Toshiba 2032
By Carlo Longino, Tue Nov 12 11:30:00 GMT 2002

Toshiba delivers a pricey CDMA 1x Pocket PC device.

Toshiba has repackaged Audiovox's Thera PDA/phone hybrid, itself an upgraded version of that manufacturer's Maestro PDA. While its performance is acceptable and some features laudable, the 2032 offers questionable value for the money.

Ease of Use: 4/6 stars

The 2032 uses Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system, which in itself makes for a quick learn for Windows PC users. The familiar interface and features like the Start button make it pretty simple to use. The PDA also doesn't feature a tiny keyboard or force you to learn a Graffiti-like alphabet for input; instead a small keyboard display pops up in the lower portion of the screen to input text. It allows for quick and easy typing, but can sometimes hide relevant information underneath.

Voice call quality was fine when tested on Sprint PCS's CDMA 1xRTT network in the Austin, Texas area. The 2032 features a loud, clear speakerphone, but must be used with a headset if you don't want to share your calls with anyone around you. It's not really feasible to hold the device up to the side of your face for calls, although it's possible by turning it upside down and lowering the volume significantly.

The 2032 uses Sierra Wireless' Watcher phone software, which is acceptable, if not a little clumsy. The application brings a status screen and small phone keypad on the screen, but the buttons are really too small to be punched with your fingers. The Watcher app's phonebook also syncs automatically with the device's Contacts file, which you can sync with Outlook.

Its got a lot of other cool features, too, like the ability to play MP3 files and movies (conceivably, you could load up an SD or MMC card with either of these and use the 2032 as a portable media player), and display images and Word and Excel documents.

One drawback to the 2032 is its battery life. Sprint claims it will last 4 days in standby (this seemed awfully generous in our testing) and has 1.5 hours of talk time, which really isn't much. But this is, after all, primarily a data device.

Design/style: 4/6 stars

The 2032 doesn't break any design barriers, but that's not to say it's ugly, just pretty standard. It does, however, feature rubberized grips on the sides, which is a nice touch. The record button for the built-in voice recorder (which is a nice touch), though, is located right where you might hit it in normal use. The vivid screen is another great feature; it renders colors well and is reflective, so it will function well out of doors. Its size is manageable - small enough to fit in a pocket, big enough to be useful.

Vital Statistics: 4/6 stars

Network: CDMA 800/1900 MHz (1xRTT compatible)
Weight: 7.0oz
Size: 5.02" x 3.95" x 0.77"
Talk time: Up to 1.5 hours
Standby time: Up to 4 days
Mobile Internet access: E-mail, WAP, HTML
Processor: 206mHz Intel StrongARM
Microsoft Windows for Pocket PC
32 MB installed memory
SD card expansion slot
Includes Pocket versions of Word and Excel, Internet Explorer, Inbox, Contacts, Windows Media Player, Solitaire, MSN Messenger, Money for Pocket PC, Pocket Streets
Text Messaging
Infrared transfer
PC synchronization software

Mobile Internet Browsing: 5/6 stars

The 2032's relatively speedy 1x connection (which seems to offer speeds comparable to GPRS) makes quick work of e-mail and WAP pages, and all things considered, is acceptable for normal Web pages. The device is intended to connect to Sprint's Business Connection service, which offers access to corporate Exchange and Domino servers and Outlook information. Although we didn't test this service, the 2032 worked well - and quickly - to send and download e-mail.

The connection also worked well enough to stream small audio and video files with Windows Media Player, although the speaker doesn't provide the greatest playback sound and the videos were pretty tiny. The Web offerings available through Sprint's portal were pretty sparse, so the 2032's WAP capabilities came in handy when looking for news or sports scores. As noted above, the device worked as well as could be expected with standard HTML pages, but is of course intrinsically limited by its small screen size and reverse orientation (i.e. a "portrait" layout as opposed to "landscape") and inability to handle anything beyond straight plain HTML (i.e. JavaScript, etc.).

Mobile Internet-related features: 5/6 stars

The included MSN Messenger client software worked well and is a nice addition - it's much easier to use on the 2032 than any phone-based chat client we've tested. Also, the ability to link the 2032 with Sprint's enterprise Business Connection software is a boon for corporate clients, allowing both account and security supervision in addition to the standard real-time data links.

It's also very cool to be able to use the built-in recorder function and send e-mail with an attached WAV voice or sound message.

Overall: 4/6 stars

The 2032 is a pretty good PDA/phone hybrid - as long as you consider that it's a PDA first, then a data device, then a phone. Its voice capabilities may be a little stilted and its battery life too short for the truly mobile professional, and it's not a device that can make the jump from a weekday professional life to a weekend personal one too easily.

Its major drawback, however, is its hefty price tag. At $800, it's hard to justify over a Handspring Treo for $300-500 less. But if somebody else is paying the bill, you could do a lot worse than the 2032.