Mobile computing notebook substitutes pcworld

On nearly every journey of more than two days, I lug my painfully heavy desktop-replacement Dell Inspiron and a bunch of accessories. The Inspiron accompanies me often on client visits as well, because invariably I’ll need to refer to a file stored on its hard drive.

But the back/shoulder pain that results from carrying the Inspiron, not to mention the airport security hassles, has me in search of a viable notebook alternative.

Lately, Palm’s new Tungsten T3 ($399) and a few other PDAs with laptop-like qualities have caught my eye. These devices weigh far less than even the smallest subnotebook. Their batteries last significantly longer seagate hard disk bad sector repair software free download. And most offer at least some way to access the Internet. This week I look at the Tungsten T3 as a notebook alternative, along with some other contenders. [ Further reading: The best Android phones for every budget. ]


But first, a splash of cold water: Keep in mind that none of these devices provide anywhere near the level of typing comfort or display space that a notebook can. Internet access won’t be nearly as fast. And some file formats simply aren’t supported.

In short, you must make compromises when taking a notebook alternative on the road. But with the latest generation of laptop-like PDAs, the compromises are a lot easier to take free download data recovery software full version with licence key. Palm Tungsten T3’s Stretch Screen

The Tungsten T3’s expandable display, coupled with the newest version of DataViz’s Documents To Go (preinstalled on the T3), an external keyboard, and an Internet connection, makes Palm’s newest high-end PDA a real notebook alternative contender–to a degree.

The T3’s coolest feature is its stretch screen. With one hand on the PDA’s bottom, you pull the T3’s top section up to reveal additional screen real estate. The gorgeous color display automatically expands from just over 3 inches to nearly 4 inches (measured diagonally). This additional viewing area is achieved by making the Graffiti 2 writing area disappear samsung phone data recovery software free download. You can input data by writing Graffiti-style anywhere on the screen, calling up the Graffiti area, or using the on-screen keyboard.

The T3’s transflective color display screen offers 320-by-480-pixel resolution. By comparison, most competitive high-end handhelds feature a screen resolution of 320 by 240 pixels. The higher a screen’s resolution is, the more information that can be displayed and the crisper the image.

More importantly, just tapping an icon allows you to switch the T3’s display mode from portrait to landscape, giving you four ways to view Palm applications that support the stretch screen–a benefit for mobile professionals in particular.

For example, a typical Palm screen can display 13 rows of a spreadsheet file. When the T3’s screen is slid open, you can view 21 rows of that same spreadsheet. The extra space translates to easier viewing and less scrolling.

Upshot: The T3 display’s gorgeous color display and innovative flexibility are enough to make editing documents more comfortable than on any other PDA. And in my opinion, easily creating and editing Microsoft Office documents is the number-one priority of any notebook alternative. (AlphaSmart’s Dana, a Palm OS-based device, has a large display too–but it’s monochrome and the device isn’t as easily carried as the T3. There’s more about the Dana in " Other Notebook Alternatives.")

Speaking of editing documents, the new DataViz Documents To Go 6.0, currently included on Palm’s T3 and the new Tungsten E (and available for purchase separately), supports the T3’s stretch display.

As with previous versions, Documents To Go enables Palm users to create, open, view, and edit Word and Excel files. Version 6.0 also lets you use native Word and Excel files directly on the Palm. (Previous versions required that all Office files be converted into a Documents To Go format.)

This new feature offers several benefits. Among them is the ability to back up your files onto a Secure Digital memory card for transfer to other devices. Should you lose or break your T3 while on the road, docs stored on an SD card as native Word or Excel files can be transferred to a Windows PC, as long as an SD card reader is attached to the computer. Then, on the PC, you could open, view, edit, or e-mail the files.

You can also attach native Word or Excel files to an e-mail from your Tungsten T3 or E and, with an Internet connection, send it off 17 free data recovery software tools. The recipient of your e-mail could open the file attachment just as if it had been sent from another PC. (Previously, you had to subscribe to DataViz’s Inbox To Go wireless service to achieve this.)

Upshot: Documents To Go 6.0, with its support for the T3’s stretch display, plays an important role in making this PDA a viable notebook alternative. Palm’s External Keyboards

The Tungsten T3 lacks the built-in keyboard that some other Palm models offer (the Tungsten C, for example). So to use the T3 as a notebook alternative, you’ll need an external keyboard.

Palm offers two choices, both of which I’ve tested: the Wireless Keyboard ($69) and the Ultra-Thin Keyboard ($99) power data recovery software full version free download. Each is more compact, and thus less comfortable to type on, than Targus’s Stowaway–the roomiest PDA keyboard I’ve used to date. A Targus spokesperson tells me the company will offer a Stowaway compatible with the T3 in the first quarter of 2004 for $80.

Of the two Palm keyboards, however, my preference is the Ultra-Thin Keyboard. It’s much thinner than Palm’s wireless model, as its name implies, so it’s easier to carry. And the T3 fits more snugly in the Ultra-Thin’s connector than on the wireless keyboard’s PDA shelf.

