Palmtop Porridge

This Palm Pilot's too small, this laptop's too big-but a Jupiter is juuuuuuust right.

Lugging a heavy laptop on business trips can be quite a nuisance, especially if all you need to do is draft a few documents, conduct some research online and pick up e-mail. Or maybe you'd prefer a small device for taking notes during meetings instead of taking up table space with a standard portable.
At one time, we all thought we needed all our desktop data with us at all times-and occasionally we do. However, as portable notebooks have become more complex, many of us now realize that all we really require is a small, light-weight device to hold the documents we type, record dictation and keep us in touch with employees and customers via e-mail.

A Jupiter notebook fits these requirements nicely. (At one time, the term "Jupiter" was used to differentiate small, light portables from the Windows CE-based palm-sized PCs that were their predecessors. Nowadays, Jupiter devices are usually referred to as handheld PCs or PC companions.)
Considerably larger than palm-sized PDAs, Jupiter notebooks can accom-modate bigger, brighter displays and let you type comfortably on Chiclet-sized keys. And because handheld PCs operate on the power-conscious Windows CE operating system without a hard drive, they can run for hours on a single battery charge. Another advantage is that they're instant-on: There's no boot-up wait time, and you're transported back to where you left off when you last used it as soon as you press the "on" button. Convenient is their middle name.

Because they run the not-quite fully equipped pocket versions of standard desktop Windows applications with all the goods stored in volatile RAM and ROM, handheld PCs are intended as traveling "companions"-limited-use machines with limited memory and storage. No worries, though: Windows CE software is designed to synchronize with desktop PC software via serial cables or docking cradles. Once back in the office, simply connect the device to your main computer and exchange data just as you would with a Palm Pilot. With both computers connected, the latest work done on either machine automatically appears on both.

Jill Amadio is a freelance writer in Newport Beach, California, who has covered technology for 10 years.

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This article was originally published in the July 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Palmtop Porridge.

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