The ability to read text-only documents on a Palm's small screen is nothing new. How about viewing documents with their images still intact?
The new Acrobat Reader for Palm OS from Adobe Systems does an admirable though imperfect job of extrapolating each element on a page and reproducing those elements - pictures and all - in a single-column format.
Using a beta version of the free software, I found that the concept underlying Adobe's Portable Document Format files - to allow documents to retain the look and feel of their original form, right down to the layout and fonts - translated surprisingly well.
Installation was reasonably straightforward: I downloaded a desktop application to my PC (the system you use must have Microsoft Windows 98 or higher, or Windows NT 4 or higher) and used HotSync to link the reader component to my Handspring Visor Deluxe (the program is compatible with Palm OS version 3.0.1 or higher). I then launched the PC software and added PDF files to the transfer queue, after deciding whether to save space by removing the images.
Although the resulting display was not an exact replica, the gist of my magazine pages was largely retained, and the resulting single-column translations were easy to read. You can enlarge images to see small portions at a time.
Problems may arise when you view files not created using Acrobat 5 - which embeds information for reconstructing a document into the PDF file. A second limitation: you can't view encrypted PDFs, such as those on some product spec sheets or prescription drug inserts. Even so, Acrobat Reader is a useful and worthwhile addition to your handheld's repertoire of software for the Palm OS.
Acrobat Reader for Palm OS
4 stars; Price: Free; URL: www.adobe.com