But both keyboards take some getting used to. Neither one includes dedicated number keys, for instance. Numbers share the same key as characters and are entered by holding down the blue function key.

Also, if you’re concerned about battery power, the Wireless Keyboard isn’t your best bet. It uses an infrared connection, and frequent infrared port access puts a noticeable drain on the T3’s battery. But if you want to be able to type on the T3 when the display is in either landscape or portrait mode, then you should consider the Wireless Keyboard. The keyboard’s infrared reader can be positioned to communicate with the T3 when it’s in either of its display modes.

Pricing: Check our Product Finder for the latest prices on Palm’s Wireless Keyboard (about $50 at press time) and Ultra-Thin Keyboard ($90 to $115 at press time) free to use data recovery software. T3 Connectivity Options

The T3 doesn’t include built-in Wi-Fi or moble phone capabilities. But it does feature integrated Bluetooth connectivity, which lets you use a Bluetooth cell phone as a wireless modem to access the Internet, Palm says. (A list of devices compatible with Bluetooth Palm handhelds is at the PalmOne site.)

Another connectivity option is the Palm Modem Connectivity Kit ($99), a dial-up 56-kbps modem. The Palm Modem ensures Internet access anywhere there’s a dial tone–but it feels rather retro in this wireless PDA era.

I wasn’t able to test the T3’s connectivity with a Bluetooth cell phone in time for this newsletter external hard disk bad sector repair software free download. Even so, I have reservations. The majority of cell phones today still don’t include Bluetooth, so your choices are limited. And this setup requires you to use two devices–the T3 and the phone–to make an Internet connection. A single combination cell phone/PDA would be much more convenient. But those devices lack the versatile display that makes the T3 such a strong notebook alternative player.

Maybe one day Palm will come out with a T3-like device with a built-in Internet on-ramp. Until then, if you truly don’t want to carry a notebook and can live with the compromises I’ve described, get a T3–or consider another alternative.

The T3 isn’t the only potential laptop replacement, of course. A few others to consider include AlphaSmart’s Dana Wireless, Handspring’s Treo 600, and a Pocket PC device with a wireless modem and a keyboard external hard disk repair software free download. Read on for details.

AlphaSmart’s Dana Wireless. The Dana Wireless ($429) is, in essence, a full-sized keyboard with a 560-by-160 pixel monochrome screen that measures 8 inches diagonally (about 7.5 inches wide and 2.5 inches top to bottom).

Though geared for the education market, the Palm OS 4.1-based device’s built-in 802.11b chip makes it a compelling device for business users, too. For typing comfort, no PDA add-on (even the superior Targus Stowaway) can compete with the Dana’s full-sized keyboard. But viewing documents on Dana’s monochrome screen is like watching your favorite shows on a black-and-white TV. And I’ve been too spoiled by Palm OS 5.0 to appreciate turning back the clock with a Palm OS 4.1 device.

For my review of the Dana (an earlier version without Wi-Fi) read " AlphaSmart’s Ultra Handy Notebook Alternative." For more information about the Dana Wireless, go to the AlphaSmart site.

Handspring’s Treo 600. This new device is getting lots of attention for sleekly combining a cell phone and Internet access with a Palm OS 5.2-based PDA with a built-in keyboard–and a digital camera, to boot. The Treo 600’s form factor is more of a cell phone than a PDA, so you wouldn’t want to work on office documents for long on this device without an external keyboard. But the Treo 600’s built-in connectivity (via Sprint PCS and, soon, other cellular service providers) is a plus for checking e-mail and limited Web surfing.

For more details on the Treo 600, read " Handspring Unveils Next-Gen Treo"; and for a hands-on review, see this week’s Handhelds section best and fastest data recovery software. You can check our Product Finder for current prices.

A Pocket PC getdataback recovery software free download. Add a wireless modem and an external keyboard, and you’ve got yet another notebook alternative. Sprint offers a CompactFlash modem that delivers the wireless Internet to the Cassiopeia’s E200, Hewlett-Packard’s IPaqs and the now-defunct Jornada 560, and Toshiba’s E740. The modem is $180 with service activation; data-only service plans begin at $40 per month.

As for keyboards, Targus makes a Stowaway ($70) for IPaq models, and MobilePlanet offers a wide variety of Pocket PC keyboards. The Last Word

As you can see, there is no shortage of notebook alternatives. But none will give you all the features and functions of a portable PC, so you’ll have to decide what’s most important. Is editing Word or Excel files away from the office your top priority? Then a Tungsten T3 or Dana may best serve your needs. Is reading and replying to e-mail on the go your chief concern? Then you’d be better off with a Treo 600 or some other combination cell phone/PDA.

In the meantime, do you use a PDA or other device in lieu of a notebook? If so, I want to hear about your experience. Please e-mail me and let me know how it’s going.