Palm still leads the Paq among handheld users


The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on handheld PCs is based on a telephone survey of 100 government readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as IT or systems managers, 35 of whom said they are handheld users.

Personal digital assistants from Palm Inc. are still the handheld PC of choice among government users, a GCN telephone survey found.

Palm PDAs accounted for 54 percent of the survey sample, almost triple the 20 percent held by Compaq Computer Corp. devices. PDAs from Hewlett-Packard Co. were third at 12 percent of the sample.

Soon, there will be no HP Jornadas. Following the merger of Compaq and HP, the new company is phasing out the Jornado in favor of the Compaq iPaq Pocket PC.

Many of Palm's recent products lack the bells and whistles of the latest Microsoft Windows CE devices, such as the flashy iPaq or the Jornada, but government users GCN surveyed like using the Palm PDAs for their straightforward, intuitive features.

'It's easy to use,' said an Air Force Space Command IT specialist in Colorado Springs, Colo., who carries a Palm V.

And the price is right for many Palm users. 'It was affordable,' said a Social Security Administration computer services administrator in Baltimore who uses a Palm V.

A computer systems analyst for the Veterans Affairs Department in Washington noted that it was a snap to synchronize applications between his Palm V and desktop PC.

The downside? 'The lack of third-party applications is what I like least about it,' he said.
Users of both Palm and Compaq brands also had a familiar gripe: The batteries don't last long enough.

'It has to be recharged too often,' said the SSA computer services administrator of his Palm.
Users of Compaq handhelds voiced an array of likes and dislikes. Compaq's iPaq is handy to use and has plenty of memory, said a LAN administrator at Langley Air Force Base, Va., who has been using the PDA for less than a year.

But its price'at about $600'is too high, he added. Asked what improvements might otherwise be made to the iPaq, he said, 'It's fine as it is.'

One Air Force computer specialist in Atlanta chose his Compaq iPaq over other brands for its applications. 'They do more, including Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint,' he said.

Somewhat surprisingly, many respondents weren't that wild about color displays. Nearly half'43 percent'said having a color display was not important to them. Only 34 percent said it was important to them in a PDA.

Hewlett-Packard PDAs also have their fans. An Air Force communications chief in Fairfield, Calif., chose the Jornada for its compact flash memory and convenient form factor. 'I like the way it fits in my hand,' he said.

But his chief complaint was another familiar one among handheld users, whatever the brand. 'They need to make it easier to input data,' he said.

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