There are few electronic organizers that haven't passed through Robert Chassin's hands. He's tried the Apple Newton, Sharp Electronic's Zaurus, and Hewlett-Packard's HP OmniGo. But they were too cumbersome and too difficult to link to a desktop computer. "The Newton was good, but the thing was gigantic. I might as well have been carrying around a subnotebook," says Chassin, a senior administrator for New York HospitalCornell Medical Center.
Chassin may have finally found his match. It's the Pilot, a pen-based electronic address book, scheduler, and memo pad from U.S. Robotics, in Los Altos, Calif. (800-881-7256). The tiny organizer is about the size of a deck of cards, but thinner. It comes in two models: the Pilot 1000 has 128 KB of memory ($299), and the Pilot 5000 has 512 KB ($350); both can be upgraded to 1 MB.
According to Chassin, the trouble with transferring data from most electronic organizers to a PC is that the user may lose track of which has the most up-to-date information and may inadvertently overwrite important appointments. The Pilot eliminates that problem because it automatically synchronizes with the PC: it electronically updates the PC with only the latest entries and downloads the entries that it doesn't have.
Now when Chassin returns to his office, he rests the Pilot in its miniature docking cradle, which is electronically attached to his PC's serial port. He pushes a button, and the Pilot and the PC exchange the appointments, addresses, memos, and other information that Chassin or his assistant recently entered into each. "I never have to worry that my Pilot will erase something important on my PC's calendar," says Chassin. "The thing is idiot-proof."