Mom Knows Best: Palm Pilot M100

SAN FRANCISCO (08/29/2000) - Palm Inc. has won the hearts of techies with its self-named personal digital assistant (PDA). Now the company has its sights set on a new market -- consumers who have yet to jump on the handheld-organizer bandwagon.

But can Palm hold its own against my mother?

Palm thinks it can with the m100, its first device aimed at folks who don't know a PDA from their elbow. The m100 boasts a retooled design, an easy-to-use Note Pad application, and even customizable faceplates.

Mom was alternately delighted and unimpressed by features available on the new Palm m100.

It sounds as if Palm is targeting people like Mom. She finally gave that newfangled audio-CD technology a try last year. She thinks DVD is something you treat with penicillin shots.

But Mom has heard of Palm, and she wanted to give the new PDA a try. "I've seen that commercial where the woman's in the train, and she sees the good-looking man," Mom says. "So she uses her Palm to send over her address. I'd like to be able to do that."

My father was unavailable for comment.

WHAT PALM AND MOM HAVE TO SAY

DESIGN

Sleeker design, rounded bottom gives the m100 a look that appeals to consumers.

It looks classy.

DURABILITY

Thicker frame lets users take the m100 anywhere without worrying about breakage.

The casing seems pretty sturdy.

CUSTOMIZABLE FACEPLATES

Colorful snap-on faceplates (sold separately) let users have fun personalizing their Palm.

Why would I want to change the color?

The black looks fine.

NEW BUTTON

A Note Pad button has replaced the traditional Memo Pad one, making it easier for users to scribble notes in their own handwriting.

How do you turn it on?

CLOCK APPLICATION

Pressing the Scroll Up button lets users see the time and date through the window of the m100's flip cover.

Oooooh. That's handy.

MAC COMPATIBILITY

The m100 offers out-of-box support with Mac software included on the dual-platform CD-ROM. A free adapter is available via the Web.

I use Windows.

(My mother is dead to me.)

ON-DEVICE TUTORIAL

The m100 offers a tutorial to users after they set the time and date.

This is good, because otherwise I wouldn't know what to do.

PRICE

US$149

I'd pay $60. But I wish it cost $20.

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