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Deb Shinder

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."

This article was originally published on Nov 30, 2000
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