Products - Compaq's Aero 2100

Compaq's Aero 2100 is a handheld PC utilizing Microsoft Windows CE. What's unique about the Aero 2100 (compared to 3Com's Palm products) is that it utilizes a high-resolution color TFT screen with reflective technology. Other features include an upgradable Microsoft Windows CE OS, a 10-hour rechargeable battery, car adapter, touch-sensitive display, one-handed operability, three alarm settings, secure stylus, and customizable application launch buttons.

Although the calendar, scheduling and contact functions are quite useful and intuitive, the Web and e-mail functions leave a bit to be desired. While the marketing materials cheerfully promise the ability to browse the Internet offline in full color, listen to the latest market news, and upload various applications and tools, among other functions, we found the reality to be a bit less rosy.

For example, the only way to "browse the Web" or get e-mail is by connecting (via a docking cradle or infrared link) to your Windows PC, where you will have hopefully already downloaded the information you want to browse. Which raises the question, "Why not just check e-mail or browse on your PC?" It's much faster on a full-size PC, and you have full functionality, something that is missing on the handheld PCs, due to obvious limitations such as memory, graphics and connectivity. Also, downloading applications and content to the handheld PC seems to take an inordinate amount of time.

However, if you intend to utilize the Aero 2100 (or any handheld PC, for that matter) strictly as a productivity tool, taking advantage of its scheduling, alarm and contact functions, it will perform admirably. While there are many applications that can benefit educators, we suggest you decide exactly what functionality you require from a handheld PC before committing to a purchase. Compaq Computer Corp., Houston, TX, (800) OK-COMPAQ,


-- William Willis
[email protected]

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.