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The Future of the PDA

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the look-into-the-crystal-ball dept.


An anonymous reader writes "XYZComputing is taking a look at the future of the PDA and what obstacles might stand in the way of continued popularity. From the article: 'While is hard not to appreciate the PDA's ability to change with the times, it appears that its heady days of mobile dominance are coming to an abrupt end. A number of factors are competing in the mobile products field right now, all of which are vying for the same buyers. The most formidable competition to the PDA is the smartphone, but there is also pressure from small laptops, the upcoming UMPC, increasingly capable cell phones, and a few other takers, like portable media players.'"

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The Original UMPC (5, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117100)

I wrote a couple [] of articles [] about where I thought the PDA might be going back in 2002 and 2005. Specifically, I'd suppose (hope) that it might see a resurgence through the iPod phenomenon.

We really have not seen a whole lot of innovation in the PDA market aside from color screens and somewhat faster CPUs since Palm and then Microsoft entered the market. The first device that truly works as an assistant that is affordable will, like Palm did in the 90's take over the market again. Phone use will be required, but could easily function with a Bluetooth earpiece. It will have to have a big enough screen in portrait or landscape mode to surf the web (surfing the web on my Tungsten T3 sucks), will have to be able to plug into a projector and deliver Keynote (or Powerpoint) presentations, read and annotate pdf's, have an honest 4-5hr battery life (ideally more, but this will depend upon new battery technology or fuel cells), be rugged, have a decent way to enter information through a keyboard (real or virtual) and be reasonably affordable.

The Newton was the original UMPC and did many things very well (including handwriting recognition in the 110 and up), but were waaaay too expensive for their time. I had a 110 and a 120 that I used for years before they simply could not keep up, but that form factor is still ideal. Put a color screen in it, run OS X on a flash drive along with global band cell phone connectivity, 802.11 and Bluetooth and if you can sell it for $700-800 or so, you have the ideal PDA. That may be cutting the margins thin, but if Apple could sell it along with .Mac subscription/connectivity to enable syncing with your desktop/laptop and provide a cell phone service implemented like iChat, I suspect it could be highly profitable.

Defeat The Gulag: +1, Democracy Reigns (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117139)

The revolution will be televised [] .

Defend America: Deport The White House

Celestial Terrestial Commuter

Re:The Original UMPC (4, Interesting)

TommyBlack (899306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117193)

It seems like there are a lot of things that PDA's should do but they don't. I have a Palm Tungsten E, and I keep thinking it should be more useful. For instance, the other day I needed some information I had on my USB flash drive, but I had nothing handy it could interface with; shouldn't this be the job of my PDA? Doesn't anyone who designs these things have this kind of inspiration?

Re:The Original UMPC (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117527)

I am of the opinion that USB flash drives are lame. Mind you, I have one on my keychain, and I use it, but that's only because I got it for free. The only kind that makes sense is the kind that's got a SD card (or similar) in it, and it's really just a tiny card reader. This was a lot less true when we didn't have access to $5 card readers, though. I got a several-in-one card reader (it says 7 in 1 or something, but it has four slots, they must be counting SD and MMC separately or something, which makes little sense) for free with my digital camera (from and you can buy them retail for under $20. You can order 'em off the 'net for practically nothing any day of the week. Also, many laptops now come with a memory card slot; usually this is SD/MMC, unless it's a sony.

It doesn't make much sense to me to have storage tied to a particular interface. At the same time, it is absolutely retarded that PDAs are commonly USB clients, but not USB hosts. There are existing silicon solutions that let a device be both, and if a PDA is supposed to be a computer, it should be a USB host. My PDA, which was $200 as a refurb, is a 400MHz ARM (xscale) with 64MB RAM. That's more powerful than the first three computers I had with USB (though not all of them put together.)

Re:The Original UMPC (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117745)

The Tungsten E has a SecureDigital slot. I suggest you use it.

That said, you're right -- there are a lot of things that the PDA ought to be able to do, but doesn't (<rant>like, for starters, syncing properly with my Mac</rant>).

Re:The Original UMPC (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117245)

Phone use will be required, but could easily function with a Bluetooth earpiece. It will have to have a big enough screen in portrait or landscape mode to surf the web (surfing the web on my Tungsten T3 sucks), will have to be able to plug into a projector and deliver Keynote (or Powerpoint) presentations, read and annotate pdf's, have an honest 4-5hr battery life (ideally more, but this will depend upon new battery technology or fuel cells), be rugged, have a decent way to enter information through a keyboard (real or virtual) and be reasonably affordable.

As TFA points out, laptops are getting smaller and smaller. If you need all these features, why not just buy a subcompact notebook???

The point is that PDAs are great if they are cheap and simple. They don't need to be overladen with features.

Once you get to the point where your PDA does everything that a computer does, why not just add a full keyboard to it? The cost and weight will be about the same. And with a tiny laptop, you can run windows or linux and know exactly what programs are available for it without having to guess or search the web before purchasing.

Re:The Original UMPC (3, Insightful)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117344)

My old PalmPilot ran for 35 hours on two AAA batteries. It's considered about average for a small laptop to get one-tenth that much before you start strapping giant heavy batteries on all sides of it.

Anyone who takes planes frequently (i.e. salespeople who tend to own PDAs) might actually benefit from a device with more than 5 hours of battery life.

Re:The Original UMPC (1)

nasch (598556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117429)

It's hard to put a notebook computer in your pocket or strap it to your belt.

Re:The Original UMPC (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117782)

If you need all these features, why not just buy a subcompact notebook???
Because there's a huge gulf between the biggest PDA and the smallest reasonably-priced subcompact notebook. Believe me, I've checked. There are PDAs that are cheap but too small, lower-priced Tablet PCs (and the new Origami devices) that are too big*, and things like the OQO that are the right size but more powerful and way more expensive than they need to be.

*an "ultra-portable" computer ought to be as thin as a PDA, not 1" thick, damnit!

Re:The Original UMPC (1)

Feneric (765069) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117276)

I've also written an article [] or two [] over the years and agree that there's a lot to be learned from the Newton MessagePad.

I wouldn't personally want OS X on it, though; a PDA-optimized OS like Newton makes more sense for the platform.

Recent developments in roll-out keyboards, projection keyboards, etc. would also be most welcome.

Re:The Original UMPC (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117291)

I think you just described the UTStarcom 6700. It's shiny.

