The PalmPilot sips battery juice at a slower rate than nearly any other computer you can buy. A color Windows CE device runs through its pair of AA batteries in a matter of hours—not weeks, as with the PalmPilot. Even people (such as 3Com employees) who use their PalmPilots constantly— especially people who do a lot of HotSyncs and infrared beaming—get nearly a month out of each set of batteries.
You might assume that the PalmPilot has two basic operating modes—on and off. Actually, though, it’s constantly lapsing into a third mode called idle, in which the processor is shut down, using no battery power; that’s the state your palmtop is in whenever you’re reading something on the screen (as opposed to writing or punching buttons). The instant you begin tapping or writing, the processor wakes up. Since most people spend more seconds studying what’s on the screen than manipulating it, idle mode is one of the great secrets of the device’s long battery life.
A fresh pair of AAA batteries generates 3 volts of power. (You can track your current pair’s remaining charge by viewing the “fuel gauge” on the Applications screen.)
When the batteries are down to 2.1 volts and then 1.8 volts, low-battery warning messages appear on the screen. Even then, you still have several days’ worth of typical use left in your current pair of AAAs.
When the remaining juice is very low, you may begin to encounter bizarre operational problems. The ...