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Planning Retirement Online

Palm Pleasure                   Archive


Brian Bold gave up using a paper diary after he bought an electronic organiser. But that was only the beginning. Here he explains what the rest of us are missing


It is a year since I bought my Palm hand held electronic organiser. I thought I was buying an electronic diary, with reminders, alarms, an address book and a notebook function. I soon discovered these were just its basic functions, though they have enabled me to give up a paper diary completely.

Along with the organiser, I bought the book Palmpilot - the Ultimate Guide by David Pogue. Not only did it explain further uses for the Palm, but it came with a CD-ROM containing over 2000 Palm programs to try. These included electronic books, games, holiday guides, drawing packages and programs to link to the Internet for browsing and Email. The programs were simple to install on the Palm, and whilst most were demo versions, many were free for unlimited use.
I also discovered there were many Internet sites selling further applications, easy to download, available as free demos and generally costing less than 10 to buy. Palmgear is one of the biggest Palm software sites.

So, one year on what can I do on my Palm?

It fits into my shirt pocket so I can take it with me everywhere. Its versatility means I can dispense with carrying other things. I can use it as a calculator, a travel clock and even a mirror - the screen turns black and you can see your reflection. I can play chess, do financial project assessments and keep my golf scores.

When I went to Paris recently I loaded a city guide which, though not comprehensive, removed the need for a travel book. I use a program that tells me how to navigate the Metro train systems in most of the world’s major cities.

For quick snaps I bought the Kodak Palmpix attachment and now I can use the Palm as a basic digital camera.

But my major usage of the Palm is connecting to the Internet. I can connect via a link to my home computer or via a modem in my mobile phone. I can browse the Internet and more importantly send and receive emails at home and on my travels.

Connecting to web site avantgo allows me to download the contents of other websites to my Palm for viewing off-line. Some sites have been especially designed to be displayed on the small screen of the Palm. Most other sites can be downloaded but may not look so good

Everyday I download the Guardian Unlimited site and I can read an abbreviated version of the paper in the palm of my hand. I can even read it in the dark as the Palm has an excellent backlighting facility. Sometimes I download so I can review its comprehensive contents off-line. One of my latest downloads is from handheldcrime which provides regular short crime stories free of charge. Finally, I am just off to San Francisco and am using vindigo to provide me with an up-to-date listing of restaurants and entertainment.

You may wonder how much it costs to use a Palm. I bought mine for 160 last year. Prices are dropping and this week I saw that John Lewis is selling the Palm IIIe

for 79, almost half its original price. This is much cheaper than Dixons and even Internet Shops.

What about the batteries? How long do they last? My Palm uses two AAA batteries costing about 70p each and they last about a month of regular use.

One year on, I couldn’t be more satisfied with my purchase. The development of handheld computers is moving so fast I am sure I will be surprised at what I will be able to use it for over the next year.

Easy to use? My wife, a sceptic of gadgets, has been impressed enough to use one herself. What more can I say? Filofax, who needs one?



laterlife interest

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