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When it comes to PDAs, there’s not much left to be thrilled about. Most of us now have a choice of color display or black and white, more or less internal memory, Palm OS or Pocket PC. However, within the last four months, Xircom (pronounced Zircom) — soon to be a part of Intel — has redefined the PDA category with the introduction of its new credit card-sized REX� 6000 Micro PDA. This small unit certainly packs a large punch. I love its portability — it easily fits in my shirt pocket without even being noticeable. It comes with a stylish leather case that gives the whole unit the look and feel of carrying a business card case. Its sleek design is actually made up of a type-II PC card, so you don’t need a cradle if you have a slot available. On the other hand, you may purchase an optional USB cradle if you have no PC slot to use. Its synchronization can be achieved either way, with ease of use and the ability to work nicely with Microsoft Outlook and several other PIM (personal information management) software packages. The unit weighs 1.4 ounces, or roughly 40 grams, and, without the cradle, ships for $149 (add $50 to include the cradle), making it a highly competitive unit in that price range, and thus holding its own against Palm Inc.’s m100 or the Handspring Visor Solo (all three of which come with 2 MB of RAM). The REX possesses seven “hot” keys to switch applications, five navigation buttons for one-handed operation and a 240-by-120 black-and-white LCD screen (which has an exceptionally clear picture). To enter and add appointments, to-do items and the like, you have the same touch-screen keyboard as the Palm system or the Pocket PC device. So, if you’re familiar with using that equipment, the REX will be a snap for you to use. The unit itself has a touch screen and stylus that enable users to input calendar items, address book items, to-do list information and memos. There’s also a world clock, excellent for the road warrior on the go, and a calculator, which eliminates the need to carry one with you. The REX comes with 2 MB of storage, enabling it to easily store thousands of contact names and records. It can also notify users of upcoming meetings and/or events. A nice additional feature to the PIM function is the REX’s ability to use a Web-clipping application similar to that found with AvantGo Inc.’s mobile Internet application. You can log on to www.rex.netand select a variety of web channel topics. However, the REX net will not allow users to create their own channels, as AvantGo does. LONG BATTERY LIFE Surprisingly, this small and well-designed unit has a battery life of approximately six months. The battery’s longevity could be because the REX 6000 uses two replaceable lithium-ion batteries, the same type used for wristwatches and easily found in most stores. If you like accessorizing your equipment, the unit has other peripherals that can be found on the Web site. Keep in mind that, although the unit is extremely portable, it’s limited, and is intended for basic personal information management functions. More demanding users who have a need for Internet connectivity, multimedia features or peripheral expansion in a handheld device are advised to look elsewhere. I originally looked at the REX product line when it was part of the Franklin Company and found it offered much too little at too large a price. After seeing what Xircom has done to the product — from their redesign of the entire unit to placing it in a competitive price range — I find the REX 6000 to be well worth the investment. For more information, contact XIRCOM, 2300 Corporate Center Drive, Thousand Oaks, Calif., www.rex.net Alan Pearlman is an attorney, computer consultant and nationally syndicated columnist. Telephone: (847) 205-4383 or visit him on the Web at homepage.interaccess.com/~pearlman.

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