capsule review

Palm IIIe Organizer

At a Glance
  • Palm Computing Adobe Photoshop 5.0 LE

The Palm III handheld organizer built on the success of earlier Palm models with its infrared-beaming capability. The Palm IIIx took things to the next level with an expansion slot and an improved display. However, both came with premium prices that placed them out of reach for most consumers.

The Palm IIIe changes that. Selling for just $199, it lacks the Palm IIIx's expansion slot but features the great display and infrared capability you'll find in its siblings. In addition to a gray model, some U.S. stores are offering a Special Edition, also for $199, that features a transparent case. With the release of the IIIe, Palm has also reduced the IIIx's price from $369 to $299.

So what do you give up with the Palm IIIe? The IIIx's expansion slot provided an extra 2MB of RAM, but unless you need to store large databases, you really don't need all that memory. The IIIe's built-in 2MB of RAM lets you store thousands of contacts and to-do items, with plenty of room left over. The lack of an expansion slot even allows for greater reliability: because there is no expansion slot in the Palm IIIe, there is no RAM card to come loose after repeated bumps and drops.

Our biggest complaint about the Palm IIIe is the stylus. Instead of the IIIx's metal-and-plastic stylus, you get a cheap-looking, solid black plastic model. It's not just a matter of aesthetics: the better stylus's removable top conceals a convenient reset pin, which comes in handy if you run an application that causes the Palm to crash or freeze. Palm offers a $9.95 three-pack of the high-quality styluses, which we recommend.

Unlike the well-publicized Visor from Handspring, which features a USB connection, all Palm devices are serial-only, which means you'll need to purchase a USB-to-serial adapter to sync with Mac models that lack a serial port (adapters sell for $35 to $80). Like other Palm handhelds, the Palm IIIe doesn't include Mac-savvy directions, nor does it come with Mac software. However, Palm's MacPac 2 desktop-synchronization software is available for free download from Palm's Web site.

January 2000 page: 44

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Affordable
    • High-contrast screen

    Cons

    • Mac software and serial and USB connections optional
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