The T-Grid: Handheld PC Pro vs. the iPad

By  |  Monday, April 12, 2010 at 2:58 am

When you compare the iPad to gizmos past, the most obvious frame of reference is a multitude of unsuccessful tablets. But as I’ve been using my iPad over the past week, it’s reminded me even more of another much-hyped platform which landed with a thud: Microsoft’s Handheld PC Pro–code-named “Jupiter”–which, like the iPad, put a mobile OS (Windows CE 2.11 in this case) inside a device that looked like a small personal touchscreen computer.

Let’s compare the iPad against an especially iPaddish Handheld PC, Sharp’s Mobilon Pro, a convertible model that could be used in notebook- or tablet-like configurations.

Device Sharp Mobilon Pro PV-5000

Apple iPad

Released 10/8/1998 4/3/2010
Price $999 Starts at $499
Weight 3.2 pounds 1.5 pounds
Thickness 1″ .5″
Operating system Windows CE 2.11 iPhone OS 3.2
Display 9.4″ LCD; 640 by 480 resolution; 4096 colors 9.7″ IPS LCD; 1024 by 768 resolution; number of colors not specified
Instant on Yes Yes
Input Touch (stylus-driven), physical QWERTY keyboard Touch (finger-driven), on-screen QWERTY keyboard; optional keyboard dock
CPU 129-MHz Toshiba TMPR3912U CPU 1-GHz Apple A4 CPU
Storage 16MB flash, expandable via PC Card 16GB flash (base model), not expandable
Battery Lithium ion; 12-16 hour life lithium polymer; 10 hour life
Connectivity 33.6-kbps dial-up modem 802.11n Wi-Fi; optional 3G wireless broadband
USB ports 0 0
Included software Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket Internet Explorer, Pocket Outlook, Pocket PowerPoint, bUSEFUL Backup, Image Editor, PC File Viewer, Pocket Access, InkWriter Safari, Mail, Calendar, Contacts, iPod, Photos, Videos, YouTube, iTunes, App Store
Syncing software ActiveSync iTunes
Apps run in windows? No, full-screen only No, full-screen only
Multitasking Yes Coming for third-party apps in the Fall
The manufacturer said… “The height of flexibility in a new class of ultra-portable devices.” “A magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price.”

Handheld PC Pro tried to prove that folks could be happy with a device that ran a stripped-down OS, and failed. The iPad seems to be off to a much better start…


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14 Comments For This Post

  1. Sean Gallagher Says:

    Was the Sharp originally the Vadem Clio? I just sent mine off to the electronic recycling bin in the sky a few months ago. They were, for their time, amazing, but they suffered from the fact that the apps were hard-coded into the firmware, and the networking was limited to the built-in modem.

    I did file a few stories from airports over that modem, though.

  2. theo Says:

    Reality check: tech blogger NOT = End user

    …now get over it with the Apple bashing.

  3. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Wow, what a comparison. 33.6 dial-up and 16MB storage. Wow. Look at all that extra stuff bolted onto the Sharp.

    iPad is rated for 10 hours battery and people are getting 11 and 12. Not sure why you say 8. Doubtful that anybody really got 16 hours of use out of the Sharp. Under sync you could put “Exchange” under iPad also, which is the same ActiveSync from the Sharp, I believe, just newer. And iPad syncs with MobileMe as well. The iPad screen is 24-bit true color. If not, we would see banding in photos.

    The price comparison is even more shocking when you consider that’s $999 in 1998 dollars. That would be about $1200 today. So you could get the highest-end iPad 3G plus keyboard dock, case, camera connection kit, video connection kit, and a year of 3G service to equal the price of the Sharp.

  4. Paul Worthington Says:

    I loved my old Clio.
    I’d pay for Clio-syled iPad. That hinged keyboard allowed for a secure closed clamshell, as well as a perfectly positionable stand for the touchscreen display.

  5. eliotw Says:

    The iPad has a claimed batter life of 9 or 10 hours, not sure where 8 came from.
    The iPad also supports bluetooth keyboards for input. also claims the PV-5000’s battery life was only 8 hours. Where did you find 16 ? Is that some time warp doppler effect ?

    I think adding a Newton comparison would be nice….

  6. Erik Johnson Says:

    I actually own a Sharp Mobilon, windows CE programs CAN run in windows if designed as such – I’d developed a custom on-screen keyboard for Cyrillic letters when I used it in my Russian courses. It was a floating windowed application, but did not have the ability to maximize/dynamically resize. Though it’s true most CE applications are designed for full-screen-only.

