Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September 2001 Current Issue
September 2001 Tech filesPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:


BY Bob Walters

Not just for contacts and e-mail, personal digital assistants can help planners get the job done

Now that PDAs are as ubiquitous as the Internet, it’s time to examine using the lightweight devices for more than just playing games and beaming business cards.

With the newer versions now on the market like the Palm VIIx, Palm m105, Visor Edge and iPaq H3650 and their increased memory and expansion slots, the days of lugging notebooks to meetings might be in the past.

The tech buzzwords of the moment are m-business and m-commerce the “m” standing for “mobile” so it’s natural that the handheld meeting solution is emerging. Two examples are Event-to-go from Eventcentric (www.eventcentric.com) and mobilePlanit from OpenGrid (www.opengrid.com).

These systems involve setting up an event portal Web site to host schedules, exhibitor and speaker information, local weather, news and other updated meeting details. Using infrared or wireless Internet connections or PDA cradles set up at the show, attendees can download the data, send and receive messages, create personal agendas, view floor plans and even provide responses to questionnaires.

Each company hosts the information and has “try and buy” programs available to sell Palm Pilots to attendees who don’t yet own a handheld device.

Thin notebook computers and compact LCD projectors make it easy to carry presentation equipment, but now PDAs make the process even lighter. Three products allow you to make presentations from PDAs that use the Palm Operating System.

If you have a Handspring Visor, look into Presenter-to-Go from Margi (www.presenter-to-go.com), which works with either an included 2 MB flash memory module that stores up to 100 slides or by using the PDA’s internal memory. The $299 price includes a cable for connecting to the projector or monitor, and a remote control.

You create the presentation on your PC and “hotsync” it to your Visor. Then leave the laptop at home. The slides have to be bare bones, however; Presenter-to-Go doesn’t support PowerPoint slide transitions, animation or multimedia.

For Palm Pilots and Visors, choose from SlideShow Commander (www.synsolutions.com) or powerViewer (www.ibrite.com). While these products are priced at only $39.95 to $59.95, they require a PC to make the actual presentation. The applications just turn your Palm into a remote mouse at the end of a 15-foot cable. Both companies are planning wireless versions if and when the Bluetooth technology is adopted, but some form of PC still will be required.

To keep everyone on schedule or to coordinate meetings, look into WeSync (www.wesync.com). This Web-based group-calendaring product lets you view other people’s schedules on your PDA so you can coordinate meetings and contacts. You can define a specific community of people and share your calendars, notes and schedules with same. The WeSync utility will automatically update your PDA when you access the Internet from the cradle or via a wireless connection.

The many planners who use ACT! or Goldmine software to manage meetings might consider a $49.95 software called CompanionLink (www.companionlink.com). It synchronizes data back and forth, including contacts, appointments, notes and history. CompanionLink Professional, priced at $74.95, synchronizes multiple categories and databases.

For more, dive into the PDA world at www.Zatz.com, www.handango.com and www.palmpower.com.

Bob Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak software.

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