Defining Your Terms (5, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117294)

Your post brings up an excellent point and made me think about a debate I read earlier today--the whole "are-Pluto-and-Xena-planets?" thing.

What is a PDA? What is a UMPC? Do we measure their capabilities, or their size, or what? And if you build a PDA in terms of size and capability, but it also is a phone, what do you call it? "Smartphone" seems catchy... so what if you take a UMPC form-factor and add videoconferencing or VOIP or something that makes it an oversized smartphone? Call it gigaphone or something?

It seems silly to me to say (as the article suggests) that smartphones or laptops or whatever are "competing" with the PDA. Smartphones more or less are PDAs. Information appliances are increasingly convergent, and while there are some hits (e.g. Blackberries) and some misses (I'll predict the current "UMPC" push), the overall trend is convergence.

The main bump in the road is real estate. Some people won't work on anything smaller than 10", some people will watch TV on a video iPod and call it good because it fits in their pocket. I think this is less a problem with technology that a hurdle created by personal preference. How much convergence do you want? How small do you want it? Increasingly, you can find the product you want no matter how you answer those questions.

In that sense, yes, PDAs are "competing" with Smartphones or whatever. But it's no longer like saying Fords compete with Chevrolets; it's like saying that Laptops compete with Desktops.

Now, if I could have a PDA-sized appliance that could run my entire gamut of digital needs, from phonecalls to gaming, plus provide (through dataports or, better yet, a holographic projector) whatever I/O real estate I want at the moment, then we'll have reached integration nirvana with the Shadowrun-esque "Personal Secretary" and we can stop talking about which devices fill which niches.

The author suggests that "PDAs" will get simpler and focus on personal organization and low pricing. I think the author is stuck with a useless definition of "PDA"--basically a personal organizer with no other functionality. This is completely backwards. I personally predict that, in the end, we'll all be using PDAs--meaning, we'll all have personal digital assistants. But we'll have a lot of different names for them, and they'll have a lot of different capabilities.

Re:Defining Your Terms (3, Insightful)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117535)

My biggest beaf with smartphone/PDA's is that (in the US) they are exclusive to the cell phone company for the most part. They have a vested interest in NOT supporting WiFi, and DEFINATELY not VoIP via WiFi. Some companies (Verizon) also make it nearly impossible to install non-verizon applications on it, or deliberately cripple a device that was originally capable of doing much more.

You end up with abortions like the Treo which is a really crappy phone and a pretty crappy PDA. Hell, you can't even get a decent simple phone with bluetooth without also getting the crappy MP3 player and crappy camera (and crippled bluetooth as well.) Furthermore, if you want to send an email they seem to want to tack on another $50 / month on top of a $60 voice plan. Considering DSL can now be had for $20/month, that's insane. Ya, it's wireless, but still...

Now that's not to say that someone couldn't do one of these combo units RIGHT, but given history it is extremely unlikely that we will see it done well in the near future. The cell phone companies just don't get it.

So anyway, I'm still waiting for something like a modern Zaurus which Sharp seems to have discontinued in the US for the most part. Nobody else seems to have anything close. Considering I can get a 1G SD card for $80 retail, these little 64M PDA's are just toys. Give me some ROOM man! Give my the ability to REALLY sync my mailbox which is running about 360M now... Frankly, I don't Need it to be a cellphone - not that I really want to put a brick up to my ear anyway, but I'd use it with a bluetooth headset. And VoIP over WiFi is mandetory.

Re:Defining Your Terms (4, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117798)

Some people won't work on anything smaller than 10", some people will watch TV on a video iPod and call it good because it fits in their pocket. I think this is less a problem with technology that a hurdle created by personal preference.

Know what I want? Components! Make a variety of displays that are basically thin clients (via X11-over-Bluetooth? RDP? Whatever, just as long as it's the standard). Make a variety of processing units. Make a variety of input devices. Make a variety of speaker/headphone/microphone units. Most importantly, make multiple brands work together seamlessly. Convergence? I want divergence by piecing together the set of interoperable parts that fit the way I want to use them!

In my dream setup, I sit down at a public access point and get my 8" screen and compact keyboard out of my bag. That's it. I'm set up and ready to use it. They both talk wirelessly to the real processor which is squirreled away in my messenger bag and only sees the light of day when I need to recharge it. If a cell or VOIP call comes in, it's automatically transferred to my wireless earpiece.

Us geeks will always have the iPod-sized processing equivalent of an overclocked Celeron, but Joe Businessman can buy a quad-Xeon unit and car battery on wheels to power it. Maybe I'm just going to the grocery store, so I'd only take the 3" touchscreen (so I can mark off my shopping list as I go). Have to give a presentation? Bind to the projector client in the conference room until it's over.

I truly think this is the future. I want a cheap Dell processing box that never leaves my shirt pocket, or beltclip, or whatever. I want a nice Samsung client to display it's output. I want a Happy Hacking portable keyboard for input. See, ever since Palm discontinued the IIIxe, their hasn't been a single model of PDA from any manufacturer that covers all the features I want. Dell might not make as much per individual item by selling the components separately, but I truly believe that they'd make a killing by hawking vast numbers of the smaller pieces. No PC maker that I know of sells monolithic PC-screen-keyboard-mouse desktop units, but that's exactly how they expect you to buy your portable electronics.

Wake up, Apple and Dell! There's a whole untapped market of people who'd love to customize their PDAs, particularly those people who have never used one (start off with a cheap CPU and upgrade it later if you like it). And the thing is that all of the hardware, software, wireless tech, and protocols are in common use that could make this happen today.

Re:The Original UMPC (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117327)

Put a color screen in it, run OS X on a flash drive along with global band cell phone connectivity, 802.11 and Bluetooth and if you can sell it for $700-800 or so, you have the ideal PDA.

I am a firm believer that a pure PDA device should leave out the cell phone connectivity. Once you add that in, the only way you're going to be able to get one is through the cell companies, which will try to hobble the device.

Besides which, it's an added expense and power draw for the mobile device.

The key to good portability for such a device is REALLY GOOD Bluetooth support, so that you can easily have it connect as required to a real cell phone, and so that you can upgrade your phone or change your service provider to your hearts content without the device having to worry about it. And this way you can use a single cell device for ALL of your portable computing devices, without having the need for each one to have its own cellular subsystem.


