You're either a Chevy Suburban fan or a Honda Civic lover. You enjoy being able to drive up over your neighbor's mailbox and lay waste to their tacky three-foot tall hedge and extended family of lawn gnomes. Or, you like smaller bills at the gas pump and the ability to park on city streets. The same distinction can be made between PDA owners.Microsoft ( MSFT) has a nitro-burning, off-road handheld operating system that has garnered a lot of press for taking market share from competitor Palm ( PALM). Meanwhile, the Palm OS still dominates the PDA market with its simple design, great gas mileage and good handling. If you're in the market for a handheld, you'll have to pick sides. If you want a PDA that is a mini version of your PC, Pocket PC devices suit you best. Be prepared to pay a bundle for all that functionality, however. If you find your PC horribly overequipped and would rather carry around a light, elegant device that you can expand to fit your needs but doesn't immediately assault you with features, the Palm OS is right for you. For most people, that makes Palm the obvious choice. The Palm OS is found on Palm handhelds, obviously, as well as Handspring and Sony devices. The Pocket PC OS is available on Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Casio and AudioVox consumer PDAs. In October Microsoft updated its operating system, announcing an even more powerful version called Pocket PC 2002, as well as several new Compaq iPaq and Hewlett-Packard Jornada devices built just for the new OS. The devices have fabulous screens, tons of memory and hefty price tags ranging from $499 to $649. Typical Palm-based devices currently top out around $399, illustrating the big difference in the Microsoft and Palm slants. Pocket PC is counting on companies to foot the bill, while Palm OS-based devices are geared for corporate and individual customers alike. It is more than a matter of who is expected to buy the handheld. It is a contrast in corporate goals. Redmond, driven by the need to expand Windows beyond the PC, offers an OS studded with features and tie-ins to Microsoft products. By contrast, Palm's OS is far more focused on the strict task of managing daily life, not on replicating your desktop box.
|Luxury or Economy? A Breakdown |
Both systems come up short in wireless
|Palm OS||Simple. Thoughtful. Not overloaded.||Waiting for a new version with more up-to-date wireless features.|
|Pocket PC 2002||High octane; Tightly integrated with your Microsoft applications.||Overkill. PC-like, except when it comes to connectivity, where wireless still lacking.|