Measuring more than an inch thick and weighing about as much as a large hardbound book (1.7 pounds), the MobilePro is no palmtop that you slip into a shirt pocket. It's a more robust device, packing a 168MHz NEC MIPS processor and plenty of memory under the hood. If the device's standard 32MB of RAM proves insufficient, a CompactFlash slot located on the front edge allows easy expansion. A single PC Card slot also provides connectivity.
An office in your pocket
Despite the MobilePro's self-proclaimed handheld status, we find this rather pudgy device more suited to tabletop computing. Trying to type or navigate the touch screen while standing (via fingertip or the included stylus) is a real hassle. The clamshell case opens to reveal a half-VGA screen (as wide as a standard VGA screen but only half as high), which delivers 640x240-pixel resolution at 64,000 colors. Yes, you can create spreadsheets and edit documents, but the display size feels restrictive compared to that of a standard notebook or a desktop. For a passive-matrix screen, the image is impressively clear, but off-axis viewing is limited. And the screen is a bit dim, even at its brightest setting.
The MobilePro ships with all the Microsoft Pocket applications, including Pocket Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Internet Explorer. The OS also includes e-mail and a Pocket version of Outlook with a contacts list, a calendar, and a task list. Ten quick-access keys across the top row of the keyboard put you just one button away from your applications, the calculator, or a built-in voice-recording utility. But the 78-key QWERTY keyboard, though supposedly only 8 percent smaller than a full-sized model, permits touch-typing by only the thin-fingered. A nifty wheel control located on the screen hinge allows you to scroll through documents. You can set it for line-by-line or full-page scrolling.
Works with your desktop
NEC intends for the MobilePro to complement to a user's main computer, and the device ships with a CD-ROM containing ActiveSync synchronization software and a registered copy of Outlook 2000. The handheld connects via the included serial cable or wirelessly via infrared. Setting up the connection for the first time is surprisingly easy. You simply install the software on the desktop, connect the cable, and follow the onscreen prompts.
The software initiates a link between your desktop and the handheld, allowing you to determine how to keep files consistent between the two devices. Sync sessions work efficiently. Though the MobilePro includes an internal modem for Internet access, it's just as easy to compose e-mail messages, drop them in your out-box, and later transfer them to your desktop for delivery. You can also connect the device to an external monitor via a proprietary video-out port.