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Casio Cassiopedia EM 500 PDA Review
Casio Cassiopedia EM 500 PDA Review - PCSTATS
Casio are a name long associated with consumer electronics, has actually been producing CE based hand helds since the very beginning, starting with the A 10. With each new product, the company has managed to improve on the weaknesses of earlier units, while providing additional functionality. With the introduction of their PocketPC units, Casio is ready to continue this tradition. Does this strategy still hold the key to a successful product?
 90% Rating:   
Filed under: Computer / SFF PCs Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Casio Nov 28 2000   D. Deveaux  
Home > Reviews > Computer / SFF PCs > Casio Cassiopedia EM 500

Design of the PDA and Software

Below are some screenshots of various Casio native applications.

Taking a look at the EM 500, the similarities between it and Casio's earlier E 115 Pocket PC become quite apparent. Along the top of the unit is the stereo headphone jack (perfect for listening to MP3's), MMC slot, stylus holder, and status lights to indicate charging state and alarms. One nice catch is that the MMC slot is protected by a rubber flap, so the chances of dust or other stray objects entering the slot is minimized. Along the left hand side, you'll find the AC adapter connector, the power button, a scroll wheel, the voice recorder button, and the infrared lens. The IR lens' location seems a bit out of place in my opinion. So many other units have their IR port at the top of the device, which makes more sense when using it to beam data.

On the front lies the active matrix display. As mentioned in the specifications, the LCD is very bright, and supports a vivid 65,536 colors. As with most active matrix LCD's however, the display is virtually useless in bright sunlight, which is a consideration that needs to be taken into effect if the device will be used in such lighting. A solution to this is to use a semi reflective display similar to that found on Compaq's iPaq device, where it will use ambient light if available, and switch on a backlight only when needed). Even still, in areas with little to average lighting, the display on the EM 500 was very pleasing to the eye, and very comfortable to work with for long periods of time. Below the display you'll also find a 4 way control pad and three quick start buttons (useful for launching your favorite applications.

The bottom of the unit features the connector to plug the USB cable into. Unlike the aforementioned MMC slot protection, this connector is only covered by a small plastic cover that is easily removed. Once removed however, it is extremely easy to misplace. A rubber flap, or even a plastic door would have been a wiser choice for Casio here. Below this connector is a small opening just large enough for the stylus. This is used for removing the battery cover. Simply poke the stylus tip into this hole, and the battery cover pops up.

This brings us to the back of the EM 500, where you'll find the main battery and backup battery. It is in this regard that Casio is leagues above the competition. Rather than rely on an integrated rechargeable battery as most hand helds with color displays do, Casio has thoughtfully included both a removable Lithium Ion battery and coin cell backup battery (CR 2032). Why is this important? Firstly, any rechargeable battery will eventually lose its ability to maintain a charge.

When this happens with the EM 500's battery, you can simply order a new one from Casio and continue using the device. Other units would need to be sent out for repair. Having the backup battery ensures that data in the device won't be lost when the main battery dies. This is very handy when you haven't synchronized information in a while, and is something that every PDA manufacturer should think of. If inexpensive $30 electronic organizers have this feature, then I certainly think a $400 PDA should too.

All in all, the EM 500 has a well thought out design. Controls are in an intuitive layout (save for the infrared lens), the display is top notch, and the use of removable main and backup batteries is long overdue in the PDA market. Let's just hope others can learn from Casio's thoughtfulness.

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Contents of Article: Casio Cassiopedia EM 500
 Pg 1.  Casio Cassiopedia EM 500 PDA Review
 Pg 2.  — Design of the PDA and Software
 Pg 3.  Performance and Conclusions

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