Choosing a PDA – can it really be so difficult!

I used to have an IPAQ years ago and despite using it a lot in the beginning I gradually stopped using it mainly for the following reasons:


  1. I did not like having to sync it
  2. It was too big to carry around everywhere
  3. I did not have a case that gave me instant access to it when carrying it around, so it tended to be in a bag
  4. The battery life deteriorated to the point where it could not be relied upon
  5. It did not have enough storage space without a great big expansion jacket add-on


Then along came a Blackberry which I instantly fell in love with, I have talked about my love affair with my Blackberry before in my gadget blog.  However I recently started working from home and the subscription costs to the Blackberry service no longer seemed worthwhile so I decided that I would take that money and invest it in something that was a higher priority, I decided I would try a traditional Palm or Pocket PC PDA again.


The process of choosing is a classic example of the tyranny of too much choice.


My experience went something like this:


  1. Every day I changed my mind because I loved my Blackberry so much
  2. Email and Calendar on a PDA always seemed like a compromise compared to the Blackberry, but everything else I wanted from a PDA either was not an option or didn’t work too well, like tasks for example.
  3. I have a company supplied phone and for some reason its incredibly difficult to get GPRS approved so I would have a PDA that was only online at home, making the transition from the BB even more difficult
  4. On the days when I did decide to go the PDA route I alternated between Palm and Pocket PC.
  5. Each day I switched from wanting a lovely large high resolution screen at all costs, to wanting a small Bluetooth and wireless equipped machine


I finally managed to make a decision to swap from the BB as follows:


  1. I gave myself the money from a years BB subscription and asked myself how I wanted to spend it
  2. I decided that it was useful to break the instant email addiction
  3. I decided that when I was out of the house it was most likely that I was not working so getting a device that had many non work related distractions would be a good idea


I made the Palm/Pocket PC decision as follows:


  1. I run Windows 2003 Server on my desktop and I was able to make sure that Active Sync worked fine and that Wireless worked fine with Pocket PC before I made the purchase
  2. I had quite a lot of software left over from my old IPAQ.  Particularly eWallet and Pocket Informant which I really liked
  3. I use Lotus Notes at work and came across some fabulous synchronisation software called mNotes and I was able to check this out before I made the decision, (its available for Palm too but I couldn’t test it)
  4. I was familiar with Pocket PC and knew that it was good enough


I made the decision on which form factor to get as follows:


  1. I knew from past experience that having a small device was important if I was to be successful in motivating myself to carry it around
  2. The small devices were cheaper than the half or full VGA models
  3. The VGA models had problems with some applications using the screen in VGA mode that required hacks to get around and whilst these seemed to work for most people they seemed to stop WIFI working for some people
  4. The VGA models were first generation.  Next generation models were likely to be much better, but I didn’t want to wait
  5. I decided that if the next generation models were really great then I would do a bit of cascading and make my eldest daughter very happy when she starts High School in September!


I finally decided on an IPAQ 4150 because:


  1. HP has a good reputation and they are going to be in the market for the long term
  2. I had an IPAQ before and that gave me confidence
  3. It is very small
  4. It has a great screen
  5. It has a good software bundle
  6. It has Bluetooth and WIFI
  7. I found a great case, holster style that fits on my belt and is as close to the Blackberry case as you can get.  That decision was easy I wanted something exactly like the Blackberry, this is it.
  8. I got a good deal and had money left over for the case and 512MB storage card
  9. Battery life seemed ok, but a high capacity battery is available if I have problems

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Steve, this is a good narration of the process you went through, and how you finally came to a decision. Thanks for sharing. Michael,

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