Personal Digital Assistant, god what an awful name. Typically hardware that runs PIM software.

PalmOS, WinCE, etc.

My PDA History

=== Notes from 2002 ===

I use a Palm V now. I have an external Stowaway Keyboard which I use in meetings. Notes synch to MsOutlook, and I can use Structured Text and copy/paste into Wiki if I want to.

But entering info without external Keyboard drives me nuts. So I'm definitely considering a future purchase with a built-in (physical) keyboard.

  • a key question is whether, given a piece with a built-in thumb keyboard, do I still want/need a full-size external keyboard? I'd expect to get much better speed with the full-size. But maybe that's not true...

And maybe something that combines other capabilities: mp3, phone, camera, etc. - the iPod makes the point that many devices share some basic bottlenecking requirements: storage, battery, display.

  • a long time ago I thought cell phones should be lots smaller, and just use a HeadSet so you could have a smaller device that you kept in your pocket. But I'm less enthralled with that approach now, as I can't see myself hassling with that, given that I don't get called on my cell phone that often. Maybe with a wireless Blue Tooth HeadSet I would be slightly more inclined.

I keep feeling like I want WiFi support (see SlashDot), but I wonder how much I would actually use it.

  • here's an article which says it's coming, but that it sucks battery life like crazy...

  • it's also pretty expensive (~$200) as an (SD) add-on

  • SDIO is a new SD-based standard for WiFi, cameras, etc. Should be extendable from SD-supporting vendors with some upgrade. Palm expects to support is in PalmOS5 (fall-2002).

The Handspring Treo communicator looks interesting, and is already here. But

  • the PalmOS smells like a weak platform for the future

  • only Voice Stream phone service

  • the online data side seems weak so far (no GPRS services yet)

The Danger Hiptop sounds cool, if it ever actually sees the light of day.

The danger of "convergence devices" is the sole-source risk. This, for some reason, makes a LinuxOS-based PDA sound kinda cool. (But so far I don't know of phones based on it.)

  • but the iPaq seems too expensive, and I'm afraid there will be some future problem with Linux support, since it's kind of unofficial

  • the Sharp Zaurus looks cool, but is expensive and bleeding-edge.

  • there are others

  • there's a $105 Agenda clone coming out, but I suspect it won't meet my needs.

Some other choices:

  • Java-based aJile (announed Jul'02)

  • HP Jornado has add-on thumb kb which doesn't add to size

Some other rejects:

  • Alpha Smart Dana product gives you PalmOS, a big keyboard, and big (?) display (would have to see it to be sure how well that works). An interesting form feature, esp for people without a computer. But $380 (extra for modem or WiFi card). Most weirdly, it's 2 pounds.

Current thinking (May'02): still expect to end up with 2 devices. 1 for phone/PDA, which needs keyboard (see BackLinks for notes about Treo). And separate handheld device for MP3 Player, Digital Camera, general computing (this one wouldn't need to be carried all the time).

New-current thoughts (Jul'2002). Digitizer problems making me nuts (Fitaly Stamp screws up certain characters)


  • thumb keyboard (though maybe could live with Fitaly Stamp if digitizer didn't cause problems)

  • synch to decent WinOS desktop app

  • small (pants pocket)

  • convert current data

  • long battery life

  • external keyboard


  • keep waiting

  • fix this digitizer (downtime?) (emailed Palm Aug1'02 for price/timing)

  • new palm5 (obsolete - buy refurb for $120)

  • new palm that works with (current?) ext kb (looks like the Palm V kb only works with that family, new one would be ~$100) (emailed Palm to confirm)

  • add-on thumb kb

  • treo 90 PDA-only (color), has the thumb kb: $300

  • treo communicator (phone/pda)

  • danger

  • other

Sept'2002 thinking: TelCo universe is insane, I think it makes the most sense to stick with simple Cell Phone without any bundled stuff. Then some sort of super-PDA (Sharp Zaurus v2?) as a platform for other stuff. (For now still living with old Palm V, hating Graffiti more than imaginable...)

May'2003: Palm Tungsten C (review by Paul Boutin) has keyboard and built-in WiFi. Retail $500, though.

  • Handspring Treo90 currently only $200 from Staples! (And it has a real flip-cover.) Is connectivity worth it yet?

    • actually, it's $150 after rebate! I'm going to buy this. Cost, plus ease of migration from my old Palm V. (Still watching the Sharp Zaurus, hoping it will eventually run OSAF/Chandler).

    • actually, someone gave me one (who I won't name so you don't all ask him for stuff)

  • can anything run OSAF/Chandler?

Apr'2005 - went with Sharp Zaurus.

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