PRODUCT REVIEW: Handheld Handyman

3Com's PalmPilot is more than a status symbol -- with add-on hardware and software, it's a complete mobile office!

If you haven't tried a PalmPilot since it first came out, you'll be pleased to see that current models can act as e-mail clients. Of course, the first thing you need to check mail from a remote site is a modem. Luckily, 3Com makes the dandy PalmPilot Modem, which fits into the bottom of PalmPilot, and looks as if it were born there. Like PalmPilot itself, it runs on two AAA batteries. The modem's top speed is only 14.4Kbits per second, but because I don't expect to use it heavily, I can live with the slow speed.

3Com provides a facility for reading mail with Palm Desktop, but it only works with certain desktop clients, notably those that support Simple MAPI or VIM. My favourite client doesn't support either of these, so I had no good options -- until Smartcode Software sent me HandStamp Pro (retailing at about $100 and is available from Swan Communications and WizardWare, both based in Melbourne, also at Sydney-based Widget).

HandStamp lets you send and receive messages through Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and Post Office Protocol 3 servers. It can't connect through a remote access server that demands a password. Sometimes you need tighter ties to your tasks than e-mail allows.

With the card in place, you can get not only numeric pages but also alphanumeric messages. Unfortunately, carriage returns aren't properly supported in alphanumeric messages, so message headers and other lists run together in a single paragraph.

The PalmPilot platform has an active developer community. See for links to a few sites where you can download dozens of commercial and shareware applications for your PalmPilot.

Palm Pilot professional is retailing at an estimated cost of $629.

First Look: Lotus Organiser 5.0: A PIM for All ReasonsBy Harry McCrackenIt's ironic: Personal Information Managers are supposed to combat information overload. Instead, many suffer from feature overload. But Lotus Organizer's strength has always been its accessibility -- and that's unchanged in version 5.0. I reviewed a pre-production copy.

While retaining its familiar spiral-bound look, this $135 PIM adds features usually found only in costlier packages. It's a good choice if you need more help than most PIMs deliver, but aren't ready to shell out $300 or more for a full-blown contact manager such as Symantec's ACT.

People who've been using Organiser GS or 4.1 with Lotus Notes databases for corporate scheduling and contacts shouldn't upgrade -- the new version doesn't support Notes (Lotus says these customers will get many of Organiser's features in Notes 5.0). But for many, Organiser 5.0 delivers the right blend of simplicity and sophistication.

NB: Lotus Organiser 5.0 will be available in Australia at the end of October.

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