  7. Erik Johnson Says:

    @Sean Gallagher: The PCMCIA slot on the side could accept WiFi cards, I use an old cisco 802.11b card with it that still works just fine. You could also network it via the serial port and ‘direct cable connection’ in Windows. 3rd-party applications may be installed on the internal memory or compact flash card hidden in the battery compartment vie ActiveSync, or downloading form the internet on the device itself.

    @eliotw the battery attached on the back like IBM laptops do, you could use expanded battery packs that jut out the rear — I’ve managed more than 8 hours out of mine, but I’m not sure if I have the std or ext battery…

    Another note, the screen on it was horrid. At full brightness you had to be in a dim room and the viewing angle only allowed a few inches of undisturbed picture at a time, you has to keep fidgeting with the screen to see different parts of it clearly.

  8. Jeff Lewis Says:

    Wow – the insecurity starts to really show when you have to compare the iPad to a 11 year old device to make it look good…

  9. Dan Edwards Says:

    I owned one the HP Jornada series of Windows CE devices and loved it. I was basicly a netbook before such a thing existed. I bought it for the same reason I am buying an iPad. It’s really good at a few highly specialized tasks. I used the Jornada to take notes at meetings. People kept asking my why I did not just buy a laptop. Meanwhile while I am waiting for them to hookup power and finish booting back into Windows I have allready entered the attendance for the meeting and started taking notes.
    Same reason I am jazzed about the iPad. It is super fast at 80% of what I do with a PC. The other 20% is covered by more appropriate tools. The one plus on the iPad is the apps. I could count on one had the number of outside programs that were worth a damn for the Jornada, but like I said I bought it because of what it did, not what it should do in others eyes.

  10. CE Geek Says:

    The device you’ve shown a picture of, that you’re trying to compare the iPad to, is not the PV-5000 but the PV-6000. (The specs you show are also from the PV-5000 rather than the PV-6000.) The PV-5000 did not have a tablet mode, and the PV-6000 used an 84 MHz NEC VR4111 processor rather than the 129 MHz Toshiba TX3912.

    A better comparison would have been with the PV-6000’s successor, the Vadem Clio C-1050, which had a 168 MHz VR4121 and a 65,536-color display. See my review of this device on HPC:Factor.

  11. CE Geek Says:

    An even better comparison would have been with the Fujitsu Stylistic CT2020 (running Windows CE .NET 4.2 on a 400 MHz Intel PXA255 processor, with a 1024×768 TFT display), or even the ViewSonic ViewPad 100 (running Windows CE 3.0 on a 206 MHz StrongARM SA-1110, with a 32-bit, portrait-mode-enabled TFT display) or the Intermec 6651/Sharp Telios HC-7000 (running H/PC 2000 in its later versions, on a 129 MHz Toshiba TX3922, with a full QWERTY keyboard and 800×480, 65,536-color TFT display, also convertible into tablet mode). (Again, see the HPC:Factor website for my review of the Intermec 6651.)

  12. thedsr Says:

    I still have my Sharp Tripad, and I’ve owned the Vadem Clio.

    The Clio was faster then the Tripad, but they each were exactly the same looks wise.

    I also own an iPad, and it’s great. However, I use it as a multimedia/internet tablet then anything else whereas my old Sharp is still No. 1 for writing. I don’t want to lug around an “keyboard dock” for the ipad.

    Neat comparison though, I’ll give you that. 🙂

  13. Susan Lindvall Says:

    I enjoyed the comparison. I originally owned a Vadem Clio 1000 in 1998. It died some years later and I replaced it with a series of Ipaqs. Three years ago I bought one on ebay and challenged myself to run it with a wireless card. I accomplished my goal, but resold it when screen faded as the machine stayed on. This past spring, I bought a Clio 1050 and spent time tracking down “the right” cf adapter, wireless card, etc. and was able to run the Clio on a wireless network. One of my goals was to use it to read ebooks as I did with the original Clio. The edition of Palm/peanut reader (precursor to ereader) is no longer available; however, I discovered that Ureader will work on the Clio 1050 and enjoy reading with the device. I was pleased that it did accept a 512MB CF card on which I store the books. It has been my experience that the Clio is particular to certain manufacturers when it comes to the cards and adapters. Some work. Others do not. In my opinion, the Vadem Clio was well-ahead of its time: touch screen, tablet, etc. despite some imperfections.

  14. Jonathan Politi Says:

    Here's a thought – is it possible to fit an iPad into an old Vadem Clio case? I'm not savvy enough to do this without some instruction, but it looks like the iPad would fit nicely into the LCD compartment and a bluetooth keyboard might work where the keyboard is now. I have one of the old Clio 1050's now defunct and collecting dust. Would be nice to convert it over.

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