Re:The Original UMPC (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117823)

so that you can easily have it connect as required to a real cell phone
Why stop there? Why not just separate out the functionality into a "screen" module (that would look like a PDA, but thinner), a "CPU/disk" module (that would resemble an iPod), and a "tranciever" module (that would look like a cellphone, but would also include Wi-Fi). They could all communicate via Bluetooth (or something like it).

The best part is, the parts could be mix-and-match -- swap out the PDA-like display for a head-mounted one and you've got a wearable computer, for example.

Re:The Original UMPC (2, Insightful)

DocLandolt (920512) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117354)

The future of the PDA isn't dire -- it just needs to find its niche. Like everything else, portable computing will eventually modularize (when consumers have their way, at least), and the day we see the emergence of a half decent wearable display, and hopefully some versitile input mechanisms, the PDA will lose its jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none chains and morph into a powerhouse of a mini-cpu, storage and personal area networking hub.

But there will always be buyers......... (2, Informative)

phillips321 (955784) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117108)

I know many people who buy PDAs purely for their gps capabilities

Many phones also have GPS too (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117197)

... and they have comms back to infor servers etc to provide location aware services.

Given that you pretty much need a phone, it makes very little sense to duplicate the comms capabilities in a PDA. As the copmms capabilities improves (better comms at lower cost), we're going to see more of a move towards a "thinner client" phone. Why have a whole lot of storage etc on your phone when you can just pull it off a backend server?

Phones are also far lower cost to the user because they can often be amortised as part of a phone plan.

Re:But there will always be buyers......... (3, Interesting)

binarybum (468664) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117275)

that's why I bought mine, but I evolved and now use it as much as a PDA as a GPS. I hope this article is wrong, but I fear that the ubiquity of the cellphone and the well recognized need for integration of portable devices will push the format more towards a phone form and less toward a PDA. This is a shame as the PDA is in my opinion a far better interface and could easily accommodate gps, bluetooth phone, media player, and simple camera functions.

PDA future in two words: (-1, Flamebait)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117132)


Simplicity, price, and size please (5, Insightful)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117134)

How about something that has the functionality of the older palms:

  • basic handwriting reco through graffiti or the like
  • Keeps track of names, phone numbers, basic notes, a todo list
  • Simple interface

It doesn't even need a color screen, though grayscale would be nice just for legibility reasons.

A 20mhz or so CPU should suffice, if even that much is needed. It would be cool if it could fit in the credit card holder of my wallet (most wallets suck as it is, when you are limited to the subset of wallets that can carry a PDA, it becomes really hard to find a non-cruddy one), and has a week long battery life or some such. Oh yes, and STATIC MEMORY. Honestly, only 4 or so megs are needed.

Price? No more than $50.

Re:Simplicity, price, and size please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117185)

Heh, that's why I keep my old palm m505 and hate my new phone. They just jam a bunch of pointless stuff into electronics today. I don't want to read email on my phone or pilot. Or use my pilot as a phone. Or take pictures with my palm. Or whatever. My old motorola phone did exactly what a cell should do - store phone numbers and make phone calls. Nothing drives more crazy that talking to some idiot, seeing his treo buzz, hear the dreaded "Hold on a minute" and sit there while he tediously responds to an email.

Re:Simplicity, price, and size please (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117288)

m505 was good, too short of a battery life though. My GFs m505 kept on killing itself even after the BIOS update (would occasionally hard reset itself and lose all of its data despite having plenty of battery power)

I liked my Clie, until I had to fix one thing and broke 5 others. Wonderful 2wk battery life. :) Bit too big though, with todays tech, they could make the things so small.

Re:Simplicity, price, and size please (1)

zuvembi (30889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117310)

That's why I have three spares of the Sony S320 Clie in a box. I tried newer *shinier* Palms[1], but the limited battery life and extra heft have never done it for me. So I keep falling back on my humble 8 meg palm with a 64 MB memory stick stuck in it. And if I manage to kill all my spares I can pick up some more for $30 on eBay.

[1] 320x320 TFT screen, camera, wifi, etc. Sits in my sock drawer, unloved.

Re:Simplicity, price, and size please (3, Insightful)

iabervon (1971) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117419)

I'd also really like to see something that's UI-equivalent with my trusty Handspring Visor Deluxe. The differences I want:

Sync with a standard mini-USB cable, instead of a cradle.

Support charging rechargable AAA batteries when plugged in.

Use sane file formats for memos, notes, calendar entries, and addresses.

It'd be nice to support a mini-SD card for storage, so that you can replace it if it breaks by removing the card and putting it in a new one.

I think it would be cute to support Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, just so you could look weird in cafes, with a full-size keyboard for a computer the size of the numeric keypad. But that's just silly.

Re:Simplicity, price, and size please (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117425)

Better yet..

Just an old DOS/Linux based computer. Weak processor, decent keyboard and screen, no GUI, something like emacs which can do pretty much everything you want to.

Re:Simplicity, price, and size please (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117579)

There used to be a device like this called (Depending on who sold it) the Tandy Zoomer, Casio Z-PDA7000, and GRiD GRiDPad 2390. It had a 20MHz V20 CPU (NEC 8086 knockoff, available in low power versions), a 384x512 4-grey LCD, and PC-GEOS. It had a type 2 PCMCIA slot and DOS card management software, and it was possible to use flash memory cards for storage, or network cards that had dos drivers. It was about the size of a paperback book, and it had four channel 16 bit 22 kHz audio (I think), and a decent set of game-type controls including a D-pad and two buttons. It also had IR and serial communications. This is where Palm Computing got their start (rolling the software package for it) and also where the Graffiti handwriting recognition system was first introduced. The PC software was the same thing that ran on the unit, with the same applications, but more video drivers. It was possible to get that software (including graffiti) running on the GRiDPad 1910 (the classic GRiDPad) and create a mega-PDA. I have a unit so converted, but I need to make up new battery packs for it as both of my old NiCad packs leaked, and it's not amazingly useful. That device doesn't even support PCMCIA cards, only the SRAM memory cards, and even then only up to 512kB, but it does have a 20MB hard drive in it. The military ordered up tons of them with magnesium cases, and if you look around enough, sometimes you can dig them up. The pen's on a wire, though, since it's capacitance-based. I never tried to run anything but PC-GEOS on mine, but it ought to be possible to run the 8086 linux on it. The hardware is pretty standard PC stuff.

