Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
4/3/2006
01:53 PM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
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Which PDA Should I Buy?

I need a new PDA. And I need your help. My old Palm Vx is getting flakier and flakier. Now almost every time I open it up I have to do a reset and retrain the digitizer, because the touchscreen loses the settings that tell it what object on the screen I'm selecting. I've looked at the current Palms, and the current crop of Pocket PCs, and I can't make up my mind. If you have one of these, would you mind answering three questions? (1) Would I really use fancy features like WiFi access and a buil

I need a new PDA. And I need your help. My old Palm Vx is getting flakier and flakier. Now almost every time I open it up I have to do a reset and retrain the digitizer, because the touchscreen loses the settings that tell it what object on the screen I'm selecting. I've looked at the current Palms, and the current crop of Pocket PCs, and I can't make up my mind.

If you have one of these, would you mind answering three questions? (1) Would I really use fancy features like WiFi access and a built-in MP3 player? (2)Is there any advantage at all to a Pocket PC over a Palm? (3) Is there something I'm missing here, another maker, another OS?Let me get a little more specific, and then please leave me a comment at the bottom of this blog item.

1. Would I really use fancy features like WiFi access and a built-in MP3 player?
I've had a Palm Pilot for as long as there have been Palm Pilots. I bought the Vx so I could get the add-on modem and wireless e-mail service, which worked pretty well for its time, about five years or more ago.

Now I'm looking at Palm's LifeDrive and T/X. I'm attracted to the long list of features. I like the idea of WiFi access for Web browsing and e-mail access, an MP3 player, and the ability to unload the SD card from my digital camera into a separate storage and viewing device. But the LifeDrive had seemed wildly overpriced and clunky. It's come down in price about $150 in the last few weeks, but it's still clunky. I like the looks of the Palm T/X better: no hard drive, but pretty much the same features.

But would I use all that? And if I did, what would the battery life be like?

2.Is there any advantage at all to a Pocket PC over a Palm?
I've used first-generation Pocket PCs and was less than impressed. Back then they were more expensive than anything Palm made (that's changed) and no more useful. (And I've run Lotus Notes on a Palm Pilot. Believe me, I know what's not useful.)

I have never had a compelling need to edit Word docs and Excel spreadsheets on my PDA. I don't use Outlook. I find Microsoft's Windows Media Player to be one of the more annoying applications on the planet, especially when it decides it's in charge of what I can do with media content. (I have written elsewhere about Microsoft's shameless sucking up to the entertainment-prevention industry in Hollywood.)

Could I maybe get my favorite media player, Winamp 2.7, to run on a Pocket PC? Would I want to?

Besides, I'm pretty good at Palm's Graffiti. The onscreen keyboard on the Pocket PCs was inferior input technology.

3. Is there something I'm missing here, another maker, another OS?
I haven't got the bucks to shell out for an OQO. Is there a WiFi version of the Blackberry that doesn't require a service contract with a cellphone company? The Treo is popular, but the Windows Mobile version doesn't get great reviews. At the risk of sounding a little bit out of it, what ever happened to the Psion?

I've wandered around in several electronics stores. I've searched the Web. Prices were down yesterday at Staples. But I just can't commit. Can you help me make up my mind?

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