Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sucker for a PDA

I've always been attracted to PDAs. Possibly it's my fear of being stuck somewhere and getting bored with nothing to listen to or read.

A loyal, and satisfied, Palm OS user for many years, I recently got tired of the lack of advancement of the OS and particular the poor web browser and started tinkering with Microsoft CE, PocketPC, Windows Mobile 5.0 or whatever they're called these days, devices around the office.

I ordered a Dell Axim X51v and thought I'd share my impressions.

  • The v means the screen is full VGA (640x480) and the resolution is lovely.
  • Windows Mobile 5.0 seems to have better battery life than earlier versions due to some memory tricks with flash memory and that's a good thing.
  • Bluetooth is there but is lame. It doesn't support OBEX so I can't browse the device from my computer which I've done on mobile phones for years.
  • Wifi works well as in quite sensitive, but the UI is a shambles. It's very hard to figure out how to leave one network and connect to another. Other users give me tips like click the icon in the top bar, don't use the Settings->Connection tools. Dell provide their own utility but it shouldn't need to.
  • Dell provide a little app for switching between running applications but it's pretty rough and overwrites things in the top bar.
  • Heaps of storage slots. I have populated the SD and Compact Flash sockets which is great.
  • I use MacOS computers and so use Missing Sync which works quite well at least over USB. It's nice that they let you "upgrade" from the Palm version.
  • The device has needed a soft reset 4 times this week. Twice when plugged in to USB for some reason, the other times on being unresponsive possibly due to a buggy app. Anyhow, too much really. My Palm TX almost never needs re-booting.
  • Python 2.5 runs pretty well and I'm trying to get Tkinter going on it.
Anyway, the Palm PDA with it's inferior screen and browser is still sitting near by, it hasn't gone to eBay just yet.


Alastair said...

Agree that being stuck somewhere without anything to read or watch is a key use case for pocket gadgets.

For me though I need my pocket toys to perform other useful tasks otherwise I won't carry it in the first place. Even when it does perform such tasks, I still won't necessarily carry it everywhere. Like my iPod.

As for PDAs, they just don't provide enough unique functionality to warrant the pocket space. So I'm quite happy to pimp out my phone, but PDAs have jumped the shark as far as I'm concerned.

Peter Marks said...

I think the iPod proves the point that there is a need for separate devices that do one thing well.

Sure I can read email and surf the net on my phone but it's a bad experience.

I like the idea of having a really small phone, that just does phone things and acts as a wireless data modem for a PDA via bluetooth.

It's pretty entertaining finding open Wifi networks on the way home.