Re:Simplicity, price, and size please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117445)

Nothing personal against the parent ... just who rated him interesting?

I really laughed my ass off ... perhaps it's the beer ... well most likely ... scratch this.

Re:Simplicity, price, and size please (2, Insightful)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117517)

I can get you pretty close--the Palm Z22. You won't want to carry it in your wallet (ouch...the idea had never occurred to me before), but I just replaced my Sony Clie with one of these, and I'm happy. The Clie cost me $400 bucks back when it was first introduced, and I was going to do all kinds of wonderful things with this slim brushed-aluminum wonder (you know, like hook it up to a GPS and never get lost again, and listen to music, and well...lots of stuff).

Well, I never did a thing with the Clie that I hadn't done with my old green-screen Palm, and I found that its battery would last at most 2 days--providing you didn't use it very much. I did buy a GPS for my car, so I'm not lost as often any more, and I got an MP3 player to drown out the noise in the cubicle farm I work in, and I got a nice phone that works in Europe and over here in the US and is flat enough that I can clip it to my belt and never notice it's there, and I got a lap-top to fulfill my portable computer needs.

Meanwhile, the Clie's battery life went from bad to pathetic, and every time it ran down completely, I'd lose all my data. I finally got sick of it a month or so ago, and bought the Palm Z22. The main reasons I bought it were that a) I realized that I still needed to do all the stuff the good old Palm did, but b) I wasn't going to pay $400 for it, and c) I wanted to keep using the simple Palm interface and my collection of apps.

The Z22 cost me $80. That's a little more than it's worth, but not outrageously so. It has a color screen that's not as nice as the Clie, but who cares--it's plenty bright and legible, and I ain't gonna admire the Mona Lisa on it. It's got 32M of flash memory that's persistent so I won't lose it if the battery goes flat--but the battery will last a week without recharging, so that probably won't happen. There's absolutely no frills--no memory cards, and the only interface on the thing is the USB port you use for syncing and charging. And you know what? I don't care.

I gather the Z22 is marketed as a "beginner's" Palm; if so, Palm doesn't get it. I think there's lots of people like me who still see a neeed for a device like this, and who have given up on the search for the One Device To Rule Them All.

The PDA is dead! Long live the PDA! (3, Informative)

TimmyDee (713324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117176)

The UMPC, in its current form and price (and usability) will not be an issue in the "downfall" of the PDA. It may have the ability to sideline the PDA in some markets and applications, but those will be relatively limited. Onto my real point. . .

"Increasingly capable cellphones", as the summary puts it, will be the real challenge to the PDA. Many people bought PDAs to be electronic datebooks, address books, and the like. Some people felt it worthwhile to carry them, others (myself included) found it to be a hassle. Cellphones, on the other hand, are far more likely to make it into our pockets. The natural evolution was to add PDA-like functionality. So PDAs evolved into cellphones or cellphones evolved into PDAs. I would argue that there are examples of both (the Treo being a phonified PDA and Series 60 devices being PDAified cellphones).

My take home message is thus: The PDA is not dead. It has merely evolved thanks to the advent of widespread mobile phones. If we look at some current cellphones, many have more power than the original Palm Pilots. About the only thing they lack is a more sophisticated input method (that may be arguable, though, when T9 is compared to Graffiti).

Some manufacturers will still make "pure" PDAs, but the PDA is not dead. The PDA has merely evolved.

Trust and usability problems. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117514)

"Increasingly capable cellphones", as the summary puts it, will be the real challenge to the PDA.

Would you spend hours on the phone telling the phone company all about your friends and plans? No? Me neither. That is why my PDA will not be a cell phone unless I can install the software myself, like OpenZaurus. I have similar thoughts about trusting any information to Microsoft in any way.

Privacy aside, cell phone and M$ PDAs suck. M$'s handwriting recognition and interface continuse to be third rate. My old hadspring does a better job and Xstroke under GPE beats them both. Every now and then I check out models in stores and I've yet to see one that's usable. Most Cellphone PDA's, with additional arbitrary limitations are even worse. Blackberry is a usable device and older Treos have been OK, but then you start to get back to the trust issue.

Looks like PDAs already dead in Japan... (1)

CaptainBogus (816440) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117564)

According to this article, it is almost impossible to find PDAs on the shelves in Japan... n.html []

Re:Looks like PDAs already dead in Japan... (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117785)

Not only that, but in Korea, only old people use PDAs.

Re:Looks like PDAs already dead in Japan... (1)

gordgekko (574109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117811)

And you can buy dildos in vending machines there, so what? When did Japan become the arbiter of what happens in the rest of the world?

PDAs have their place. Not in my life, but plenty of people still seem to like them.

Re:The PDA is dead! Long live the PDA! (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117639)

I don't disagree with anything you say, but I do want to say that basically all cellphones made today have more processing power than an original palm pilot, which had a 16MHz Dragonball CPU, from the days when the dragonball was based on the 68000. My Motorola V300, which is a well-outdated phone, was middle of the road when I Got it and has a 206 MHz 32 bit RISC processor and an ATI graphics coprocessor which handles the camera and which does 2d graphics acceleration. Even my crappy little suppository-sized Siemens phone before that had Java, though it was much more limited - still, it implies a certain amount of processor power, probably at least 40MHz and probably 32 bit. Probably almost no cellphones have floating point, but since there's integer implementations of just about every codec we care about (including mp3, ogg, mpeg4 in particular DivX, and so on) that's not much of a show-stopper. With the right software (that from the V500, which is precisely the same phone but with bluetooth and different software) the V300 can even shoot video at some minuscule resolution and encode it using mpeg4. My phone has 5MB flash available, where my upgraded palm pro had only 2MB. My phone has only about 262x144 resolution (Forget the precise, but those numbers sound kind of right) but it's something between 12 and 16 bit color, transflective, and I can play video on it. I remember playing the craptacular monochrome video clips on palm that were functional only as a demo of what the hardware could[n't] do...

Re:The PDA is dead! Long live the PDA! (1)

lmlloyd (867110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117661)

My problem with this is not about processing power, or memory, or anything like that, but simply about form factor. Any device that makes a comfortable and easy to carry phone, makes for an awful PDA, and any device that makes a good PDA, is uncomfortable as a phone.

