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Keeping in Touch

Unless I’m on a bona fide vacation, I need access to my email and, frequently, the Web. It’s much easier to stay connected now than with earlier Palm models, but your mileage will definitely vary.

modemOn the hardware front, you’ll need some type of modem. You can purchase Palm’s clip-on modems for its devices (the Palm III or Palm V), or Handspring’s modem, which plugs into the Visor’s Springboard slot. Depending on your location, you can also look into wireless offerings such as the Palm VII or the OmniSky modem. The former plugs into a phone line to connect to your ISP; the latter requires that you sign up with a wireless access plan, which can range between $30 and $45 per month.

With software, there are two possible routes to take. Using a program like Top Gun PostMan, you can dial into your ISP and grab your messages, which appear in the built-in Mail application. However, Mail is a bare-bones mail client: You get minimal filtering functions, and there’s a limit to how many characters each message can contain. Also, if you use a Macintosh, there’s no built-in support for synchronizing mail; however, you can purchase MultiMail’s HotSync conduit, which synchronizes in and out box messages with Eudora, Outlook Express, and Claris Emailer.

Programs such as MultiMail Pro and One Touch Communicator offer more robust filtering, and even limited support for email attachments. You can also receive email from an AOL account using PocketFlash, without needing AOL’s specialized software.

A (Small) Window to Your Data

The Palm organizer’s small screen works surprisingly well for checking one’s calendar and other bits of information, but for some applications it’s limiting. Word processing is no problem, and you can even do spreadsheet work using software like Cutting Edge Software’s Quicksheet 5.0 (though you’ll find yourself scrolling frequently). You don’t need a 14-inch active-matrix color display for everything you do, but it is easier on the eyes over long periods. Still, I did newspaper layout for years using the 9-inch screen on a Macintosh SE, so working on a smaller screen is feasible.

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