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Mr. Hromadka goes to Redmond

Monday September 10, 2001 - 4:39 AM EST - By James Hromadka

The Über Device

As for the über device, there is not one today, nor will there ever be. One of the MS reps likened buying handhelds to buying shoes -- there is no one shoe for every occasion, nor is there one handheld that is suited for everybody. The lead that Palm has today in the handheld world is there for two reasons: price and simplicity. When the Pocket PC can match Palm in terms of price and ease-of-use, the real battle begins. Right now, Palm still has the lead.

I mentioned earlier some of the things I liked about Merlin. There are also some issues that keep it from being friendly enough for me to recommend to most people. I could beam individual items, but there is no out-of-the-box method for transferring all Palm data for those not using Outlook. I like the Gra -- er, Block Recognizer, but I wish it didn't require writing in a certain area. This I'm sure is to wean users off Graffiti and onto Transcriber, which lets users write anywhere on the screen, in print or in cursive, and have their scribbles recognized. I haven't taken the time to train Transposer, but it does a decent job of recognition. There are still problems with punctuation, but it is a start. I also don't like the "Start | Programs" approach to running applications. Frequently-used applications and the last six applications show up directly on the Start menu, but other applications are buried too low in the interface.

The lone Apple item in the Microsoft museumThere are add-on utilities that improve upon this, but Microsoft has always plugged its out-of-box experience (or is that eXPerience now) for the Pocket PC. Another issue that plagues the Pocket PC now is one of compatibility. The Pocket PC requires Windows and Outlook. I and a surprising number of fellow attendees expressed to every Microsoft person we talked to, including someone from the MacBU, that there needs to be an ActiveSync for the Mac. There was a reception at the Microsoft museum and we spoke to him for a good hour about all things Mac. ActiveSync:mac is being "investigated," but it is a long ways off at this time.

Voice Recognition >>

Story Sections
>The Über Device
Voice Recognition
Parting Thoughts

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