Wireless Gadget

Everyone loves them. There’s the classic Palm, the Palm III, the Palm IIIx, the sleek Palm V, and, of course, the Trekkie-fan Palm VII. You can’t help but love the fact that 3Com has marketed a hugely successful product all while driving Bill Gates and his minions at Microsoft up the Redmond walls. There’s an underdog morality play at work when a non-Windows operating system flourishes. But even 3Com’s latest Palm VII still sports that grainy, black-and-white screen that translates colorful Webpages into dull, gray, dumbed-down versions of themselves. For now, the die-hards embrace the simple elegance of the Palm. The organizer features are still the easiest to use. But if 3Com doesn’t add some bells and whistles, future success is uncertain.

UNDERRATED: Windows CE-based Palmtops
OK — it’s difficult to rejoice over yet another area where Microsoft threatens to dominate the world. But face it: The Windows CE-based palmtops are impressive in their functionality and complexity. Microsoft has convinced several computer makers to adopt Windows CE and put out palm computers that operate very much like minidesktops — color multimedia, word processing applications, and all. The result is a much more robust experience and a more Web-friendly one. Casio puts out a Windows CE-based palmtop called Cassiopeia (pictured) that even plays MP3 files. The hordes of computer makers lining up behind Windows CE are threatening to overwhelm the competition.

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