ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
   computing
   personal technology
   space
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:
COMPUTING

From...
PC World

Opinion: The palmtop that ate Manhattan


 ALSO
   Psion pushes new palmtop

   Sign up for the Computer Connection email service

   For more computing stories

MORE COMPUTING INTELLIGENCE
IDG.net   IDG.net home page
  PC World home page
  FileWorld find free software fast
  Make your PC work harder with these tips
 Reviews & in-depth info at IDG.net
 *   IDG.net's desktop PC page
  IDG.net's portable PC page
  IDG.net's Windows software page
  IDG.net's personal news page
  Year 2000 World
  Questions about computers? Let IDG.net's editors help you
  Subscribe to IDG.net's free daily newsletter for computer geniuses (& newbies)
  Search IDG.net in 12 languages
 News Radio
 * Fusion audio primers
 * Computerworld Minute
   

  

June 28, 1999
Web posted at: 12:18 p.m. EDT (1618 GMT)

by Eric Bender

NEW YORK (IDG) -- I come away from PC Expo with one overwhelming impression: For the first time, mobile phones outnumber PCs.

Okay, I can't be sure about that statistic, but mobile-phone folks are jamming the Javits Center aisles, flooding into every available nook and stairwell, with heads cocked to one side and yammering away at some unseen collaborator like street people touched by the spirits.

We all toy with mobile phones from time to time, of course. But there's only one word that can explain the kind of behavior you see at the Javits: addiction!

It gets worse. Most of these lost souls are also computer aficionados, so naturally they gather at 3Com's Palm Computing booth for their next fix:

Wireless palmtops.

No surprise, really. While phones are second nature to us, voice is one of the worst conceivable ways to deliver information of any complexity, so we're all looking for something better.

These folks go right over the top, though. With gleaming eyes, they watch the new Palm VII pluck information from the air: maps, corporate data, weather, flight information, headlines on competitors' sites, shopping bargains, and anything else that can be grabbed from the Web.

They try e-mail and grunt with satisfaction when it works. They put their hands on their wallets. And as the attacks of digitalis tremens intensify, they pull out their credit cards and try to talk the demo machines away from the demonstrators.

Sad, isn't it, this hunger for information anytime, anywhere?

Get your PDA PDQ

The Palm VII is whipping these wireless warriors into a frenzy. And if you live in metropolitan New York, you can actually buy the product and the services it requires. Apparently, many folks are doing just that.

At times like this, there's only one thing Microsoft can do: launch a preemptive vaporware response. Sure enough, the software giant came through this week with an announcement of a joint venture with Socket Communications to offer wireless modems for its Palm wannabe Windows CE, sometime this fall.

The entire show is awash in wireless products, many of which are actually shipping. Big computer vendors like IBM have joined the telcos and other heavyweights in papering the convention center with brochures about their conflicting and confusing services. Many smaller hardware suppliers showcase hardware -- including quite a few wireless modems for PCs or notebooks.

Everyone has basically the same rap about the joys of invisible communications. The question is whether you should buy a number of separate trinkets (phone, PDA, pager) and walk around like a digital Christmas tree, or look for a device that combines them all.

The MIT Laboratory of Computer Science take the latter approach to an extreme with its Handy 21 project. This device will look much like a cell phone, but pack a small screen and other goodies. It can be configured to include whatever you need--microbrowser, e-mail, digital lint-picker. It will be "person-centric wherever you go," as Lab Director Michael Dertouzos says. That is, it becomes your digital self, everywhere.

But we don't have to go there, do we? Wearing digital ankle chains every waking minute?

I'll cop to being a PC addict, and yes, I have been known to pick up a mobile phone. But who wants to be connected all the time? These days when I travel, I try to leave my fancy notebook at home, and just borrow someone else's PC -- you know, one with a real keyboard and a real T1 connection. Who really needs these little gadgets that don't even let you type?

A Psion of the times

Of course, at this very moment I'm lacking a PC and a T1 line. So I do find myself wandering back to the Psion booth to look at the company's new 5mx handheld.

This is a slick little 13-ounce device with a good VGA color screen, workable software, a keyboard good enough for two-finger typing, a browser that runs Java, instant-on capabilities, and the ability to run for a month on twin AA batteries.

Hey, it says here that I can add a wireless PC Card modem -- or shoot data via the infrared port to certain digital mobile phones like that slick-looking Nokia over there. It says I can even connect to the Web. Oh sure, let's just try that, shall we? No doubt this will require intense praying to the invisible wireless gods. But what's that? Gee, we're connected. That wasn't so bad.

Hey, pretty cool!

Wait just a minute. I'm feeling this strange exhilaration. I'm hooked on being unhooked! Oh no -- I'm unwired!


RELATED STORIES:
Psion pushes new palmtop
June 25, 1999
Palm-size CEs to go wireless
June 25, 1999
WinCE show: Little news, lots of patience
June 10, 1999
Color screens give new handhelds an edge
June 7, 1999

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
Palm-size CEs to go wireless
(PC World Online)
On the Net, wirelessly
(PC World Online)
Big Blue's wireless blue skies
(PC World Online)
Palm VII puts Web in your hand
(PC World Online)
Computerworld's PC Expo coverage
(Computerworld)
Psion pushes new palmtop
(PC World Online)
PC World's PC Expo coverage
(PC World Online)
Year 2000 World
(IDG.net)
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

RELATED SITES:
Psion Inc.
Palm Computing
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.