The magic of handhelds

No matter how fat the bandwidth or how fast the wireless network, converged devices with larger screens will ultimately be the winning form factor. Here’s why.

If you are an enterprise PC user and you have a new Pocket PC 2002 handheld, there is a feature called Terminal Services that allows you to access and control every application on your desktop and the corporate network.

So, for example, you could process a heavy duty database query on the desktop but view the results on your handheld. Forgot a file back at the office? Retrieve it remotely or, in the case of that 12MB Powerpoint presentation, send it to someone else. Finally, Terminal Services could lead corporate developers to create line-of-business apps that would fill only a quarter of the desktop screen but would make viewing sense on an iPaq.

Here’s the second thing you can do with a handheld that’s impossible with a cell phone: If it’s 2 a.m. and you’re in your dorm room facing a big calculus exam in the morning for which you haven’t studied, just download the e-book study guide.

OverDrive Inc. ( signed a deal with Follett (, the largest academic textbook distributor in the world, to create an e-book channel for its academic book catalogue. OverDrive handles the distribution and payment systems and supplies the DRM (digital rights management).

Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive in Cleveland, notes that e-book technology is beginning to penetrate the enterprise. “We are seeing pharmaceutical companies, and doctors especially, use it to send a document that is fully protected,” Potash says.

By using the DRM components of Microsoft’s and Adobe’s e-book file technology, companies can ensure that the document cannot be printed, copied, or forwarded to someone else.

The last but not least important thing you can do with your handheld is view an X-ray. Clarinet Systems, in Milpitas, Calif. (, makes an infrared Ethernet access point, EthIR, now in trials at Stanford University Medical Center’s Department of Radiology. Using Clarinet’s wireless infrared connectivity, a doctor can download X-rays from G.E. Medical Systems’ PACS (picture archiving and communications system) on a workstation to a Pocket PC or Palm handheld at the click of a button.

Stanford IT created the compression and the actual viewing software for the client devices using the OBEX (Object Exchange) infrared standard.

The Clarinet device opens up heretofore inaccessible files to handheld users. Medical professionals will be able to share images, overlays, and reports without having to go to their radiology department for the film.

Ephraim Schwartz ( is an editor at large in InfoWorld (U.S.)’s news department.