A PDA needs to be mostly screen, and input area. That always makes for having to talk with a brick to your head. In my opinion, all the best mobile phones have been clamshell designs, which retain a comfortable angle between the earpiece and the microphone. I had a BlackBerry, a Sidekick, a Treo, and got tired of all of them because they were crap phones! They were all quite capable PDAs, but just a pain for using as a phone. Now I have a phone with 'smartphone' features, and it drives me nuts trying to put in text on a numeric keypad, trying to use a postage-stamp screen, and having to navigate with unlikely button combinations to read and reply to emails.

I really think there will always be a need for a phone, and a need for a PDA-like device. The form factor requirements between the two are just too different. Perhaps when we have real, working, rollable color screens, and 100% accurate voice recognition that can run on a mobile processor, then things might change, but at the current level of technology, I don't see the need for a little touchscreen you can hold in your hand, and a little device you can hold up to your ear meshing very well.

Re:The PDA is dead! Long live the PDA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117665)

what evolution nonsense are you talking about??

maybe you mean that cellphone was intelligently designed to become PDAs and vice versa.

Error in the posting (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117179)

the upcoming UMPC

Errr, shouldn't that be ....

the upcoming video iPod

New PocketPCs stink (3, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117196)

The current crop of PocketPCs stink. I'm anxious to upgrade, but here is what I am finding:

  - NONE offer PCMCIA support (rendering my 5GB HDD useless)
  - If you want 128MB or more of RAM, the highest resolution you will get is quarter-VGA (320x240)
  - If you want VGA (640x480) resolution, the most RAM you'll get is 64MB
  - Lack of accessories (e.g., high capacity batteries)

Thanks to Carly Fiorina canning the iPaq line (she basically brought back the inferior Journada line) expansion capability of the PocketPC is nil, and the quality has only gone downhill. I'm glad she got fired but she managed to kill the PocketPC platform just as it was gaining steam. I still use my 3670 but I need more RAM, higher resolution, a faster CPU, and expansion capability. :(

Re:New PocketPCs stink (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117234)

Oh, and one more thing:

  - If you want USB host capability, forget about 128MB RAM, VGA, and by the way you'll be getting the slower CPU, too

I don't want my phone and PDA integrated. I want GPS at a reasonable resolution, I need to be able to take notes at a meeting, if I need to get on the web I should be able to use WiFi or Bluetooth and use a browser at a reasonable (VGA) resolution, plus why should I buy a separate MP3 player or portable DVD player when a standalone PocketPC is perfectly capable of both?

Re:New PocketPCs stink (2, Informative)

Formica (775485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117385)

Have you looked at the Loox 720 [] ? - VGA
- Bluetooth + WiFi
- 128MB Flash
- 520MHz processor
- USB host

Re:New PocketPCs stink (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117544)

I hate Carly as much as the next person, but I have an IPAQ HX4700 thats a post Carla device and it reminds me of my 36xx - and while it doesn't have pcmcia - I do have a 4 gig cf card for it (not 5 gigs I know, but still thats a shitload of ram for a small little device). It has 480x640 graphics, 64 megs of ram - and there's a certian company that will hack it to 128 - but I've never seen the need.

Maybe a future, but more as a small UMPC (4, Interesting)

kbob88 (951258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117212)

I think there is a market for PDAs, but not as they are currently configured.

Most of the current uses of a PDA will probably be ceded to smartphones (calendar, address book, tasklist, calculator, MP3 player, etc).

The one advantage that a PDA could have is that its form factor has traditionally been small enough to be truly portable and almost large enough that tasks that are next to impossible on phones' small screens (e.g., surfing the Web, using interactive applications) can actually be performed on them without too much user frustration.

Who really likes using the Internet on a phone? Does anyone think that tablet PCs are really that portable (without a laptop bag)?

Therefore I think there would be a market for PDAs with good sized screens and Wifi/cellular data connections. People would use them as an appliance to surf the Internet and for other applications that required more screen real estate than a phone has. The real killer machine would be about the size of a checkbook (so it fits in your pocket) and flips open to reveal two screens that fit up against each other almost seamlessly, thus doubling screen size.

I think UMPCs are too big, and smartphones too small to be truly portable yet usable Internet appliances. PDAs could fit that niche (thus blurring the distinction between them and UMPCs).

Re:Maybe a future, but more as a small UMPC (1)

Josh teh Jenius (940261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117268)

...and flips open to reveal two screens that fit up against each other almost seamlessly, thus doubling screen size.

If someone could perfect this, I can see it helping both PDAs and Tab PCs. However, the key is making it truly seamless. I can imagine a stylus that keeps getting "caught" on the "crease" and really driving me nuts.

Re:Maybe a future, but more as a small UMPC (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117672)

I carry a PDA (iPAQ H2200) in my pocket on a regular basis. I use it for playing music in the car (though a tape deck adapter - I know, how early 1990s is that?) and for loads of other fun stuff, like playing solitaire :) It has only internal bluetooth, no wifi, but I have a Sandisk 802.11b+128MB flash CF, and a 1GB SD card. The idea is that soon I Will be getting a motorola V555 which has bluetooth (essentially an updated V500, which is just the same as my V300 but with bluetooth) and I will be getting GPRS and using it on my PDA. The screen on a cellphone is just too small to do any useful work on, including web browsing which frankly is bad enough on a 240x320 display.

I think it makes a lot more sense to use a bluetooth PDA with a bluetooth phone for your 'net connection than to have that stuff built into the PDA. It means I can upgrade either one independently, and just as important, I can leave the PDA at home (or in the car, or what have you) and just take my phone if I don't need the PDA functionality - I'll still be able to surf the web if I really have to, just much more frustratingly. When I want to do something real, I can use the PDA.

Sadly, it's true. (2, Insightful)

calice (570989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117239)

I rely on my Palm for all sorts of things. Primarily just keeping organized, GPS, and a book reader. When i (thought) I had lost my old one a few months back I went out to get another. No retailers carry the things in quantity anymore, and they are hard as all hell to find where they are displayed. One place I went actually had them in a cage underneath a counter, no display or anything. While a smartphone is fine for most, i believe in the general thought that if you take 2 things and combine them, you wind up with 2 inferior things in one. A bulky, annoying phone, and a small-screened pda.

Re:Sadly, it's true. (1)

Feneric (765069) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117341)

you wind up with 2 inferior things in one. A bulky, annoying phone, and a small-screened pda.

