Handheld PCs

Philips Mobile Computing Group

Velo 1

PC Magazine

January 21, 1997

Positioned to appeal to enterprise users who want high-end features and are willing to pay a little extra, the Velo 1 costs $699. But it's well worth the price because of its included array of goodies--from a built-in modem to its synchronization cradle--that are aimed at power-hungry users.

Philips's Velo 1 puts it all together with exceptional performance, a built-in modem, and a sleek design.

Ready for the road, the Velo 1 measures 6.8- by 3.7- by 1-inch and weighs 13 ounces without its AC adapter but with two AA batteries installed. Like the MobilePro, the Velo 1 comes with 8MB of ROM; the Cassiopeia comes with half as much. The oddball of the group, the Velo 1 uses a DRAM Mini Card slot for memory expansion of up to 36MB; there's also a flash memory Mini Card slot. Unlike the other two PDAs, the Velo 1 itself doesn't have a PC Card slot, and for larger-scale expansion you need to use the external Type II PC Card bay. The system does have a serial port and an IrDA infrared port.

The sculpted Velo 1 has easily the most refined design of the bunch. To the left of its display is a pop-out toggle for an RJ-11 phone jack, making it the only one of the three to be communications-ready out of the box; the others require a PC Card modem to make a connection. In addition, to the right of the display is a small button, which when pushed lights the screen for added visibility. The downside of this communications equation is that with the modem operating, battery life is decimated, so plan on bringing the AC adapter along with you.

Built around a MIPS R-3900 32-bit processor running at 36.6 MHz, the Velo 1 placed first on all three of our performance tests. On our recalculation tests with a 25K Pocket Excel spreadsheet, the spell-checking of a Pocket Word file, and the opening of a file, the Velo 1 was always at least a second ahead of the other two.

The Velo 1 unit we looked at came with its own mix of software in addition to the standard Windows CE fare. The Velo 1 has a handy set of application-switching buttons for popping up Internet Explorer, Excel, or any of several other applications. In addition, there's a copy of Pocket Quicken for running the family finance numbers while you're on the road.

The most interesting program is the Velo 1's Voice Memo application, which allows the user to record brief voice memos via a built-in microphone and store them in Windows Explorer-like tree fashion. As with the other two, the Velo 1's on-board speaker was barely adequate.

Positioned as the power-user's hand-held computer, the Velo 1's $699 price includes a docking station and built-in modem. The system is clearly the fastest, most expandable, and most feature-rich unit we tested. Compared to the Cassiopeia and MobilePro, the Velo 1 looks and feels like a second-generation system, and it is our choice for taking your data and favorite applications on the road.

Velo 1. List price: With 4MB RAM unit and docking station, $699. Philips Mobile Computing Group, Sunnyvale, CA; 888-367-8356, 408-523-2800.

Copyright 1997