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Windows CEntral (April 1999)

Love is in the air

There's a lot of love in the air this spring. In a product release that came astoundingly close to Valentine's Day, the first color Palmsize PC hit the market. While many of my colleagues on staff here at Pen Computing would debate the value of color when compared to the cost in battery life and daylight visibility, I liken the advantages to that of color TV. It is exciting, sexy, and it offers more intuitive ways to deliver information. Moreover, with the new screens on the Compaq and Everex devices, I would suggest that daylight viewing is even superior to most of the LCD screens. But color is just the first of many stimulating advances in the world of Windows CE. Many more announcements and quiet product releases have been surfacing in the first few months of 1999 and they all have a seductive quality that might draw you, uncontrollably, deeper into the platform.

We want the good stuff, too
Lusting from afar I am receiving more and more mail from people reading Pen Computing from abroad. I welcome our international readers with some very exciting news. The Chinese version of the Palmsize PC has capabilities that far exceed the devices here on our home shores. Because of the nationwide lack of PCs in China, Microsoft understands that many will use the Palmsize PC as their primary computing device. To this end, they have packed the Chinese version with a number of extra features including printing and faxing capabilities as well as a Web browser. Naturally, this begs the question of why our indigenous systems can not have the same exciting capabilities, but perhaps we will save that argument for another day, since I wouldn't want to ruin the happy moment. Having localized versions of a platform catered to the needs (rather than just the languages) of a region will result in broader platform acceptance. And, it must be said that assimilation into the Asian market is much more important because of the far broader acceptance and integration. Just ask Sharp, whose Wizard/Zaurus product sales far outnumber their Windows CE numbers because of their vast success in the Orient.

Upgraded CE section
Love on the Internet? Regardless of your location, we'd like to offer you love on the Internet. While we don't have people that will do unspeakable acts, we can offer some of the brightest men and women with talents ranging across the entire handheld community. I am proud to announce that Windows CEntral Online ( contains all of our past issue v2.0 product reviews and am pleased to see that our "Bull Pen" discussion group has become a hotbed for Windows CE questions and information. To further our resource, my Windows CE co-author Dom Giangrasso and I have a special "Web Only" section dedicated to the hardware and software that we use in our daily lives. (Just click on the "What the editors use" link in the Windows CE section.) I know it may not be as risquˇ as some of the other stuff you might find on the Web, but, trust me, you really wouldnÕt want to see Dom or me naked!

Talk from your HPC And while you're surfing the Net, point your browser to ( oem/products/dectalk/dtdemos.htm). Digital Equipment Corporation has developed "DECtalk," a text-to-speech technology that allows written text to be transformed into audible natural speech. The downloadable demo will verbalize any English text in a male voice, but the technology supports nine personalized voices (males, females, and a child) and support for other languages. Digital offers DECtalk for speech capability integration into any product and, since the demo includes a mock email message being read, I think we can all see where this technology will be applied!

But both of these products are going the right way. Computers are getting smaller and handhelds are integrating with other small electronic devices. Microsoft is, once again, charging off in the wrong direction. But since they control the entire army, no one is going to tell the emperor that he has no clothes.

Bye Bye AAs
The road less traveled? I'd like to close this month's Windows CEntral with a thought I had late last night, as all of these new devices danced around in my head. The platform is constantly using faster processors and more colors to provide real appeal to the standard computer user. As we have already seen in just one iteration of the handheld and palmsize platforms, proprietary Lithium Ion batteries are quickly becoming the new standard for power supplies. The flip side of this is that, since the new battery packs are different sizes, we are abandoning the "on the road" AA battery security replacement. No longer can I catch a flight with a warehouse club pack of AA batteries and compute without fear of the low power warning. Even worse, many of the Palmsize PCs are utilizing rechargeable backup batteries that only provide 60 seconds of memory protection; a scary thought, should your power go out while away from your AC adapter. Just a thought, lest you fear I have become so overwhelmed with my love of the platform that I no longer see the trees for the forest.

-Dan Hanttula is the platform editor for Windows CE and Magic Cap operating systems and the president of HomeRun Advertising.

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