A Back-to-Basics PDA

by Jennifer Doran

Rating 80

With the bells and whistles that accompany the latest handhelds, it’s tough to remember the original purpose of the digital PDA was to eliminate those bulky Filofaxes. The Royal daVinci 3 was created to provide the necessities professionals can’t live without, encased in a convenient palm-sized package.

The dV3 boasts 2MB of memory with handwriting-recognition software designed to translate chicken-scratch into coherent sentences. The unit resembles a Palm Pilot, although the dV3’s screen size is a bit smaller. Flash Memory and Personal Information Management (PIM) software is included, as well as sync filters for Microsoft Outlook, Act, Lotus Organizer, and Goldmine. The dV3 also includes three styluses, as well as a separate keyboard for easy data entry.

The dV3 excelled at tracking appointments and beeped appropriately at a preset 15 minutes before a scheduled event. For those on a 10-year plan, it does feature the full calendar years. However, to get to those dates an event must already be entered, otherwise the user must scroll through month after month. Synchronizing Act and Outlook onto the dV3 was easy, and required little more than using Royal’s pre-loaded SmartSync to get started. It was difficult at first to configure different folders from the dV3 to the PC, but after a little fine-tuning, it worked fine, and later attempts went smoothly.

Configuring the dV3 to recognize handwriting was not easy — in fact, in many instances, it was a lost cause. While it understood handwriting in sketch mode, it struggled during phonebook and scheduling applications. Also, the on-screen keyboard was so small it led to numerous mis-types, making the included external keyboard a godsend. And the on-screen keyboard had a tendency to disappear during random stylus movements, and bringing the keyboard back required re-editing a record. The dV3 requests a passcode before every use. However, it can be changed rather easily, so those who value privacy may think twice before storing home phone numbers and addresses on the device.

Overall, Royal’s dV3 handheld PDA did an admirable job of organizing information. The lack of Internet capabilities was barely noticeable except when compared to a similar unit from Handspring or Palm. The dV3 fulfills the basic scheduling and contact management needs of the busy professional at an agreeable price.

Royal Consumer Business Products

Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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