October 22, 1999
October 22, 1999
by David Needle
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (IDG) -- Hordes of the Palm faithful are gathered here, bowing over their beloved handhelds to enter information, look something up, play a game, or surf the Web. They even have a secret handshake: Swapping electronic business cards by simply aiming their Palms at each other.
And they wander happily through the PalmSource Developer conference exhibits, which feature a rich array of Palm-related software, hardware, and doodads.
Among them, Landware is showing its GoType portable keyboard. Touted as the fastest way to enter information into PalmPilots, Palm III, and IBM WorkPad devices, the GoType has a cradle in the back that connects directly to the handheld's docking port. GoType requires no batteries, drawing minimal power from the computer instead.
Weight is a mere 14 ounces and there are holders on the left and right sides for a stylus. Price is $79 for the Palm III or $89 for the Palm V versions. A version for Handspring's Visor should arrive in December, says LandWare president Ken Landau.
Landware also plans to release a replacement lid for the Palm III in December. Called the GoBox, the lid adds a voice recorder to the device.
Peanutpress.com is bringing electronic books to Palm and Windows CE Devices, with popular titles licensed for download at its Web site.
The latest twist is a package deal for users of the Handspring Visor. Instead of downloading individual titles, you will soon be able to buy groups of books from Peanutpress.com and store them on the Visor's individual expansion modules. The first two modules are a group of seven Star Trek titles and a group of 12 business books. The sets will sell for between $30 to $40 apiece when released next month, says Peanutpress.com President Jeff Strobel.
"Our proprietary reader technology lets you get reading right away; just use the rocker switch to flip pages or touch the screen for a table of contents," says Strobel. You can read sample chapters for free at the company's Web site.
Rather create some paper documents? Bachmann Software & Services showed its Print Manager 3.0 bundled with the Pentax PocketJet 200 ($319.95), a 1-pound printer.
Games for the Palm were also on display. Whitehorse Development showed Tiger Woods PGA Golf ($29.95) and Chessmate ($24.95), a combination of chess, checkers, and backgammon.
"These games can be downloaded in as little as a minute," says Whitehorse President Bill Mitchell. "And when you use them on a Palm, it's a personal device no one can see. You could be playing in a business meeting and no one would know. We purposely included minimal sound effects for that reason."
Following the game plan
Another game fan, Palm inventor Jeff Hawkins, says some of the inspiration for the Handspring Visor came from the Nintendo Gameboy. "I've had a Gameboy a long time," says Hawkins, chair of Handspring. "The old Gameboy games still work ten years later. We're going to architect Visors the same way so you can still use them in ten years."
Game devices also show the right focus on ease of use rather than features, which vendors often pile on unthinkingly, Hawkins says. "People talk about adding voice recognition because it seems like a great feature," says Hawkins. "What I ask is, When you use it, do you like it? I find it hard to navigate and uncompelling."
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