Company:

Mullenger

Price

£75 GBP

License:

Payware

Rating:

4 Star Rating: Recommended

Mullenger's Windows CE.net 4.2 ROM Upgrade for the SIMpad SL4

Andreas Stürmer | Guest Reviews
August 01, 2005

For a long time only HPC 2000 and early versions of CE.net 4 have been available for Siemens' well known SIMpad SLx Series. Those CE.net versions (4.0 and 4.1 English-only) are buggy and slow. For example CE.net 4.0 has several bugs, one being a non-working Windows Messenger. The CE.net 4.1 is only available in English - the german version is very rare and hard to find. Under 4.1 the Remote Desktop (RDP) has been updated over that of HPC2000 or CE 4.0 but the on-screen Keyboard does not work correctly during RDP sessions. So RDP is of little use for SIMpad owners with installed CE.net 4.1, unless of they're using their mouse/stylus.

An Englishman named Simon Mullenger, former employee of Siemens, built an image of CE.net 4.2 for the SIMpad Series and set-up his own company based around servicing the update to the devices. This build has a fully working Windows Messenger, the latest implementation of the RDP protocol (version 5), Windows Media Player 9 and an Integrated Persistent Storage Memory (IPSM) - a so called resistant memory of nearly 7 MB that even hold it's data after a hard-reset. This allows users to put important programs and/or data into an internal storage area, without the worry of loosing it.
Most significantly, the Windows CE .net 4.2 releases contain a faster, better-optimized core, enhancing SIMpad performance further.
The Mullenger build of CE.net 4.2 is available as per previous official ROM images, in English and/or (both via language-switch, needs a device reset) German languages.

I've had the CE.net 4.2 image on my SIMpad SL4 for nearly 6 weeks now and all I can say I am happy that I've upgraded. Since receiving the SIMpad back. I no longer have and need for my Notebook anylonger when reading emails, surfing the web or checking MSN (messenger / hotmail??) - most other tasks I can perform easily with RDP. I will describe the several bug fixes and updates in the following sentences and pictures and/or screenshots.

As is commonly known, for devices running CE.net 4.0 upwards, there are no included Excel/Word Editors - only Viewers for Word, Excel, Acrobat Reader as well as graphics. The integrated PIM client "Pocket Outlook" likewise does not play a part in the release. Windows CE 4.2 is no more different from this, though third party options such as those from Odyssey Software who offer Pocket On-Schedule are available separately, the Mullenger release doesn't include such functionality - so you have to use webmail clients via Internet Explorer, unless you buy On-Schedule.

The integrated updated Windows Messenger Client is version 4 and connects as MSN Messenger on a Windows PC. It has the same feel and nearly same look (Figure 1). You can chat and of course you can talk too to other Messenger users via the built-in microphone of the SIMpad. Internet Explorer has been updated to version 6 as well. Meaning common complaints such as those seen with Surfing on eBay should be no longer be a problem (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Windows Messenger & MSIE 6.0

Mr. Mullenger has integrated a resistant memory as well in this CE.net 4.2 build. The IPSM is available for nearly 7 MB of data (this amount will decrease the SIMpad's flash memory) (Figure 2). You can save everything there, but it should be used for programs, personal data or perhaps games. I've tested it with a hard reset to my device and everything located in the IPSM memory survived.

Figure 2: The IPSM area

The Windows Media Player is now capable of playing WMV files. The integrated player and codex version is 9.0 - equaling that found on any Pocket PC or Smartphone. If you have a memory card (Compact Flash or so) you can watch your favorite movies - you can watch them from integrated memory too, but only limited in filesize, so no blockbusters ;)

As I mentioned above, RDP has been improved as well. RDP 5.2 is now integrated in the CE.net 4.2 build - with a fully functional on-screen keyboard, 16 Bit graphics, sound transfer and so on. I tested it with a Desktop PC and a Notebook running XP Professional (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Remote Desktop & Windows Media Player 9.0

As you can see below, I've installed many programs, a game and personal data in my IPSM memory (Figure 4). If you really plan to hard reset your device, you should run a Backup-tool before hand to save your SIMpad's internal data onto a memory card. Like before, all Windows related settings such as Desktop, Settings and Wallpaper will be returned to default.

Figure 4: The IPSM in the file system

Networking performs much better and allows for users to connect to network drives. I currently run a Netgear Multimedia WLAN Router here at home with an USB stick attached to it. I can easily access my data on it via the SIMpad's internal File explorer. This function is helpful if you plan to listen to music files while working or surfing on your SIMpad. For example, I've compressed my favorite CDs to OGG files, which are located in a directory on the USB stick mentioned. With GSPlayer (the current version works fine under CE.net 4.2) there are many types of files that can now be played.

Compatibility: As known from CE.net 4.0 and 4.1 some programs from HPC 2000 aren't compatible, but most of them function well. There are CE.net 4.x specific applications available from many developers as well, with the lions share of them being orientated towards CE 4.2.

Finally, visit www.mullenger.org and take a look at the complete list of new features and bug fixes available in the CE.net 4.2 build for Siemens' SIMpad SL4/SLC/CL4.
Sadly the update isn't downloadable - you have to send your SIMpad to Mr. Mullenger in the UK. Cost for doing this, receiving the update and having it shipped back to you is an all-inclusive £75 GPB ($135 USD, €107 EUD, ¥15,000 JPY est.).
Mullenger will take very good care of it, update your SIMpad with the chosen language version (English, German or both so you can switch between them) and will send it back to you by post. Depending on the postoffices and their transfer time, the approximate return time is 1 week.

Another fact of the upgrade is, that if you decide to install HPC2000 or Linux on your SIMpad some time later, you'll have to pay again if upgrading to CE.net 4.2 then. There will be no ROM image delivered on CD together with the ROM upgrade of the SIMpad.

Finally, I think all those bugfixes and new features are worth paying £75 for upgrading the SIMpad - unless you're planning to install Linux or HPC2000 later again. The SIMpad's IE has much more features and functions as well as the Windows Messenger. The IPSM is a fantastic solution as well!
If you've troubles after getting back the SIMpad, Mr. Mullenger and his knowlege will offer very good customer support too.

 

System Requirements:

SIMpad SL4, CL4, SLC, T-Sinus

Rating

 

 

Cost:

3 Star Rating: Average

Pros: Instantly recognisable to existing ActiveSync users, free, security driven release aimed at corporate rollout

Cons: No support for 2.x generation, communication layer restricted, no mac support, one size fits all

Usability:

5 Star Rating: Exceptional

Built-In helps:

3 Star Rating: Average

Customer Service:

5 Star Rating: Exceptional

Overall:

4 Star Rating: Recommended

 

 

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