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Palm V Review

And now for a little piece of unabashed propaganda.

First of all, let me affirm for the record that I don't work for 3Com. No one I know works for 3Com. I don't own any 3Com stock. 3Com has not promised me gifts, money, a lifetime supply of Godiva chocolates, a fabulous tropical vacation, or Denzel Washington under my pillow for a favorable review.

That said, my very wonderful spouse gave me a terrific birthday present this year: the 3Com Palm V. Now this was particularly grand for two reasons: first, he's a much bigger geek than I am and he has a Palm III. So it was a tremendously unselfish gesture - and he hasn't even tried surreptitiously to swap them when I wasn't looking. Secondly, I had sworn that I was an absolute devotee of my paper Daytimer and was not interested in this electronic gadget that would make me write funny to record anything. So when he proudly presented it to me, I was game to try it but figured that there was at least a 50/50 chance that he would get it back and be able to replace his Palm III while I went back to the trusty Daytimer I've been using since college.

Two and a half weeks later, I am a total convert! It's a tremendous improvement over paper in that it allows me to keep track of much more information and tie more information together more easily - work schedule, personal schedule, work and personal address books, email, to do lists. And everything can by synced between the handheld and the desktop software with the touch of a button, which is very handy if, like me, you type better than you "graffiti."

It's a significant improvement over the Palm III in several ways. The Palm V has rechargeable batteries that juice up whenever it's in the hot sync cradle. It's thinner and lighter than the Palm III, with much higher screen resolution. Also, the stylus clicks in to place far more securely (no lost styluses). And it's no longer right handed - the stylus can go on either side and the side opening cover can be set to flip either way. Also, the contrast is no longer controlled by a slider bar that's easy to hit accidentally. You have to depress a recessed button to bring it up. also has more memory and a longer battery life.

I haven't really tricked it out yet, as I'm still getting used to the programs that come with it, but there are multiple sites, including the official palm site at www.palm.com where you can download freeware and shareware. And of course it comes with a catalogue of add-ons, software, and gadgets you can order. On first glance, it appears that most of the add-on software is of the game variety, which doesn't interest me, but more and more actual applications are being written as I type.

Star Trek here we come. It's got infrared beaming that allows data transfer between any two Palm Pilots. And it's smaller and lighter - and far more stylish - than the old Trek communicators. You can purchase a cellular modem or hook up your cell phone to your Palm Pilot to allow uploading and downloading email and even web sites without using the intermediary of your desktop PC. Back when Trek premiered in the '60s, it seemed ridiculous to think of handheld wireless electronic communication, and here we are in the midst of it. Can warp speed be far behind? So live long and prosper as you explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before, assisted by your trusty Palm Pilot. Now if we could just locate babblefish, we'd be all set....

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The writer of this article welcomes your comments: ewengel@mindjack.com