Casio EM-500 Pocket PC review – 15 years ago today on The Gadgeteer


Last month we turned back the hands of time 15 years to revisit my review of the Sony CLIE (PEG-S300) PDA. Do you remember the year 2000 and all the hoopla of a new century with the scare of potential Y2K computer issues. Fun times! Fifteen years ago cell phones were too large to fit in your pocket and we thought a laptop was ultra portable if it weighed less than ten pounds! Back then, Palm was still the king of the PDA (portable digital assistant) and Microsoft’s Pocket PC was the underdog. Microsoft is still the underdog when it comes to handhelds, but I had high hopes for the Casio EM-500 Pocket PC when I posted my review on October 27, 2000.


I always liked Casio handhelds because they had cool navigation buttons that could turn it into a great gaming machine like a Nintendo Gameboy. Speaking of that, I remember installing a Gameboy emulator on a Casio Pocket PC and playing Gameboy ROMs on it. I wish I still had one.

The Casio EM-500 was one of the first handheld computers to have an MMC memory card slot. If MMC doesn’t sound familiar to you, MMC stands for MultiMediaCard. It was a memory card standard and at first glance, MMC cards looked like SD cards. I guess you can think of MMC and SD cards like Beta and VHS tapes. Wow, I feel old right now! 😉 Both cards existed at the same time, but SD cards ended up winning the memory card format “war”.

I enjoyed Pocket PC devices back then because the operating system felt more robust and customizable than the alternative Palm OS. Fifteen years later I still prefer mobile operating systems like Android over iOS because I can tinker and customize them.

It’s funny to read through that old review and see that battery life was as much an issue back then as it is now. In the Casio EM-500 review, I said that the device could run for 6-7 hours on a battery charge. That doesn’t sound all that much different than today’s devices. I am also surprised that prices haven’t really changed a lot either. The Casio EM-500 Pocket PC was priced at $499.

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What device from 10-15 years ago do you miss using the most?

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18 comments… add one
  • Willie Duitt October 27, 2015, 3:58 pm

    I think you have microSD cards confused with standard SD cards. MMC shared the same size/design with SD, not microSD.

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 27, 2015, 5:06 pm

      Ha! My fingers are so used to typing “micro” in front of SD that eyes became blind to it. I’ve fixed the mistake. Thanks.

  • Mark Rosengarten October 27, 2015, 4:20 pm

    I was desperately in love with a Sony Clie TH-55. 🙂

  • Ray Raddatz October 27, 2015, 5:31 pm

    I still fondly remember my Palm Treo 700wx on Sprint. It was the first phone I ever flashed an alternate ROM to and I kept it almost 4 years until I picked up the Touch Pro2.

    • Andrew Baker October 28, 2015, 9:47 am

      I did the memory upgrade on my Palm (Failed the first time and had to buy a second module). But I eventually did it.

      • Julie Strietelmeier October 28, 2015, 10:01 am

        I did an upgrade too. I brought it into work where we had professional soldering equipment. I can’t remember if I did it myself or asked someone else to do it for me. I had a couple years of surface mount soldering experience, but I think I’d not done any soldering for a couple years by the time these upgrades came along.

  • Andrew Baker October 27, 2015, 5:34 pm

    My favorite is still the. “3Com” Palm pilot Professional. I bought it when I was in HighSchool. I collected trash to pay for it. We got $0.10 for each piece of trash. It was bought with ALOT of trash.

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 27, 2015, 6:09 pm

      I would have to agree with you. The original Palm Pilots were the most fun for me too. That’s when everything was new and exciting and people were writing fun little apps and coming up with cool accessories.

  • Rick Smith October 27, 2015, 7:14 pm

    I had a Toshiba Pocket PC that I liked very much, until I got my first smartphone. Pretty sweet device. Eventually used it as an MP3 player!

  • Lex October 27, 2015, 9:03 pm

    I have an original Palm Pilot Professional in the box my company gave me after I had bought one. Maybe it’ll be worth something to my grand-kids. The AAA batteries ! The perfect syncing software ! The cool newness of a pocket device that could be your calendar, addressbook, alarm clock, calculator, book reader and game device, at a time when people carried biblical sized paper ‘planners’ and huge cell phones were carried in shoulder-bags. And later came Pocket PCs with color screens and more computing power ! Ahhh to have traversed it all…

  • Martin October 28, 2015, 6:07 am

    Pocket sized devices with a physical keyboard seem to be a dying breed. I was using Psion devices, especially the Psion 5Mx was fantastic. Great for productivity and not just stupid games, which seems to be what people use their high-powered smartphones for these days.

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 28, 2015, 6:47 am

      I loved PSION devices too. I sometimes imagine what it would be like if companies like Palm, Compaq and PSION were still around and were now creating smartphones.

  • Navus October 28, 2015, 8:20 am

    Love the flash back like this Julie.
    Do you still remember on the same year you wrote an article on the iPAQ CF sleeve which was custom mod by George Mosquera to make it thinner called the Silver
    Slider? those were the fun times with a lot of creative people before the ultra thin smart phones.

  • Conrad Blickenstorfer October 28, 2015, 12:05 pm

    I loved the EM-500. It was sleek and elegant and, compared to many other Pocket PCs of the era, just right. I liked it so much that for a while the EM-500 was my primary PDA, and I kept using it long after the Pocket PC era had faded away.

    That said, I’d have to say that my overall favorite of that era was the early Compaq iPAQ. It was a landmark design with landmark technology. I still wonder how far the iPAQ would have gone had HP not taken over Compaq and frittered its technology away, and if they computer industry had not stupidly and meekly handed over the handheld computer business to the telcos.

  • jeff October 28, 2015, 5:38 pm

    The best Palm device for me was the Tungsten C. Had a keyboard, wireless, color screen and 5-way controller.
    I even had a special cable that would allow me to connect it to cell phone and use it as a wireless modem.
    Ahh the good old days….

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