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Web clipping: AvantGo.

Overview: AvantGo is a free Web-clipping application for Palm and Pocket PC computers that permits downloading and viewing of specified Internet content during synchronization. A wide variety of medical and nonmedical content channels (Web sites) may be selected for download from the company Web site. The capability to create private channels holds tremendous promise for education and practice management. Handheld-enabled providers interested in an affordable option for viewing Internet content will appreciate this program.

Background: The Internet has revolutionized information management. Never before has such a variety of content been so rapidly available to millions of people. In the not-so-distant past, our only on-ramp to the information superhighway was a desktop computer hardwired to a phone line. Recent developments in cell phone technology and wireless local area networks (WLAN) have opened the door to real-time Internet access on handheld computers. Unfortunately, at this time, such access requires that the handheld device be wired to a compatible cell phone or be WLAN enabled. These arrangements are often inconvenient and/or expensive. Web-clipping software, on the other hand, provides an inexpensive alternative for downloading and viewing Web-based content on handheld computers.

Description: AvantGo is one such application. The parent company (AvantGo Inc.) was founded in 1997 and has become a leading provider of mobile solutions to individuals and organizations. Over 8 million users currently subscribe to this service. The program is available for both Palm and Pocket PC devices. In fact, it is often included in the bundled software that is packaged with handheld computers. The AvantGo Web site catalogs more than 2,500 public-content channels (Web sites that may be "clipped" by the program). These channels are organized by subject category (such as automotive, health, or travel), task at hand, or geographic location, and may be easily searched. Many organizations (including several medical institutions) have created private-access AvantGo channels for information dissemination among their employees, customers, physicians, and students.

In simplest terms, here's how it works: Install the program on the handheld computer. Sign on to the Internet, and access the AvantGo Web site. Register for an account by establishing a user name and password. Browse the available channels on the AvantGo site, selecting those of interest for addition to the account. Thereafter, synchronize the device while still connected to the Internet. Content will be clipped from selected Web sites (channels) and deposited into the AvantGo application on the handheld.

Once on device, a tap of the AvantGo icon opens the program and displays a list of clipped Web content ("my channels"). Individual channels are accessed by tap-sensitive hyperlink. Additional navigation icons (including forward, backward, and home) are conveniently accessed in the upper right corner of all screens (lower screen toolbar for Pocket PC version). Subsequent synchronizations overwrite previously downloaded content. New channels may be added to the account (and old channels deleted) while logged in at the AvantGo Web site.

Final Notes: AvantGo is a free, easy-to-configure handheld application that allows synchronization of selected public domain Web content to Palm and Pocket PC computers. Downloaded information is well organized and automatically updated during subsequent synchronizations. Navigation is intuitive. Private-channel development possibilities extend the value of this application to the enterprise level.

Synchronize with AvantGo, and take a piece of the Web with you!

Contact/Download Information:

Title: AvantGo

Developer: AvantGo Inc.

Web site:

Platform: Palm OS (version 3.x or higher), Pocket PC (WinCE 3.0 or higher)

Memory: Palm 428 kilobytes, Pocket PC 605-920 kilobytes (Additional memory required for data.)

Cost: Free. (Private-channel configuration available at cost.)

DR. THOMAS G. MCLEOD and DR. JON O. EBBERT are with the division of community internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Their reviews are independent evaluations, and they receive no compensation from and do not consult with the manufacturers of the products evaluated in this column.
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Title Annotation:Digital Assistance
Author:McLeod, Thomas G.; Ebbert, Jon O.
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2003
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