September 8, 1998 2:00 PM PDT

Franklin revs Rex handheld

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The ever-expanding world of handheld personal digital assistants got a little larger today, with the introduction of the Rex Pro, the latest credit-card sized communications device from Franklin.

The introduction of the Rex Pro has also lead to discounts on the first Rex.

Until recently, the handheld market seemed to consist mostly of Palm Computing's omnipresent PalmPilot products and devices with small keyboards running Microsoft's Windows CE operating system.

However, the market has exploded in the last year with the introduction of everything from largish PC companions with color screens running Windows CE to entry-level digital organizers like the recently announced $99 Royal DaVinci.

Additionally, Palm Computing is expected to introduce slimmer PalmPilots later this year.

Communications on the ultra-portable Rex Pro is mostly a one-way street. Users can keep a rolodex or read downloaded e-mails on it, as well as edit data downloaded from a PC. However, owners cannot input notes like on larger PDAs.

The Rex, however, weighs a minuscule 1.4 ounces and fits in a wallet. For data synchronization, users can plug the Rex Pro directly into a notebook PC card slot, or connect the included docking station to a PC via the serial port.

Jointly developed by watch-maker Citizen and Motorola, the Rex features Citizen's docking station and PC card hardware, and Motorola's Starfish data entry and PC synchronization software. Franklin handles all Rex marketing and distribution.

The Rex Pro offers 512K of memory to store 6,000 records, an LCD screen, and 6 navigation buttons. The first Rex allowed for the storage of only 3,000 records.

In addition to contact management applications, the $229.95 Rex Pro includes the Rex docking station and leather carrying case. The existing Rex PC companion has been discounted to $99, to make room for the Rex Pro.

Both the Rex Pro and Rex PC are available at computer and office supply retailers.


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