Florida-based URThere is offering a new Pocket PC with a rather nice built-in feature: a full-size PC Card slot.
Most PDA brands now offer some method of adding expansion cards, but the beauty of URThere's hand-held is that everything is neatly tucked into a single case. No need for extra sleds (like the Compaq iPaq or the Hewlett-Packard Jornada). No need for proprietary cards (like the Handspring Visor).
URThere's @migo-600C will work with any of the hundreds of PC Cards already on the market. And the device is one of the best deals out there--$499.
That might seem like a lot for a PDA, but consider that the Compaq iPaq and the HP Jornada sell for $600 to $650--and then you have to pay an extra $150 to $200 for the expansion card sled.
The addition of the card slot is a very nice feature for those who intend to use their Pocket PC for more than just basic PDA functions, allowing users to slip in a wireless antenna, a video-out card for hand-held presentations or a dial-up modem card so the device can "phone home" and synchronize data.
Out of the box, the @migo-660C is equipped with 32 megabytes of RAM. It features a removable lithium-ion battery that the maker says gives eight hours of "normal" usage.
Not all Pocket PCs allow you to pop in a spare battery when one runs low, and it's a great feature for serious PDA users.
Like all Pocket PC devices, the @migo-600C is equipped with a built-in microphone and speaker (for sound recording and playback), a headset jack and the basic Pocket PC applications: miniature versions of Microsoft's Word, Excel and Outlook programs.
A small jog wheel on the side enables users to move easily through lists of addresses, tasks or files.
The front-panel controls include a mouse equivalent to move a cursor across the screen and four hot buttons to quickly access contacts, to-do items, notes and the calendar.
Although not as slender as the iPaq, the @migo-600C still fits comfortably in a shirt pocket. The unit packs several control buttons on the left side, including power, the voice recorder, brightness and a hot button to activate the media player.
This arrangement can lead to a user accidentally powering on the device or recording a voice memo by pressing the wrong button at the wrong time.
It's impressive that the firm includes a tutorial CD along with the standard Microsoft ActiveSync synchronization software and desktop Outlook application.
About the only flaw I found in the device is that the color display, though certainly sharp, could be a bit brighter. It's readable and usable, but it lacks the brilliance and brightness of the iPaq and Jornada screens.
Of course, it also costs much less than those models.
Mark A. Kellner is a freelance technology writer and hosts "Mark Kellner on Computers" at http://www.adrenalineradio.com from 5 to 6p.m. Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.