The ultimate pager is small but carries a hefty price...

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February 08, 1999|By Gareth Branwyn

The ultimate pager is small but carries a hefty price tag

Two-way pagers are nothing new, but they've had a few problems. The pagers are too expensive, too large and cumbersome. Their keyboards are hard to use, battery life is too short and the service fees for messages have been high. But Research in Motion's Inter@active Pager 950 addresses many of these issues with real panache.

First , it's small (3.5 inches by 2.5 inches by .93 inches) and lightweight at 4.9 ounce Where other two-way pagers use a clamshell design that opens to reveal a screen and keyboard, the Pager 950 looks like a conventional pager with a teeny QWERTY keyboard on the front. It may look impossible to do any real typing on this pager, but I was amazed at how fast I could type after only a few minutes of practice. The user interface on the backlit LCD screen is as well-designed as the keyboard. I figured out all the major functions without cracking open the manual (always a good sign). And where other two-way pagers get a week or less out of a battery, the Pager 950 can run up to 500 hours on one AA cell.

The Pager 950 allows you to send and receive conventional e-mail and two-way pages, send faxes, and even transmit text-to-voice messages. For text-to-voice messaging, you compose your message in the usual way, send it to the phone number of the person you wish to reach and a synthesized voice (that typical robot with the slightly Scandinavian accent) reads your message to the recipient. The unit will store more than 500 names and contact numbers.

One problem this impressive device has not been able to address is the high price of two-way paging. The unit costs $359 if you buy it outright, plus the monthly service fees which start at $29.95. You can also rent the pager for six months, starting at $25.95 per month. A dizzying array of options (including leasing) are available. Check out the BellSouth Wireless site (www.bellsouthwd.com) for service plan info.

Information: 519-888-7465 or www.rim.net

Car mount for the PalmPilot aids road warriors

If you're one of those road warriors who tries to read and (heaven forbid) enter data on your PalmPilot while cruising down the highway, you'll find the UniMount system is heaven-sent. These PalmPilot holders come in a variety of configurations. A windshield mount ($69.95) uses suction cups to attach to the windshield between the driver and passenger seats. A floating stylus above the mount lets you access contact entries and other data without having to use the normal pen stylus. A more expensive (and permanent) pedestal mount ($119.95) attaches to the floorboard and includes a companion cell phone bay. For temporary mounting of a PalmPilot, say in a rental car, there's a vent-mounted holder ($54.95). The UniMount system is compatible with all PalmPilot models and the IBM WorkPad.

Revolve Design sells a PalmPilot mount for your golf cart steering wheel, but if you can't part with your Pilot long enough to hit the links, you don't need a UniMount, you need quality time with a good therapist.

Information: 800-580-2210 or www.revolvedesign.com

You can find full reviews of these and other neat gadgets at www.streettech.com.

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