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Ditching the Laptop

A technophile test drives the "one device" concept

by Al Hernandez

Posted May 23, 2003

Most mobile professionals carry an arsenal of gadgets to make their life easier on the road. I find myself, like many of you, carrying a laptop, PDA, cell phone, batteries, chargers, MP3 player, voice recorder, and a projector to tradeshows and airports. Last year during PC Expo in New York I began wondering what would life be like I didn't carry all this equipment and weight. What if I could do my job effectively by carrying only one or two devices? Most of us have settled for receiving email on either a Palm i705 or Blackberry device but would never think of writing lengthy emails or any other types of documents.

I decided to see if I could leave my trusty laptop and all of the other gear I am accustomed to carrying for one trade show and still have the ability to write and post stories, send email, and give a presentation during the show. Equipped with a Kyocera 7135 smartphone, MARGI Presenter to Go SD unit, and a keyboard, I decided to tackle a trade show at Moscone Center in San Francisco. This cut my weight and bulk down considerably; instead of carrying a laptop bag I simply carried one small carrying case for my universal infrared keyboard and AC adapter.

Kyocera 7135 smartphone

Kyocera's 7135 smartphone is the latest of the Palm OS-driven PDA/cell phones and is one of the first that could easily pass for a regular cell phone because of its clamshell design. The 7135's display is a standard 160-by-160-pixel, 65,000-color LCD, which is about the same size as those in Palm's m100. Running Palm OS 4.1 allows the 7135 take advantage of a large variety of Palm applications available. I loaded it with DataViz's Office Suite to create, view, and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, Text Plus from Smart Cell Technology for enhanced text input, and CopyTalk, a software/service solution that allows you to listen and reply to email, dictate contacts, to-dos and memos via a phone then synchronizes to your PDA and Outlook.

The 7135 is based on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and can connect to the Internet at 3G speeds on 1xRTT wireless networks such as Verizon Wireless. While at the tradeshow I experienced speeds right above what I would expect from a 56 Kbps modem-plenty of speed for email and light Web browsing. The phone came pre-loaded with some web clipping applications including MapQuest, American Airlines Flight, and Bloomberg News. Also included was Eudora Web Mail that let me send and receive email from my POP3 email account and the Blazer Internet Browser from Handspring.

The 7135 is powered by a detachable lithium-ion battery that swaps in seconds, unlike the built-in batteries of other multipurpose phones all I had to carry was an extra battery instead of a bulky charger. The single battery lasted through entire day of phone calls, email, note taking, and a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation.

The Kyocera 7135 supports peripheral expansion through SD and MultiMedia cards, which can supplement the 7135's 16MB of built-in RAM that I used for additional photos and MP3s. Although the 7135's expansion card slot does not support SDIO (Secure Digital Input/Output), which is required for peripherals such as Toshiba / Palm Bluetooth SD card, it does support MARGI's Presenter to Go SD unit.

Presenter to Go SD Unit

The Margi Presenter to Go SD is a US$199 kit that enables your PDA to easily connect to either a monitor or projector. The tiny SD module, the size of a pack of gum, plugs into the Kyocera 7135 or any Palm or Pocket PC Device with an SD slot and connects to the VGA input on a projector or computer monitor. Other Presenter to Go models are available for Compact Flash, PC Card, Sony Memory Stick, and Handspring Springboard.

The hardware consists of an SD card to convert the Kyocera 7135 video to SVGA or XVGA, short VGA cables for connecting to a monitor or projector directly or through a standard video cable, an AC power adapter, and a credit card-sized remote control to navigate the presentation.

Setup was surprisingly easy. The entire process was a completely automated routine that loaded software and appropriate drivers on both my desktop and the docked Kyocera 7135. If you are accustomed to using PowerPoint, you can create a presentation as usual. The only minor tradeoff that I found was although I created my presentation in PowerPoint the presenter software did not convert the PDA version of the presentation with some of the typical PowerPoint extras I added such as animations, transitions, or sounds. This is to keep the presentation file size on your PDA small, which is wise on a 16MB Palm handheld.

Once I finished creating my presentation on my laptop, all I had to do was click on the icon that Margi adds to the standard toolbar, then follow the steps onscreen to name the presentation and synchronize with my 7135. The MARGI software also allows you to create presentations without PowerPoint. During the installation process MARGI adds a Windows printer choice called Presenter-to-Go. I was able to create individual slides from Word, Excel, and Photoshop by "printing" each one to the Presenter-to-Go printer choice. This took me to the same dialog box as the icon from PowerPoint, where I used the Create button for the first slide and the Append button to add each additional slide to the presentation.

With my presentation loaded onto the 7135 I was able to reorganize the images and choose certain slides to hide giving me the opportunity to make a few last minute changes to the presentation while on the train ride up to Moscone Center.

Once at the tradeshow, setting up took just under two minutes. I inserted the SD card unit into the Kyocera 7135, then connected the cables to the projector and the AC adapter. The software then allowed me to set the resolution for the projector as well as gave me a choice of running the presentation automatically by pressing buttons on the Kyocera 7135, or with the remote control that came in very handy.

Although I am not ready to completely trade in my laptop yet, this experience convinced me that I could carry less around a tradeshow and still stay on top of my work and email. As an additional note this story was written during the tradeshow on the 7135 using a PocketTop wireless keyboard. -

-Al Hernandez

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