I don't know if you have ever dealt with the tech software, but I think I need to clear some things up. First, the tech is not for the faint. I have spent endless hours trying to perfect my car. The car did run on my base map, but it was far from optimal. My current map looks nothing like the one originally sent to me. I have changed just about everything, from my TOG to all of my EGO table.
Some other things you are wrong about:
You DO need a laptop. As said before, a $300 thinkpad will do. I am almost positive it won't run on Windows CE, so it won't run on a Palm. You can run as much boost/timing/rpms/fuel as you like, if your motor will handle it.
I'm willing to bet that if you can't handle a Haltech, you can't handle a Tech. They are both basically stand alone, they just have different ways of approaching it.