Author Topic: Asus MyPal A626  (Read 1297 times)

Offline Carskick

  • Master Poaster
  • ****
  • Posts: 2485
  • Shelby, one of my cats.
    • James Kirk's Photos
Asus MyPal A626
« on: Sep 25, 2007, 12:55 PM »
Introduction

This is my review on the Asus MyPal A626 Pocket PC PDA. It is a pure PDA, not a phone, though does have WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities.
The basic specs are as follows:
  • Intel/Marvell XScale PXA270 312Mhz
  • 64MB RAM
  • 256MB Flash
  • Windows Mobile Edition 6 with mobile office
  • 3.5" 320x240 16k color touch screen
  • 802.11g and bluetooth
  • 3.7V 1200mAh L-ion Battery
  • 3.5mm headphone jack, SDIO slot, speaker, microphone, Ir


Build and first impression

First off, the build quality appears and feels quite good. The front Is a brushed steel or chrome with shiny chrome on the edges. The backside of the PDA is a soft gray plastic. The buttons are solid and have a nice feel, but the 4 task buttons are positioned to high to really make good controls if you plan on using emulators or some games on it. Also, the PDA is designed to be held either portrait or landscape, but assume I am holding it portrait when I am referring to it.

The top of the PDA has the centered power button and and offset SD slot. The right side has the 3.5mm headphone jack, hold slider, and stylus. The left side has the USB port. The bottom side has the Ir and reset button. The microphone is above the screen on the front, and the speaker and indicator lights are below the buttons.

Everything is well placed and convenient. My only complaint here is the bright LED indicator lights being right under the buttons, as they are bright and blink instead of staying on steady. I would have preferred them be on top or something less intrusive to the eye.


Basic Usage

Well, coming originally from Pocket PC 2002, I was interested in seeing what was added/changed in Windows Mobile Edition 6. (WME6)
For one thing, it's more Vista like in it's loading bars and in it's resource management. On initial boot, it is already using half of the available RAM, leaving only about 34MB for your programs to run in. Conversely, my PPC2002 device had 64MB, and the left about 42-48MB for program storage and usage. Also, with this device, Windows and your programs are actually stored in the built in flash, Although it has 256MB (probably 248MB or so once converted), only 174MB is available to the user. However, it does come with a lot more, which justifies the OS becoming much larger.

My PCC2002 was a light version to save on memory, so word didn't even have spell check. Well that is there now, excel now does graphics, and there is a power point viewer. Additionally, there are built in drivers and settings for WiFi, Bluetooth, etc. They have also added Transcriber, a new way to write, which I'll give more detail on later.

Other notable new features for people coming from older PPCs are the CPU management, which is adjustable, portrait and landscape rotation, and quick tasks in the bottom right of the "Today" screen. The device is pretty responsive under default settings, but if you put the CPU to "Maximum", it is very responsive, though you sacrifice battery life. I keep it on "auto" most of the time, which is sufficient for most tasks.

The device is comfortable to hold, thought the telescoping stylus is overly light and short, primarily because it comes out of the short side of the device. However, the stylus and screen work well together and are pretty accurate and easy to use. The screen requires just the right amount of effort IMHO.


Audio

Many people like the idea of the iPhone because it is a phone, PDA, and Music player all in one. However, a PPC device can play audio as well, and some do quite a good job of it. The sound of the ASUS through it's headphone jack is just above average. If anything, it's a little flat  at it's default settings, so I go to the audio settings, where you get a bass and treble slider, each from -2 to +2, starting at 0. I found +2 for treble and +1 for bass works well for my music and headphones, but I'm sure this varies between headphones used. It also has a 3D setting for sound, which is a slider with about 18 stops, with 0 as the default. I liked it on about 5. With these settings on my headphones, most of my music sounded quite good, with good detail and minimal distortion. However, on songs with heavy deep bass, it didn't distort or quiet, but it could be a little sloppy with some of those notes. Nothing major. Volume levels will go high enough for most, and unless you have the bass on +2 and max the volume with some heavy bass music, you won't get distortion. I used the included Windows Mobile 10 for music, as well as TCPMP for music and AV.

Overall, sound quality is on a similar level to an iPod, but there are some portable music devices out there with better sound. Definitely usable!


Video Playback

With TCPMP, this device is excellent at playing AV. I actually found a patch for TCPMP that allows the device to play flash videos, so I can get on youtube or a similar service and watch the videos full screen on my PDA. They are as smooth as a regular PC is with the high compression video. I have also done a quick test with Divx files on an SD card, but it was a lower bit rate one, which played fine. I have yet to try a higher bitrate Divx video yet, but I don't think it will have trouble. I update this once I give that a go.

The screen is a pleasure to watch video on. While it won't be that bright in direct sunlight, the backlight is even and color seems fairly accurate an pleasing. I give this device props over video iPods because of it's larger screen and ability to play more formats, though will have less space unless you stock up on SD cards.


