Choosing handheld hardware for corporate e-mail

By Ephraim Schwartz, InfoWorld |  Software

Pumatech, in San Jose, Calif., offers its Intellisync Anywhere Versions 1.0 and 2.0, which have become available this month. These solutions create a so-called shadow file on the Intellisync server, keeping wireless users clear of the Exchange or Domino servers. The shadow file is updated about every 12 seconds to 15 seconds.

One nice feature is Intellisync's alert capability. The user can create a notification file that will send an SMS (short messaging service) message if an e-mail is received from a designated sender.

Kemper Insurance and the New York City Board of Education are two major users of Pumatech's solution.

Intellisync Anywhere is available only for the Palm III and Palm V. The cost is $120 per user with maintenance for the first year included and no deployment fee.

Now let's change gears. Onset Technology, in Santa Cruz, Calif., offers companies, either as a wireless service or a software solution, the capability to open and read any e-mail attachment and use any fax machine to print it.

Using the service option, a user would forward the e-mail attachment to OnSet's MetaMessage service, putting the fax number in the message's subject heading. The service then opens the document and faxes it to that machine.

The cost is $8 per month to read, $12 to print, and $15 to do both and to receive inbound faxes on your handheld. If you would rather run the software yourself, licensing costs $50 per user for a perpetual license.

You'll notice there is no out-of-the-box server-side solution from Lotus or Microsoft. Some say that the third-party solutions, although good, suffer a performance hit that would not be the case if there were an integrated solution in Exchange or Domino.

When looking at any of these solutions, or at others, the key is that the software has to hide the difficulty. It has to be plugged in to Notes or Exchange, leveraging the existing infrastructure as much as possible.

Will Java or Visual Basic become the de facto development language for handhelds? Stay tuned for the answer.

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