TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Last week, I asked for responses about listmembers'
experiences with handheld PCs. Here's the gist of the
replies I received. My thanks to Jason Wynia, Douglas
Vereschagin, Rowena Hart, Barry Campbell, Lisa Comeau, Geoff
Hart, Kalpana Thakar, Martin Anderson, Dianne Phelan, and
The keyboard is fairly difficult to get used to. I've taken
to using a sort of stripped down typing method with only my
index, middle fingers and thumb. I type somewhere around
20-30 wpm that way, which is faster than handwriting notes,
but far slower than typing on a regular keyboard.
I would *not* recommend using a handheld to run a
presentation, unless you don't need any control over it
(it's very hard to see the keys in the dark, so it's easy to
accidentally go back a slide when you meant to go forwards,
It's great for carrying around files to look at, but not so
great for doing real work on those files. I don't consider
any of the handhelds to be touch-typeable, and I have small
fingers. One of the Psions comes closest; my HP has small
"chiclet" style rectangles, like a calculator; not at all
My biggest concern with owning one would be the keyboard
size. I'd find it difficult to take notes at a reasonable
pace on the keyboards I've seen. I did see one model with a
fairly large keyboard.
I've found that the backlight on my monochrome unit actually
makes things harder to read (makes things look blurry).
WinCE (aptly named) is a resource hog.
They use solid state memory that is shared between RAM and
an emulated hard disk. So basically the more you store on
it the less RAM you have. So when you see an HPC with 16MB
of RAM, keep in mind that if you store 2 MB of Pocket Word
files on it, you have only 14MB of RAM available. Also, PC
cards drain the batteries in no time flat. If I put a modem
in mine and don't have it plugged in, it is drained in less
than 30 seconds. The AA batteries that some of them run on
just can't handle the load.
MAJOR drawback about color machines - short battery life, in
some cases, only a few hours (treat the manufacturer's
figures with a grain of salt). Especially if using a modem.
Pocket MS Word is little more than Word Pad. It has about 6
fonts, left, center and right justification, bullets and not
Pocket MS Outlook allows you to access to calendars, e-mail,
contact list, and to-do list.
Pocket Internet Explorer cannot display some of the more
recent developments in HTML code.