A personal digital assistant (PDA) is a
portable computing device.
At this time, the software supports two types:
Palm VII and cell phones with "mini-browsers."
The Palm client is superior to the phone client
for the following reasons:
- HTML - The Palm accepts HTML and does not require
a specialized language.
- Display - The Palm's display is much larger
than most phones.
- Multiple field forms - The Palm can allow input of
more than one field per page, minimizing input labor.
The phone's advantages are:
- Keyboard - The phone keypad is very effective and
less tedious than Palm input. Well-designed phones, like the
Samsung SCH-3500, work by holding the phone in the left hand
and using the left thumb for input.
- Phone integration - Urls can be created that
dial the phone. The medical system can be used as a speed dialer.
- Proxy - The Palm transmits through a proxy server
to get to the internet server, to go back through the
proxy server, to be transmitted to the Palm.
This introduces a proprietary element - one must use
3com to obtain Palm services. All the phone service does
is provide an internet connection for internet enabled cell phones.
The cell phone service, or cell phone, can be swapped out as needed.
- Usage cost - The basic Palm contract is $9.95/month
for 50K of data with additional charges for using more.
The phone charges 10 cents/minute.
The phone is far less expensive to use.
- Speed - Due to the high speed link at the cell phone service
provider, the smallness of the phone web pages, lack of graphics,
and no need for a proxy server, the phone client appears to be
the fastest UnitedChart client.
- Batteries - The Palm requires costly,
environmetally damaging, disposable batteries.
Today's phones utilize long life rechargable batteries.
- Antenna charge timeout - Sometimes the Palm shuts
down to recharge its antenna.
Since Windows CE devices run Internet Explorer,
they really serve as PCs, not PDAs.
Looking at the contracts it appears the Palm is more
expensive to use, but further study is necessary to confirm.
The primary advantage of the Palm, that it accepts HTML,
is only a benefit when the application doesn't support
cell phones. Applications that write HTML still have to
recognize when a Palm is being used as a client to tailor
the results to fit the display.
Last update 02/16/00