Toshiba Offers Windows Mobile Update

By James Alan Miller

May 27, 2004

The company has posted a Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition update for both the W-Fi and Bluetooth editions of its e800/805 Pocket PC.

Toshiba has posted a Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition update for both the W-Fi and Bluetooth editions of its e800/805 Pocket PC.

These handhelds are the only Pocket PCs currently availabe that include a 640x480 pixel or VGA resolution screens. That means they can take advatnage of Second Edition's native support for this resolution in addition to the new operating system's support of potrait and landscape modes.

According to Toshiba's webiste, the Second Edition update includes all necessary files as well as a guide with detailed instructions on how to perform the upgrade. It also says some programs may not run or run only limitedly under this new Operating System.

Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition

Second Edition adds a number of significant features to the platform, including the aforementioed support for 640x480 or VGA screens. Until this edition of Windows Mobile, the operating system only supported quarter VGA (QVGA) displays that only went up to a resolution of 240x320. This is an important enhancement, as the Palm platform surpassed Windows Mobile in this area with 320x320 and 320x480 resolution displays quite a while ago.

As we mentioned earlier, the only Pocket PCs to offer a VGA display under the previous edition of Windows Mobile was Toshiba and its e805 and e800 PDAs. Toshiba used proprietary software to support this resolution. And only four applications that came bundled with the devices could run at 640x480, while all others dropped down to 240x320.

A technology in the new version of Windows Mobile called pixel doubling takes existing applications written for 240x320 displays and scales them up so they are able to be used on 640x480 screens. With this technology, four pixels are used on a VGA display where one would have been used on a QVGA screen.

Higher-resolution displays mean fonts and icons made for lower-resolution displays will appear smaller. So Microsoft has a new tool in Second Edition called the Settings Panel that allows users to set the size of the fonts at a readable level. There is also a high-resolution version of the Windows Mobile on-screen keyboard as well as icons in Second Edition.

Other new resolutions supported by Second Edition include 240x240 and 480x480, which are known as square resolutions because they are the same size horizontally and vertically. The goal of square resolutions is to allow manufactures more leeway in creating devices with integrated keyboards, such as the one currently found in the HP iPAQ h4355 Pocket PC. By using a square resolution, vendors can keep the overall size of their handhelds in check, making them more attractive.

Another important display orientated feature in Second Edition is the ability to switch between landscape and portrait viewing. Before Second Edition, users needed to use third party applications that required resting the device when switching screen orientation. Now users can switch modes on the fly. Landscape mode allows users to view more information in a document or a Web page for example. All the standard Windows Mobile applications can now be used in both landscape and portrait modes.

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