ablog_My PDA Fails

30 November -0001
I've given a lot of thought to my (less than) trusty PDA of late. I've finally decided that PDA's simply aren't worth it. I have several reasons for this decision, but I think the bottom line is that tomorrow I'm going to go out and buy a small bound book to replace my PDA. 1. Size - My Tungsten E2, along with it's titanium case, is about the size of a small soft cover novel. It weighs a couple of pounds and won't fit comfortably in any of my pockets. This means that I have to carry a bag wherever I go, often times simply for my PDA. I take one look at my wife's iPod Nano and wonder why my device, which has a tenth of the storage space is so huge and clunky. 2. Reliability - My PDA always crashes. Not very often, but over time it always does. Sometimes I don't lose any of my data, sometimes I lose all of it. Regardless it is always a hassle to recover the data. 3. Volatility - My PDA carries what boils down to non-volatile data. Phone numbers, contact lists, little notes, even calendaring data, none of it changes all that often, and certainly not so often that I have to have a digital assistant just to organize all of it. 4. Software - I remember when PDA's first came out and I subscribed to Vindigo which would give me movie listings and restaurant phone numbers. It was amazing - this capability alone was worth having a PDA for. You had this little, up to the moment database you could carry around with you and reference. You could get maps and recommendations and all sorts of great information. Now, however, you have to pay for this service - and I don't. Plus I don't go out that much any more, so the value is somewhat reduced for me. 5. Durability - My PDA is fragile. I have to take care of it and make sure it's charged. Written notes never run out of battery or get wet and crash. 6. Synchronization - This was a big selling point for me. I figured I could load my PDA up with data and use it to move information around from one computer to another. The truth of the matter is though that this ties in with #3 above. My data simply isn't dynamic enough to warrant this kind of synchronization. Sure, it's a pain to key all my data into a new application, but I don't buy a new cell phone or install a new email client all that often, and often I end up using an export/transform/import cycle to get the data into the new application anyway. 7. Useless Promises - When PDA's first came out people thought they would be the wave of the future. You would be able to surf the net from any wireless hot spot, beam your v-card to a business contact, and so on. Largely these things haven't come to pass. Wireless connections chew through a PDA's battery life like it's going out of style, and the tiny screen makes for a horrible browser. People still carry around business cards, and in general the PDA never really took off in the ways it was promised (eBooks on your PDA? Not likely). 8. Other Devices - Carrying around my digital calendar on my cell phone is kind of cool. I'd try that. But the thing is I already carry a cell phone with me. My PDA is extraneous. I don't really have to have it, and much of it's functionality can be emulated by devices that I really do need to carry with me. For instance, I always have my cell phone and a 1 GB USB key with me. Most, if not all, of my important information can be kept on those two devices quite adequately. So the PDA becomes an extra device to lug around. Sure, you could combine your PDA and your cell phone, but see item #1 above. All in all I've decided to dump my PDA. Of course, Steve Jobs could totally sweep me off my feet by making the coolest cell phone ever and making it even better than my current PDA and cell phone combined, but that's another story :)