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Work Anywhere with a Handheld or Pocket PC

Handhelds and Pocket PCs represent a new level of easy portability — one that enables you to work anywhere, send and respond to email, access the Internet, carry, save and edit documents, listen to MP3 music files, take pictures, and even to locate your position with a Global Positioning Satellite. The following sections will help you explore what you can do with your handheld or Pocket PC, and what accessories you'll need in order to do it.

Handhelds and Pocket PCs at a glance

For the purposes of this article, handhelds will refer to handhelds that use the Palm® Operating System, including Palm, Handspring®, and the Sony® Clie. Pocket PCs will refer to handhelds that use Microsoft's Pocket PC Operating System, such as the Hewlett–Packard® Jornada and the Compaq® iPaq. What's the difference? Palm OS handhelds are often chosen by those who want to use their handheld for general tasks — to carry contact lists, manage their daily schedule, and to perform basic "wired" activities such as receiving email and downloading the latest news. Pocket PCs run on a Microsoft® Operating System (which means you can run Outlook, Word, and Excel as soon as you turn it on) and may be suitable for users who require more sophisticated functionality. Palm handhelds, however, can be easily upgraded with expandable memory (see memory under accessories by brand) to do most of the things Pocket PCs can do.

Personal task and information manager

What you can do
— You can use your Palm OS handheld or Pocket PC as a portable phone and address book, calendar, and task manager. All of this personal and task–related information will be automatically updated (or "synched") each time you link up with your desktop or laptop computer.

What you need

  1. Any Palm OS Pocket PC handheld
  2. A docking cradle, which comes standard with nearly all models and links from your handheld or Pocket PC to your computer through a serial cable or USB cable. You can buy a second docking cradle (see accessories by brand) for your home or office, but you'll need to buy a USB cable or serial cable to connect the cradle to your computer. Whether you use a serial or USB cable depends on whether the particular cradle model you choose links to your computer's serial or USB port.

Document and email manager

What you can do
— You can create and edit Word, Excel, or PowerPoint™ files, (Palm handhelds may require optional software) and then transfer them to and from your desktop or laptop computer. Edits made while away from your desk will be automatically synched to your computer through the cradle. You can also respond to email "offline" on your handheld or Pocket PC, and then those emails will be automatically sent once you synch back up with your PC. What's more, you can access the Internet with a wireless modem and send or receive emails without synching back to your computer.

What you need

  1. Pocket PC
  2. Palm OS handheld with "Documents to Go", an add–on for both Palm and Handspring Visor that enables you to carry, create, or revise Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files.
  3. Docking cradle and a serial or USB cable
  4. A modem and Internet service (check modem availability). If you want to dial into your email and the Internet from your desk, you can use a 56K modem. To connect wirelessly, you'll need a wireless modem and wireless service.
  5. Optional — Keyboard or foldable keyboard. Rather than use the stylus or touch screen, typing on a small or full–sized keyboard can make working easier.

The ultimate "Road Warrior"

What you can do
— Connect to the Internet (wirelessly or via a 56K dial–up modem), send and receive documents and reports, recharge your handheld or Pocket PC batteries from your car lighter, mount your handheld or Pocket PC on your car's front windshield, access a GPS system when you're lost and need directions, play games and listen to MP3 music while you're waiting in the airport or in a lobby, and even turn your handheld or Pocket PC into a digital camera and even take pictures of real estate properties.

What you need
All that you need to use your handheld or Pocket PC as a document and email manager (see above), plus:

  1. Car power cord — to recharge the battery in your car (check availability in accessories by brand)
  2. Windshield mount
  3. GPS card (check availability)
  4. MP3 capability, now standard in Jornada and iPaq
  5. PalmPix™ (or other models) to turn your handheld or PocketPC into a digital camera (check availability)

A review of the accessories

Accessory (view accessories by brand)


Car power cord

Plugs into your car lighter and recharges the batteries

Docking cradle

Synchronizes your handheld/Pocket PC with your computer. Enables automatic transfer of information.

External keyboard

Allows you to type and enter data as though you were working at a desktop computer

GPS card

Uses satellite technology to locate you anywhere

Memory expansion card

Increases the speed and power of your Palm OS handheld or Pocket PC

Modem (analog or wireless)

Connects your Palm OS handheld or Pocket PC to the Internet


Turns your handheld/Pocket PC into a camera

Serial cable

Connects the docking cradle of your Palm OS handheld or Pocket PC to the serial port of your computer

USB cable

Connects the docking cradle of your Palm OS handheld or Pocket PC to the USB port of your computer.

Windshield mount

Allows you to mount your Palm OS handheld or PocketPC beneath your rearview mirror for easy reference and readability while on the road.

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