True enough. I've yet to see a smart phone that handles the same sorts of tasks a PDA can handle as well as a PDA. Most of the smart phones I've seen so far are comparable more to organizers more than true PDAs.

It's interesting that you mention using PDAs as book readers. I also found that I use their book reading capabilities a lot. I use them not for just traditional free e-books [] , though, but also free interactive fiction [] titles. Interactive fiction is a different sort of thing when you're no longer bound to a desktop to "interact" with it. Exploring twisty little passages that are all alike is perhaps inherently more interesting when you're in a real maze of twisty little passages that are all alike, like the waiting room in some large complex...

PDA 4tw? (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117240)

Seems to be pretty obvious to me. The static size of today's PDAs is simply too large. It doesn't readily slide into a normal pocket, it seems clumsy to carry one around with you unless you have a purse or some kind of carrying case. I don't find that to be very convenient. I don't want to need a carrying case to carry my connection to the world's network around with me.

In short, once thin, retractable, high quality touchscreens are available, so you can in effect 'roll up' the majority of the space it takes up while not in use, then you can really expect PDAs to take over, and see them merge many separate technologies (ipod, phone, gps, pda) into one.

How long away is this? You tell me, I'm just the visionary ;p

Re:PDA 4tw? (1)

chmod a+x mojo (965286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117396)

he static size of today's PDAs is simply too large. It doesn't readily slide into a normal pocket, it seems clumsy to carry one around with you unless you have a purse or some kind of carrying case.
hmmmm, what ARE you smoking? i have one of the bulkier pda's the hp hx2755 and it fits in my pockets just fine ( smaller than a wallet with some biz. cards in it even) personally i would be lost without my pda. i write email, take notes, play solitair in boring meetings/waiting in line, view photos from both SD cards and CF cards from my cameras on it and much much more. i wouldn't trade the bulk for less features, i LIKE bluetooth and 802.11b connectivity with no external cards. plus the biometric fingerprint reader keeps my data safe (even after a FULL reset you can't use the pda without the fingers used to secure it in the first place). that said i am still waiting for the linux port to be completed from, this pda is faster than my old laptop, has more ram (and i am talking about program running ram not program installation ram) and deosn't weigh nearly as much. the pda market is ESSENTIAL to testing out smaller and less powerhungry components to be used in their bigger cousins. that said, now i am off to poke around at some stuff and see if i can get win98 to boot from an image on my CF card.

Re:PDA 4tw? (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117407)

What am I smoking?

I should ask you, what are you wearing?

Because your PDA is anything but an easy fit for most pockets.

Re:PDA 4tw? (1)

chmod a+x mojo (965286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117783)

hmmm, i usually wear blue jean/ dress crap once and a while, it also fits in pocket tee-shirts... basicly anything comfortable it will fit easily in ( I.E. not skin-tight clothes)

I guess I'm one.... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117252)

A number of factors are competing in the mobile products field right now, all of which are vying for the same buyers.
It seems my PDA is a victim of the times. I just put my HP hx4700 and GPS stuff up for auction. I am thinking of getting an Origami, when they are out there....

why I don't use a pda (2, Insightful)

kongit (758125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117256)

A pda is supposed to be a personal digital assisstant. Modern pdas have become pcs, personal computers. They are laptops in a small form factor. If you compare a modern pda to an older laptop you will find many resemblences: their processor speed, their screen size, and the applications. I don't need word for my pda. I don't need games for my pda, though they are nice. If pda manufacturers are going to keep making pdas like pcs they should go all in and include decent hard drive size, so you can store and play music, native usb support, ie a female usb plug, and they should include more computer like software. However they still keep the base functionality of the pda with note takers, address books, and the like. But instead of making a pda with just the basic functionality of a pda, they include computer like apps. They take a middle stand making pdas too expensive for most users, and include apps that most users don't need or won't use. I think that pdas should either be more like a cell phone, simple interface, limited apps, or like a tablet pc: great variety of apps and a decent interface for using those apps.

What about portable gaming devices? (3, Interesting)

saifrc (967681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117265)

Compare the installed base of PDAs (either by model, by manufacturer, or by the class of devices as a whole) to the installed base of portable gaming devices (GameBoy, et. al.), and you might see *one* possible direction for the PDA. Previously, games were popular on a PDA, but the limitations (speed, memory, battery life, etc.) made it evident that portable gaming on a PDA wasn't enough to keep the PDA craze alive as we knew it. The Nintendo DS, though, is already starting to look more and more like a PDA every day: there's a homebrew organizer ( [] ), a Linux project ( [] ), and even a game that features puzzles aimed at/successful with older people ( KG6QL_mMbXFoQTkQIzgi9nU [] ). The fact that it has touch/stylus input and 802.11b is enough to get one's mental gears turning at the possible confluence of a gaming idiom and personal information management idiom in a single device. Perhaps the change will come from the other direction. As millions and millions more Nintendo DS units (and Sony PSP units, for that matter) are sold, we may get a population of generally older, more sophisticated portable gamers who demand a bit more functionality from their handheld devices -- the very same functionality that a stripped-down, basic PDA would have provided. Instead of a feature-rich-but-mostly-underused PDA that can play games, we might have a gaming-device-that-also-holds-my-calendar that can read e-mails. And I guarantee you that there are more GameBoys out there than Palms.

iPAQ hw6515 is a step in the right direction (3, Interesting)

pawsa (92107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117270)

iPAQ hw6515 [] is a step in the right direction: it is a PDA with an ability to make phone calls. It has PocketPC OS with its advantages and disadvantages. You can make phone calls, surf the web, listen to MP3s, send e-mails, take photos and find out where you are - yes, it has a GPS module, too. The "qwerty" keyboard is quite handy and beats T9 systems without a doubt. The software has few quirks and takes few days to learn. Setting up secure email submission is difficult if not outright impossible but I guess this was never MS priority.

Re:iPAQ hw6515 is a step in the right direction (1)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117638)

Does it offer WIFI? NO? Then it FAILS.

PDA? (4, Interesting)

Ivan Pistoff (964873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117272)

Doesn't PDA stand for Portable Digital Assistant? If you're cell phone is digital and it assists you in some way isn't it then a PDA? Same with laptops and media players. How can they "compete" with PDA's when them themselves are PDA's? Stupid....

Re:PDA? (1)

D3m3rz3l (914486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117513)

I thought it was Personal Digital Assistant

PDA? What is "PDA"? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117282)

And why are we not looking into the bright future of CRT monitors?
How about going back and talking about the future of typewriting machines?

