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Trogon Palm Power!
Hardware Review
by Rick Smith (May 1999)

Finally a pocket CE device with the proper form factor. In fact, Trogon Computer considers it to be so similar to 3Com's (US Robotics) Palm Pilot devices that they call it the Palm Power! But it is depressing to find out that this model is being discontinued. I hope it is being replaced by another unit with more capabilities and hopefully better battery life. Maybe it will even contain the new version of Windows CE code named "Cedar".

While this device is quite similar to the Everex unit, this Palm Power! is based on the MIPS R4000 (although the box says a NEC VR4111) processor with 16 Mb of RAM (8 Mb ROM) and an 240x320 monochrome LCD backlit (blue-green) screen. Measuring 3.125 x 4.8 x 0.6 inches (79.4mm x 121.92mm x 15.24mm) and being only 4.9 ounces (139 grams) in weight, this unit performed reasonably well running CE V2.0. With Microsoft's extensions to Visual C++ and Visual Basic which allow CE support, software can be developed for this unit to make it a powerful workhorse for data logging or inventory control applications, in addition to being a useful PDA. While this black unit includes a PIM application which you can use to enter contacts, schedule meetings, make notes and handle email, it can also be used as a voice recorder. This recorded data can even be send via email. The adjustable charger base (6.1 ounces (173 grams) empty), which can hold additional batteries, is quite reminiscent of a Palm unit. The other built-in applications included a playable solitaire and a standard 9 digit calculator with square root.

They only real problem I found was related to batteries. Yes, CE devices burn power. While I am used to the lightweight power consumption of a Hewlett Packard 200LX, this device went through its rechargeable battery very quickly. When the unit sat idle for two weeks, outside its charger, it also used up its backup battery, losing all information inside. (When I received the unit it appeared to have been "checked out" so I am not sure how long a "burn-in" test was performed, which might have reduced the backup battery performance.) Since the power consumption of CE devices is quite different to what I am used to, I would advise docking on a very frequent basis (daily) and backing up your information at the same time. CE devices need to be used to carry a portable copy of your data, not the only master copy.

The external buttons made looking up a "to do", contact, note or calendar every easy. Docking worked well and the initial installation didn't take very long.

Missing were the usual built-in applications I would expect in a PDA such as a spreadsheet and a word processing application. It appears that these applications are not shipped with any CE devices in this form factor, only the units with keyboards. While entering either of these types of files may be time consuming without a keyboard, data could be entered into an existing spreadsheet (created by a different computer) and used in the field by the Palm Power!. I have Excel loaded on my pen-based Concerto and have used it on occasion. I also have several spreadsheets and document files on my HP200LX that are used all the time, even though I created some of them on a different computer.

While I think this form factor is great, many people may want to have a color device with much lower power requirements. This unit did have the useful feature of voice recording. While devices of this size are not ready for real time voice recognition, the small compact form factor was quite reasonable for a memory jogger when you are "very" mobile and don't have the time or hands available to "write it down".

Pro
Size 3.125 x 4.8 x 0.6 inches (79.4mm x 121.92mm x 15.24mm)
Weight (only 4.9 ounces (139 grams))

Con
Battery life
Lack of Office Applications

Manufacturer:
Trogon Computer

Copyright 1999 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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