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Inter@ctive Week : Vadem's Clio C-1000 is one of the most cleverly designed computing devices based on Microsoft's Windows CE. Is it an Internet device? Well, it's good enough to pass for one, in spite of Windows CE's shortcomings as an Internet-connectivity platform.

The fairly lightweight Clio less than 3.5 pounds and half the size of most laptop PCs has a display that swivels around, suspended by two small arms. In fact, it transforms into a writing tablet if you swing the 9.4-inch screen all the way down, covering the keyboard. The Clio includes handwriting-recognition software that converts characters written with the included stylus into text, with pretty good accuracy.

The Clio doesn't include a mouse. Instead, you use the stylus or your finger to point and click on the Windows CE desktop, which took a little getting used to. Occasionally, when we tried to click, the handwriting software kicked in instead and inserted unwanted text in unwanted places. Keyboard shortcuts, such as pressing Alt+F to access a File menu, were easier to use in some cases.

Like Hewlett-Packard's Jornada (see DigitalDevices review, May 24, page 48), another portable device based on the Windows CE Handheld PC Professional Edition 3.0 software, the Clio includes all the Pocket Office applications, the standard contact and calendar programs and others. The Clio also features a rechargeable battery that can provide up to 12 hours of operation and like other CE devices has that great instant-on wakeup feature.

The Clio is a champ at handling word processing, contact management and other simple, on-the-road tasks. However, it falls short of being a truly great Internet device, and the blame can be traced to the fact that Windows CE just doesn't seem to be designed with Net access as one of its main functions.

Using the 33.6 kilobit-per-second modem, the Clio can be configured to connect to pretty much any Internet service provider, as long as you know nitty-gritty details like the Internet Protocol address of your Internet service provider's primary Domain Name System server.

Once connected, though, you'll be slightly disappointed. Windows CE's Pocket Explorer browser chugs along very, very slowly. It's also not an especially responsive application, compared with, for example, Pocket Word. The formatting of Web pages doesn't always translate in the Windows CE rendition; even the Windows CE Home Page didn't look so hot. The Pocket Outlook mail program is similarly sluggish but includes a very worthwhile feature that lets you choose not to download file attachments.


SBC Communications (www.sbc.com) next month will roll out eMessage, an e-mail-only service that uses Cidco's (www.cidco.com) 7-by-10-inch mail device. The device will cost about $180, and the service will cost less than $10 per month.

Tokheim (www.tokheim.com), a maker of gas pumps, announced a three-year deal with BP Amoco to supply new Internet-connected gas dispensers running Windows CE that can be used for e-commerce or to display news and weather.

Clio C-1000

Description: Windows CE portable device

Company: Vadem (www.vadem.com)

Price: $999

Upshot: A versatile performer, but Windows CE hampers its Internet features

<<Inter@ctive Week -- 08-30-99>>

Thanks Kinetic!

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