Microsoft wants take over all computers. The desktop. The laptop. The server. And now, the PDA. Its new weapon is the Windows CE. This new 32-bit operating system is optimized for devices with limited graphics, memory, power, and energy. Yet, it manages to maintain the nearly identical look and feel of Windows 95. The Start Menu and familiar applications like Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer are all crammed into a miniature form factor. The top leftmost "My Computer" icon is even intact but slightly modified to state "My Handheld Computer." Microsoft believes that this familiar interface will make the WinCE as popular as Windows 95. And, hardware vendors seem to agree.
The Casio Cassiopeia is the first of a future horde of WinCE machines which will be released over the next year by companies such as Hewlett Packard, Phillips, and Compaq. This device take a relatively conservative approach to PDA computing and fail to offer much innovation. However, they are worthy of study because they will inevitably dominate the market simply because of the big name support and established interface.
With applications such as Word and Excel, this device has much of the functionality of a typical laptop. However, it is clearly not robust nor powerful enough to supplant notebook computers. This makes the Cassiopeia a middle PDA.
size- 6.9" x 3.6" x 1" and 13.4 oz. (Roughly 1.5
times larger that a pants pocket)
screen- standard resolution, 4 level greyscale, touchscreen, backlighting
battery- Two AA batteries last 2-3 weeks.
speed- Hitachi SH3 RISC processor. (5-7 second application loading time)
fragility- Standard laptop clamshell construction.
For complete technical specifications, please visit the official Casio Cassiopeia site accessible though the Resources page.
Data is entered through a QWERTY keyboard. The Cassiopeia uses a touchscreen, but there is no native support for handwriting recognition. However, several third-party software developers have already announced add-ons to remedy this.
The Cassiopeia takes connectivity very seriously. Synchronization software is built into the application. An infrared port is included for quick data transfers. However, a serial for full integration with a host computer. For convenience, a docking station or minidock can be separately purchased for simplified synchronization. This machine is also the first middle PDA to include a advanced web browser and e-mail client. Pocket Internet Explorer 1.0 offers significantly better HTML and graphics than earlier web browsers used in PDAs such as the Newton and the Sony Magic Link. And, InBox is a shrunken twin of the InBox available in Windows 95. The Cassiopeia has a PC Card slot for a modem. However, future WinCE devices such as those by Compaq and Phillips will have them built-in.
Here are several screenshots of Windows CE.