PDAs offer most laptop luxuries for less money
By Andrew Ohrman
Handheld PDAs resemble something Mr. Spock of “Star Trek” would use.
But these personal digital assistants, commonly branded as Palm or Pocket PC, can offer much of the functionality of laptop PCs in a package small enough to fit into a shirt pocket.
They also cost less than a laptop.
Jerry Broughton is a software architect for TechHarmony, an Internet hosting and custom software development company based in Camp Hill. He travels extensively and has used the Compaq IPAQ 3630 Pocket PC for the past three years.
The Microsoft-backed Pocket PC enables him to run Windows applications, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet Explorer and Outlook e-mail. He can even run advanced applications, such as MS Terminal Server, which he uses to remotely manage Web servers.
“The general philosophy behind the Pocket PC is a scaled-down PC, providing the familiar Windows experience,” Broughton says.
When he has a spare moment, such as the taxi ride to the airport or a long check-in line, he can pull out his Pocket PC and turn it on instantly. There is no booting involved, like there is with laptops or desktop PCs.
As the taxi drives up to the terminal, Broughton doesn’t have to take a lot of time to close an open application, such as MS Word; he just hits the “OFF” button.
During his trip, when he feels like resuming work, he pulls out his Pocket PC, presses the “ON” button, and in a couple of seconds his Pocket PC is up and his Word document is open — at the same place it was earlier. By the time he gets to his destination, he is caught up on his memos and reports.
Jim Tesche, automation specialist for Hershey Foods Corp., has replaced more than 100 company laptops with Palm V and Palm M100s. Those changes have translated into cost savings of more than $500,000, while providing previous laptop users with a convenient alternative to lugging around a laptop bag.
The biggest difference between the Pocket PC and the Palm is price. Palms cost between $99 and $450, whereas Pocket PCs can easily start at $500 and spiral up, depending on the features and accessories.
Although Palms are considerably less expensive than Pocket PCs and are independent of Microsoft, they can open and edit most MS office applications, such as Outlook, Word, and Excel, through third-party software packages such as DataViz’s “Documents-to-Go.”
“The Palm allows you to open it, get it done, and move on,” Tesche says of the Palm experience.