Instead of only introducing a new PSPC model with a color display, Casio has also just introduced a new black/white model called the E-15. This model has 16meg of RAM, a 16 level gray-scale display and a newly styled case. I’ve consistently liked Casio’s WindowsCE devices better than the others available and this new model isn’t an exception. Let’s check out the hardware specs first.
Windows CE ver 2.11
MIPS VR4111 processor operating at 69 MHz
16MB RAM, 16MB ROM
240 × 320 pixels LCD, FSTN, 16 level gray-scale
One CompactFlash slot Type I/II slot (3.3v)
2 Alkaline AAA batteries or included NiMH Rechargeable battery pack
AC adapter also included
Back-up Lithium CR2032 battery
Size & Weight:
5″ x 3.15″ x 0.6″
6.7 oz. (with included batteries)
What you’ll notice most about the E-15 the first time that you see it is the case. If
we compare it to the Casio E-10/11, it is a bit longer, and thinner. It is also a lighter
shade of grey than the E-10/11. I would actually say that it is silver. The sides of
the case have purple colored rubberized grips which help you hold on to the unit. I think
the E-15 feels a bit more solid than the E-10/11. You can see the pictures below comparing
the size of the E-16 with that of an E-11.
alt=”e15-9.jpg (15882 bytes)”/> width=”413″ height=”163″ alt=”e15-11.jpg (7412 bytes)”/>
The front of the case has an interesting new cursor button. This is a round button that
is similar to a joypad. It can be easily pressed in 4 different directions. Up, down, left
or right. This button helps you use the E-15 with just one hand. It is easier to use than
the Action/Rocker button for scrolling up and down through data. The only thing that I
wish this button did that it doesn’t is to actually select something when you press the
center in. Or, it would be nice if it would pop up the start menu when it was pressed in.
I think this button will be popular for games. Especially when/if the Gameboy emulator for
the PSPC is finished.
The front of the case also has 3 launch buttons. These buttons will power the unit on
and launch the designated application. The top button will launch the built in menu
program. The other two buttons will launch the datebook and contacts apps. You can also
configure these three buttons to launch different apps if you so desire.
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Between the cursor and application buttons is the speaker. Having the speaker on the
front of the unit is really nice because sounds don’t become muffled with your hand as
they do when the speaker is on the back of the unit. The volume of the E-15 is much louder
than the E-10/11. At the bottom left of the unit near the cursor button is the microphone.
I’m not sure why it was placed it in that location as it seems awkward to hold the unit so
that you can press the voice recorder button on the side and talk into the microphone.
Although the mic does seem to pick up sound very well anyway that you hold the unit.
On the top of the E-15 is an LED that blinks red when an alarm goes off. You can also
set alarms so that this LED is your only notification of an alarm. This is a nice feature
for meetings where you wouldn’t want a loud alarm to go off.
At the bottom of the E-15 is the serial port. On the E-10/11 there was a little rubber
cap that you could put over this connector when you didn’t want to sync. Of course, this
is the first thing you lost when using the unit. The E-15 has a great sliding door that
can slide over the port or out of the way when in use. This is a nice touch that I really
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The left side of the PDA is pretty busy, it has four buttons, two connectors and one IR
port. At the top is the AC adapter connector. This is a very nice addition that was sorely
lacking on the E-10/11 units. With the included AC adapter, you can plug it in and use the
E-15 without draining the internal batteries. The only bad thing is that when the unit is
plugged in this way, it does not recharge the batteries. Below the AC adapter is the
Power/Backlight button. This is a pretty small button that I find somewhat hard to press.
