This connectivity software lets you run Windows versions of PhoneBook, Appointment Book, and NoteTaker on your desktop PC, and keep them synchronized with your HP Palmtop files.

By Mark V. Scardina

Applications specifically designed for HP Palmtop users are few and far between, therefore when I heard that Palm Computing, Inc. had developed a connectivity pack that gave Windows users desktop versions of Phone, Appt, and NoteTaker, I was interested in putting the product through its paces.

Palm Computing has made a name for itself with their highly acclaimed Graffiti handwriting recognition software for the Newton, Zoomer and Magic Cap PDAs. Quite different from handwriting recognition, PalmConnect is a Windows application that provides connectivity between your HP 100/200LX and your desktop PC.

PalmConnect includes HotSync!, a one click solution to backing up and synchronizing your Palmtop files. The synchronizing feature is useful to those who keep an Appointment Book on their Palmtop, and another on their desktop. Daily or weekly as you merge the two Appointment Book files, the synchronizing feature resolves conflicts caused by appointments scheduled in the same time slot. The Synchronizing feature also works for PhoneBook and NoteTaker files.

PalmConnect is available with or without a serial cable, or as an upgrade for HP Connectivity Pack owners. It utilizes a serial cable and the LapLink Remote Access drivers, as does the Connectivity Pack, to establish a link between your Palmtop and PC. (See the sidebar on page 19 for tips on running LapLink with Windows.) For 100LX users, PalmConnect includes the necessary LapLink Remote Server application software which is transferred to your 100LX using Zmodem in DataComm.


Once you are connected you can use the HotSync! icon to create a backup of your Palmtops files on your PC. PalmConnect does much more than backup your files. Windows versions of your Phone-Book, Appointment Book and Note-Taker files are provided along with the ability to merge records bi-directionally. This allows you to make changes in both Palmtop and PC versions of your files and have them reconciled automatically (for PHONE, APPT, and NoteTaker). However, no synchronization exists for the Database or Quicken files.

The PhoneBook presentation is useful as it shows both a column view and the details of the high-lighted record simultaneously. Unfortunately, the speed-locate capability allowing you to jump to a record by typing the first letters is not supported. Additionally, the PageUp and PageDown keys do not move the highlight bar, forcing you to either use the mouse or the arrow keys to navigate the list.

The NoteTaker also displays the details of a highlighted record on half of the screen allowing you to see the Note field adjacent to the column view.

The Appointment Books presentation is fixed, displaying your appointments and events on the left and ToDo's and a calendar on the right. There is only a daily view, no weekly or monthly views.

PalmConnect's backup capabilities are similar to the HP Connectivity Pack in that it can backup a complete copy of the directory structure of each drive on your PC.

It does add a history feature, which keeps track of files that have already been backed up. When you do subsequent backups, Palm-Connect does not backup files that have not changed, saving time in the backup process.

PalmConnect also has a file exclusion feature that lets you specify which files you want to backup and which you want to exclude. So, for example, you can set the backup feature to exclude specific individual files, or all files with a specific file extension (e.g., .EXE, .COM, etc.). and other non-data files.

The Automatic mode backs up and synchronizes everything without you having to monitor the situation. The Manual mode causes the backup process to query you when it finds a duplicate of the file to be backed up, asking which file you want to keep. Unfortunately, the lack of ability to tag files and directories for backup makes the Manual mode tedious.

These limitations aside, Palm-Connect does allow you to easily keep your files synchronized. Conflicts in your Appointment Book or Phonebook are handled manually, but if you synchronize on a regular basis it should not be too cumbersome.

PalmConnect is not a full replacement of the Connectivity Pack. It does not support synchronizing Quicken files. Import and export abilities are limited to dBase (*.DBF), Comma Separated Value (*.CSV), and Tab Separated Value (*.TAB) file formats and only with PHONE and NoteTaker files. However, it does provide a quick way to enter data in its supported applications as well as keep them in synchronization. Its backup capability is more flexible than the Connectivity Pack. Finally, PalmConnect is a true Windows application and should be investigated by anyone looking for Windows connectivity with their Palmtops.