Finally...something I know something about!!
Let me elaborate..
You need to understand that "Palm" is a brand name for hardware devices -Palm Pilots, like the m515, etc.
Palm is also an "operating system" (like Windows 98 or XP is an operating system). The Sony Clie' devices use the Palm operating system -Palm OS (current version is 4.1 or 5, I believe).
Now there is a competitor called PocketPC. This is Microsoft's handheld device operating system.
There is an ongoing debate about which operating system is best (more about that later). Key issues in the debate are:
* Palm has had and continues to have the most freeware/ shareware and especially, clinical reference programs for doctors and nurses.
* Palm is cheaper to buy initially.
* Pocket PC is Microsoft, therefore inheritantly, compatable with other Microsoft products (like Office-Excel, Access, etc).
* Pocket PC may be behind in the development of clinical software, but won't be second for long.
I don't promote one or another. I just think people that are contemplating need to be aware of what these terms mean. (As I am sure many of you know. I am directing this at the beginning handheld user.)
As far as the handhelds themselves, you can get a pretty good starter for $200-$300. The Sony Clie' has a color model for just over $200. Dell has just introduced a nice model for about $200. Most newer models have a minimum of 16mg of memory on the device and are expandable "to infinity" with cards. As mentioned in another post, you can get a 64mg memory card for less than $50. Best Buy online is a good place to look.
Now for a primer on programs:
Epocrates is one of the first medical reference programs to be widely adopted. It is a very comprehensive drug reference that gives dosages, indications, even prices. It is updated every time you synchronize your handheld. It has previously only been available in Palm OS, but they are currently developing a Pocket PC format that should be available in the next month or so. Epocrates is free for the basic program, you can get a couple of other versions for a reasonable fee, including Infectious Disease ref and formularies.
Epocrates has traditionally been aimed at the physician market and does not have some things nurses need, such as monitoring information, teaching.
Some drug programs that nurses like include Davis Drug Guide and Lexi-Comp.
A very popular reference program is PepidRN. I only saw this demonstrated- it is a 20mg program and I didn't have room.
An excellent site for all kinds of information, program downloads, even buying a handheld loaded with the programs you want is www.pdacortex.com (previously RNPalm). Check out their list serv for pdas in nursing for the most current input by people using these devices every day.
http://www.Pepid.com and http://www.skyscape.com are other good sites.
Hope I didn't put you to sleep. I did a couple of PowerPoint presentations on handheld computers in healthcare- that would have been more appealing!!
Good luck , Cindy