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HP and Lotus did an incredible job getting the HP 95LX right the first time... so much so that after a year, the HP Palmtop still has no serious competition.

Thanks to these two industry leaders, we have a pocket-sized DOS machine that lets us traverse built-in applications with a press of a key. The built-in applications, especially Lotus 1-2-3 and the easy-to-use and powerful HP CALC, put the 95LX in a class of its own.

The infrared port, 4-pin serial port, RAM card slot, and the ability to run for weeks on double-A batteries, all exemplify the technical excellence and the utility of the HP palmtop. HP further showed off its engineering prowess by putting the 95LX internal memory, built-in software, and processor all on one board. This allows HP to offer its users an inexpensive upgrade path.

A new HP 95LX support policy seems to complete the package. HP now provides a number of support alternatives including retroactive 90 day free technical support. The new HP support policies, The HP Palmtop Paper, and the HPSYS CompuServe forum, make support for the 95LX excellent.

However, a vital piece still is missing. HP and Lotus have not published a technical reference manual. (Technical information and support is available for registered developers, but it is not nearly as complete as it needs to be.) End-users experience the consequence of this marketing decision as the lack of third party software that integrates seamlessly with built-in 95LX applications.

For example, in this issue we review best-selling contact manager ACT!. The ACT! people did an excellent job porting ACT! over from the IBM PC to the HP 95LX. However, ACT!'s lack of integration with the built-in applications means it is not as useful as it could be. I think it fair to blame the lack of available technical information about System Manager and the built-in applications on why we have not seen PC compatible applications integrated into the HP 95LX environment.

More PC applications on the HP 95LX mean more HP 95LX sales. A technical reference manual could be a break-even proposition for HP and Lotus if its price were between $100 and $200. Such a price is insignificant compared to the engineering cost for a developer trying to uncover missing technical information. Let's hope HP and Lotus respond -- doing so is a winning proposition for all concerned.

In the meantime, if you want to put IBM PC compatible applications on the HP 95LX, study carefully Mark Scardina's article on installing such programs. This issue also offers you the opportunity to delve more deeply into built-in PHONE, APPT, 1-2-3, HP CALC, DOS, and System Manager -- check out our regular columns.

Finally, thanks to HP Support who will be providing The HP Palmtop Paper with a column each issue.

iPhone Life magazine

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