One of the most successful-and, frankly, surprising-portable stories of 2000 has been the immense popularity of palm-sized personal digital as-sistants. Even though we covered such offerings in December's "Buyer's Guide," it's still important to include them here so you can compare them with your other portable options.
The trend began long ago with the original Palm Pilot but has really picked up steam lately, thanks to powerful new Palm versions and the introduction of the Palm OS-based Handspring Visor. After stumbling twice in this area, Microsoft is also putting forward a revamped version of its Pocket PC version of the resource-hungry Windows CE to provide connectivity to your Windows desktop for portables and Internet appliances. Pocket PC has the advantage of bringing Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office applications to a new crop of hardware from manufacturers like Casio, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Symbol. Visit www.pocketpc.com for the lowdown on new offerings.
Of course, the main appeal of palm-sized portables is the size. You don't have to lug around a laptop case or tuck your handheld into your briefcase to access your contact list or calendar. Many of these devices really do fit in your purse or pocket, though there are still some size differences to consider.
For instance, the HP Jornada 548 is a hefty 9.1 ounces, while Compaq's iPAQ H3650 weighs a mere 6.3 ounces. It's up to you how portable your portable has to be.