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My Windows Mobile Devices


Recently I have started using a Windows Mobile device again, the fantastic Lumia 800.  It was whilst using it for this past week, that I started to remember back to the first time that I had used a truly mobile computing device which was around 1998. That was when I first became familiar with terms like Activesync, Windows CE, Kernels etc.  I guess, that I was what you would term an early adopter, coupled with rapid upgrading as soon as a new device hit the streets. 
Here is my journey of devices I actually owned starting back in 1997.....



The device that sparked my interest in this coming revolution of the mobile computing was the Philips Velo 1. A Windows CE 1.0 device that had a built-in dial up modem. It even had a RJ-11 jack on the device. However at the time, supply was difficult to come by and very soon to market HP came with their successors to their popular 95LX DOS powered handheld

These early handhelds had a reduced version of MS Office, which allowed some basic document creation and editing on the device as well.


The HP 300LX, unlike other HPCs of the time, the touch screen had an enhanced screen resolution of 640x240 with 4 shades of grey, rather than the standard 480x240 resolution of other devices. The device also sported a full PC card slot, a serial link cable plug, and an infrared port (useful for pairing to a mobile phone for dial-up, or you could use a GSM PCMCIA card).

It was released with 'Pocket' versions of Microsoft applications, such as Word and Excel, and PIM applications such as Tasks, Calendar and Contacts. A very basic version of Internet Explorer was included with Windows CE. Version 1.0, Inbox was also included for email capability.

320LXThis upgrade to the 300LX now added a backlight, and included accessories inbox like the docking cradle. But more importantly doubled to RAM from 2Mb to 4Mb.


The HP 360LX which came in a few months after the 320LX, was essentially the same machine but now sported 16 shades of grey and a white backlight, which improved on legibility greatly.


Powered by Windows CE 2.0, the HP 620LX was a giant leap forward. Most notable was the 256-colour screen. It still had a full qwerty keyboard of chicklet keys, but also had the addition of hot keys next to the screen to access the MS Office ports of Powerpoint, Word and Excel directly. Despite been hefty at over half a kilo, it became a true portable computing companion.

For its time this device was WOW!


HP 680LX, the biggest departure here was to almost full size keys. Up until this point the keys had been the positive click, similar to HP calculators.


Not really a handheld, but it did run Windows CE, and was ultra portable.

Although the IBM z50 was targeted primarily at the corporate market to provide a mobile extension to the desktop (remember back then laptops cost 4x more than desktops), it was really the first ultraportable with low power consumption that gave essentials like MS Office Suite to the early road warrior.

The z50 was not simply a PDA, and to a degree is actually the precursor to todays ultra portables.


This is where I took on a divergent path. But it was not out of choice! Microsoft had announced that Windows CE would only be supported on the screen only Palm Pilot type device, called Pocket PC's. No more QWERTY!! What were they thinking??

Compaq came out with the sexiest devices, under the iPaq name which was confusing as they also had a desktop line named iPaq.....

These iPaq's had a unique feature relative to their peers, the Jacket. these were essentially sleeves that added new functionality, I had two different Jackets, one to add a PCMCIA card and another with an extended battery.

Like all Windows CE devices to date a stylus complemented the input method.


After HP acquired Compaq, they continued the iPaq brand under the HP motherbrand.

The new devices were smaller, lighter, had more processing power and more importantly getting cheaper.

I did not use the HP iPaq 1910 for that long, as a new breed peeked my interest....

Pocket PC's with embedded GSM.




The marriage of a Pocket device and GSM was nothing new. Nokia had done this on their Communicator range for a few years already and there had even been some clunky Windows CE based ones rolled out previously.

The iPaq 6300 was different from the rest, it was a Pocket PC that could make calls. What I mean by this, is that it did not deviate substantially from the form factors of other Pocket PC's, it had not swelled up with the addition of the GSM chips.

A unique USP of the 6300 was the clip on QWERTY keyboard, which made composing mails easier but was a boon when on IM.

This was my last Windows Mobile based device for some years, actually it was 2004 that I last picked one up.




Fast forward to 2012!! and the device I have now is all WOW!!

It feels good to hold. While it isn't the lightest phone around, the slim form factor does mean that weight isn't what you think about immediately.

The Lumia 800 brings a curved polycarbonate chassis that’s coloured the whole way through, making it light in the hand and very hard to damage.

The curved nature of the chassis also lends a neat design aesthetic to the handset, marking it out well from the reams of sharp looking behemothic handsets on the market right now.

The interface on Windows Phone 7.5 is delightful. The Live Tiles concept just adds a distinct visual element.

And to just make things even a little better... what did I find on the MAC App store? The Windows Phone Sync Software for OSx. Just brilliant.


The user experience is just fantastic on the latest MS phones. Plus all my favorite apps, that I have used on other platforms, are available in the Microsoft's Market Place.

Don't be fooled into thinking an App store needs 100's of thousands of Apps either, generally you only use about 5 Apps on a regular basis anyhow. (Web to App Evolution).

[Grant Marais]

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