Pocket PCs Game Plan - Page 2

Input Options

Pocket PC 2002 ships with a couple of new options for data input—Transcriber and Block Recognizer.

Transcriber is a handwriting recognition application that has been available for free download from Microsoft for some time, but because the application was finished too late for inclusion in last years Pocket PC operating system, many users were unaware of its existence. Effective handwriting recognition is more processor-intensive than other input methods and is a good use of the speedy StrongARM chips around which Pocket PC 2002 devices will be built.

Block Recognizer mimics Palms Graffiti input utility, and veteran Palm users—many of whom have spent so many hours scratching out Graffiti glyphs that they find the characters surfacing in their handwriting—will appreciate this option when weighing a device defection.

Users of Windows CE have always been puzzled by the operating systems insistence on managing RAM on its own, preventing users from closing applications as they are accustomed to doing on desktop PCs. This does not change with Pocket PC 2002, but Microsoft has added what appears to be a Close Application button to the tool bar, which sends the current application to the background. In this way, users can step back through the applications theyve run to the Today screen; the result is a more intuitive interface that can help prevent users from getting lost among the devices applications.

Hewlett-Packard Co. was first out of the gate with its Pocket PC 2002-based Jornada 560 devices, but we expect to see devices on the way from Pocket PC stalwarts Compaq Computer Corp., Casio Inc. and Symbol Technologies Inc. before the end of the year.

In addition, Toshiba America Inc. and NEC Computers Inc. will release their first Pocket PC devices in the coming months.