Thanks to Wayne Sanderson for writing this FAQ entry.

Question: I know there are two kinds of Motorola Envoy. Which is which- How are they different physically? Internally?

Question: I want a Motorola Envoy equipped with MagicCap 1.5. I see ads for Motorola Envoys for sale every so often, but the sellers are either unwilling or unable to tell me which device they are selling. How can I tell the difference by just looking at a thumbnail snapshot?

Actually, there are FIVE possible kinds of Motorola Envoy you may encounter- Two which are original factory stock, and three flavors which resulted from the upgrade program that Motorola undertook when they launched the Envoy 150 & MagicCap 1.5.

Number one is the original product, the 100. This is an Envoy with the standard LCD screen, MagicCap 1.0 and 1 megabyte (under 500k user available) internal RAM. This was the weak sister of all commercially marketed MagicCap devices. The higher overhead required to manage two pc card slots and a radio modem and accompanying software in addition to the wireline commo apps available in the Magic Links made this an absolutely dog slow device with any kind of worthwhile software installed on a memory card/cards- don’t even think about storing anything in main memory!

Number two is the Envoy 150. This is the last and best MagicCap device produced by Motorola. It came equipped with the same dual card slots and radio modem that the 100 had and was dimensionally identical with the original device. There were subtle cosmetic differences, which I will address presently. Internally, the 150 was of course equipped with MagicCap OS v1.5 and a new lineup of packages in ROM. America Online was left out of the new device, but PersonaLink and Radiomail were retained in new upgraded versions, and wireless PersonaLink was in ROM as well. Outfitters Direct was also in ROM. Unlike the PIC2000 & 2000a devices, OAG Flightline was not in ROM but was included on floppy disk in Magic XChange format. Also in an about from Sony’s final devices, Pocket Quicken was included in ROM on the MagicCap 1.5 ROM lineup from Motorola.

The screen introduced with the 150 was the result of a joint effort in cooperation with Kodak to create a passive backlight for palmtop devices. The product was called Optimax, and it was a holographic reflector type screen that scavenged ambient light striking it from various directions and reflected it directly at the user. From my personal experience using it I can say that it works, meaning that you can see your device’s screen in any kind of dim light, but it is a poor substitute for backlighting. (My feeling is that this is the user’s consolation prize in lieu of a robust battery.)

Finally, the 150 featured the two megabytes of internal RAM that the Sony 1.51.6 devices had. The three other versions of the Motorola Envoy one may encounter were the result of the upgrade program Motorola offered in parallel with the launch of the Envoy 150. For a nominal fee, owners of the Envoy 100 could have the factory perform a flash upgrade of the OS, to MagicCap 1.5. For an additional (and much steeper) fee, one could have the factory retrofit the device with the new Optimax holographic screen which was standard on the Envoy 150.

So, the possible variations are- Envoy 100 with either, 1) OS Flash Upgrade only, 2) Optimax Screen Upgrade only, or 3) Complete OS and Screen Upgrade. (If anyone ever encounters the number 2 variation, Screen Upgrade, no OS upgrade, e-mail me- I don’t believe that one exists, although the option to create it did.) Now, how to tell them apart? Well, the screen just jumps out at you when you see it’s soft green glow- It is hard to miss. Of course, to determine what OS version a device you are holding is running, turn it on and in the desk scene tap the question mark in the upper left corner of the screen. The OS version will be displayed. To check the specific device, you need to look in the Storeroom at the first memory shelf. If it has nothing other than the empty built in storage packages and has a megabyte and a half available, it is an Envoy 150. If it has less than 450k showing, it is an Envoy 100 device.

Now, the trick! You are looking at an eBay or other auction of a Motorola Envoy. The all important OS version and memory numbers are not listed in the description, and the seller is mum even after multiple e-mails. All you have to go by is the auction photo of an Envoy, power off, screen blank. Do you take a chance? No everyone can afford to play with money like that. But you have a Magic Link PIC1000 and you want a newer, faster device. What to do?

Thankfully, there is a cosmetic difference that you can look for that will prevent you from inadvertently purchasing an un-upgraded Envoy 100. On the original Envoy, the logos on the inner lid, just below the touch screen are white. Motorola is on the left, Envoy is stamped on the right, slightly smaller lettering. On the devices equipped with the new screen, Envoy is stamped in a TEAL BLUE color and in a larger lettering size, whereas Motorola remains the same size and in white. (I had always thought that only the 150 had the teal blue lettering, that is until I acquired an Envoy with the new screen that turned out to be a 100 with the OS and screen upgrades. My hypothesis is that the upgrade was accomplished by swapping the entire lid assembly during upgrade, rather than prying apart the old lid by hand to change touch screens.) My unit was purchased from the first owner, and he stated that he got it from Motorola just as they were discontinuing production and closing them out. Mot may have upgraded all of their remaining 100s to the new screen and OS when they became available- Encouraging thought! A screen upgraded Envoy 100 and an Envoy 150 are cosmetically indistinguishable by viewing a picture. At least you stand a better chance of not getting the boat anchor if you have to take a chance buying a unit without the seller being forthcoming with the vital identifying info.

Question: I have just acquired a Motorola Envoy. How do I sign up for the Radiomail Service? They don’t seem to exist anymore. Did they change their name?

Radiomail by all appearances is defunct. Ardis, the radio data network that the Envoy’s radio modem is built to operate over has changed hands twice and now names as well. American Mobile Satellite Corp. bought Ardis from Motorola a couple of years back, and AmMobile was in turn bought by Motient, which is currently operating the network. How compatible the Envoy still is you must take up with Motient’s support people. It is remotely possible that you could still get Ardis Personal Messaging Service or River Run’s Mail On The Run! to work over the Motient network.