The big items -- contact manager, address book, to-do list -- are all built into the Palm. Most Palms also now come bundled with DataViz’s Documents To Go, which converts Word, Excel and PowerPoint files for use on the handheld device. Once you've transferred a file to your Palm, you can work on it in either location and the software ensures that the latest changes are synchronised. Whole (published) novels have been written on Palms using this type of software. The $29.99 (~£16.50) Standard Edition converts just Word and Excel, while the $49.99 (~£28) Premium Edition handles PowerPoint, Outlook email, Excel-style charts, images and PDFs too.
A key reason for travelling with a notebook for many business-folk is the need to give presentations. Margi's Presenter-to-Go, which is a steady seller at £156.45 (inc. VAT) for Expansys, allows you to use your Palm to drive presentations.
There are many shareware packages that will do personal finance on the Palm platform, but the best of the lot seems to be Landware’s Pocket Quicken, which works seamlessly with Quicken on the computer to let you update expenses, cash withdrawals, credit card expenditures and other details while you're travelling.
Internet & communication
The email software, VersaMail, that comes bundled with current Palms is extremely good. It handles ordinary POP3 connections and makes it easy to display, read and reply to email messages from multiple accounts (although each account has a separate display and mail has to be collected separately from each one). The Tungsten C also has Wi-Fi built in that’s very easy to set up, making it possible to collect mail using your handheld from the increasing number of public Wi-Fi hotspots. For detecting Wi-Fi hotspots reliably, the $10 (~£5.50) Netchaser does a terrific job.
The high-resolution colour screens on modern Palms can free you from carrying maps around. Several companies make software that puts street maps and maps of the underground rail systems on the Palm in an eminently readable fashion. For London, the two main contenders are Westering’s $20 (~£11) London Tube Guide and Street Map and Visual IT’s Tube. Visual IT also makes underground railway and street maps for many other cities around the world -- Amsterdam, Toronto and Tyne&Wear, to name a few -- at prices varying from £7 to £14.
As the amount of memory in handhelds increases (the Tungsten C ships with 64MB), the ability to delete unwanted programs in ROM becomes less important. However, if you do want to do such a thing, the $8 (~£4.50) program JackSprat can help. Its companion program, the $20 (~£11) JackFlash, allows you to move applications and databases into the unused portion of the Flash ROM that ships with your Palm, ensuring that they will survive a battery failure. If you are not travelling with a notebook (the whole point of this exercise) and you don’t want to rely on being able to synchronise over the Internet, then JackFlash will also back up your data onto an SD card. The other useful facility not bundled with a Palm is the ability to print directly. PrintBoy, at $39.99 (~£22), connects via Wi-Fi to any printer with its own IP address on your network, by point-and-shoot infrared, or via Bluetooth if your handheld and printer support it. PrintBoy works with most printer models from HP, Epson, Lexmark, Canon and Ricoh; it also supports PostScript and Documents To Go, as well as QuickOffice and Wordsmith and other productivity software.
Finally, something to keep you occupied while waiting for the train. Try Astraware’s selection -- probably the most addictive games are its renderings of PopCap’s interactive games.