Adobe announced Tuesday a free beta, or test, version of its Acrobat Reader for the Palm operating system, allowing handhelds to read and search files created using the PDF (Portable Document Format). PDF preserves the appearance of a document, even if the person opening the file doesn't have the same fonts or programs as the person who created it.
In related news, Compaq Computer has unveiled new products for its iPaq handheld computer including a serial cable that allows the iPaq to use a cell phone as a modem. This is similar to the Mobile Internet Kit that Palm introduced last year.
Compaq also announced a new $399 bundle, which combines its monochrome iPaq with an expansion sleeve for add-on modules. The new bundle includes Peacemaker Professional software for beaming information via an infrared port to other handhelds. Compaq introduced the monochrome iPaq in January for $349 without the expansion sleeve.
As for Adobe, the company is making the beta of Acrobat Reader for Palm available from its Web site. There are no announced plans for a version of Acrobat that runs on Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system, which competes with the Palm OS.
"Customers have expressed an overwhelming interest in reading Adobe PDF files on mobile computing devices like Palm handhelds," Adobe Vice President Joe Eschbach said in a statement. "We're excited to provide the public early access to this new capability."
A final version is expected in the second half of the year and will likely also be free.
There is one catch, however. The current version requires a computer that runs Windows 98, NT, Me or 2000. It doesn't work with Apple Computer's Mac OS. Support for the Mac is expected at a later date.