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Wednesday, 13 April 2005

Return to the PDA [Lurks]

I was a big fan of PDAs when they first arrived. The Psion series 3A back in the Amiga era and later the lovely series 5. I preferred a full keyboard and predominently used them for what you'd do with an ulta-portable laptop today. Then things moved to the sylus model and I tried, oh so very hard, to adapt. An early-model WinCE Sharp and then a couple of the big and powerful iPAQ Pocket PC jobs. All looked great on paper, worth the £300 or so. In reality all languished in a desktop drawer and I came to realise, PDAs are a con. Not just me either, the market for them has basically tanked worldwide.
The last few years I've basically worked from a fixed location and used an old fashioned diary to record upcoming meetings and, I guess as an old-journalist carryover, I continue to use pen and pad to write down notes during meetings.
However now my job has me out and about, I've stuffed up repeatedly in terms of recording meetings. I also work at two PCs, in my proper office and in my home office. It occured to me for awhile that maybe a PDA would be the solution. I thought about these fancy smart-phones but so wary of having spent a fortune on stuff like this before, I was reluctant to fork out the wonga. I also can't convince O2 to sell me an XDA as an existing customer. Bizarre but that's another story.
So I thought about what I really need. I just need to make some notes and I need a calendar. With that in mind, and these extremely light requirements, I took a punt on an extremely cheap Palm Zire 31 for the princely sum of £99 of your Earth Pounds Sterling.
I'm not going to go into a lengthy review because I basically don't use piss all of what the thing is capable of however I am extremely pleased. Firstly, the software is dead basic to install and has something called PalmDesktop which is a collection of the key applications inside one application. It'll sync to Outlook but since I don't use Outlook, handling my notes, calendar, tasks and stuff from PalmDesktop is extremely convienient.
I'm also getting on fine with Graffiti 2, more or less first go. Syncing is fast. The thing charges on USB, which is nice, and the only thing I wish I had was a docking cradle for it since the mini USB thing is a bit of a faff as with all devices using that.
Bottom line is, it's basic but it's cheap and it works very well indeed and if I lose the damn thing in the pub, it wont be the end of the world - I'll just buy another and hit the sync button and bosh, all my stuff is back on it. The Zire 31 is going to be a permanent addition to my pocket from now on.
I might even see if I can transfer my ancient notepad and pen habit onto it too..

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