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The Palm i705 is a wireless marvel packed into a sleek, silvery, stylish, 5.9 ounce, 3-inch by 5-inch case. You get the speed and responsiveness of the Palm Operating System, plus the ability to retrieve e-mail and information from the Web wherever you are. Although the device could be improved on a few fronts (like a color screen, for starters), I believe that the i705 is a terrific upgrade from the older Palm VII series and a fantastic alternative to popular BlackBerry-type devices. LOOKS CAN BE EVERYTHING … The Palm i705 ( www.palm.com/products/palmi705/) is smaller than the older Palm VII series and only slightly larger than the m500 series. It is encased in a slick-looking aluminum-colored plastic case with a white “beret” on the top (which houses the wireless antenna and infrared port). The familiar Palm buttons are down at the bottom of the i705 except that two of them have taken on different functions having to do with the wireless features of the unit. The graffiti area still lives in its familiar space, and the only difference is that the old calculator button has been replaced by a “Star,” which allows you to jump immediately to a favorite application. On the right side of the unit, the i705 sports a slot that takes either Secure Digital (see searchstorage.techtarget.com/ sDefinition/0,,sid5_gci837971,00.html) or MultiMediaCard ( whatis.techtarget.com/ definition/0,,sid9_gci837119,00.html) memory cards. This comes in handy when you need extra storage space. Palm also offers “expansion cards” ( www.palm.com/products/ accessories/expansioncards/) for the slot, with such things as dictionaries, games and even a Bluetooth card. Palm made a good decision by including their Universal Connector with the i705. The Universal Connector is standard on Palm m500 products, which means that just about every peripheral and add-on product that works with the m500 series will work with the i705, including the all-important HotSync cradles. The biggest gripe I’ve heard from both techie and non-techie camps concerns the monochrome, grayscale screen of the i705. The product is not that old, but Palm elected to go with the monochrome screen over the beauty and allure of color. Of course, the absence of color means that the i705 can go for almost a whole week of normal use on one battery charge (no option for AAA batteries), but it can be hard to justify the i705 over the snazzier color options like a Sony Clie ( www.sonystyle.com/home/ item.jsp?itemid=42573) or a Pocket PC ( www.verizonwireless.com/ thera/popup.html). SIZZLIN’ AND SO-SO SOFTWARE The Palm i705 comes with a hearty helping of software both inside and out. Internally, the i705 runs version 4.1 of the Palm OS, which is streamlined, efficient and soundly stable. If you desire speed and access to your information over fancy “start” menus and bloated system software, then the Palm OS is definitely the way to go. Inside, you’ll find all of the familiar pieces of the Palm OS in the i705 like the Clock, Date Book, Memo Pad and To Do List. The connection between your PC and Palm i705 is handled by the Palm Desktop Software ( www.palm.com/software/desktop/) which includes the necessary HotSync component. I personally don’t care too much for the Palm Desktop application since I already use Outlook for everything, but I don’t believe you can install HotSync without getting the whole Palm Desktop package, which is unfortunate. After installing the Palm Desktop software, I elected to use Pumatech’s Intellisync ( www.pumatech.com/ is_desktop_main.html) to handle synching operations between Outlook and the i705. It worked beautifully and much faster than any Pocket PC synching process I’ve witnessed. Last but not least, the i705 features software for the wireless generation — namely a “browser” for Web Clipping components and MultiMail Deluxe to handle e-mail. I’ll dive into these juicy applications in just a bit, but I also wanted to mention that the i705 also includes a stripped down version of the AOL Instant Messenger, which will allow you to chat with your buddy list while you’re on the go. You’ll also be able to sign onto your AOL account through the i705 to get limited access to the AOL service. PLEASE REMAIN CALM, IT’S JUST MY WIRELESS PALM It’s hard to really describe the giddy feeling one gets the first time you download your e-mail while you’re standing on the street, away from your desk, PC and wires. But this feeling is achievable with the Palm i705 and it is real. I think Palm did a good job with the e-mail capabilities of the i705 and it is certainly the gleaming selling point for the product. Before you can even think about getting e-mail on the i705, you’ll need to “activate” the unit — which you’ll be prompted to do the first time you install and use the Palm Desktop software and initiate a HotSync. The activation process is fairly painless and only takes a few minutes. Part of the activation process involves selecting a service plan for your wireless usage. When the process is completed, you’ll be a new subscriber to the Palm.net ( www.palm.net) service and the proud owner of a “@palm.com” e-mail account. The wireless plans ( www.palm.com/products/ palmi705/wireless.html) from Palm are fairly competitive with other similar services on today’s market. You will pay a one-time $9.99 setup fee and then choose among three service plans (think of it as similar to selecting a wireless plan for your cell phone, just a little simpler). The first plan costs $19.99 per month, but you’re limited to only 100 kilobytes of data for the month (which is roughly only about 25 to 50 e-mail messages), and you’re charged 20 cents for every additional KB that passes through the system. This will be totally inadequate for just about every user, so the better decision is to go with the unlimited plan that costs $39.99 per month. The unlimited plan costs $34.99 per month if you sign your life away on a yearly contract. The wireless service is provided through Cingular’s Mobitex