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Electronic organizers.

What time-starved executive could get by without that leatherTv bound life document known as the organizer? Only today, the busy executive's organizer is as likely to be pocket-sized and electronic as it is to be leather. Indeed, electronic organizers kind of a cross between a pocket calendar and a pocket calculator-have begun to appear.


Electronic organizers range in function from souped-up calendars to supercalculators to near-computers. Most are the size of a large pocket calculator. There are at least three functions common to good organizers.

The calendar function allows entry of appointments in much the same manner as you write them in a pocket calendar. Most calendar functions also include an alarm clock, which can be invaluable for today's harried executive.

The second function common to most organizers is a telephone directory, which tracks the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and sometimes other information about acquaintances. Some organizers have separate telephone directories for different purposes. For example, you might keep business contacts in one telephone directory and family and friends in another.

A third feature that most organizers have is the memo pad. This function serves as a word processor, a place where you can store notes and small memos. These memo functions leave a lot to be desired when stacked against word processors or PCs, yet they do serve their purpose.

Many organizers have other features, such as calculators, to-do lists, clocks, and optional cards that contain more sophisticated functions like spreadsheets.

One optional function that is an absolute must if you're concerned about backing up data in your organizer or combining it with other systems is the link to a PC. These links obviously add to the cost of the organizer but are indispensable if you're serious about protecting your data.

Advantages versus disadvantages

Like everything, electronic organizers have their pluses and minuses. Here are some of the advantages of electronic organizers:

* Storage. Although these units don't have the storage of a PC, they store massive amounts of data compared to a pocket calendar.

* Electronic format. If you want to keep your PC and electronic pocket calendar in sync, the data in your organizer is already stored in electronic format. With the proper integration of systems, no retyping is required to transfer information to your PC.

* PC link. if you lose your pocket calendar, you've also lost the important data it contains. An electronic organizer allows you to back up your data. In case of loss, you can recover the information it contained.

Password protection. This feature allows your private information to remain so, providing more security than a pocket calendar or notebook.

* Long buttery life. Notebook or laptop PCs have battery life measured in hours; in comparison, organizers have battery life measured in years-five years or more is common.

* Lightweight. Although these units are pretty heavy to lug around in your pocket-they can weigh up to 12 ounces-the are lightweight when compared to a notebook PC, which can weigh six pounds or more.

* Instant data access. You can easily find data in these units. Most organizers come with data retrieval functions designed to quickly search out any data.

As handy as these units are, they do have their drawbacks, including some of the following:

* Typing. Some units come with the standard typewriter-"QWERTY"-keyboard; however, even the best units have munchkin-sized keyboards that make typing difficult.

* Confusing features. These units must be small. Therefore, many keys double and sometimes triple in function, making data entry confusing.

* Data loss. You will eventually use up the memory in these units. When this happens, you must remove old data to make room for new data. And if you don't have a PC link, you will lose the old data. If your purpose is to have an easily accessible historical record, units without a PC link are limited in their usefulness.

* The novelty factor. The instant you pull one out, you are apt to draw a crowd-people want to see your "toy" and learn how it works.

There are two "giants" in the organizer category: the Sharp Wizard OZ-8000 and the Casio B.O.S.S. SF 9500. Both have similar features, including the optional PC link and plug-in feature cards. The OZ-8000 lists at $399 and the SF 9500 lists for $269.

Electronic organizers aren't for everybody. If you occasionally make appointments or don't need a telephone list of your business acquaintances handy, then your pocket calendar will do nicely. And, if you don't get along too well with electronic devices, you may find organizers cumbersome. On the other hand, you may find an electronic organizer useful if you are extremely busy, find scheduling to be a problem, make a lot of telephone calls, or need to coordinate your calendar with your PC.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Technology at Work
Author:Harrison, Steven L.
Publication:Association Management
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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