Battey Life

This is actually a strong point of this PDA. Even with it's modest 1200mAh battery, it's usage life is about 4-24 hours. If you set your playlist up, and just let it play at moderate volume with the device on hold so the screen is off, you should easily get over 20 hours. Playing a high bit rate video with the backlight turned up should yield about 4-6 hours. Internet usage with the WiFi on isn't a whole lot better than playing video, but all things considering, I think this is excellent battery life. My HP iPaq 1910 only got 3-6 hours for all tasks, even in it's prime, and had difficulty playing anything but video tailored to it, and that was overclocked.


Software Issues

My only real complaint about this PDA is that Windows Mobile Edition 6, and reported 5 as well, have problems running older PPC software properly. The emulators made for ARM processors and PPC2000-2003 run significantly slower on this device than they did on my older, slower PPC2002 iPaq 1910. I am having a hard time finding newer emulators that were made for the newer OS, so I am kind of stuck for now. So if you have specific older software you want to run on it, try the software on a WME5 or 6 device first to see if it has any issues.

Edit: The new GAPI in WME5 and later was causing the problem. If I tell the emulator not to use GAPI, it runs much more smoothly, though not as efficiently as it would if it has the PPC2003 or 2002 GAPI. However, with the faster CPU, it doesn't matter too much. I found PocketNester and PocketGnuBoy to be good Nintendo and Gameboy emulators for this device. The GUIs are good, sound syncs well, and you can disable GAPI. If only the buttons were a little better placed, I would have an excellent gaming setup.


Included Accessories

I was very happy to find the ASUS to come with an extra sylus and a simple soft case for the device. It also came with a USB cable, a wall charger, 3 CDs. and the booklets. The package was very good, and made me feel that ASUS really cares what their customer think.


Conclusion and Who it's for

The ASUS MyPal A626 is an excellent PDA overall. It has no significant weaknesses, it comes well equipped for the price, and if you know what you are getting, you should be very happy with it. 

So who is the Asus A626 for? It is for someone who wants a PDA that can do more than schedule, but you don't need it as a GPS or Cell Phone. The built in flash is ALOT of space for a PPC, as most programs are only 500KB to a few MB, so you can fill it up with programs, and still have the SD slot available. Personally, I don't want my PDA and phone to be the same device, becuase I don't want to have to not use my PDA so my phone doesn't die, or vice versa. I like having the two devices separately, though you can communicate the two with bluetooth. I would like to see the ability to bluetooth your contacts to your phone, too.

This device has a huge list of things it can do. Scheduling, Music, Video, Voice Recording, Notes, Typing, Games, Internet, and much more with appropriate software or addons. No, it's not also a cell phone, but it doesn't claim to be, so if you're not expecting it, it is a great device, all for about $300.


Discuss Here
« Last Edit: Sep 27, 2007, 10:08 PM by Carskick »
Athlon64 X2 3800+ Machester@2.45Ghz, 4x1GB A-DATA PC3200@204(2.5-3-3-6), XFX 8800GT, ASUS A8N5X NF4, Antec 300 case, Antec EarthWatts 650w, 640GB 16MB and 200GB 8MB 7200RPM SATA WD HDDs, NEC3540, NEC3550, Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate<br />Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/Carskick

Offline Carskick

  • Master Poaster
  • ****
  • Posts: 2485
  • Shelby, one of my cats.
    • James Kirk's Photos
Performance
« Reply #1 on: Sep 27, 2007, 09:24 PM »
Okay, I got my 2GB SD chips in today, which work fine with the PDA, so I loaded some Xvid and Divx videos straight to them for playback on the PDA, not resizing or re-enconding for them at all.

Well, my higher quality Divx videos, which are about 175MB for about 22minutes , just barely play smoothly on the ASUS using TCPMP at it's full quality setting.  The benchmark ran averaging about 99%, which I ran for about a minute, where 100% would average perfect playback. Mainly when there is a lot of movement or action are pickups are noticeable, but it is more than watchable, and you can lower the quality, which blurs the picture some, but plays flawlessly. It may be that the Divx files are VBR, can't remember but I think they are, so when the action comes, the VBR increases bandwidth, and it's more than the PDA can handle at 100%.

My lower quality Divx videos, which are about 175MB for about 44 minutes run flawlessly at full quality settings. They benchmark at about 150%, and I have yet to have a dropped frame.

I may consider an overclocking program to take my CPU to about 400Mhz, which may help, but I'm not sure if I want to yet. I used to do it on my 1910, and I took the 200Mhz CPU to 300Mhz, and the bus from 100Mhz to 150Mhz, and it never had a problem, and it helped it run emulators and allowed for usable video viewing.


These files all had higher resolutions than the A626's screen, yet they downsized well, and held 1.5-2ft away, the image quality of both the high and low videos were good, of course compression was much more noticable in the lower quality, but not much worse than a TV broadcast.
Athlon64 X2 3800+ Machester@2.45Ghz, 4x1GB A-DATA PC3200@204(2.5-3-3-6), XFX 8800GT, ASUS A8N5X NF4, Antec 300 case, Antec EarthWatts 650w, 640GB 16MB and 200GB 8MB 7200RPM SATA WD HDDs, NEC3540, NEC3550, Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate<br />Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/Carskick