Reviews: Hardware (Devices)

Philips Nino 510

     Philips first color device, the Nino 510, is defiantly one for the top Windows CE 2.x devices.  It's sleek design partnered with its features make it a great choice for not only the novice PDA user, but the more experienced user too.
     Though not the thinnest on the market, the Philips Nino 510 is reality small. At first glance, this device looks great for the outside, and the inside is much the same for a Windows CE 2.11 device. The Nino comes packaged with a great software pack including speech recognition (to run programs), voice recording software (16 minutes per mb), and the complete Windows CE 2.11 software pack (including Calligrapher and AvantGo). A great feature on the Nino is the ability to surf the web while still being able to keep your extra flash memory card in your device with the click on modem (though it is lacking running at only 19.2kbps).
      Being my first PDA, this device's first challenge was to "woo" me over to what I would soon find to be the Windows CE side of the market. First thing I wanted from my device was easy to use and setup, as I think many people want. The Nino hardware was very easy to setup, though one thing I dislike is the overnight battery charge. Though not suppose to, I just plugged it into the AC pack, and started playing (I mean, who can wait overnight). When I began playing with it in the real world, I found out that the battery life was fairly short. I used it on the plane from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon and just made it the whole way on the batteries before I got the low batter light. The battery also looses time when a CF card is added or the modem is added. (Please note, do not leave a CF card in your device. Thought it should be ok, it drained my Nino's battery, requiring a hard reset and data loss.)
     The Nino's screen was nice in my semi lit room, but I soon found that as more light was added to the room, the screen became MUCH harder to read. When I later took it outside, I found that I would never be able to use this in the car (except at night) nor outside during the day. I sent an email with my Nino while ridding on a bus. Though hard to read the screen, it wasn't terribly bad, but still was not as good as it should be. The Nino's internal hardware allowed for me to multitask with only a slight loss in speed while working. I used Utopiasoft Hum, Note Taker and Calligrapher all at the same time, with out skips or a long "decoding" time of my handwriting. It only got backed up when trying to change programs, but still wasn't as bad as it could be.
     Both the serial and the IrDA sync worked great on the first try. I installed the standard Microsoft ActiveSync to test, and even was able to get it talking with two computers with no troubles at all. The serial cradle has a great idea in that you can connect and disconnect the AC power supply through the bottom. This allows you to sync and charge, or just sync. Personally, without it plugged in works better for me, so I could regulate the charge. 
     Under normal use, the Nino runs great. All onboard software runs fast and smooth. If you want to add an MP3 decoder, the Nino can handle it, though it often takes a second or to for it to buffer the first part of the song. It also wasn't hard to find extra software for this device. The 16mb of onboard memory is lacking for the power user that wants more software or music, but at least it has a CF slot that can handle anything from a flash memory card to an IBM Microdrive. If you decide the Nino is for you, I recommend a few things. For MP3 use, a CF card is needed, even if you only want a few megabytes of music, it is the way to go. Screen protectors. My Nino's screen has been scratched (just a little) from its stylus. Screen protects from a company like Concept Kitchen also will help with screen visibility (surprisingly). Overall, I would not hesitate buying this device. It is great for a newbie or a more advanced user. It is simple to use, has a color screen, and doesn't lack hardware components to make it a good device. It is smaller then some devices, and has a nice array of accessories and options.

Dave's Score - 9.0
This means, this product is about as close to "the best" as you can get.  This product embodies quality in its design and application, and is something I would use.  Though you still should consider it for yourself, most would probably be happy with this product even if they were unable to try it.


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