More Than A PDA!

Changes to the user interface an Pocket appications make the new Pocket PC much more than a PDA,

Yes, of course, you can check your appointments, look up a phone number, organize your tasks and do everything else a PDA does. But the new Windows Powered Pocket PC also lets you send and receive e-mail (with attachments), read and edit Word and Excel documents, listen to music, read eBooks, keep track of your finances, browse the Web, and more. It's a lot more than a PDA.

This article looks at the operating system (Windows CE), the user interface, and the standard applications and utilities Microsoft provides for each Pocket PC. Following this article are a series of "First Look" reviews of the physical Pocket PCs, the hardware developed by Casio, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Symbol Technologies. And following those are reviews of some of the new applications built into the Pocket PC.

But first things first. Let's take a look at the new Pocket PC.

The Pocket PC has a re-designed GUI (Graphical User Interface) that makes it easier to start applications and access features. As with all Microsoft Windows operating systems, the Start button is a quick way to open software applications. Microsoft moved the Start button on the Pocket PC from the bottom to the top of the screen. Tap on the Windows Logo in the top left of the screen and the Start menu drops down, letting you open applications and access folders (Screen 1). This may sound like a trivial change, but you're less likely to obscure the screen with your palm while using the Start menu. Notice the icons in the Start menu. Previously, icons, buttons, and scroll bars were three-dimensional, reducing the amount of screen space available for data. All GUI elements are now two dimensional, providing more screen space for the applications and making the display easier to look at.

The taskbar, another item common to all Windows operating systems, is usually found at the bottom of the screen. It provides information about open applications, connection status, time, and more. It's still there in the Pocket PC, but only at the bottom of the opening "Today" screen (Screen 2). Deleting it from other screens provides extra display space for the Pocket applications. However, you need to switch back to Today to perform some critical functions like disconnecting from a dialup connection.

To open documents and launch applications on a desktop PC you double click on icons and menus. On the Pocket PC you use single taps to make things a little quicker. The mouse on a desktop PC has a right-click button to access certain features of a program. The Pocket PC's tap-and-hold feature duplicates this right click functionality. Tap and hold on any document, file, task, appointment, or contact and the Edit menu appears (Screen 3). From the Edit menu you can copy, delete, or rename the file. You can even send the file or document via e-mail or infrared transmission. However, the tap-and-hold method is the only way you can access the Edit menu.

Pocket Outlook is the Pocket PC's Personal Information Manager and includes versions of Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Inbox optimized for the Pocket PC. Calendar lets you display your appointments in four views: Agenda (daily summary of appointments and tasks) Day, Week, and Month. The Year option displays a 12-month calendar, but not appointments. Contacts lets you organize name, address, phone number and other information about important contacts. A single tap on an item in your Contacts list opens a summary screen (Screen 4) displaying important information about the Contact. Another tap takes you to the data entry screen. You can add notes to any Calendar, Contacts and Tasks item. These can be straight text, handwritten "ink" and Voice memos (new to the Pocket PC). You can bold the display font in any Pocket Outlook application to make it more readable, but you cannot increase the size. As mentioned earlier, all Pocket appli


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