SAN MATEO (05/08/2000) - It can be a challenge for today's mobile workforce to remain organized and fully functional while traveling between home, office, and off-site engagements. Organizations worried about the loss in productivity that such movement may cause distribute handheld computers to keep their mobile workers focused while on the go.
The Palm IIIc, the latest in Palm Computing's line of handheld devices, offers a great combination of features at a competitive price.
Weighing 6.8 pounds, the Palm IIIc comes with an Active Matrix color screen, a rechargeable lithium ion battery, 8MB of memory, and the new Palm OS 3.5, designed to ease the tasks of entering and viewing data. These enhancements easily earn the Palm IIIc a score of Very Good.
Companies that have already invested in Palm Inc. devices will benefit from the Palm IIIc's extended capabilities without experiencing training downtime and expenses. Companies that have not yet committed to Palm but want to maximize their mobile productivity should consider rolling out this latest version to traveling workers.
Palm Computing dominates the handheld market, but Casio's Cassiopeia E-115 and HP's Jornada 540 present imposing competition. The competitors weigh 9 ounces apiece, include Microsoft Pocket PC applications, and provide color displays.
The Cassiopeia E-115 comes with 32MB of memory and a $599 price tag. The Jornada 540 includes 16MB of memory and costs $499, but the Palm IIIc is lighter and less expensive at $449.
To put the Palm OS 3.5 to the test, I abandoned my daytimer and challenged the Palm IIIc to keep up with my frenetic mobile schedule. The Palm IIIc allowed me to view my appointments and To Do items together on one screen, so I could see all my obligations at once and better schedule my time. This option also saved me the hassle of jumping back and forth between screens.
I took advantage of the Palm IIIc's color interface by color-coding my entries for greater organization. For example, after completing an item on my To Do list, the screen displayed the item in red instead of black. The sum of little favors such as this saved me a great deal of time and sped along my workflow.
As do previous Palm handhelds, the Palm IIIc provides HotSync software that will synchronize your Palm and desktop data. A user who already has a Palm handheld and wishes to upgrade to the Palm IIIc can use the HotSync software to easily transfer information from the old handheld device to the new Palm IIIc, thus avoiding the time-wasting task of manually re-entering data.
One of the Palm IIIc's greatest new features is a portable full-size keyboard that folds into a compact 3.6 inches by 5.1 inches by 0.8 inches, and weighs only 7.9 ounces. It hooks up to the Palm easily, and it allows users to type information in the same way they would with a desktop or laptop computer.
Although Palm Computing does not currently offer Internet access for the Palm IIIc, it plans to do so in the next several months. The only thing missing from this new release is wireless capabilities, which would make mobile computing with the Palm IIIc much more convenient.
Despite that, the Palm IIIc is a great tool for keeping mobile workers connected, and I give it an enthusiastic Very Good.
Ana Orubeondo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior analyst for the InfoWorld Test Center.
THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOOD
Business Case: Added color capabilities, enhanced viewing and data-entry features, collapsible keyboard, and lightweight construction make the Palm IIIc perfect for mobile workers who need to stay organized while away from the office.
Technology Case: The Palm IIIc comes fully loaded with the new Palm OS 3.5, organizer applications, HotSync software, a color Active Matrix display, 8MB of memory, a rechargeable lithium ion battery, and a DB-25 adapter.
+ Color display
+ New operating system with enhanced data entry and viewing options+ Rechargeable lithium ion battery+ 7.9-ounce collapsible portable keyboardCons:
- No wireless capabilities
- Heaviest Palm device yet at 6.8 ouncesCost: $449Platform(s): Palm OS Software 3.5Palm Inc., Santa Clara, California; (800) 881-7256 www.palm.com