Choosing which PDA to buy? and why this task should never be given to me!

Choosing which PDA to buy? and why this task should never be given to me!

Some people really love shopping and find it really easy to make fast decisions on what product to buy. I am not one of those lucky people, with my scientific background I have to thoroughly research the product before I can make a buying decision. I am so bad that my friends and family refuse to go shopping with me.

So imagine the frustrations I am having deciding which PDA will meet our work requirements (and to make it worse I need to order two PDAs). Poor Frances has spent the week discussing the pros and cons with me and luckily Smartphone and Pocket PC magazine for April/May has arrived to help me with the decision (what an excellent magazine – I just wish it was montly). BTW I can not believe that the June/July issue is showing on their website and I have only just got the April/May copy.

Pierre Khawand does an excellent review of 9 top smartphones in his 81 day experiment article for Smartphone and Pocket PC magazine. Basically for a period of 81 days last year he trialled 9 of the top smartphones; each device was trialled for 9 days.

Before I get into discussing Pierre’s article – let me clarify one point – the definition of a Smartphone – there is growing confusion on the correct definition of what is a smartphone. I am going to go with the definition used in “What is a Smartphone” on O’Reilly Network “The word “smartphone” is defined as “a mobile phone that incorporates a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)” by the Oxford American Dictionary. So, by definition, a smartphone is a converged, multipurpose device.” BTW watch out as some smartphones do not have touch screens.

Pierre suggests you use the following 3 step process for selecting your smartphone:

  1. Be clear on what you needs are – list what you must have and what is less important
  2. Don’t be blinded by the obvious features; consider the behind-the-scene factors
  3. Test drive before you buy

So the first decision is do I need a PDA or a smartphone? Well if ultimately we need to run a workplace assessor database on the device than I would need to go for a PDA with a reasonably fast processor. A smartphone would not have the processing speed to handle an assessment database because including features like phone capabilities and inbuilt camera means that they have to compromise on processing speed to add in these features. However it may be more important for a workplace assessor to have access to email, Internet and a phone than an assessment database. So my decision for the two new devices is to go for a Smartphone (i.e. PDA with phone capbability).

Next hard point for me is size vs mobility. I currently have a HP iPAQ rw6800 Multimedia Messenger which I love because it is really small and very mobile. I was meant to get the HP iPAQ hw6965 Mobile Messenger and while others at work like this model I find it way too bulky. However the main feature that most like with the HP iPAQ hw6965 Mobile Messenger is the built in keyboard which is missing from my current model.

The main features I want in a PDA is small size, phone, email, document writing, Internet access, touchscreen, camera and must be 3G (data plans are expensive in Australia and both models of HP we have are 2.5G which means we are paying a lot to use the Internet on these devices). I have now decided that because email and document writing are an important feature to me – a keyboard would be better. While I know people that manage really welll without keyboards; I believe that I would used my PDA more effectively if it had a keyboard.

So which devices have I crossed off my list and why:

  1. Apple iPhone – concept looked good – but is 2.5G, does not have removable battery, no expansion slot and poor support for third party applications (with a Windows Mobile 5.0 device you can install lots of great software that enhances the device). This device will probably be popular with those after a good combined phone/music player.
  2. Samsung Blackjack – has not got a touchscreen.
  3. Palm Treo 750 – While this Palm runs Windows Mobile 5 it lacks WiFi (the College is changing over to wireless so lack of WiFi is an issue)

It was suggested that I have a look at the HTC S620 however this also does not have touch screen and is not 3G.

My decision? Looks like I will continue to drive everyone crazy, including myself making the decision. Some also suggest worth waiting for Windows Mobile 6.

4 thoughts on “Choosing which PDA to buy? and why this task should never be given to me!

  1. Ah, Sue, you’re making me jealous. My old Ipaq 1930 is still running strong (and on its third battery) so I’m not ready to buy a new PDA. It’s getting a bit battered, doesn’t have wireless, and doesn’t like too many programs running at once (which Windows product does?) but it does take standard SD cards, and is still my favourite place to start blog posts. I really like the transcribe software for getting my ideas down quick – the small keyboards you describe don’t really excite me much at all. Does value for money enter the equation anywhere? I chose mine way back in Jan ’04 because it was listed in PC User magazine as value PDA of the year and it has proved to be a great buy for me. Good luck with your purchase.

  2. Yes I can understand why – but seriously working out which one is doing my head in – so I would not feel jealous at all. In fact I had a friend from NSW contact me today wanting to up grade his PDA and I think I even manage to do his head in.

    The HP IPAQ 1930 looks like a good model; we use the HP IPAQ 1950 for our students. And as I have said before I am really impressed by the fact that you write your blog posts on it. My friend’s current PDA has a keyboard and he is not impressed with the keyboard. My friend Frances never had a keyboard and now has a model with a keyboard; and prefers it with the keyboard. No wonder I can not make a decision. I need two different PDA (with inbuilt phone): 1) No Keyboard, 3G, touchscreen, WiFi, SD slot, camera and built in GPS 2) Keyboard, 3G, touchscreen, WiFi, SD slot, camera and built in GPS. I am thinking that no PDA has all those features.

    Cost? Yes, if I was buying it then my PDA would have to be totally falling apart before I replaced it (you should have seen my TV that I held onto – no remote control and you had to switch it on/off via the powerpoint). I could afford to replace it I just belong to the generation that believes products are meant to last; and should only be replaced when they totally break down.

    We need two new PDAs because we are starting our next PDA project and I think it is a good idea for each participant to actually have a PDA. Personally the best function of my PDA is the email, Internet and phone – which is why I want these features. Talking cost my current PDA is 2.5G and costing me a fortune – so will save (me) money with a 3G.

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