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View Full Version : PDA's becoming mainstream? Yes, no, maybe?

Ed Hansberry
06-03-2002, 07:49 PM
<a href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/./storydisplay.cfm?storyID=2044702&thesection=technology&thesubsection=web-column">http://www.nzherald.co.nz/./storydisplay.cfm?storyID=2044702&thesection=technology&thesubsection=web-column</a><br /><br />This is an interesting read from a guy that knows what a computer is and how to use it fairly well. He <i>wants</i> to like handheld computing, but just cannot seem to make it work. He tried two years ago with a Palm IIIc and gives it another go this year with a Toshiba e310.<br /><br />So, does he have a point? To be honest, I think I have about 5 of these guys in my small office, people that are perfect candidates for some sort of PDA, but they just don't mesh with the concept, preferring a thick bulky Franklin Planner to keeping data in your PC and syncing with your Pocket PC.

06-03-2002, 08:18 PM
I agree that having apaper day plan is a nice thing. I used a franklin planner religously for about 10 years and take a lot to get use to moving away from that and making a PDA work for you. But it can happen. Now I a feel I am more productive. I have more iniformation at my finger tips with a PDA thanI did with a paper day planner.

In regarding to the article I do find some ault with the authors efforts. It souned like she was trying a new idea wih out an real intention or heart. She reminds me much like my folks who forked out almost 2 thousand dollars for a computer, has cable connections to the internet and still gets the daily paper delivered, has a set of books on their dest that they use for balence their checking accoung and money, still subscribes to TV guide, uses a phone book by our telco, calls movie theaters to find the times of movies, and so on, and so on when all these things can be done on and through the computer. I have showed my folks how to get this information, how to balnce their checking account on line, but they still keep going back to their old ways of paper because it's just what they are use to. They just aren't interested enough in learning what a computer can do to help them with their daily lives. Like my folks I think the author doesn't care enough to want to really learn and explor how handhelds can offer new functionality in her life.

R we geeks because we use these things? I live in Utah.. amongst other things, it's the home of the Franklin Day Planner. Some 15 years ago when Franklin Day planner was introduced to the public, it was the most Geekiest thing to own. A binder that had to always be carried with us? So we can make a To Do list? Well after those who learned how to use it, found it was a very productive tool in almost all aspects of your life. I too find PDAs to be same way. It's no more a Geek Tool than wearing glasses, they both are tools to help people with different needs.

The Author needs to go back to her rocking chair and write about things she knows, like living in the stone age while being in the midst of a modern society.

Jimmy Dodd
06-03-2002, 08:32 PM
One of the drawbacks to this whole process of trying out a Pocket PC (or whatever) for a few days or weeks is that you only see the worst of the PDA. User input. Getting data into a PDA is probably the most error-prone, irritating exercise there is but it's the first thing a user has to do. Where a PDA really shines is in data output and data storage.

I used to be a Franklin Covey user. I rarely went anywhere without my binder. There are some places that you just don't take them though. Size restricts them to a handheld or briefcase location during travel. PDAs go in your pocket. Current devices are not much bigger than the size of a checkbook or wallet. The small size means I can take it shopping with my wife or to the park with my daughter. On a plane it's right there in my pocket, not stowed beneath the plane or in an overhead bin.

The other drawback of a paper binder is in just how much data you can store in it. Franklin Covey (for example) suggests storing the previous month's pages, the current month's pages, and next month's pages. Of course that's for the normal size folder. If you go compact or pocket size then you're probably down to this month's pages only. Further restrictions come into play when you start keeping other records in the planner besides just calendars and task lists. My Pocket PC holds pretty much my whole life's calendar because it's dynamic. A paper planner has to have a blank page sitting there, taking up space and weight, in case you need it. My PPC creates a record when I ask for it, not before.

On the road and need a record of a conversation you had three months (or three years) ago? My PDA has it. My paper planner would have it stored on my bookshelf in my office. Want an up-to-date company directory? My PDA has it (automatically downloaded daily from our intranet). My paper planner had it whenever I printed it and sized it down to fit the binder. Looking for an email, Word document, a web page with some critical info on it? My PDA has it now. My paper planner probably has a note on where to find it on my desktop computer.

