This led me to consider, a few years ago, buying a Palm Pilot. They were cute
and popular; almost everyone had one. But I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm. I
do Windows. Unlike many people, I like Windows. I welcomed the emergence
from the Dark Place of DOS into the sunlight that came streaming through the
Windows back in 1985 (who else remembers Windows 1.0?) I’ve been working on
the Microsoft desktop for over a decade, rode out the upgrades to 2.x, 3.x, 9x,
NT and now Windows 2000. Getting ready to do my impression of Whistler’s mom
as we prepare for the next transition. I’m comfortable with Windows, and I
notice with no small sense of irony that the most popular of the Linux graphical
interfaces, such as KDE, seem to be those that look the most like … you
guessed it: Windows.
So Palm O/S, as compact and efficient as it might be, never tickled my fancy.
And Windows CE, though I badly wanted to love it, left a lot to be desired. It
had the name, but it didn’t have the heart and soul of Windows. I
flirted with it, but it never won my love or loyalty.
Then the Poki PC came along.
In the wake of the international craze for Pokemon toys (the word said to
mean “Pocket Monster”), Microsoft released the latest version of the
CE operating system, called Pocket PC. HP, Casio and Compaq designed new, sleek
handheld devices to run the o/s. I couldn’t resist dubbing it the PokiPC. And
from the moment I read about it, I lusted after it. Unlike the typical Palm of
the day, the Pocket PCs ran in beautiful, glorious color (up to 16 bit color,
depending on the model). Unlike the typical CE palm-size computer, the Poki ran
Pocket versions of Word, Excel and Outlook. New features, like the handy
Microsoft Reader for downloadable e-books, had me excited. Best of all, the
handwriting recognition feature was said to actually work.
I was sold. All my life I’d heard that “you can’t take it with
you.” But maybe now you could.
Making the decision to buy a Pocket PC was easy. Deciding which one to buy
wasn’t. The major players all advertised feature-rich models at surprisingly
reasonable prices. Each had its advantages and disadvantages. The HP Jornada was
smaller, but so was its screen, and the color wasn’t nearly as good as the
Casio. The Cassiopeia E-115 had more RAM (32 MB) and a 64K color screen.
Graphics were gorgeous, but it was bulkier and cost slightly more. The Compaq
IPAQ was rumored to have a screen that was usable in full sunlight, and to do
everything but the dishes (maybe those too, in the next upgrade) but when I was
in the heat of buying fever, it was nowhere to be found. All the retailers were
“hoping” to get shipments in “sometime real soon.”