The Palm m100 isn’t as classy as the Palm V. And it isn’t as powerful as the Pocket PC. It also can’t connect wirelessly.

So why should you consider this product as an enterprise solution? There’s really only one reason:

It packs the simplicity and power of other Palms, and it costs about half as much. According to Palm, that’s exactly what companies want.

“The primary attraction is going to be the price point. If you’re a large company looking at a handheld deployment for thousands of units, that starts adding up to serious dollars,” said Dan Glessner, Palm’s director of enterprise marketing.

We reviewed the m100 to see how it stacks up with other Palm versions and whether this less expensive model could, in fact, be as useful to an enterprise as, say, the Palm V. Here’s what we found.

The basics
The m100 is comparable to the older Palm IIIe, which is no longer being produced by Palm. Both models use batteries and come with 2 MB of memory. The m100 sells for $149, well below the Palm V’s price of $329.

The m100 is Palm’s low-cost entry into the handheld market.

The screen is slightly smaller than other handheld models. I measured its length at about three-eighths of an inch less than the three-inch monitor of the Palm V.

While I had no problem adjusting to the smaller size, one of my more near-sighted coworkers was put off by it. “That screen doesn’t need to be any smaller!” he told me. It’s a point worth considering if you expect heavy usage out of the m100.

The unit operates with two AAA batteries and weighs 4.4 ounces when the batteries are installed. It also comes with a hard flip top with a small window so you can check the time without actually opening the Palm.

The cradle, one piece of standard Palm equipment, is missing from the m100. Instead, the m100 comes with a HotSync cable that provides the same function but more mobility.

The m100 comes with the standard Palm programs such as:

  • ToDo
  • HotSync
  • Address
  • Memo Pad

You also get Note Pad, a program that allows you to scribble notes directly on your screen and have them recorded in your own handwriting. It’s only useful for short notes, though. The m100 screen is too small and the scrolling feature on Note Pad is too slow to write notes of any length.

The m100 does not include e-mail software. If you want that, you’ll have to buy it separately from a third-party provider. The additional cost will vary, depending on the software selected.

In addition to the English version, the m100 will ship in Japanese, Italian, French, Spanish, and German versions.

The bottom line
The m100 works just as well as other, higher-priced models. It’s durable, light, and user-friendly.

If you’re going to buy a large quantity of PDAs and need a low-cost solution, the m100 should definitely top your list of products to consider.
Do you use PDAs in your company for more than just an electronic date book? If so, we’d like to hear your story. Post a comment or send us an e-mail on how you are using handhelds to mobilize your workforce.