Demo '97: Win CE handhelds enhanced

Guy Kewney reporting from Palm Springs, California

With the Microsoft Windows CE platform only three months old, Demo couldn't really ignore the technology just because this reporter thinks it doesn't work, so several improvements on basic CE showed up.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) showed its wide-screen version, and Philips showed a lightweight version. Neither product is a match for existing pocket systems, even so. The HP product will be out mid-year and while it's definitely nicer than other CE boxes, you still have the problem of short battery life, clumsy data transfer, and a machine too big for the normal pocket.

But there was an innovation - someone built the CE software into a phone. It's a phone, except it has a VGA size touch-sensitive display and a keyboard. This makes it the only CE machine with a usable keyboard size and it looked as it if might even be useful. But it was useful because it was a computer-driven phone, not because it was Windows.

What it does it trade heavily on Caller ID, so that you can pre-programme a series of responses. Why you would want to do this with an expensive telephone rather than connect a relatively simply receiver to an existing PC, wasn't clear.