The iPaq Is Cool but Pricey

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Computers just aren't as nerdy as they used to be. I realized this recently during the PC Expo and MacExpo trade shows in New York. Right alongside the geeks in shorts, dark socks and white sneakers were some genuine hipsters, bared midriffs, tattoos and all. And it's not just the people, it's the stuff they're looking at too. Case in point: the iPAQ, Compaq's new handheld computer. It stole the show at PC Expo and Compaq can't make them fast enough to meet the demand. I can see why — this thing looks really cool. The finish rivals the chrome on Danny Zuko's Greased Lightning and the stylus jumps out of its secret compartment with the touch of a button — very Ethan Hunt. It comes with a vivid color screen, a built-in MP3 player and, oh yeah, a $499 price tag.

Looking cool rarely comes cheaply, and the iPAQ is no exception. It's one of three devices (the Hewlett-Packard Jornada and the Casio Cassiopeia are the others) that run on Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system. Pocket PC is a pared-down version of Windows designed to run on a palm-sized computer. Windows users will feel right at home — the menus work in a similar way, and Pocket PC includes scaled-down versions of Excel, Word and Internet Explorer. MORE>>