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Franklin REX PRO Proves Less Is More.

If you were to lake a Palm Pilot and shrink it down to the size of a credit card (or a PCMCIA Type II card), you may wind up with something very much like the REX PRO, an interesting personal data device that may prove invaluable to those who discover it. The REX PRO is not only the size of a credit card, it's also designed to dock to a notebook's CardBUS (or PCMCIA) port or to a docking adapter that connects to a PC's serial port. Most of the REX PRO's face is dominated by a LCD display. At the right, a set of touch sensitive buttons is used to provide input and control of the REX PRO.

The REX PRO has a limited feature set and, unlike the Palm products, is not programmable. Unlike the Palm, which can be used to run many applications beyond those that are preinstalled, the REX PRO is essentially a powerful data entry, storage, and retrieval tool. That's part of the beauty of the REX PRO.

The REX PRO provides six basic functions: it maintains a calendar, it has a contact manager that gives you access to multiple contact lists, it provides a to-do list, and it provides a memo creation utility. In addition, a world time clock, capable of displaying two time zones, and a configuration function round out the overall feature set of the REX PRO. The REX PRO's 512KB of RAM are used to store the data for all the databases--although, in 1999 terms, 512K may not seem like a lot--when it comes to basic ASCII data, it's plenty.

Basic sorting tools make managing the contact list easy. Day, week, and month views add flexibility to calendar management. An alarm is also built in, but is not loud enough to be of much use except in quiet places--it is useless on trade show floors, for example. A somewhat cumbersome key input method lets you add or change data; this may be useful when on the road, but the REX PRO was clearly designed to share data with notebook computers and PCs.

REX PRO comes with a basic PIM that borrows many of the features of Sidekick. A second application provides for data sharing with many popular PIMs. I've been able to use the REX PRO at the main office and at my remote office, using the REX PRO as the bridge between both locations.

With a suggested list price of $199.95 ($229.95 with a docking adapter), the REX PRO is an interesting alternative to the Palm Pilot, if what you're looking for is a very compact data management device. Instead of a hip holster Palm, my primary data tool fits in my shirt pocket. One word of warning--the REX PRO is thin, and its LCD display is vulnerable to damage if flexed. A sturdy case is recommended.
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Title Annotation:Hardware Review; Franklin Electronic Publisher's personal digital assistant
Author:Brownstein, Mark
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Article Type:Evaluation
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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