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Books, Journals, New Media
January 20, 1999

Pocketbooks: Pocketbooks

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

Pocket PDR Medical Book System base unit (machine only), MED-1770, ISBN 1-56712-410-0, Specifications: Case Memory 32 KB, CPU: ES1, CPU Speed 5 MHz, I/O port serial, LCD 8-10 line 64 × 159 continuous pixel, dimensions 14 ×9 × 2 cm, 7 oz, two AAA batteries included, QWERTY keyboard with 10 function keys, two book card slots, $149.95, Burlington, NJ, Franklin Electronic Publishers, 1998.

The Merck Manual: Medical Book Card, for use with Pocket PDR, 16th ed (Franklin Medical Book System), $129.95, ISBN 1-56712-41l-9, Burlington, NJ, Franklin Electronic Publishers, 1998.

1998 Physicians' Desk Reference: Medical Book Card, for use with Pocket PDR (Franklin Medical Book System), $129.95, ISBN l-567l2-4l8-6, Burlington, NJ, Franklin Electronic Publishers, 1998.

JAMA. 1999;281(3):291. doi:10.1001/jama.281.3.291-JBK0120-4-1

The Pocket PDR (referred to as a "platform" in its documentation) is in essence an electronic book with a limited degree of interactivity. Like Janus it looks both backward and forward: backward to the books from which its content is derived (in the case of this review, the Merck Manual, 16th edition, and the 1998 Physicians' Desk Reference) and forward to the world of electronic data, called up at the touch of a finger.

As a dedicated Macintosh computer user, I am allergic to user manuals, so my first test of the Pocket PDR was to see if I could get it to work without resorting to the instructions. It passed this test easily, although the system does offer a "cheat sheet" of instructions on the inside of the flip-up top. These hopefully will not rub off with time, as some of buttons (eg, Cap/List/Star) and some combinations of buttons (Star + Enter) have functions that may be forgotten if not used routinely.