Microsoft's Pocket PC offers strong platform for
by Alan Zisman (c) 2001
First published in Business in
Issue #631 November 27- December 3, 2001, The High Tech Office column
It's been a busy autumn for Microsoft.
The software giant
released its Windows XP operating system in late October, its X-box
system in November. Starting it off on October 4 was the latest version
of its handheld platform, Pocket PC 2002.
A bit of background. Pocket computers are nearly all
coming in one of
two flavours these days: Palm OS systems from Palm, Handspring,
and a few others, and Pocket PC-powered devices (formerly known as
CE) from the likes of Compaq, HP, Toshiba and Casio.
Although in a bit of a slump lately, the Palm camp
controls the bulk
of the market. But the picture changes when you look at higher end (and
more profitable) devices. That's where Pocket PC has been coming on
HP was the first to offer models powered by
Microsoft's new system.
Both the Jornada 565 (with 32 MB of memory, $899) and 568 (with 64 MB
memory, $999) come in attractively sculpted yet business-like
cases, with screens displaying a stunning 65,000 colours doing a nice
of displaying photos and (brief) video clips. A built-in Compact Flash
slot allows for data storage on these industry-standard memory cards
future expandability, with wireless network adapters, cameras and more
promised to fit into the CF slot. There are microphones, speakers and
jacks for recording and playing back voice notes and MP3 music.
Jornadas boast 14-hour battery life, the best in their class. The
batteries ($89) are removable, a real plus, allowing users to carry a
to double its work life. And the AC adapter is standard and separate
the cradle, making it easy to carry on the road.
Like other handheld devices, it's instant-on. (When
will we see a manufacturer
offer this in a notebook or desktop computer?)
Like other Pocket PC devices, it comes with a standard
package: pocket-sized versions of Word (now complete with spell
Excel, Outlook, Media Player and Internet Explorer (Internet access not
included). Terminal Services allows the unit to connect right into a
network and run full-scale business software.
HP adds its own software bundle, including a business
software to connect to corporate Virtual Private Networks, along with
for not-yet-available 802.11b WiFi wireless networking adapters.
The Pocket PC operating system builds on its
similarity to its big Windows
cousin, though with the Start button flipped to the top. New to this
are multiple ways to input data, including a Graffiti-clone for users
over from Palm-styled devices. Like Apple's fabled Newton, it
also try to make sense of your handwriting... and like the Newton, it
stymied trying to understand mine.
The Microsoft Office compatibility and new networking
features are designed
to make the new generation more attractive to corporate IT departments.
And for home users, there's all the multimedia glitz: you can listen to
music and watch videos and more. There remains a certain clumsiness,
perhaps the result of trying to cram the equivalent of a big computer
a pocket-sized device.
For instance, try to find a program you've installed.
The icon to start
it could be in any one of three places: the Start Menu, a Programs
or an HP-provided Home screen. Adding a new calendar appointment or
the time of an existing appointment is still more work than on a
Still, more than ever before, these new Jornadas will
the addition of a $150 Targus fold-up keyboard and a modem,
or wireless) do most of what we haul around a notebook computer for.
they boot up instantly and fit into pocket or purse.