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Do the best things come in small packages?

It may be the perfect size for a portable computer and it has a touch-screen tablet, but does it stand up against its rivals? Roger Frost checks out Samsung's Izzi-Pro Swivel

SAMSUNG'S IZZI-PRO handheld is as close as we get to an ideally sized portable computer. At half the size of a full-scale laptop and about twice that of a palmtop, here is something close to the perfect compromise. It's a computer small enough to carry, but big enough to work on. And that's good - the screen and keyboard are up to typing great swathes of stuff as well as taking notes. It uses Windows CE - which means it is familiar, silent and ready for use in a second. Add in a battery life lasting eight hours and here are the essentials for studying, meetings and travelling.

Peculiar to this is a swivel-screen that you can turn right round to make it into a touch-screen tablet. As the "Pro" in its name implies, a researcher might use the touch screen to fill in a survey. The teaching force might use it to mark registers. The Izzi is well connected: you can surf the Internet, handle your email while away from a school network or desktop PC. If you made a PowerPoint show on a desktop - it can convert them to pictures to how on a monitor too. This fills the need for something you can move around and do work with. It's for a school manager or adviser - and definitely for someone who has a desktop machine, and maybe a laptop too.

Those who have worked out how much computer they can leave behind will see the need. However, as a classroom machine, the lack of graph maker and PowerPoint maker would be missed. That's tragic. As it's not cheap, compare it with similar sized machines - eg the Hewlett Packard Jornada 820, LG Phenom Express, Psion Series 7 and Compaq Aero 8000. It's rare to spot these in a shop - some you'll only find secondhand. That's also a clue that perfection for many folk means a full monty laptop. For the few who like to shed excess baggage, perfection is compromise.

Samsung Izzi-Pro SwivelPrice: pound;799 + VAT retail, pound;599 from RMWindows CE sub-notebook with 8in swivel touch screen, recorder, 32Mb memory, 56K modem, Lithium battery, Microsoft Pocket Office Suite. Ports include PC card; compact flash card; monitor. www.samsungpc.comgbRM: 08709 086868

Online star rating

Suitability for purpose ***

Ease of use ***

Design ***

Features ****

Value for money ***

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