They're just gone, some of the top players on the market closed their PDA divisions, the smart phone IS a superset of the PDA (most in the business class have stylus, hand writing recognition, basic office apps, browser of course, scheduler etc.).

Re:PDA? What is "PDA"? (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117595)

Most in the business class are SHITTY phones and are SHITTY PDA's. So instead of a superset, it's a subset of both.

24 (2, Funny)

George Tirebuyer (825426) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117301)

I want Jack Bauer's PDA.

Re:24 (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117521)

IT comes with Jack Bauer's life. You want it now?

PDAs Are Terrible, Where is Apple? (3, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117318)

As someone who uses a PDA (Dell Axim x50v, WM2003) every day, I can say that PDAs have a large number of problems. The browser MS ships is amazingly terrible (if a page is long enough, it just stops drawing the background at certain points, for example). The way programs run is pathetic (there is no way to exit them by default, Dell ships a little utility to "fix" that problem). Large parts of the configuration is just hard to do (wireless for example). The calendar program on my device (whatever MS's program is) just looks ugly. Terribly ugly. I would KILL to get iCal on the thing. All the applications look like they were designed for 4 color devices, when I don't think there was anything under 256 when I bought my PDA (which is 65k). Other applications supplied with it are as hard to use. The interface used to add new appointments and tasks isn't very easy to use either. Don't get me started on ActiveSync. Installing applications is a major pain too.

I had a Newton long ago. It was a very nice device. It was big and heavy because it was ahead of it's time, but the interface was quite nice. If Apple were to release a new Newton (or whatever they decide to call it) that was nothing more than iCan and Address Book I would be happy. VERY happy. They could add more and make it a full-fledged PDA (SafariMini, iMail2Go, whatever) I would only be happier. Someone with a decent UI touch is badly needed. I've heard rumors that the touch-screen iPod will do this (we'll see if that even exists) and if it does I will gladly upgrade.

Or imagine how long it could last without a charge if it used ePaper? They could make it the size of a PC Card (like the old Rex PDAs) with a touch screen. Considering all the high-rez high-color screens we see out there (in phones, other PDAs, digital cameras, PSPs and DSes, etc.) they could put a great screen in there and have good battery life if they didn't go the ePaper route.

PDAs are OK, but they have enough problems that I can see why more people wouldn't want them (especially if your phone is half-decent and can sync with your computer, stupid Sprint crippleware LG PM-325).

Give me an OLD Newton. Same as it was. Just shrink it (as would be trivial with today's technology) and make it sync with iCal and AddressBook and I'd be happy.

Please Apple, give us a good PDA. You did it for computers, you did it for digital music players, do it for PDAs.

Re:PDAs Are Terrible, Where is Apple? (3, Informative)

Feneric (765069) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117374)

If Apple were to release a new Newton (or whatever they decide to call it) that was nothing more than iCal and Address Book I would be happy. VERY happy.

With just those two features in mind one could argue that they already did, and it's called the iPod. It has both a calendar app and address book app that synchronize with iCal and Address Book on the Mac. My brother uses an iPod in exactly this fashion.

Mind you, I'm playing devil's advocate here. I don't think the iPod interface is well-suited for PDA type functions, and I'd much prefer something that learns from the Newton [] .

Re:PDAs Are Terrible, Where is Apple? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117581)

I'm aware of that and I would use it except for two things.

First, you need a cable to sync. I know people talk about BlueTooth iPods and say "Why use BlueTooth headphones?" and I agree. But if they put BT 2 in the next iPods (like is in the current Macs) it would be fast enough to easily Sync playlist data and add a few new tracks to your iPod fast (every time you get within range maybe?). Sure when you replace 6 gigs of music you'll want to use a cable, but when you add one CD it'd be great. It would make syncing updates if it's a PDA easy too.

The main killer is that it is read only. I take my iPod with me so that wouldn't be a problem, but I keep my PDA so I can write things down as they happen (new assignments, appointments, etc) because otherwise I'll forget them. If I were to use an iPod, I'd have to keep a sticky-note attached to the back of it and keep a pencil with me. If I'm going to do that, why bother using the iPod, why not just use a little date book?

Even if they implemented the ability to change/add things, it would just take too long. You'd have to use the scroll wheel for letter selections, FF/REW for moving left, right, etc. Even with predictive text entry, it would take way WAY too long to be useful. I can tap out a pretty long message on the onscreen keyboard of my Axim very fast.

I hope they do it. I'd love to be able to have both the iPod and the PDA in one device. I don't use my PDA for anything demanding. I'd love the Apple usability. I'd also like an excuse to buy a newer iPod (I want to be able to see album art for no good reason!). When they announce it, I will order it. It's that simple.

Syncing, for example, was annoying enough on Windows. On my Mac I have to use a program called "The Missing Sync" which works, but I've become quite mad at the company that makes it. Why? They knew Tiger was coming for what, a year? They didn't have an update in time for the release. They didn't even get a beta out (for beta testers only, I managed to get in) for like two months which meant that anything that happened in that time frame was on my PDA only and if something happened it would have been lost. Combine this with a few other things (I can sync automatically on connect, but I can't close the program automatically when the sync is over) and I'll be glad to get off the program.

Not that I like Syncing on Windows any better.

So Fix the Thing with Free Software. (2, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117613)

All of the problems you describe are fixed with Familiar [] or Open Zaurus [] . I can strongly recommend either GPE or Opie on Zaurus. They both have graffiti packages that are first rate, good browsers and personal information managers. Opie, as a bonus, has a media player that does ogg, mp3 and everthing else you can think of. The newer media player is using Xine as a back end and does streaming media. Flashing the Zaurus is easy to do. I'd consider a M$ PDA a brick before flashing. Sharp's original software is pretty good but the open stuff is better.

GPE does X and portable Gnome applications. You can use Dilo, which works better than the IE you describe, or mini mozilla, which is slower but resizes images and does other cool stuff. Xstroke gives you full screen graffiti and is the best handwriting recognition I've ever seen. The PIM stuff is supposed to sync with Evolution.

Opie is it's own mini KDE environment and works well. It's supposed to sync with multisynk, but also imports the normal kontact files with ease. Embedded Konqueror is not as good as minimo, but it works well enough. The interface is mature, stable and good.

