Review: Samsung Nexio S160 5″ PDA

Although I may spend more time playing with PDA’s at Bestbuy than is normally considered healthy, I still often find myself looking for something more. Something different, something no one else has. It’s the crack-like addiction to mobile technology that has kept me on this page for the last three and a half years and will likely someday turn my house into a “what was hot then” museum.

But packing my bags for Hong Kong every time I need a fix just isn’t practical in my need-food-and-shelter budget. Thankfully there are other folks out there who do the trip regularly and managed to turn the quest into a business model. Dynamism is one of only a few companies who shops the Asian markets for hard to get items, packs in North American power supplies and translations, and resells them over here.

With that in mind I dropped them a line on the new and very slim and light (13mm & 250g) Nexio S160. A wi-fi enabled handheld not available in stores over here, this puppy can boast a couple of features that would make its western cousins feel a wee inadequate. I’ve had it for about two weeks now and it’s definitely turned some heads. Why? Well, first off is the screen size. Where some might feel spoiled watching an AVI movie on their 3.78 inch iPaq screen, I’m watching a converted widescreen edition of Matrix on the Nexio’s 5inch 800×480 display. Intended to almost always be used in Landscape mode, the widescreen setup also makes web surfing and e-book reading much nicer on the eyes.

The unit runs Windows CE .Net 4.10 using the now standard PXA250 Intel chip running at 400 MHz and 128Mb of memory. This is my first run on this O/S and I’m happy to report that there was about a ZERO learning curve. It feels and runs much like XP to me. All the options are exactly where I figured. It comes with all the standard PPC Office apps (Pocket word, Spreadsheet, PDF Viewer, Presentation Viewer), Contacts, Calculator, Voice Recorder, Calendar, Image Viewer, Date Book and the like along with some games (casino and cards), Email and Explorer, Windows Media Player, (JVM)Macromedia Flash Player and a separate MP3 Player. Where it really excels though is in the integrated Wi-Fi. The unit does have a CF slot for expansion but you won’t need to waste it on a wi-fi card. The unit’s internal antenna locked onto my home network and had me surfing right out of the box. I was able to listen to a streaming radio broadcast over wi-fi on my back deck without skipping a beat for 1 hour and 11 minutes on a single charge. I later took it for a walk around town and had no trouble logging into several different types of networks. I surfed, checked my mail and even ran the included version of MSN Messenger with little hassle. I ran into one problem on a hotspot that wouldn’t renew the device IP. As noted, the O/S is very XP like so I simply selected the connection and renewed the IP manually.

Another difference in this unit was the selection of hardware buttons. The unit sports a 5 way directional key along with a brightness dimmer, voice record button, a hot key to bring you back to the desktop and a hold switch for when you need to lock out all the keys. Strangely, the unit has a VGA port for presentations but no IR. Synching through Outlook goes via USB. The unit I received also came with a (stack two credit cards for an image) very thin attachable keyboard which doubled as screen protection for when you have it in your pocket. It does allow you to thumb type when holding the unit upright but the width makes it a challenge. Using the included charging stand is more comfortable. It gives it more of a laptop feel although the key size makes it more of a hunt and peck maneuver.

All in all I was very happy with the performance of the unit but there is a price to being the guy with the coolest toy. Although other integrated wi-fi PDA’s with smaller screens and less memory can be had under the $400US range and any average PPC with a WI-Fi CF card for even less, the Nexio sells for a cool $1249US without accessories. This baby is strictly for the people who absolutely have to have something no one else has and no problems doling out the green to get it.

Specifications

OS Microsoft Windows CE .NET (4.1)

CPU Intel PXA250 400MHz

Display 5 inch Transflective WVGA TFT LCD(800*480, 64k color)

Memory – Flash ROM 64MB(NAND type)
- SDRAM 128MB

Wireless Comm. Built-in WLAN(802.11b) Module, Wi-Fi Certified

Interface CF Type ll Card Slot
USB docking port
(PC sync.,VGA-out, Power charging)

Battery Li-polymer 1500mAh (rechargeable)

Key Button 5-Way key for easy navigation (4 directional + 1 action)
3 Programmable Hot Keys
Hold switch

Cover Leather cover
Keyboard (Optional)

Size 155 x 91 x 13 mm (w/ Leather Cover)

Weight 250 g (include Battery & Leather Cover)

Included Accessories
- USB Cradle
- AC Adapter
- USB Data Cable
- VGA Output Cable
- Quick Start Guide
- NEXiO S160 CD-ROM
- Leather Cover
- Portable Quick stand
- Stereo Ear-Microphone

Optional Accessories Extended Battery
- Li-polymer 2000mAH
- Attaches to the back of NEXiO

Keyboard
- 53 key QWERTY style keyboard for easy data entry
- Provides Hard Cover for NEXiO

PCMCIA Adapter
- PCMCIA type I, II support
- Li-ion battery built-in (900mAH)


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