Friday, January 1, 1999

PalmPower Editors’ Choice Awards – Fun Gadgets 1998


By David Gewirtz

Welcome to the last key area of our comprehensive Editors' Choice Awards: Fun Gadgets. In Fun Gadgets, we recognize those products that are fun, are gadgets, or can be somehow tied into the category of Fun Gadgets (hey, some products are a tough fit!).

Table A, below, provides a short summary of the winners and categories. Be sure to check out the Product Availability section, at the end of the article, for contact information and Web URLs.

Table TABLE: A PalmPower Editors' Choice Fun Gadgets Award Winners
Handy hardware devices
(and the software that loves them)
BeamLink (JP Systems)
Minstrel (Novatel Wireless)
CardScan Executive (Corex)
PocketFlash (PowerMedia)
Extreme casesTitanium Hardcase (Rhinoskin)
Peel-It (Orang-Otang)
Stylish stylusFingertip Stylus (Concept Kitchen)
Fun and gamesUBoat (PumpSoft)
IntelliGolf (Karrier Communications)
ShadowThief (R. Zane Rutledge)
Reference checks
(reference applications)
Aramis City Guides (Aramis)
TealMeal (TealPoint)
Thesaurus and Translate (DDH Software)
Uses biggest ironPROFS-AutoPilot (FTB Systems)

Handy hardware devices (and the software that loves them)

The products that won the award in this category are those that integrate the Palm device with new and interesting hardware.

BeamLink from JP Systems

If this isn't a Rube Goldbergian gadget, we don't know what is (and if you don't know who Rube Goldberg was, see Here's how BeamLink, shown in Figure A, works. First, you need a two-way pager with an IR port. Then you need an IR-equipped Palm device. So far, so good. Now, you write your email on your Palm device and then aim it at your pager. Using BeamLink, your Palm email is now in your pager and uploaded to the paging company, and then off to its intended recipient. It also works in reverse, bringing email in from the paging company into your Palm device.


It requires some serious manual dexterity, but it's cool making your Palm computer email through your pager.

Minstrel from Novatel Wireless

If you don't have the dexterity for BeamLink (or you want to surf the Web and take advantage of other IP-related activities), you need to check out the Minstrel wireless modem from Novatel Wireless. This is a rig that snaps around the Palm computer (it makes the Palm computer about twice as thick), and gives you complete wireless email and Web access.

CardScan Executive from Corex

Imagine going to a trade show. You've met five hundred interesting people and have collected business cards for each one. Cool. Lots of opportunity there. Now, you want to get all those business cards into your Palm computer's Address book. You could hand write the information with Graffiti (no chance!), you could hand type all the names in (foggetaboutit!), you could assign the task to your secretary (what secretary?), or you could use the CardScan Executive from Corex. This little box hooks up to your PC. You drop your business cards into it. It scans in the cards, OCRs the data (OCR is optical character recognition), enters them into its own little database, and then connects that data to your Palm Desktop. Lots of time is saved.