Mini-Me Strikes Again

Sub-subnotebooks

It reads like a James Bond novel: lighter than a laptop, more powerful than a palm PC and code-named "Jupiter." These sub-subnotebooks are a little heftier than Palm PCs but share many of the same traits. They all run Windows CE (you Mac users will want to go read something else), Microsoft's low-cal version of the Windows operating system. The Windows CE interface synchronizes well with your standard Windows desktop but suffers from a shortage of applications and minor incompatibilities between what's available and the desktop versions.

The handhelds themselves are lightweight, cost under $1000 and usually feature a color touchscreen--sort of a Palm PC/laptop computer hybrid. If you've been lugging an 8-pound laptop around, a sub-3-pound handheld starts to look pretty good. Most of these machines feature "instant-on," so there's no waiting. CE software on all these puppies includes Microsoft Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket PowerPoint, Pocket Access (notice a pattern here?), Pocket Outlook and Pocket Internet Explorer. So what's it good for? Packing around, for sure. It's a nice mid-dle ground if you need more than a palm PC but don't need all the baggage of a notebook computer. Definitely take a field trip over to CompUSA or someplace similar and try one out. See if you can handle the less-than-full-sized keyboard. Glorified palm PC, or scaled-down notebook? You make the call.

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This article was originally published in the April 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Mini-Me Strikes Again.

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