I only use the AvantGo browser on my Palm V, so if it's different for CE devices, node it.

A sort of web clipping service for handheld computers and PDAs. I say sort of because you need to install the AvantGo browser on your Palm, and that in itself is a complete web browser.

Anyway, it works by retrieving 'channels' of info that you specify. These channels are basically skinny versions of news sites and online magazines. Good examples would be Salon and Wired.

You simply login to the AvantGo site, and tick the channels you want (there are a lot to choose from). You can also add channels through the browser on the Palm device, although I don't think there's as big a selection. Either way, when you next synchronize your device, whichever channels you specified are downloaded.

And that's it really, you simply sync the Palm each day, and every time it dumps the old stuff, and loads the latest pages. You run AvantGo on the Palm and choose which channel you want to read from the 'Home Page'.

The cool things about it are that you can make your own custom channels by specifying the URL of the site, and how many links you want it to follow (how 'deep' to go), what the max limit on channel size is etc.

The other cool thing is that you can sync remotely via a modem (at least in the latest version) - which is cool for me, as I use it with my mobile phone to get the latest news when I'm bored on the train.

Yay for technology.

If I got stuff wrong, please bear in mind that I wrote this based on my experience with AvantGo 3.3 (build 383) running on a Palm V with v3.3 of the PalmOS, with a Nokia 7110 on the Orange Network in the UK.

It turns out I did get one thing wrong (so far) - the AvantGo browser has a limit on the page size it can load. It think it's about 32K. In normal use, I never realised this, but when I pushed it I got a 'page too large to load' error.

AvantGo doesn't sound, at first, like something that would be terribly useful: you select a few pre-packaged channels from a limited selection of Web sites, download skinny text versions of them to your Palm handheld, and read them on it's dinky little 160x160 screen. This is exactly why it wasn't the first thing I downloaded for my own Palm IIIxe (my favorite Christmas present this year).

But once I tried it, I was absurdly fascinated. I've got channels of my favorite news sources: CNet, The Motley Fool, Yahoo!, and ZDNet, with FoxNews thrown in for good measure. Yahoo! is by far the best, because it automatically connects to my My Yahoo! account and downloads customized news feeds, weather, stock market results, and movie theater times.

It's not the whole Internet, but it's more portable than a newspaper and is completely customizable, too. I can go home after work and read the evening news, look up movie showtimes, and see how badly my former employer is doing in the NASDAQ. There's even a MapBlast channel so I can download maps and driving directions without needing to keep a printout. All this on a handheld which is easier to carry than a newspaper and faster than a dial-up modem.

If I had a wireless modem for my Palm, or had one of the more expensive ones with wireless connectivity built-in, I could surf the up-to-the-minute versions of those sites as well. But that's usually overkill, especially after business hours. The five channels I have are plenty to satisfy the information junkie in me. (I'd probably only want wireless Internet if I could surf Everything on it, anyways.)

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