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The WordSmith Word Processor for the Palm OS
A New Word Processor for the Palm OS
There is a new word processor for the Palm OS: WordSmith from Blue Nomad (co-developed with Quik Sense Software). It seems to be a nice step forward, and may actually be a major step for the Palm platform. It means you really have an alternative to a laptop in many situations.

The main features from my viewpoint are: It interoperates pretty well with Microsoft Word, it supports a reasonable subset of a word processor, and it is designed from the ground up to work well with a keyboard (like the Stowaway).

This article on my Palm III in WordSmith
The Blue Nomad company used to be named after another product called Backup Buddy. Using their experience with moving data to and from the handheld, they've created a pretty seamless connection between Word on the PC and the handheld. You just use a menu item added to Word to add a document you are editing in Word to the sharing list. When you HotSync the document is copied to the PDA. If you make changes on the PDA and then HotSync again, the original Word document is updated (with a backup of the original created on the PC, too). Note, though, that when it transfers Word documents, it ignores embedded stuff -- no error, but you lose the information.  For non-PC people (Mac, Linux), the program handles RTF files, too, and has utilities for Linux.

 
Font and Paragraph dialog boxes
Unlike the other Palm word processors I've tried, WordSmith keeps information about font (face, bold, italic, etc., as well as point size), and paragraph attributes (alignment, indenting, interparagraph spacing). It tries to show size and other attributes on the screen the best it can. Unfortunately, it doesn't do tabs yet, so bullets aren't indented right because of that. (Wait for the next release...)

 
Some of the keyboard shortcuts
There are keyboard shortcuts for all sorts of things, including all the menu items. It feels quite comfortable to be able to use ctrl-b to start and end bold, ctrl-c and ctrl-v for cut and paste, etc.

WordSmith is pretty inexpensive ($29.95 to start, going up to $39.95).

 
Palm and Stowaway keyboard: closed and opened
The combination of a handheld, good folding keyboard, and a reasonable word processor is extremely powerful. For many applications it is sufficient for use away from the office, cutting your travel weight down substantially. You can dump in a report for reference. You can type in notes or even whole articles without retraining your hands or using the pen much. (This review was written almost entirely on my Palm III using WordSmith and a Stowaway keyboard on my kitchen table. I then copied it from Word to Trellix Web to post, adding my usual extra bold words and pictures.) With wireless email and browsing devices like the RIM, Palm VII, etc., the ultralight laptop becomes much less important. We are finally getting a new form factor platform that meets many computing needs without software from Microsoft, yet interoperates fine with Microsoft PCs when it comes to data.

For more information, see the Blue Nomad web site.

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