network, which is only capable of 9600 baud, or 9.6 kilobytes per second. Obviously, this is no place for heavy or serious Web surfing, and even e-mails can sometimes take a while to download (although settings for downloading graphics and e-mail attachments can be tweaked to save time). Incidentally, this is the same wireless network that BlackBerrys ( www.blackberry.com/ products/index.shtml) use. It just appears that the BlackBerry works faster because it downloads e-mail before it actually notifies you about new messages. UNLEASH THE E-MAIL There are several great options for receiving e-mail on the Palm i705, and the company did an excellent job of accommodating most users. Probably the most exciting e-mail option on the i705 is that the unit can be set to receive e-mail all the time, even when the device is turned off. The Palm.net service can “push” e-mail to the i705, and you can be alerted to new messages by either an audible sound, a vibration or a flashing LED on top of the unit. My favorite option was that the i705 allowed me to set up my personal POP3 e-mail account on the unit. You can have up to six of these accounts and choose to have them go through your Palm.net service, or just download e-mail straight to the unit. If you choose to come in straight to the i705, you’ll forfeit the option to be alerted to new messages. Instead, you’ll have to hit the “Get Mail” button for the account and download messages manually. I didn’t find this option too cumbersome, and the Palm responded quickly whenever I needed to retrieve my e-mail. Lastly, the i705 can be set up to have your corporate e-mail from your work PC forwarded to the unit. This requires a user to download Palm’s MultiMail Desktop Link software from the Internet and install it on his or her work PC. The software receives incoming mail and forwards it to the i705. In order for this to work, you’ll have to leave your work PC running all the time. The good news, though, is that you can have your corporate e-mail forwarded to your i705 and you don’t even have to bug your local IT department to ask for help in setup. I was very pleased with the e-mail capabilities of the Palm i705 and I would highly recommend the unit over a BlackBerry device (see this comparison matrix: www.palm.com/products/ compare/i705-rimblackberry.html). While I would normally complain about slow speeds, I found that i705 downloaded e-mail at an acceptable rate and I was never seriously bothered by the speed. WEB CLIPPING ACROSS THE UNIVERSE In addition to e-mail, the Palm i705 gives you the ability to sort of surf the Internet. I say “sort of” because you are limited first and foremost by the speed of the Mobitex network, and you’ll also be disappointed with how Web pages look in monochrome glory. Fortunately, Palm provides their “Web Clipping” service with the i705, which involves specially designed pages that are better formatted for the i705′s screen and slow speed. Several of these Web Clipping applications are pre-installed with the i705 and include such things as movie listings, news headlines, stock quotes, maps, weather reports and even a Starbucks store locator. You’ll find most things that you need through the available Web Clippings, but you also have the ability to go straight to the World Wide Web by entering a URL. This can get heartbreakingly slow and painful unless you turn off the graphics and settle for just text. Browsing the Net is possible, however, and I was able to pull up just about every page I desired to visit. While you’re connected to the wireless network, the tip of the white beret on top of the i705 will flash a green LED signifying that you’re “live.” The “browser” for the Internet includes a “back” button for navigating and also provides a short history listing in case you would like to jump back several pages at a time. You also get a “stop” button, which doubles as an indicator for Web pages that are loading. While certainly not the greatest, the Web capabilities of the Palm i705 are functional and deliberate. I think that Palm did the best job they could do with the available speed of the network and you have the ability to locate just about everything you would need through Web Clippings. DON’T BITE THE PALM THAT FEEDS YOU I think it’s obvious that I really like using the Palm i705. And while I personally prefer the glitz of color when I can get it, I appreciate the i705 for its speed, reliability and, of course, the wireless capabilities. In addition, nothing can really compare with the incredible battery life that the i705 provides. Unlike my Pocket PC, which I have to charge nightly to prepare for the next day, I was able to go for about a week of normal use before I had to recharge the i705. In addition, I love the feel of the Palm i705, and it fit in my shirt pocket comfortably without being too big or too heavy. I was also lucky enough to have the new KeyCase ( www.logitech.com) from Logitech to use with the i705. This “cloth keyboard” worked great and is a very cool alternative case for your i705. If you’re just looking for an add-on keyboard for the i705, check out Palm’s Mini Keyboard ( www.palm.com/products/ accessories/mini_keyboard/), which slips over the product. As enamored as I became with the Palm i705, I feel its days are limited, simply because there are more powerful, colorful and speedy devices coming out in the next few months that will shove the i705 to the back shelves. After saying that, however, I know there are Palm fanatics out there that will hold the i705 near and dear to their hearts. And thanks to the wireless ability of the i705, those users can proudly show off their Palm-pride wherever they choose to go. Brett Burney is the Legal Practice Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine (www.thompsonhine.com) in Cleveland. He also reviews products for Law Office Computing magazine (www.lawofficecomputing.com) and writes a monthly legal tech column for LLRX.com. He can be reached at [email protected].

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