This article is s review of the Asus Mypal A636N. It is a PDA and GPS in one, and runs Windows Pocket mobile. There are other similar products but for the price and features you can’t go wrong. These units have been around for a while, and the A639 has recently been released that supersedes the A636 range. The 839 is much more expensive (and DOES have some better features), but the A636N is real value for money.
Anyway, let’s get to the features and specs ……
The specs are as follows:
PU Latest 416MHz Intel® XScale(TM) processor
Operating System Latest Microsoft® Windows Mobile(TM) 5.0 ( Pocket PC )
Display 3.5? Brilliant Transflective TFT LCD 65k Full-Colors, 16-bit Display QVGA, 240X320 resolution touch panel
Memory 128MB Flash ROM and 64MB SDRAM
User available storage ROM,75MB for western languages,71MB for eastern languages
GPS SiRF StarIII GPS chip
Embedded 25mm*25mm swivel patch antenna
External antenna jack
Expansion Slot One slot – SD slot(SDIO/SD/MMC)
Audio Integrated microphone and speaker
One 3.5mm earphone jack and MP3 stereo
Communication Bluetooth 2.0
WLAN 802.11b + g
SIR (115.2kbps Max)
USB 1.1 Client GPS navigation
Battery 1300 mAh, removable/ rechargeable Li-ion battery
Dimension 122mm x 73.2mm x 18.8mm/19.45mm(L*W*H)
Weight 186g (with battery)
The main differences between the A636N and the A636 is that the A636 only has 11M wireless and Bluetooth 1.1. Also, the A636N allows charging via the USB port on your PC, whereas the lesser A636 does not. Unfortunately they both have a USB 1.1 interface. USB 2.0 was introduced in the A639.
For GPS navigation, I use TomTom software. You can buy the A636N as a package which comes with CoPilot GPS software, but all that I’ve read made me convinced that TomTom to be betetr. It works well on this unit. Especially as I can turn the display sideways on the A636N for better viewing of maps/routes. From what I was reading around the net, the SiRF StarIII GPS chip (which the A636N has) was a must as it locks onto satellites quicker than other chips and performed better. Haven’t had a problem yet. The GPS antenna is on a swivel mount, which folds neatly behind the unit when not in use.
The other important consideration when purchasing a PDA was getting one with a removable battery – which the Asus has got. If the battery fails, then all I have to do is replace it, not send the whole unit away for repair. I’m not sure what the battery life is like as I haven’t had it go flat on me yet. This is because when I am in the car using the GPS, the A636N is getting charged at the same time. I did run it for a while not on charge and I noticed the power drain is quite significant.
As far as the PDA side of things go, it perform like any other PDA similarly equipped. Windows pocket mobile is flawless, and connectivity to other devices via bluetooth and wireless is easy. Installing apps is via USB connectivity to a PC running Microsoft Activesync.
Windows pocket mobile performs similarly to a ‘real’ PC running windows, with Microsoft Word, Excel being standard. There is also a file explorer, control panel, and even Internet Explorer if you connect the PDA to the internet via the bluetooth or wireless function. So if you have used windows before, this won’t be too difficult.
The only thing that takes a bit to get used to is the stylus for input but there are various modes for input rang from a pseudo keyboard on the screen (where you tap on the letter you want), to a transcriber mode where you can write as you normally would with a pen. The Asus does quite well to interpret your writing ‘style’.
What I was really impressed with is that the A636N came with all the cables/adaptors necessary – including the suction mount (and charger) for the car when using the GPS function. As well a case for the unti was included. The only additional purchase I had to make was a decent sized SD memory card to store all my data. The Asus comes with a 64M card. Memory cards have come down in price a lot over the last couple of years so that extra cost was not too bad on the wallet.
Overall, I think the Asus A636N is a great product for a great price. Packed full of features, I really don’t know what else I would prefer in a PDS/GPS combo unit – except USB 2.0. It’s certainly a step up from my old LCD Palm Pilot.