It's no secret that entering information into a PDA is slow and cumbersome. Seiko's SmartPad2 uses a mini digitizer tablet to transfer handwritten notes and drawings into a PDA, where they are stored and organized as images in linked applications.
The SmartPad 2 improves the original design with the addition of an alphanumeric keypad and a movable arm that can be aligned with the side-mounted infrared ports on Handsprings.
Setting up our trusty IBM Workpad C3 (a near-clone of the Palm V) was straightforward: Install the Seiko software on our PC, do a HotSync to transfer programs, then reassign the program buttons to the new versions of the functions. The whole process took less than fifteen minutes.
We were delighted by how easy and unobtrusive the SmartPad was. Write with the electronic pen, and you can produce a document up to 16, 5- by 8-inch pages long.
We did, however, record a few minor complaints. First, the electronic pen is easy to lose and expensive to replace ($50). Second, the Smart Pad feature requires three menu taps to activate. This is acceptable for writing a memo, but too clunky for shorter notes. Lastly, your PDA inflates way beyond pocket size.
We recommend this product to any PDA user who spends a lot of time in meetings and/or on the phone.
Seiko SmartPad2Rating: 87
Manufacturer: Seiko Instruments;800-688-0817; www.seikosmart.com
Requirements: Palm OS 3.1 or later; PC with Pentium CPU; Windows 95; 16MB of disk space; a CD-ROM drive
Pros: Fast and easy to enter info into a PDA
Cons: Greatly increases size of PDA; no text conversion