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RE: Pocket PC

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First of all I don't own a PocketPC right now, so this is just from what
I see and hear from others who use PocketPC.

To start,  the benefit of any PDA is that you can have information
that's normally available from your laptop or PC, right in the palm of
your hand.  For structural engineers, you can load database for things
such as anchor bolt values or steel shapes into your PDA, or have
spreadsheets loaded to do some calc (although you have to keep it
simple, the fastest PDA runs on 400 Mhz, and the memory is relatively
expensive).  I have a Palm and thinking of getting a PocketPC.  I use
the Palm device a little more than just a calendar.  It has a AISC shape
database, bolt information, common material weights, ICBO approved Hilti
anchor values, a unit conversion program, and a spreadsheet program that
sync with Excel, and I wrote a program for Palm to design tank anchors
(I do a lot of that).  And of course a Tetris game.  Not that I use all
of these all the time, but know that they are there when I need it, is a
good feeling.

To justify getting a PocketPC, on the software side, it's much similar
to Windows (I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing), so you
are familiar with the functions in PocketExcel or PockcetWord etc.  The
sync process seems to be better integrated with the desktop Microsoft
product.  There are some programs available for engineering purposes.
Check out http://www.enggtools.com/ for starter.  If you have the
budget, AutoDesk makes Pocket CAD, I think it's about $199, you can view
and edit AutoCAD files on your PocketPC (there is not plan, as far as I
know, to make a Palm version, the hardware is just not good enough). If
you are really into this, you can try to write the programs yourself, in
Visual Basic.  The spreadsheet programs available for Palm are not quite
up to par with the PocketExcel.  

For the hardware, you can just whip out the PocketPC at any time and
turn it on and access the information.  Laptop, you have to turn it on
and wait for it to boot.  I'm sure a $800 laptop will take a while to
boot up into XP or Win2K.  I think the screen size is acceptable given
the portability.  And the connectivity, some PDA has built-in WiFi,
others require an add-on card.  With WiFi, the wireless Ethernet, you
can roam around you office, home (with the proper setup) or downtown San
Francisco and be connected to the internet all the time.  Laptop
wouldn't be so convenient (for its size).  The advantage of built-in
WiFi is that you don't have to loose a expansion slot, which would be
very useful for memory expansion.  On that note, the Toshiba e740 would
be a good choice for less than $500, it has built-in WiFi.  The new HP
iPaq 5450 has that and more, but it also costs a lot more.

A comparable Palm device, with similar hardware, would cost just as much
(a Palm Tungsten T is $499).  There are of course benefit of buying a
Palm device, like its simple user interface and huge amount of available
programs written for Palm.  But that's not what you want hear right now.

Hope this helps.

Y i   Y a n g  P. E.
Summit Engineering Inc.
Santa Rosa, CA


-----Original Message-----
From: G M [mailto:newabhaju(--nospam--at)hotmail.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 12:28 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Pocket PC


To all:

Recently, there was a thread on Pocket PC.  I have been thinking of
buying 
one but have not been able to decide.  I would like some input based on
your 
experience.  The things I am debating about are:

1.  The pocket PC cost is in the $500 range compared to a laptop
currently 
available at $800 range.  Of course, the pocket PC has the advantage in 
size, but is that a good enough reason?
2.  What can you do with a pocket PC - in terms of engineering
activites.  I 
have seen the highend handhelds that can do word and excel.  However,
with 
the limitation of the screen size, is this something you use?  Can one
use a 
excel spreadsheet for design efficiently on the Pocket PC and high end
palm 
tops?
3.  I know the use will vary from person to person.  But for a typical 
consulting structural engineer, is is worth spending the $500.  I do
have 
plam handheld that I use as a glorified calender (dates, phones, etc.)-
but 
other than that , I see little use (so far, anyway).

I would apprecite your comments and any recommendations.

Gautam







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