The author, a principal at a middle school in California, selects the handheld and laptop computers that offer the best combination of necessary features (for educators) and price. By category, his choices are:

Basic Handheld Computers

  • Handspring Visor Platinum (http://www.handspring.com, retail price of $299) offers good memory, good software, and a decent screen. It provides all the necessary linkage capabilities to personal computers (PCs) that make current-generation handheld computers so valuable. It is a fast machine that can be expanded with peripheral equipment.
  • Handspring Visor Edge (http://www.handspring.com, $399) is slimmer than the Visor Platinum, so it requires slightly more complicated attachments to expand its capabilities.
  • Palm m105 (http://www.palm.com, $199) is a basic machine that is most effective for simple record keeping (such as calendars, to-do lists, and contact names). The m105 is very light, rechargeable, and can link to PCs.

Color Screen Handheld Computers

  • Casio EM-500 (http://www.casio.com, $500) is a new model that improves on the memory and functionality of earlier Casios. As with all of the color handhelds, it needs to be recharged more often than the monochrome-monitor handhelds.
  • Compaq iPaq H3650 Pocket PC (http://www.compaq.com, $500) debuted last year and immediately set the standard for screen quality in entry-level handhelds.
  • Handspring Visor Prism (http://www.handspring.com, $450) also offers a very good screen.
  • Palm Inc. m505 (http://www.palm.com, $449) is a new machine without a track record yet. Based on its specifications, it promises a high-quality screen and a powerful, advanced operating system.

Notebook Computers

  • Apple iBook (http://www.apple.com, $1,299). As with so much in the computer world, the newest model is smaller, lighter, faster, and cheaper than its predecessor. It can fit in a student’s backpack and may become the laptop of choice for students, as it weighs only 4.9 lbs. It has full multimedia capability already installed.
  • Dell Inspiron 3800 (http://www.dell.com, $1,099). A good basic computer with decent memory and speed. To match the memory and processing speed of the other laptops on this list, users will need to spend an additional $400 for the upgraded model.
  • IBM ThinkPad iSeries (http://www.ibm.com, $1,649). This machine has a high-quality processor and 64 megabytes of memory. It can connect to the internet via a built-in wireless connection.
  • Toshiba Satellite 2805-S202 (http://www.toshiba.com, $1,799). As its slightly higher cost implies, this machine has faster speed, twice the memory, and a larger screen than most of the entry-level laptops.