open market for $799.

Remarks: The NEC MobilePro 780 is an excellent purchase for the person who wants the world in a tiny package. With a host of software revisions and additions, the 780 delivers more connectivity and versatility than its predecessor without a price increase.

BY Lisa L. McNair
April 12, 2000

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