Monday, January 16, 2006

being sensible

People who know me would usually associate me with gadgets of some sort. I'm glad to report that I've been cutting down because there isn't anything really that interesting to buy. Plus I ought to save that money anyway. Recently I've been doing some read up on the Windows Mobile 5 OS for PDAs and SmartPhones. Its quite interesting that all they did was shrink Windows to be deployed over various mobile devices.

Of course you would have noticed of late the infiltration via SmartPhones such as the O2 series and some of the HP models. These have a selling point of being a true converged device, the ability to check your mails, edit documents and spreadsheets and surf on the move. But the problem with converged devices are it can do everything, but it may not be everything you want. Most SmartPhones are not really good phones per se, if compared to a dedicated mobile phone (like the excellent Razr V3). Plus battery becomes a real issue especially for people like me who are on the go most of the time.

So I decided I'd just get a PDA instead, and stick to my guns about carrying multiple devices simply because I have the option to bring either or, or a combination of devices depending on the situation. That way no device is too big to lug around because it's been brought along for a purpose. I settled on a HP iPaq hx2400 series model. I can't for the life of me remember which model I have, perhaps its the sign of old age that I'm not too concerned with life's trivialities. But its a fairly simple device, runs on Windows Mobile 5, has a 65k color screen, Bluetooth, and WiFi, and of course Pocket Word and Excel which would be the 2 most used programs, also the reason why I bought this in the first place.

I must say getting a mid-range device without any bells or whistles is very intriguing. There is nothing to show, there is nothing to do. Its just for work, pure and simple. There are no bells or whistles or anything fancy, even though there is a model with a biometric fingerprint sensor, which I thought was a tad too excessive. Cool, yes of course, but I'm not involved in some super secret industry where people will want to cut off my fingers to get access to the information in my PDA. I've yet to try the WiFi capabilities as yet because I don't wander into a hotspot often, but I'm quite happy with it at the moment. I can at least connect to the internet via Bluetooth over GPRS. Its slow but I can do that anywhere. The battery life is somewhat disappointing though because it seems to have a thing for the cradle. Tsk tsk.

Another thing I noticed is the lack of FREE programs. I am so used to the freeware world of Palm, where simple programs like Converter for converting various metric measurements can be done on the fly, have to be purchased for USD5! But that was all that I purchased. I hit myself for stopping at the Myst page where a full version had been converted for the PDA, because as soon as I got there a plethora of games just opened up. Hmm. No I shan't.

As far as Windows Mobile is concerned, it seemed pretty inefficient for a mobile device. I like the instantaneous response of my Palm, and the logic behind it. Windows just seemed messy, and having to reset the device seemed to be a norm to keep the system running 'fresh'. One thing about the Calendar function though, on the Palm I used to enter everything in the Datebook, which was similar, I just entered it directly on the Date and Time I thought I would do it, on the Windows one, however, I had to enter Location, time, priority, notes...and a plethora of other fields that really meant that if you say if you're gonna be there doing that, you'd better be doing that. I was quite used to the Palm one where I'd write 'Dinner with (person)', and if I can't make it, I'd just drag it to the next day (yes that is the ultimate organized laziness), same goes for things I want to postpone, which as you can tell right now, I did fairly often.

I guess that holds the whole Personal Digital Assistant concept together. Except that now I really have an assistant who wants to know where I am, what I'm doing, and for how long because the next one is coming up soon. I suddenly feel like a fraction of my freedom disappeared, out of my own initiative at that.