Five years ago: An earlybird view of USR's PalmPilot

PalmPilot comes in two editions, the 1Mb 'Professional' version and the 512Kb 'Personal' version

First published 11 March, 1997

We took delivery of one of the first PalmPilots (formerly Pilot) in the UK on Friday, and have used it nearly continually since. It looks almost identical to the older models: the only visible difference when off is a subtle star-splash on the power button. This indicates the major hardware change: there's now a cool blue-green backlight that lets you use your PalmPilot in total darkness. The case has been made stronger in various places where the original tended to crack, and the holder that retains the stylus is much more positive in grip.

The biggest difference is in the software. The address book, phone database and general interface are all enhanced with added views and functions: there's a whole month at a glance for the date book, and there are easier ways to switch between views. Links can be set up between the phone book and entries elsewhere, and there's a brand-new expense management application. As with the older Pilots, everything replicates to the desktop via the utility HotSync and the supplied cradle.

PalmPilot comes in two editions, the 1Mb 'Professional' version and the 512Kb 'Personal' version. The Professional also has e-mail software that can work with MAPI and VIM mailers, and a TCP/IP stack. These both work through the optional clip-on miniature 14.4kbps modem that's been shown in the US and is expected over here in around a month. The e-mail will also work through HotSync synchronising to the desktop: we got it going via Microsoft Exchange and a POP3 server on Demon Internet within a couple of hours (Readers who wish to e-mail our Pilot can do so via pilot@agricola.demon.co.uk).

The new features of the software are well thought out and useful, and the backlight is simply gorgeous. The exemplary HotLink feature which effortlessly links the PalmPilot to your PC works just as well as ever -- if the original was good, this new version is splendid. We'd like to see native POP3 support, GSM connectivity and Lotus Notes compatibility: like the Web browser, it can only be a matter of time.

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