Magazine article Newsweek

The Second Time Around: Here's the Next Generation of the Pocket PC System. Is It an Improvement? Ask ERIK SHERMAN

Magazine article Newsweek

The Second Time Around: Here's the Next Generation of the Pocket PC System. Is It an Improvement? Ask ERIK SHERMAN

Article excerpt

Is that a PC in your pocket, or are you just glad to see your contact list? Take out your PDA. Is it the right one? There are two systems. First came the Palm: a device that keeps contacts, calendars and notes in a lightweight package. It does a few things and does them well. Then Microsoft introduced Pocket PC software for handhelds, a slimmed-down Windows. Reviews were mixed. Critics said that compared with the simpler Palm devices, it tried to do too much. Now comes Pocket PC 2002. It's hitting the streets in consumer versions from Compaq, HP, Casio, Toshiba and Audiovox. For some it will be just what the help desk wants. Others will find it overkill.

For nothing fancier than contacts and scheduling, the Pocket PC is indeed too much. But for computer power, this may be the system for you. It has mobile versions of such desktop applications as Microsoft Word and Excel. You can manage e-mail and launch a Web browser. Downloadable applications from many sources let you run interactive maps, play a flight simulator, view a video, and much more. Unfortunately, third-party applications that ran on the previous Pocket PC are incompatible with the 2002 version; users who upgrade should make time for downloading.

There are enhancements. For example, when entering information into the system, users can pick from Palm's script, the Pocket PC's own superior character recognition, a tap-screen keyboard or Transcriber. The latter is a handwriting-recognition program that lets you mix cursive and block letters. Although still available as a free download for the previous Pocket PC version, the integrated approach seems faster now. …

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