Windows CE, Microsoft's original handheld OS, failed to impress very many people. Compatibility glitches and a dearth of applications kept Microsoft from gaining on the Palm OS's 75 percent market share. It didn't take long for Microsoft to brush Windows CE under the rug and relaunch in 2000 with a new system: Pocket PC.
Currently, Casio, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard are the primary Pocket PC manufacturers. Some of their higher-end models are included in the "Shopping List". While Palm still dominates the market, Pocket PCs are good for anyone looking for improved miniversions of Windows software, tight Windows integration and, oh yes, color.
Pretty graphics do come at a price, though. While Palm OS machines like the Palm m100 or Handspring Visor run about $150, Pocket PCs start in the $400 range. Battery drain is also a problem (offset somewhat by using rechargeable batteries). You can expect 8 hours at the most of operational time, depending on usage. Weight may be another concern. At 6.3 ounces, the Compaq iPAQ H3600 isn't too bad, but the HP Jornada 548 is a bit hefty at 9.1 ounces. You might think twice about carrying it in your pocket.
For business owners looking for heavy-duty palmtops, Symbol (www.symbol.com) makes a line of rugged Pocket PCs that include barcode scanning and wireless LAN connectivity. The Symbol machines are designed primarily for use in the workplace, especially under demanding conditions. Most entrepreneurs will want to go with one of the other Pocket PC handhelds for general personal-information management at work and at home.