Yakumo Alpha GPS PDA
The unit is 12.5x7x2cm and weights close to 200grams. It has a nice solid feel and the screen resolution of 240x320 is clear and sharp. It is a PocketPC 2003 unit and the operating system is WinCE 4.20. You have 27.5MB of available RAM.
I found battery life a little disappointing especially when using the Marco Polo Navigation software (reviewed 10/2/06). Recharge time from total discharge was around 240Minutes when on and around 100Minutes when switched off.
As with most Pocket PC's you need to have installed Microsoft Outlook before ActiveSync that controls all the normal movements of data to and from the PDA.
Two words of warning Outlook Express is not Outlook, and the copy of Outlook on the provided CD might be more up to date than your copy of Outlook and if so if it needs the provided version, the installer will tell you. If you had an old PDA then you also need the ActiveSync provided V3.7. While the unit will work with Windows 98, ME or 2000 it is less hassle using Windows XP.
Once you have completed your first synchronisation everything else should work without problems, synchronisation wise. As a Pocket PC device you have easy access and editing capabilities for Microsoft Word and Excel files.
The screen area is 7x5.5cm and dependant on what you setup in the bottom right corner of the screen you either get a chance to write with the stylus or use an onscreen keyboard. The latter is a learning curve for the novice but it will give faster input in the long run.
There are four buttons and a five position wheel below the screen, the buttons are set by default to open various applets, the left side has the on/off button and a scroll wheel. The top has earbud input the inbuilt microphone and SD Card socket. The base holds the connector for charging and synchronisation. The rear of the unit has the fold out antennae 4.5x4cm for the GPS connection used by the navigation software.
One word of caution I found in certain lights that it was possible to press the on/off button and the unit just to lose the backlight lulling you into thinking you had turned the unit off, look carefully at the screen and if you see a trace of an image it's still turned on. This is of course important when using GPS as keeping a signal is easier than switching off and then trying to re-establish one. You are also warned about the correct procedure for closing the Marco Polo software, as previously stated it does drain the battery quickly and if being used in pedestrian mode there is no way to recharge, when plumbed into a car the 'cigar lighter' it is charging automatically.
While my tests produced better navigation results than with other Pocket PC or Palm navigation I was not bowled over by the pedestrian mode and most people seem to value speed cameras and they are not an option here. It is a good solid PDA if you travel occasionally and need navigation for those unfamiliar journeys it can cope.
As stated in the previous article it is available from www.evesham.com for around £280, there are other PDA devices with Navigation around and some are cheaper.
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