To the Editor:
I enjoyed “Buying Your First PDA” [July/August 2001, page 50] and found that it echoed much of what I have been telling my colleagues over the last several months. However, I do take exception to the statement, “The difference between the Palm OS and Windows CE platforms is similar to the difference between Windows and Macintosh on personal computers. The two do not interface at all, nor can you interchange software written for them.”
While they cannot run the same software, they can exchange data, thanks to a program called HanDBase (www.ddhsoftware.com). This program allows Palm OS devices and Pocket PC devices running their respective versions of HanDBase to beam information back and forth so that users, regardless of their operating systems, can share data. To my knowledge, HanDBase is the only such program that can do this. There are other ways the different operating systems can share data as well, but this relates back to special server software, and direct beaming is not supported.
It is important for first-time buyers of personal digital assistants (PDAs) to understand the differences between the operating systems for handhelds and the limitations of each. Comparing the differences between Palm OS and Windows CE to the differences between Windows and Macintosh on personal computers is a useful heuristic for this purpose.
As Dr. Blair correctly points out, there are a few software packages that allow data to be beamed directly across divergent platforms – HanDBase is one. Another is Peacemaker Pro (www.conduits.com/ce/peacemaker/), which allows users to beam appointments and contact lists across different PDA platforms. We anticipate that in the future there will be more applications that can translate data; however, at this time most data cannot be directly shared across different PDA platforms. New users should be aware of this limitation, especially if sharing information with colleagues via a PDA is a need or requirement.