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It reads like a James Bond novel: lighter than a laptop, morepowerful than a palm PC and code-named "Jupiter." Thesesub-subnotebooks are a little heftier than Palm PCs but share manyof the same traits. They all run Windows CE (you Mac users willwant to go read something else), Microsoft's low-cal version ofthe Windows operating system. The Windows CE interface synchronizeswell with your standard Windows desktop but suffers from a shortageof applications and minor incompatibilities between what'savailable and the desktop versions.

The handhelds themselves are lightweight, cost under $1000 andusually feature a color touchscreen--sort of a Palm PC/laptopcomputer hybrid. If you've been lugging an 8-pound laptoparound, a sub-3-pound handheld starts to look pretty good. Most ofthese machines feature "instant-on," so there's nowaiting. CE software on all these puppies includes Microsoft PocketWord, Pocket Excel, Pocket PowerPoint, Pocket Access (notice apattern here?), Pocket Outlook and Pocket Internet Explorer. Sowhat's it good for? Packing around, for sure. It's a nicemid-dle ground if you need more than a palm PC but don't needall the baggage of a notebook computer. Definitely take a fieldtrip over to CompUSA or someplace similar and try one out. See ifyou can handle the less-than-full-sized keyboard. Glorified palmPC, or scaled-down notebook? You make the call.

IBM Workpad Z50

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