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Pocket and Palmtop computers
- but don't touch WinCE!

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Microsoft are now trying to bully their way into the palmtop market with their stripped down version of Windows - WindowsCE. Due to Microsoft's inefficient and bloated programming, palmtops are not suitable for running Microsoft's bloated operating system on. After all, the purpose of a palmtop is to be efficient for storing names, addresses, appointments etc and be able to do word processing and other tasks whilst on the move.

Microsoft are failing in the palmtop market, mainly due to an interesting aspect of psychology, which has puzzled me as to why it's never been relevant to the desktop market. What do you expect from a palmtop? Most people use a palmtop in the same way they would use a calculator - you turn it on. It's immediately ready for use with NO boot up time whatsoever, and it's 100% reliable - how often do you hear people saying that their calculator has crashed, or issued a 'general protection fault'?

Put simply, most people don't expect a palmtop to crash or go wrong - yet they seem to accept that Windows based PCs go wrong regularly. This is why you should avoid buying a palmtop which is running WindowsCE.

WindowsCE is not quite as unreliable as Windows 95 or 98, but it still consumes valuable memory and requires a fast processor in order to compare with other, slower processors, running more efficient operating systems; such as EPOC or Palm OS.

The myth of 'Faster processor means faster computer'
Because different processor have vastly different internal architecture and design, it is impossible to compare two processors on clock speed alone. This is as silly as comparing two cars by their rev counters. A more technologically advanced processor (such as the ARM chip) is more efficient and thus can run at a slower clock speed and an older design. Also, because WindowsCE is slow in comparison to something like EPOC, you need a faster processor if running WinCE, just to run normally.

The big effect of this is how long your palmtop will run from its internal batteries. The faster a processor runs, the hotter it runs and thus the more battery power it consumes. This is a crucial point to consider with palmtops because you don't want to be forever replacing (or charging) batteries.

However, Psion - the inventers of the worlds first electronic organiser - the popular Psion series 3 - have launched a number of more powerful palmtop machines, notable the series 5mx model which is light years ahead of WindowsCE, using it's own world-beating Epoc32 operating system, specifically designed for portable communication devices.

Because the Psion series 5 beats WinCE machines on virtually every count, it superbly demonstrates that Microsoft cannot write efficient operating systems. Personally I can't see why anyone in their right mind would spend their money on a WinCE machine when you can get a far more powerful and flexible machine at a cheaper price - unless of course Microsoft start doing something underhanded again or people ignorantly believe the Microsoft propaganda and marketing hype.

For a start, the Psion 5 comes in several models with up to 32MB of internal RAM (fully upgradable) which is TRUE free memory (WinCE grabs memory from the system just to run itself in). It comes equipped with a fully multi-tasking 32bit operating system in 6Mb of ROM chip built into the machine. This leaves the internal RAM free for the user. It even comes with a built-in programming language; OPL - so that users can even write their own multi-tasking applications.

Full internet connectivity is also available free of charge, with web browser, email facilities as well as integrated fax software which drives most popular types of modem. Also built into the operating system is a fully featured world clock and timezone management application, fully feature word processor, spreadsheet and database as well as scientific, programmable calculator, digital voice memo, mine hunter game, drawing application and communications package. The whole system integrates so well that you won't really appreciate the flexibility and power of the whole system until you actually use one yourself.

After using one I'm sure you'll agree, like me, that anyone who still wants to buy into Microsoft's monopoly and get a WinCE machine must surely want their head tested. You can even transfer files and data between your Psion 5 and desktop machine with full integration with Windows95 or NT - if you simply must use those systems.

BEFORE you buy a palmtop computer, I urge you to try out the Psion series 5. I can guarantee you won't be disappointed - and you will no doubt find yourself agreeing with the comments made above about Microsoft and the inefficiency of their bloated programming.