Jason Dunn
06-03-2002, 08:55 PM
Well said BwanaJim - this person didn't really give it much of a chance. Everything that's a significant change requires some learning, and that takes time.

Beyond that, we need a little, ah, "generational churn", before the majority of people in our society truly value the digital lifestyle. Many people are still quite analog. 8)

06-03-2002, 09:02 PM
I myself was a franklin owner. I too would cary around my big planner everwhere I went. Talk about a pain. I admit it took me a while to "break" the habit of feeling the need to write down on paper, but once I started "trusting " the technology, I could never go back to paper. with my ipaq I also am able to cary a briefcase worth of information (everything from calenar / contacts, ebooks, red books, lists, etc. etc.) I also got the 2 year next day replacement upgrade from compaq, so if disaster strikes, I get a new unit overnighted to me :).. Cann't do that w/ a franklin or paper

Sven Johannsen
06-03-2002, 09:14 PM
I also got the 2 year next day replacement upgrade from compaq, so if disaster strikes, I get a new unit overnighted to me :).. Cann't do that w/ a franklin or paper

You mean you didn't stand at the copier each Friday and make a backup of your Franklin?

06-03-2002, 09:57 PM
You mean you didn't stand at the copier each Friday and make a backup of your Franklin?

I hope that was a joke, I thought regular backups of my iPaq was tedious. 8O

06-04-2002, 12:16 AM
I think it's right that the author didn't "stick at it" for long. That being said, though, I remember reading a point somewhere about PDA users being split between mobile "info viewers" and "info CREATORS".
Todays devices are brilliant for viewing but still have a way to go for creating. So I think she has a point there. I'm not convinced about the various alternative input methods either - "reasonable" size keyboard still beats the lot for me.
I just wish there was a PPC version of the 9210 form factor. Or even a Psion Revo type machine running PPC with sd slots (one for storage one for sdio!) and a bluetooth link.

ps Talking of 9210's - had the firmware upgraded on mine last week. Came back completely wiped and with an instruction NOT to restore any previous backups but to make a new one instead... duhhhh! Well at least I have everything on my iPaq!

Rob Alexander
06-04-2002, 04:28 AM
I pretty much agree with the comments above about not really giving it a chance. In particular, BwanaJim's observation is pertinent about many of the costs coming up front and many of the benefits coming later so that reviewers don't stick around long enough for the payoff.

But there's something else important going on here. The New Zealand dollar, that this author was spending, is worth less than half of a US dollar, and that's where the $1,000 - $1,700 comment comes from. While exchange rates are easy to calculate, buying power isn't, but my gut feeling (being an American living in NZ and so familiar with both economies) is that the $1,000 - $1,700 cost here would feel like spending US$800 - $1200 to someone in the US. That's a lot for a PDA, no matter how good it is.

So when you think this person is being unreasonable, remember that he is being asked to spend significantly more money on the device than many of you are, and that changes the calculation of what it reasonable and what it must do to be worth buying. These are still quite a novelty here due to the high prices, though they are slowly gaining ground.

06-04-2002, 09:41 AM
From the article:
"Back then, the colour screen Palm 111c was state of the art. "


Sorry, but the IIIc was NEVER state of the art... It was laughable even back then for anyone brave enough to open their eyes to the less popular CE devices. I remember one of the more gloating reviewers of the IIIc making a fuss over the colour of it's reminder LED being "forest green"; like that was something to get excited about... *groan*

IMHO the IIIc was just Palm's warm-up to the aborted attempt at a colour device that the M505 was.

Will T Smith
06-04-2002, 10:08 PM
The nix on Palm based input is well deserved. This is what has spawned so many sub-compact, mini-PC and Clambshell CE devices.

The truth is that serious note-takers prefer the larger binders for a reason. There's just more space to write.

Outside of foldable displays (yes they are coming in ten years or so), an excellent compromise is the integrated note-binder like the Seiko SmartPad.


This allows for all the planner conveniences & a robust not-taking environment WITH archiving. Your PDA can be disattached easily and made "compact" again outside of work.