eHolster Review

By: Keith Anderson, RN, NP, MS

Keith is a nurse practitioner at the Center for Joint Replacement at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. He earned his Master's Degree in nursing from Loma Linda University in 1998. Prior to graduate school, he worked as a registered nurse in the ICU and ED of Loma Linda University Community Medical Center for approximately 7 years, having earned his BSN from Pace University in New York in 1993. Prior to entering nursing, Keith earned a Bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1990. Keith has long been interested in technology and science, and has been using Palm OS devices in his practice since 1998.

What can I say about the eHolster? The first time I saw the website, I almost fell off my chair laughing. Come on, I thought, a shoulder holster for your handheld? You'd have to be a pretty major geek to wear one of those. Then I realized that I'm a pretty major geek when it comes to Palm stuff. I also realized that I spend much of my time walking around with a visor on my belt on one side, a pager on the other, and a stowaway keyboard in my lab coat pocket. You see, I work as a "white-coat nurse" (actually a nurse practitioner) for the Orthopedics department at a university hospital in Southern California. I work at two different clinics, on three different days of the week, as well as spending time in an office in the hospital itself. I always wear a lab coat, and the pockets are always full of the various pieces of junk that has to be transported from one place to another. I figured that maybe this eHolster thing might be worth a try.

I settled on the eHolster Pro. The Pro comes with a cell phone pouch on one side and a PDA pouch on the other. They are interchangeable and modular. You can (like me) get another PDA pouch for your stowaway keyboard, and add it on either side. eHolster makes pouches in several sizes, including a double PDA pouch (PDA and stowaway keyboard for instance), a large palmtop case, and three different sized phone cases. I am currently wearing my eHolster with a regular PDA case on each side, with the phone case under the PDA case on the left, and my pager clipped to the strap on my right. Of course, the phone case is empty since my wife repossessed the cellphone (It wasn't healthy to argue with her - she was pregnant at the time), so I keep my sunglasses there instead. The picture has me wearing just a PDA case on each side, because that's all I had at the time.

After several weeks of use, here are my observations. I like the system, despite its high geek-factor, but even I wouldn't wear it in public without a coat over it. Living in southern California, I practically never wear a jacket, unless I'm at work or other formal occasion. Also, the straps are black. If I wear a white shirt, the eHolster, and a white lab coat, it's pretty obvious that I have something on under my coat. Furthermore, reaching under your jacket and tearing open some hook-and-loop tends to make people a little twitchy. I wouldn't recommend reaching for your palm near a cop, or wearing an eHolster to an airport. Finally, the PDA case is just a little tight for my stowaway keyboard, making it basically impossible to put the keyboard away one-handed.
As for the positives, the eHolster is really comfortable, and does get things out of my pockets. It is invisible under my lab coat (If I wear a dark shirt). It doesn't jab me in the waist when I sit down in my car, the way my E&B slipper does, and I can get into it while I'm sitting down. It keeps all of my Palm stuff together, so that at the end of the day I can just take the thing off, and have it all ready to go the next morning.

The manufacturers also talk about the PAN or "Personal Area Network." I guess you could wire things together, for instance synchronizing you palm to your sub-notebook (or "palmtop"), while talking on your cell phone with the hands free unit. If Bluetooth becomes as popular as its proponents hope, you could receive email on your palm via your cell phone, and then send a reply that includes an attached file from your palmtop's hard-drive, all wirelessly.
My final score? 90 out of 100 - You have to be brazen to get started, but its fun once you do.

Keith Anderson can be reached via email

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