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Spying on PocketPC

Last Updated Sun Apr 9, 2000 - 1:23 AM EDT - By Douglas Morse

Text Recognition

Text recognition

The text recognition looks cool. There is the typical tiny keyboard input and new character recognition software that apparently does not require you to learn a specialized alphabet. It was divided into three sections: Capital letters, lowercase, and numbers. Furthermore, auto-complete for words was built in, however, Im not sure if I would find this incredibly annoying or convenient. As you wrote the first few letters of a word the likely words you were attempting to write would pop up and you could click on the correct suggestion and move on.

Then the demonstrator did an interesting thing. She wrote freehand on the screen and had the program convert it to type. Unfortunately I wasnt thinking of writing this article at the time and didnt pay close enough attention to the proceedings. I do remember she scrawled a freehand map as well.

Microsoft is partnering with AvantGo for downloadable web content, and the demonstrator pulled up various sites including a CNET page with all sorts of headlines about the judgement against Microsoft. Opps. That got a good chuckle from the audience.

The usual pocket versions of Word and Excel looked very, very robust. I never used the old versions, but I think they are a step or two up.

The compact slot thing looks like a serious match for the Springboard slot. I think they showed it with some sort of digital camera module, a modem, and of course flash storage for music files.

They also showed off a few games, the favorite was called Office Fire (or something similar). Fires spontaneously burst out at peoples desks and you have to run around with a fire extinguisher and put them out. Hilarious for the first three or four minutes of play, but after that, Im not sure how much depth it has. They also showed a golf game. It looked pretty darn good - and in color too. Watch out Tiger Woods.

There were e-books that could be downloaded from BandN for just a few dollars. Although Ive read Red Badge of Courage on my Visor, Im not sold. I still like the feel of paper. In this version of Microsoft Reader you could take notes and highlight words, and the dictionary could pop up to help with unfamiliar words.

The unit syncs with Microsoft Outlook which I always found cumbersome, bulky, and slow. They had a lot of different views of the week with weird colored symbols for what was to do when and how much was left to do and the like. I never wanted to learn hieroglyphics so I was a little lost.

I understand Jeff Hawkins determination to keep the Visor simple in the face of corporate culture. It does exactly what it needs to do. At the same time, if these Microsoft devices are able to deliver all that they promise while not being slow, cumbersome, bulky, then Im all for it.


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