To do so, I have to use the tip of my thumb or thumbnail. Fortunately, I usually just turn
the unit on by pressing the menu launcher button on the front. Holding the Power button
in, will toggle the backlight. Below the Power button is the Exit button. This button will
exit out of selections or menus. Next comes the Action Rocker/Selection button. This
button can be pressed in to select an option or menu selection, or it can be rocked up or
down to cycle through selections. The front cursor pad will do this also. Comparing the
Action button on the E-15 with the same button on the E-10/11, I found that the E-15’s
button is recessed a bit more making it ever so slightly more difficult to use. Below the
Action button is the Voice Recorder button. Pressing and holding this button will turn the
unit on and start recording a voice note. Next in line is the IR port. The E-15 is the
first PSPC that I have seen with the IR port on the side of the unit instead of the top. I
could see where this new location might be a bit hard to get used to. I rarely use my IR
port, but it could matter to people that frequently use their PSPC as a remote control,
print files via an IR printer or even beam data to other PSPC users. Then finally there is
the ear phone jack (mono). This is a standard sized jack. All of the buttons are recessed
and stiff enough so that they can’t accidentally be activated. All but the Action button
have tactile feedback when pressing them in.
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The right side of the unit is bare except for the rubberized grip and stylus holder.
The stylus is a baseball bat shaped plastic stylus with green tip. The finger grip portion
of the stylus has ridges cut into it to make it easier to hold on to.
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On the back of the E-15 is the compact flash slot. The slot is covered with a hinged
door. This is the only fragile feeling part of the E-15 that I have noticed. The door is
held in place on each side by thin arms. If you weren’t careful, I think it would be easy
to break this little door off. I really prefer a compact flash slot like the one on the
Compaq Aero. It just has an opening that is either filled with a card or plastic slug in
the shape of a real card. Getting a card in or out of the E-15 is easy as the door
swings out of way. The door can also be removed.
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The battery compartments are also on the back of the unit. A slider switch locks or
unlocks the battery door so that you can easily remove it. Behind the door is the backup
battery and main batteries. The E-15 is rated for 25 hours of battery life (depending on
use) and comes with rechargeable batteries which charge while the E-15 is in the cradle.
You can also use 2 regular alkaline AAA batteries which is a nice convenience in
case you’re travelling and are away from a power outlet for charging. During my testing of
the E-15, I never had a low battery warning even when listening to quite a few .mp3 songs
on a CompactFlash card and using the backlight.
The back of the E-15 also has the reset switch that can be activated by the tip of the
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The display on the E-15 has 16 level grey-scale. The E-10/11 had just 4 level
grey-scale. This was done for software compatibility with color applications. As for
clarity, I think that the E-15 screen is very good. I had said that the E-10/11 screen was
the best of all the black/white PSPCs. I think that is still true with the E-15 display
being a close second. The only reason why the E-15 isn’t the best is because of this new
16 shades of grey. It makes the screen slightly harder to see because some things on the
screen are a very light shade of grey. The main problem that I had was that I thought some
of the options on the screen were disabled when they weren’t. This can be a bit confusing
at first. Turning up the contrast level does seem to help this problem.
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As far writing on the screen, this screen has a slightly more paper-like feel than the
Casio E-10/11 has. I personally prefer screens that are more glassy like the Compaq Aero
but this is just a personal preference. The E-15s screen is sensitive and easy to write
The backlight on the E-15 is just as bright as the E-10/11 which is one of brightest
and best backlights of any black/white PSPC.
alt=”e15-14.jpg (7162 bytes)”/> (E-11 on left, E-15 on right)
Sound quality on the E-15 is very good. I did a test where I put some .mp3 songs on a
CompactFlash card and listened to them using Xaudio on both the E-15 and an E-11. I found
that the E-15 was slightly louder (at the highest volume setting) and had slightly more
treble. The E-15 is not stereo, but it sounds good to me. Since the E-15 has 16 MB
of RAM, it can be used as a great .mp3 player. As for voice recordings, the E-15 does an
excellent job. Regardless as to which recording format that you use, Mobile Voice, PCM or
TrueSpeech, they all sound very clear without hardly any background hissing at all. If you
want to use the E-15 as a voice recorder, you’ll be very happy with it.
One of the best improvements that the E-15 has over the previous Casio PSPC models is
the extra memory. The E-15 has 16 MB of RAM which comes in very handy if you like to
install third party applications. Unfortunately, Windows CE applications can be quite
large. Having 16 MB is really a necessity. Even if you don’t intend to install other
applications on your E-15, having that extra RAM will come in handy when you have multiple
applications open at once.
