ISSUE 577: Alan Zisman- Nov 14 2000
The high-tech office
Choose the most
useful utilities for handhelds
For a few weeks, we're going to be looking at
utilities, the software tools for your computer that you may not use
every day -- but when you need them, you'll be glad you have them.
Last week, we looked at two products from DataViz,
MacLink Plus for Mac users and Conversions Plus for Windows. Both let
users read documents from a wide range of sources without having the
program that made them.
The company has also developed a product to fill an
important need for users of the popular Palm and Visor
handhelds. While Microsoft Office accounts for an overwhelming
percentage of the word processing and spreadsheet documents created on
both Macs and PCs, there's no direct support for these files on
Palm (and when I say Palm, I'm including Visor) users
can send their short memos to Word and presumably can copy and paste
from Word and sync the text into their handheld's Memo application, but
it's awkward. Shareware Word add-ons such as PalmDocs can be used to
save a Word document in Palm-style Doc format (not to be confused with
the similarly named Word format). But it's even more awkward getting
those documents back and forth between your handheld and desktop
computers. And that's not an option for Mac owners.
Users of handheld computers using Microsoft's Windows
CE or Pocket Windows avoid this problem. Not surprisingly, Microsoft
has provided its version of the tiny computers with built-in support
for Word and Excel documents. But Palm-standard handhelds account for
about 80 per cent of the market for tiny computers.
DataViz's Documents to Go provides an easy way to
bridge the gap between Palm-type gadgets and Microsoft Office.
Now in version three, the program started life as a
way to allow Palm users to view word processor and spreadsheet
documents. It features an admirably simple interface -- on your desktop
computer, simply drag a document onto its icon or open window. The
document is converted to a Palm-friendly format and uploaded with your
next HotSync. And if you update the document, the new version is sent
to the Palm as well.
On the Palm, there are three new icons: WordView,
SheetView and Documents to Go. The first lets you view any word
processor documents, the second works with spreadsheets, while the last
opens both sorts of documents. Yes, this seems a bit redundant to me,
Inevitably, the document loses something in the
translation. Your Palm lacks your desktop's fancy fonts, for instance.
And you will have to do a lot of scrolling to navigate through a
But it does a surprisingly good
job of working with text. Bold and italic, bullets and numbering, even
tables are supported. And users of other office suite products are not
abandoned. PC users get support for word processor and spreadsheet
formats produced by Corel Word Perfect Office and Lotus
SmartSuite while Mac users get AppleWorks support. There's also support
for Palm Doc format documents.
All documents are automatically compressed to make
best use of the limited space available.
New from DataViz is Documents to Go Professional. This
version moves an important step beyond the basic version by adding the
ability to edit text and spreadsheets on your handheld. Given the
limitations of the little computers, don't expect to produce your novel
this way, but the ability to modify your text or enter data into your
be what you need. If you choose,
the changes will be automatically synched back into the original
versions on your desktop computer.
Expect to pay more for the privilege, however. While
the basic version costs about $45 and is now only available by download
dataviz.com, the retail Pro version will set you back about $75.
The Pro version is available for download in a 30-day trial version. *