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Mitac Mio 339

The claim to fame of the Mio 339 is its built in digital stills and video camera complete with a flash unit. The camera, which is embedded in the back of the casing, captures stills at 640 x 480 and 320 x 240, video at 320 x 240 and 176 x 144. Neither lens nor flash are protected by any sort of cover, though they are both indented somewhat into the casing, which offers a little scratch-proofing. To accompany the camera the Mio 339 has its own software utility, called MioCam, which turns the screen into a viewfinder and through which you control all the camera’s various features, including its flash, self timer, and digital zoom.

As well as the MioCam software Mitac provides its own MP3 player complete with a graphic equaliser and a set of headphones. The headphones deliver quality and volume that’s good enough for half-listening to music while travelling, and the equaliser definitely has an effect on output, though it does seem rather pointless on a PDA. These two features together, though, indicate that this is more of a consumer Pocket PC than a professional device, a view bolstered by the lack of wireless networking and absence of Flash ROM.

There is a full 64MB of RAM of which 57MB is available for your own applications and software. However, the lack of Flash ROM means emergency backups need to be made to external media. There is an SD card slot for this purpose and for adding extra memory or SDIO compliant hardware, and Mitac provides software support for the backup routine in the shape of eBackup. The company also bolsters the picture viewer that comes with Pocket PC with its own viewer, and adds eMenu, an icon driven application launcher.

The hardware design is for the most part unexceptional. Neither the size nor the weight of the Mio 339 is out of the ordinary. There is no jog-dial wheel, so movement within and between applications is achieved either via screen taps or by using the mini joystick which performs the navigation button role. This works quite well, but is a little trickier to use than the more commonly seen navigation buttons.

Mitac quotes a battery life of 9.5 hours for the Mio 339 if used with the camera switched off. Our MP3 playing loops were delivered for two hours, and the machine finally shut itself off after two hours 35 minute. This is pretty poor, and yes, we did have the camera switched off during test. We’d have liked to see the battery at least break the three hour barrier. The plus point is that if you care to invest in a spare battery, you can swap it into the slot that the dead one came from.

Verdict

At £399 including VAT the Mio 339 is a little too expensive to be called a budget buy. The camera undoubtedly accounts for some of the cost though, and the remaining features are firmly in the sphere of budget Pocket PCs. If you need a camera built in to a Pocket PC, then this device and O2’s XDA II are your options. But consider also the alternative of an SD based camera and one of the Pocket PCs in this group with longer battery life.


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