What about the overall system speed of the unit? I’m pleased to say that the E-15 seems
quite a bit snappier than my E-11. On the E-11, you usually see the hourglass everytime
you open an application. On the E-15, you either don’t see it, or it flashes up so quick
and is gone that you’ll probably miss it. Popping up menus and displaying screens also
seems to be quicker.
The E-15 cradle is an upgraded version of the cradle that came with the E-10/11 models.
The only real difference other than the cradle doubling as the battery charger is that
there is now a push button that will eject your E-15 from the cradle and an LED on front.
The LED glows red when the unit is charging and changes to green when the unit is
completely charged. The E-15 slides into the cradle pretty easily as long as you line up
the little ears on each side of the PDA with grooves in the cradle. Removing the PDA
requires you to press the eject button and then lift out the unit.
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The Casio E-15 comes with WindowsCE Services 2.2 and a nice software bundle. The
included programs are:
Pocket Data Base – Pocket Data Base is a handy database application
that you can use anywhere to look up and enter data on your E-15. It allows up to
256 text fields per file and will hold as many records as your Cassiopeia’s memory can
hold. It also features a text search engine and is compatible with the comma
delimited (.csv) files which can be downloaded from your Desktop computer and into your
E-15. This is a simple program but I found it quite useful. It would be even better if it
had some extra sorting options. Requires installation.
Schedule Viewer – Schedule Viewer makes it easy to view data from
Windows CE’s built-in Calendar program. Calendar data can be viewed in up to five
different formats; Daily, Timetable, Weekly, Monthly and the (3) Month view. This is a
nice little program that I found pretty useful. Requires installation.
Landware’s Financial Calculator – Designed specifically for real
estate, retail and business professionals who need to use Windows CE based CASSIOPEIA E-15
to make fundamental financial decisions quickly and accurately. Requires installation.
Enterprise Harmony ’99 from Extended Systems –
Synchronize your data with Mircosoft Outlook or Palm Desktop. Enterprise
Harmony 99, from Extended Systems, is a powerful way to keep your contacts, schedule, and
e-mail up-todate on your new CASSIOPEIA. You can use the software to synchronize
Pocket Outlook on you E-15 with Mircosoft Outlook on your desktop. And if your
primary personal manager is Palm Computing’s Palm Desktop application, Enterprise Harmony
99 can help as well. Requires installation.
Card Backup Tool – Card Backup Tool lets you quickly and easily
backup your CASSIOPEIA E-15’s memory data to a memory card. Backed up data let’s you
easily restore your system should it start to malfunction due to a possible data error.
Loaded in ROM.
Menu – Menu is an application launcher that runs on the CASSIOPEIA.
It lets you assign application and files up to twelve button on its main menu, from
which you can launch an application or open a file with a tap of the stylus. Menu
also lets you assign sub-menus to a main menu button. Tapping such a button opens a
sub-menu that has six buttons to which you can assign applications and files to make your
CASSIOPEIA operations more organized and efficient. Loaded in ROM.
I’m quite happy with the improvements that Casio has made on the E-15 as compared to
the E-10/11. I really like the new case style. I think it looks sleek and professional.
The extra memory also makes this unit very appealing. If I were considering buying a new
black/white PSPC, I would definitely put the Casio E-15 at the top of my list.
Now I know there are going to be people asking me to compare the the E-15 with the Palm
OS devices. As far as overall system speed (launching and running applications) the
PalmPilot (any model) is still much faster. But, the E-15 is a much more complex machine.
The E-15 has superior sound, voice recording, a CompactFlash slot for modems, and extra
RAM. The Casio also has a higher resolution display and can sync more easily to Microsoft
desktop office applications.
16 MB of RAM
16 level grey-scale screen
Faster than previous models
CompactFlash slot door seems a bit fragile
Plugging the AC adapter directly into the E-15 does not charge the internal batteries
Strange microphone and IR port locations