The entry-level, $150 Palm m100 handheld organizer might seem to suggest that Palm has cut corners to be able to match the price
of the Handspring Visor (
; “Anywhere, Everywhere, Everything Palm,” July 2000). But the m100 proves to be a better device than even the most ardent techno-elitist would like to admit–especially for users who are new to the world of handheld computing.
The m100’s appearance makes it easy to pick this handheld out of the Palm lineup. Slightly taller and wider than the Palm V and with a curved shell, the slate-colored m100 is lightweight and comfortable in your hand. (You can add a removable faceplate in one of five bright colors for $20.) It includes a HotSync cable instead of an upright cradle, reducing desktop clutter and enhancing portability; however, you’ll still need to purchase a USB or serial adapter to connect it to your Mac.
If you’ve ever used a handheld, you’ll notice Palm’s main concession to price: compare the slightly smaller than 2-by-2-inch plastic screen with other Palms’ 21/4-by-21/4-inch glass screens. Even so, the display is crisp (the resolution is the same as in previous models) and workable. The plastic cover flips up and over the top of the device to rest flat against its back, not perched halfway like an automobile hood. And the built-in speaker is significantly louder than those in previous models, so you may actually hear the alarms you set.
The m100 includes only 2MB of memory and can’t be flash-upgraded (as most other Palm devices can) — in other words, it can’t be upgraded beyond Palm OS 3.5.1. However, that’s plenty of memory for basic functions, and expandability isn’t
an essential consideration for the m100’s target audience.
Functionally, the m100 works like every other Palm OS-based device, with a few notable exceptions. The Note Pad application allows you to write or draw on the screen as if it were a Post-it note and then synchronize to a similar Note Pad application (included) on your Mac. The omission of the Expense and Mail programs is vexing, but the Macintosh Palm Desktop software is included — something Palm should have been doing all along.
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