- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2000

One of my favorite motivational speakers is Jim Rohn. A favorite saying of his is that it's not what something costs, but what that thing is worth.

If a tool does a needed job, says Mr. Rohn (www.jimrohn.com), it's worth the cost.

Such a description could easily be applied to Casio Computer Co.'s new Cassiopeia E-115. Priced at $599, the device introduced Wednesday at the Microsoft Corp. Pocket PC launch in New York is an extremely powerful computer that fits in a shirt pocket.

As mentioned in this space recently, Microsoft has been tweaking and tuning the Pocket PC platform, based on operating software called Windows CE, to make it work better and do more.

That's important not only because previous pocket-size implementations have been less than stellar but also because the Palm Computing platform has swallowed up tons of market share. Palm devices currently outsell Windows CE Pocket PCs by about 4-to-1, if not more.

The Cassiopeia E-115 is a great attempt to come back at this question. With 32 megabytes of RAM (the first desktop PC that I owned had a 10 megabyte hard drive), there's plenty of data storage available. You can add compact flash memory (between 4 megabytes and 32 megabytes on cards) or one of IBM's microdrive hard disks, which gives up to 448 megabytes.

Before long, I wouldn't be surprised to see something in the 1 gigabyte range of storage, although when that happens will be anyone's guess.

The screen on the unit is a display that shows 65,536 different colors; so photos can be displayed crisply and clearly. In fact, Casio is offering a small camera that plugs into the unit, price $299, that offers photos with 640-by-480 dots per inch, a format suitable for most Web applications and e-mail.

But wait, there's more. The applications bundled with the Cassiopeia E-115, pocket-size versions of Microsoft's Word and Exceland Money will give users a way to work on documents, spreadsheets and track expenses with ease. The version of Outlook installed on the device ably and easily handles contacts and e-mail.

It was also the Cassiopeia E-115 that I've used to test the handwriting recognition software bundled with the Pocket PC operating system. That software, called ParaGraph, is made by a unit of Vadem Corp. (www.paragraph.com). It is a remarkable way to get notes into a portable unit, then convert that handwriting into usable text files.

You can also load and listen to MP3 music files and video movies with this unit, and get stereo playback through a headphone/ speaker jack. It records voices and can attach those recordings to outgoing e-mail. At this column's press deadline, it is reported that Verizon Wireless, a unit created by the GTE-Bell Atlantic merger, is to offer a wireless communications service that works with Pocket PC devices.

About the only thing some users might object to is the cost of the Cassiopeia E-115. While $599 may seem like a lot, it should be noted that 32 megabytes of memory is 400 percent more than the 8 megabytes of the Palm IIIc color unit from Palm Computing, price $449. And, Hewlett Packard Corp. is due to introduce a 16-megabyte Pocket PC device, also running the new operating software, at $499.

The Cassiopeia E-115 represents a solid value for many users. However, just as one size fits all doesn't apply much beyond some basic clothing items, the idea of one pocket-size computer fitting every need is also a bit much. The folks at Casio, backed up by Microsoft's development team, are to be lauded for bringing along a new device with tons of features, several good options and the greatest option of all: more choice in the marketplace. Information about the Cassiopeia E-115 can be found at www.casio.com.

Write to Mark Kellner in care of The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; send e-mail to [email protected], or visit the writer's Web page, www.markkellner.com.

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