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By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
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The Pocket PC 2002 Gets More Features for Work and Play
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 2001
 Version 1.00  Revised 9/24/2001

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Introduction

On September 6th, Microsoft announced the next generation of the Pocket PC, called the Pocket PC 2002. The internal code name for the Pocket PC 2002 is called Merlin and it adds additional features to the Pocket PC.

Features

Here's a quick list of the major feature enhancements with the Pocket PC 2002. I will cover these in more detail thought this article.

User Interface Changes Skinnable Today Screen Change colors of the system through skins Personal Information Manager Sort Contacts by name or company Reorder Contacts for easier Entry View switching buttons in Calendar Pocket Word Spell Checker Reader DRM 5 support Redesigned the interface E-Mail Autoconfig of ISP Settings Synchronization of folders Embedded HTML Support My Text for quick replies Pocket Internet Explorer Can save downloads from the web Selective image download Communications Features Connection Manager Virtual Private Networking Terminal Services Client MSN Messenger Operating System Upgradeable flash rom

User Interface

There's a few things you'll notice right off the bat. One is that the click and hold now displays a red dot ring around the area you are clicking on so you can see that Click an Hold is going to be performed. The Today screen and the rest of the user interface is now skinnable so you can add your own graphics and change the colors of the whole unit easily. Further you can share these skins with others. Also, you will notice on the Title bar, there is an icon for the speaker and a clock. The speaker icon allows you to quickly control the volume or mute it. This feature will be great for users that are in meetings and need to quickly mute their Pocket PC. If you click on the clock, you can change the display to digital (which is the default) or analog. Also, most apps will have a OK or X button in the right hand corner

Personal Information Manager

The Pocket PC 2002 expands on the capabilities of Calendar and Contacts to make them easier to use. I can now change the view of the contacts from name to company so I can easily find out who works for a specific company like Pocket PC Magazine in case I don't remember their names. Also, the input screen for entering a new contact has been reorganized so that the most commonly used fields are at the top rather than requiring the user to scroll down through the list to enter common information. This will make entering a new contact in faster and easier. I really like the new icons in Calendar that allow me to switch the views between day, week, month and agenda without having to use a menu. All the rest of the features of Calendar, Contacts and Tasks are the same as the original Pocket PC.

Pocket Word and Reader

Pocket Word received some cool features that we've had on the desktop for years. I really like that Microsoft added a spell checker built in. This is great for me since I do make spelling errors and it allows me to catch them. (Users that upgrade to Pocket PC 2002 will not have this feature). Also, they added a word count option, which I find handy when I'm writing articles like this. In Reader you will see a whole new design to the user interface. Overall the design is easier to use however it does not follow the standard interface for the Pocket PC. Microsoft added support for secure eBooks with their addition of DRM (Digital Rights Management) 5 so you can purchase eBooks from Amazon or Barnes & Noble and use them on your Pocket PC as well as your desktop.

Windows Media Player

Microsoft integrated support for Windows Media Player 8.0 into the Pocket PC 2002. So now you can have all the features of Windows Media Player 7.1 and more right in your Pocket PC without having to download an updated version. These features include streaming audio and video support with the ability to control the connection speed and support for DRM5 for secure audio. Also, Windows Media Player continues to be skinnable so look for some cool skins to come out for it.

Inbox

Microsoft has totally started over from scratch on the design of Inbox. They have done a great job adding cool features that we've wanted like auto configuration of your e-mail settings when you setup your e-mail, embedded HTML support so you can read e-mail that is enhanced and My Text for quick replies. Further they added support for synchronizing multiple folders using ActiveSync as well. I really like the new design with the folder support. This sure makes it easier to use along side my desktop since I really use folders to organize my e-mail.

Pocket Internet Explorer

There's some new features in Pocket Internet Explorer that I've wanted for awhile. Now I can download files from the web so I can save the contents so I can use it later. Also, you can turn off the automatic download of images for slower connections. When you are in this mode, you can selectively display the images you want. Also, Pocket Internet Explorer uses the settings in the Connection Manager for things like a proxy server.

Connection Manager

Connection Manager adds the ability to configure the connections to the internet for your Pocket PC. This interface is totally redesigned to add additional features like virtual private networking and proxy support in one place rather than in each of the applications. Basically there are 2 sets of options called Work and Internet. Work is used to support VPNs, proxies and synchronization with ActiveSync while Internet is for dialup and direct network connections to the internet. Some users will find that there are a large number of options however if they stay with a simple rule of using Internet for internet connection and Work for work connections they should be ok.

Terminal Services Client and MSN Messenger

Microsoft added a Terminal Service Client so you can connect to your Terminal Server using your Pocket PC. This allows users to run full blown desktop applications on their Pocket PC. Also, Microsoft added MSN Messenger in rom so now you can chat using your Pocket PC. There's some cool features like My Text which allows for fast responses to instant messages. Also, it supports auto logon and logoff so when you're connect it's connected and when you're not it's not.

Operating System

The effort being made to manage the memory in the Pocket PC 2002 is improved so you really don't have to pay much attention to the applications that are running in the background. Also, Microsoft added the ability to update the Pocket PC 2002's flash rom selectively so you can get fixes and features added without having to wait for Service Pack 1. This feature is cool since it allows users to select whether or not to update their applications and it does not take up more ram to hold the patches like the original Pocket PC Service Pack 1 did. Overall the systems that run Pocket PC 2002 appear to operate at about the same speed as the original Pocket PCs did so the users won't notice a difference in performance.

ActiveSync

ActiveSync 3.5 is required to synchronize with the Pocket PC 2002. It adds support for some cool features like desktop pass through and folder synchronization for Inbox. Desktop pass through is very cool since it allows you to use the PC's connection to the internet to get to the web, MSN Messenger, e-mail or other TCP/IP application without installing additional software like a proxy server. You can use your Pocket PC to check the design of websites and other content as you design it using desktop pass though so look for more content for the Pocket PC since it's so easy to use this way.

Conclusion

Clearly, Microsoft is making strides to listen to users and improve the Pocket PC. I am very pleased with the overall performance of the Pocket PC 2002. I have been using it for the past few months and I have found it to be more useful than the original Pocket PCs. Overall I am very pleased with what Microsoft has released. I can't wait to try all the different Pocket PC 2002 systems with different hardware features.

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