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Wednesday, August 5 Front Page >> Mixelania >> Archived Mix >> Palm Killer App

Palm Talk
June 2001

I'm a Palm Vx user, have been a Palm user for some time now, and while I fret the decision on whether or not to upgrade to the new M505 (the fact that they changed the connector AGAIN is making me fret, not the price - all my accessories will become useless).

I use my Palm Vx in a lot of different ways. It is often the replacement for my notebook computer when I go to client meetings. I read books on it all the time (currently I'm reading Farenheit 451 on it). I play a few games on it here and there. I read web pages. I check my email and answer it occasionally, from the Palm.

But I have to say, there are two killer apps for the Palm - my folding keyboard and the program WordSmith.

After I bought my folding keyboard for the Palm (a must have - seriously), I tried just about every word processing program that could be found over at PalmGear, the one stop shop for every Palm program made. From Documents To Go to QuickWord, they were all kind of sucky - the big problem with all these apps was lag. I'm a fairly fast typist, but even if you only type 20 wpm, you'll soon be lagging a full screen or more behind because these programs are so s.. l.. o.. w.. to update the screen content.

Then I found WordSmith. This is a true "killer app" for the Palm. Not only will it keep up with my own typing speed (on a good day, as much as 80 or 90wpm), but it doubles as a MemoPad on steroids (breaking the Palm's anemic 4kb limit for memos), and is a good book reader to boot. These days, I tend to go to meetings with the Palm and keyboard instead of my formerly ultralight ThinkPad notebook (hey, I'll take the Palm's 4 oz weight and the keyboard's 8 oz weight over the 4lbs of my ThinkPad :-)), and bottom line is, it does the job. It also keeps me visible to the client, instead of stuck behind a computer screen.

And I have to admit.... it looks pretty damned cool too.

There are other great apps for the Palm of course, including the awesome web clipping service Avant Go and the DateBk 4 program that replaces the Palm's built in scheduler and address book, but if I had to only have one killer app, it would be WordSmith... and the folding keyboard. Check them out if you're a Palm user.

As I mentioned above, I also like using the Palm as a book reader. A good resource online is www.memoware.com which is a clearing house of copyright-free or copyright-ended books for the Palm platform as well as for Pocket PC. In the past, I've read all the 3 Musketeer books on it, all of Jules Verne's novels, many of Hemmingway's books, and many, many other classics. I wish I could get more modern books on it, I'd love to reread all of Clancy's novels on the Palm, but until the book publishers get realistic with their digital book pricing (currently, the prices aren't much cheaper than print - which is a royal ripoff), it looks like that day is far away.

What's cool about the Palm as a book reader is that I can read books in complete darkness while in bed. It doesn't disturb Jean, and I find I fall asleep faster - when I have the light on and I'm reading a paperback, I get so engrossed that I stay up for hours. With the Palm, and all the lights off, usually after a chapter or so I'm completely drifting off, and a quick click and the "book" is shut off and I'm off to dreamland.

I also like that I can take 2, 3, 4 or more books with me while I'm on trips, and they are all inside the Palm Vx, without all that additional weight. Some people have complained that the 160x160 screensize of the Palm is too small for comfortable book reading, but as long as the book is properly formatted with proper returns where they are supposed to be, and tabbed first lines, I'm very comfortable reading with it.

Hey, soon there'll be more palm stuff, stay tuned!


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