The Privacy Lawyer: In Search Of The Perfect Gadget - InformationWeek
Hardware & Infrastructure
04:16 PM

The Privacy Lawyer: In Search Of The Perfect Gadget

There are PDAs, cell phones, and all sorts of other gadgets out there--is it too much to ask for something that could combine the best of them into one manageable device?

I'm going to be in Alaska for a few days on nonprofit matters. I'll bring all three of my cell phones (Verizon, AT&T, and Nextel), my laptop, and my BlackBerry. Odds are that none will work very well. While they work nicely in urban areas, once you're out of the cities, communication becomes much harder. (I've been to Alaska before.)

I expect that I will be out of reach for a few days, except for Internet access from my hotel room. So many devices and we still can't successfully communicate. Sad, isn't it?

When I was in Singapore a few months ago, I was interviewed by Computer Times as their first cybercelebrity feature. The journalist looked at the assortment of devices spilling out of my purse and asked to photograph me with them. In addition to my U.S. cell phones, I had my Palm, my U.K. phone, and my international BlackBerry.

I also had extra batteries for each, as well as plug-in chargers and adapters--and since I was in Asia, I had my power converters and adapter plugs, too. Of course, I also had my little Vaio, with its plugs and wires and wireless card. I was a mess.

Amy Harmon, a writer for The New York Times, did a recent review of the Treo 600. She loved it, but thought it was a bit pricey. When Amy recommends something, I listen. So, I've been looking around for a Treo, and was determined to get a good price. I did find some pretty good prices--as low as $375--if I were willing to sign up for a new cell phone plan. I wasn't. Verizon doesn't have the Treo yet, and that was the only plan I could renew. So it was back to the drawing board.

I was amazed at how few devices there are out there--and how badly they seem to function. Most of my friends have complained about having to replace them several times in a few months when the headset or flip front breaks, or the device stops working. My son is on his fourth in as many months.

Yet, the newest hot topic among us road warriors is how to combine cell phone, PDA, and BlackBerry functions into one manageable device that doesn't break down, isn't the size of a breadbox, and works. The device would have to be Palm-compatible for all the software I already have and would want to use. But it also must have E-mail capability that's as easy as a BlackBerry. It needs a keyboard function that works for those with big fingers and small fingers alike. And better Web-surfing functions than BlackBerry has, with attachment capability. I'd also like an expansion card. And international bands would be great!

All that--and, maybe it could look good, too?

Am I asking for too much? Let me know what you're using and what you're looking for. How do you juggle the devices and access? You can E-mail me at

Parry Aftab is a cyberspace lawyer, specializing in online privacy and security law, and she's also executive director of WiredSafety.

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit the Talk Shop.

To find out more about Parry Aftab, please visit her page on the Listening Post.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll