Club-Admiralty

v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Wither the PDA?

I was reading this post yesterday on ProfHacker, and the author was asking where are the PDAs in today's smartphone world?  PDAs...you know!  Those pieces of technology from the mid-to-late 90s that were not connected to the internet and held information like your addressbook, calendar, notepad (and of course the games!). The author is contemplating getting an iPod Touch and a cheap, voice-only, cell phone to go along with it (and use the WiFi on the iPod) instead of getting an all-in-one smartphone with a data plan.

I used to be a cell-phone + PDA user, but that was a long time ago.  I owned (and still do) an Apple Newton 2100 which I had tricked out, I had an external keyboard, I had installed a 5 language dictionary (which came in handy for my language classes), an Office Suite, games and much more.  I also used an old school Nokia GSM phone on OmniPoint/VoiceStream.

Don't get me wrong, I really loved my Newton, but once the SonyEricsson P800 came along things changed a bit.  Since the SonyEricsson supported Greek (and my Newton did not), I started using my P800 for all my contacts and calendar items.  I not longer had to use the latin alphabet to write in Greek which was pretty cool and I could sync via bluetooth with my Mac once a day so anything I added on the phone was on my Mac and vice versa.  I still used my Newton every now and again but not with much regularity.  For a while before the P800 I also dabbled with an iPaq running Windows Mobile (*shivers*) + a SonyEricsson T68i but I essentially came to the conclusion that (1) Windows Mobile was awful and (2) trying to tether my phone to my iPaq was a nightmare!  The P800 won out!

So what about now?  I have an iPod Touch, and before my iPhone purchase  I used it with a Nokia N80.  Now the Nokia N80 was a smartphone in its own right, but the iPod had a bigger screen with which to browse the web, and a bigger keyboard with which to reply to emails with. I too was of the opinion that I am blanketed by WiFi so I did not need to spring for a data plan (I was kind of resentful in the beginning that I had to!) - but after about eight months of testing out the WiFi situation and comparing that to my iPhone use, I saw "data plan all the way!"

Here's why:
Yes, at home I've got unrestricted WiFi but that isn't the case everywhere I go.  At work there is a lot of port blocking going on, so even though I am on WiFi all day, the email client won't send or receive emails, there is a log-on procedure to even get online, and at times the network is as slow as molasses (I think things like Last.fm are also blocked).  On the commuter rail there is free WiFi but that can be slow (on the plus side mail ports are not blocked) and finally around town there are pockets of free wifi but you really have to be stationary to use them.

In contrast, with a data plan I can be on the move, I don't have to worry about important ports being blocked and I can use the GPS and Maps to figure out not only where I am but also where I am going.  With apps like Dropbox, MobileMe's sync to the cloud and Evernote, I don't have to worry about my data. I can be assured that it's there when I need it, without synching to a computer, and if my device gets lost before I get home, I don't have to worry about a day's worth of data entry going down the toilet - it's just magically synced to the net. :-)

So where is the PDA?  My iPaq was recycled many years ago and the Newton is on a display shelf - I take it out every not and again to remember the good ol' days - but that's it.  Viva le smartphone! :-)
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