Sweaty Palms

Behind The Screen

Choosing the right Pocket PC can come down to what's under the hood. The Pocket PCs in our table are in the $500 to $600 range. What's more telling are their processor and memory specs. Unlike grayscale Palms, which have relatively low power and memory overheads, these color handhelds require a decent power plant and plenty of storage room. Most also have a CompactFlash slot for increasing your memory options.

The HP Jornada 548 matches the Casio Cassiopeia E-115 in price and power. Compare HP's 32MB RAM and 133MHz processor to Casio's 32MB RAM and 131MHz processor. Compaq's sporty-looking iPAQ H3600 tops them both with a 206MHz processor, the same 32MB RAM and a lower price tag. The Compaq can also take modular expansion packs similar to those available for the Handspring Visor.

Picking a Palm OS handheld right now seems like a simple question: Palm or Handspring? Handspring has the advantage of the Springboard modules, but the sparse 2MB of memory and the lack of a synchronization cradle offset the low price ($150) for the Visor Solo. Though the Solo would be adequate for no-frills work, the $250 Visor Deluxe makes more sense for business users.

In the Palm camp, choices get more complicated. The m100 is the low end at $150, while the VIIx is the high end at $449. The main reason for buying the VIIx is for wireless Internet access. In between the m100 and the VIIx are the III series and the V series. At just 4 ounces, the $329 Palm V and $399 Vx are the featherweights of the Palm world. As usual, the "x" denotes more memory; in this case, 8MB compared to 2MB.

Finally, we must mention the $399 Palm IIIc. The only color-screen Palm, the IIIc comes with 8MB RAM and a rechargeable battery. Since Palm has built its reputation on a simple grayscale interface and long battery life, the Palm IIIc is a bit of a head-scratcher. A Pocket PC device may be more appropriate for anyone who insists on a color display.

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This article was originally published in the December 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Sweaty Palms.

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