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To PDA or Not to PDA?

By Natasha Thompson

It's coming... I don't know when but it's on its way. I know it's small, a couple ounces and very quiet. What does it really look like? Should I give it a name? Oh yes, my own PALM courtesy of PALM Japan.

For a week, I get to try out the Palm on my own. I'm not a gadget person, I always ask other people for recommendations, I stick to popular brands and model #s to the tee and sometimes, I make decisions based on price and durability only. At the same time, purchases have been made without much concern for conventional thought. Instead more focus was given to trying out various products and deciding what is really important to me.

As soon as I set up the PALM, I'll see how versatile the dictionary is. Some dictionaries are more helpful than others, right? Well, that's another article. I'm hoping that I can look up Japanese words in English, English words in Japanese, Japanese grammar in English and kanji in English from one source. Studying Japanese would be less daunting if I didn't have to stay hunched over several books at a stuffy library. PDAs certainly have the memory to store large amounts of data. User interfaces help to navigate through the information efficiently. "Chicklet" keyboards are available to make typing more convenient. Chances are a list of new grammar terms and vocab could be tracked, saved and printed for future reference. I'm anxiously waiting to test this feature on the PALM.

Besides the word searches, I'm keen on checking if there's a kanji dictionary. Can I have the stroke order and the meaning of kanji right at my fingertips? This would be any language student's dream. Just think: many more of us would be more inclined to read books in Japanese and my notes would be easier to read. I'm pretty confident that all this can be done.

As enthusiastic as I am about PDAs, there is a limit to how much I'm willing to pay. PDAs are advertised to be able to store several books and dictionaries, games, send email, surf the internet, create a database, organize information, connect to your PC and the list goes on. Is the PDA sold packed with all these features when you start it up? It looks soooo compact and unpretentious! I'm afraid that I'll need to buy this wireless card or this upgrade or this chicklet keyboard to really maximize the use of the PDA. That's fine for now since the PALM is on loan for a couple of days. What if I really get to like it? I have to keep in mind that more has to be spent on peripheral equipment to make it meet my expectations. Knowing how I shop, I'll probably end up hesitating until the price drops.

Can the PALM really make my life run smoothly? To make a fair judgment, I jotted down typical characteristics that would interest a first time owner. Battery life, design, number of useful features, difficulty navigating your way around without the manual or help wizard, retrieving information, and compatibility with your PC, and word searches using the dictionary. Time will be spent experimenting with the PALM to see how well it performs. And, a brief summary will be included in the next issue.

© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

June , 2002

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor

Tokyo PC Users Group, Post Office Box 103, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-8691, JAPAN