I’ve had a Palm III for a little over a year. It took me several months to really get into the habit of using it. But then all of a sudden it was absolutely indispensible. All my contacts were stored in there. My calendar. My incredibly addictive game of Mah Johngg.

And then like the idiot I am I dropped it, and cracked the screen. A flat $100 to repair it from Palm. I figured for an extra couple of bucks I’d try a new model. Except no one had any of the Palm IIIe or IIIxe in stock. So I settled on a Handspring Visor.

It’s the same basic thing as my old Palm III, but different enough to be aggravating. First, of course, was the trauma of trying to remember how I had all my settings: alarm sounds and volume, fonts, etc etc. Then came the realization that the hot synch cradle for the Visor was different from my old Palm. Not a huge deal, but I had bought a seperate hot-synch cable that didn’t have that nasty block on the end. And finally, I decided I just liked my old Palm more than the new Visor. It wasn’t that I disliked the Visor … I just really liked what I was used to.

The extra cable I puchased for my Palm provided me with more uses for my Palm. I was able to keep the original cradle hooked up to my desktop computer, and carry only the much smaller serial cable - a real lifesaver when travelling as much as I was. The other nifty use for this cable was that I was able to configure a few switches using a telnet client for the Palm.

I’ve looked at a few WinCE devices, but I’ve got to be honest: I’m not terribly impressed with them. They try to be much more than they need. The great thing about the Palm units is that they offer a very basic level of functionality, and allow the user to add those nifty utilities that they want. The WinCE devices, though, force PocketWord and PocketExcel on you whether you want them or not. I don’t want a stripped down computer that fits in my hand - that doesn’t provide me much functionality. The PalmOS is sleek and unobtrusive. It’s extensible enough to allow people to make software that I’d be willing to pay for.

If a WinCE device was really what I was after, I think I’d be much more inclined to purse some form of tablet computing. These things look pretty cool, seem to operate well, and offer a real benefit to mobile computing. If I’m going to read my email on a mobile device, that mobile device had better have a decent screen size - most WinCE devices are sorely lacking in that department. (To be fair, so is my Palm, which is why I don’t use it for email).

So in the end I decided to return the Visor I purchased, and shell out the hundred bucks to get the screen fixed on my trusty Palm. Until I’ve got the cash for a tablet system, I’ll stick with the Palm.

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