Saturday, July 21, 2007

VGA PDA - My Optimum Setup

I recently decided that I needed a replacement for my busted Toshiba e400 that got eaten by the concrete drop-monster. I loved my e400 for how unbelievably tiny it was. While it was the smallest and most PADD-like PDA I could find. It was the BEST device I have ever found for reading e-books. The midnight blue finish on it was also very nice and, uh, not silver like every other damn PDA on the market.

One of the major drawbacks that I found with it was the lack of any connectivity. I did add a SDIO WiFi card to my e400, that lasted about a week before it just died. Too small and delicate for my meat-hooks. The e400 was also a bit slow, too slow for divx video.

So I started shopping around, looking for a e400 sized powerhouse. Liking the Toshiba styling I pretty much started looking for something from them. The one that stood out the most was the e800.

The specs are still very formidable even though the e800 has been out a while. With a 4" screen it's the largest available. VGA 480x640 resolution is awesome on this super sharp bright screen.
Memory
* Installed RAM
* 128 MB
* Installed ROM
* 64 MB Flash

Processor
* Processor
* Intel 400 MHzXScale PXA263

Audio
* Microphone
* Speaker(s)
* Voice recording capability

Display
* Display type
* 4 in TFT active matrix
* Color support
* 16-bit (64K colors)
* Max resolution
* 480 x 600
* 2 MB ATI Graphics Accelerator

Expansion / Connectivity
* IrDA, Bluetooth 1.2
* USB Host Support
* 1 SDIO/SDIO NOW
* 1 CompactFlash Card Type I/II
The Toshiba e800 fetches about $450 on the web these days, so I thought I was just going to have to hit another e400 and not have video/wireless goodness.

Ahh, eBay.

I found one on the eBay-be for only $202 with TWO extra batteries, the USB Host housing, a hardshell aluminum case and a 512MB CF card.

Now I knew this thing would be broken when I got it, and it was. Somehow the previous owner managed to futz up the ROM and the battery contacts. Having the battery hard reset the machine randomly would make me want to chuck something out on eBay cheap too.

Lucky for me I have a pencil with an eraser and a web connection to flash the ROM back to Windows Mobile 2003 SE. Viola! Working PDA.

The absolute necessary software for the e800!

Lets start with drivers.

Video Drivers

From what I read there are ATI drivers for Windows 2003 SE that make this thing go way fast. These were very much fun to find since 20,000 people talked about it and all that info is old an no longer valid on the web. The file is buried in a CAB update for another product. You have to extract 0ace_ddi.012 and rename it to ace_ddi.dll. Then copy that into the \Windows folder of your e800 via ActiveSync or it will not work. This will give a big performance boost for video.

This thing is just a regular PDA until you get it switched into itty-bitty text hi-resolution mode. By default applications need to know about the extended resolution and they never do. The OS gets around this by doing quad-pixeling. Which is just using 4 pixels as one. WASTE! To make this go away and use all your pixels you need OzVGA. OzVGA lets you switch the device into 480x600 and actually use all those pixels.

USB Mass Storage Drivers

This is a major pain on the web. There are billions of posts on millions of blogs and forums about the Deje drivers, some wanker made drivers for USB Drives and charged $15 a pop for anyone to get his software, then the dude sold them to Anypak who resold them with a USB enclosure, but has since gone out of business.

NONE OF THE DRIVERS ON ANY SITE WORK! They are all dead links and BS from more than a year ago!

It took me a while but I found a Windows Mobile 2003 SE compatible driver on ROTAC's site buried in the downloads for a CF USB adapter they make.

Now for some apps that you will love to get.

Netfront Browser, kinda spendy but AWESOME for small screen devices. The Netfront browser allows you to set an arbitrary screen size and right/left scroll. Netfront also lets you do a graphics based zoom out. On the e800 at 50% the screen is actually 800x600 and still readable.

CorePlayer Video player, plays just about everything I have in digital media. Great optimization, can play at 640x480 quite well at 400MHz.

PocketMusic MP3 Player supports playlists and allows SORTING, I wonder why Windows Media Player can't let me sort by filename.

PocketPutty Windows Mobile version of the great putty ssh software. Wanna see me fix a webserver that gets 8 MILLION hits from my car at a gas station over my bluetooth cellphone and PDA?

MobiPocker Reader Ebook reader, supports many formats, dictionary and annotation support, does auto-scrolling, has features that I love, like a full screen mode with no margins, more text on screen please, my PDA has a bezel that works for margins.

Foxit Reader Because my 3 GHz PC can hardly run Adobe's bloatware.

Unfortunately the e800 is a big boy. The main reason I wanted another PDA was for an ebook reader and the e800 just doesn't fit in a pocket well. I will use the e800 as a car PC, maybe even get a GPS receiver for it, since it does everything and an external USB drive will give me my whole music selection in my car as well as a movie player.

If you see me on ebay bidding on an e400 just let me have it!

3 comments:

CRay said...

Hi
I was looking for the ATI driver for Toshiba E800. The link on your blog is outdated.
Kindly send me an updated link. Also looking for a Presenter Pack for the same (E800).
Regards
C Ray

bernard n. shull said...

i did a little research after you told me about your "thing", and if you want a way to make more money using your your blog you can enter this site: link. bye.

bernard n. shull said...

hi mate, this is the canadin pharmacy you asked me about: the link