The built in MMC slot is well used by both, and you can run both at the same time on Zaurus.

Cheers, you don't have to wait for Apple to give you a PDA.

PDAs just turned into phones (2, Insightful)

captainbarky (957499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117347)

Look at the palm 700w. It does everything a dell axim does ... has the stupid SDIO slot, and stylus ... you can add sd mem cards or GPS or whatever you want .. plus windows mobile PDA apps. Its the same damn thing as any other PDA but also functions as a phone. Actually, its nicer cause its got a clean little qwerty keyboard right on the front for 1 handed use. I'd never use a plain PDA, but i'm pretty stoked on my 700w.

Re:PDAs just turned into phones (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117622)

Screen is WAAAAY too small (240x240,) it runs Windows, and worst of all, Verizon service and their massive crippling.

Re:PDAs just turned into phones (1)

MS-06FZ (832329) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117815)

Too small... for what, exactly?

One problem here is that pocket-sized devices are being expected to perform the same tasks as desktop machines with 19" or larger monitors. No matter how many pixels you have, a physically small screen is still a major limitation. I believe these devices are great for some jobs, fantastic especially in the fact that they're small enough that you really can take them with you anywhere you go (the same is not true of even the smallest laptops) - but the tradeoff is that the way you interact with them needs to be a bit different, too.

So yeah, you can't expect a 240x240 or 320x320 screen to perform well with the typical webpage designed for 800x600 or better... You can't expect a tiny little thumb-board to be as quick or easy as a full-size 80-key keyboard... You can't watch Homestar Runner on it. And you can't expect a power-efficient ARM to perform on par with a modern Pentium with its many heatsinks and fans. But you can toss the damn thing in your coat pocket and have it ready when you need it. You can get more than three hours of use out of it on a single charge, and you can carry it around all day without some heavy shoulder-bag weighing you down. And then you'll wind up somewhere away from home, maybe, and want to take a note, play a game, or access the internet... and it won't be as nice an experience as the home PC setup or even a laptop, you won't be able to do everything you'd have been able to do with a laptop, but you will have the thing with you, so you won't be just sitting there wishing you had some kind of computer handy.

As for Verizon crippling... what are you referring to? I've heard of (but not seen convincing evidence of) EVDO data rate limitations, I know they want to make people pay an extra $15/month for "tethering" the thing to a laptop as a wireless modem, and they offer neither an option to disable SMS nor an option that makes it free to receive SMS (meaning if someone spams you via SMS you foot the bill.) But to my knowledge they're not impeding the software functions of the device itself. Certainly nothing like the charges I've heard that Sprint disables Bluetooth or the like...

The Palm 700p is supposedly on its way. That'll take care of two out of three of your complaints, at least.

PDA market won't truly take off until (1)

melted (227442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117355)

PDA market won't truly take off until Apple re-enters it. Apple could actually make a PDA that doesn't suck ass. They did it once, they can do it again, squared.

Re:PDA market won't truly take off until (1)

gandreas (908538) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117750)

So did the PDA market suck because Apple left, or did Apple leave the PDA market because the it sucked?

Back when I owned PalmSource (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117370)

right after the spin-off from Palm, I correctly predicted that the OS itself would someday prove far more valuable than the actual PDAs that used them, as firms such as Nokia et al were using them to run their cell phone OS.

That said, I should point out that my old Palm V still works fine - my son found it under a pile of books last year and asked if he could have it - he uses it as a PDA (plus it's got a nice gunmetal case that flips open he can stick some bills and his Boys & Girls Member Card in).

So, just because other people aren't using it, doesn't mean it's not useful.

Me, I gave up on cellphones for now. Wake me when they become less annoying.

Mobile phones are the future (1)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117378)

It's somewhat like the Windows monopoly. Everybody has Windows, and everybody has a mobile phone. Those phones will keep adding functionality, co-opting ideas and testing user response till the PDA is a thing of the past, or rather, a function of your phone. Some will never use it, but it'll be there just the same.

By the way, same thing goes for the MP3 player, although that may take a bit longer.

no palm phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117406)

If phones are replacing PDAs, why are there no current PalmOS based flip phones? I think the Samsung i500 is a great phone - normal cell-phone size and the benefits of a real PDA with PalmOS, but it is no longer made and there are no replacements. Is the licensing for PalmOS that expensive?

Article BAD (1)

VirtualAdept (43699) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117415)

That article hurt my head - I swear I could feel brain cells dying as I read it.

Seriously - I have a Sprint 6700 phone. Its essentially a PDA with phone functionality - why is this not considered a PDA instead of a smart phone?

The PDA isn't going to die - its going to get subsumed by devices that offer more features. Duh.

goodness me (1)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117442)

phones are stupid.. PDA's won't die.. they'll just get better when Wireless broadband becomes a standard all across the globe.. especially when someone simply ports GoogleTalk over to Mobile Windows or even Linux for that matter.. i'll just use that for phone calls.. sounds better anyway haha.. bascially, i don't think they need to be innovating the phone.. they need to be phasing them out in my opinion..

A Great PDA (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117444)

I have a great PDA. It's called a Tapwave Zodiac.

* Great media player capabilities: Though it won't play DRMed content, it plays standard Divx and MP3s with free software from the Web [] . (The video player software that came with it was some annoying proprietary thing. The MP3 player was fine, but the free media player I got plays OGGs too.) Battery life can be a problem with long movies, but not for episodes of The Venture Brothers [] , well if only there were some way to get episodes of that show in DiVX format, I mean. (Oh, The Simpsons, The Tick, GitS: SAC [] , Paranoia Agent [] Futurama whatever turns you on... live action TV too [] , an hour is no problem.)

* Great gaming capabilities: I mean it has a touch screen and an analogue stick... but unfortunately not so much commercial software. Stuntcar Extreme [] which came with it, is great for showing off it's 3D graphics, rumble feature, and smooth controls using the analogue stick and buttons. For a game that uses the touch screen, the Warfare Inc. [] demo is kind of fun, and it comes with a version of Solitaire [] . Homebrew has been sort of hit or miss for me. I like Beats of Rage [] , but most of the other stuff I tried to install required a memory wipe.

* All the note taking, life organizing, alarm clock type features you would want. Oh, and I downloaded a Tone Dialer [] for it that works but you have to get the speaker of the Zodiac really close to the reciever.

Annoyingly, the Tapwave Zodiac failed marketwise, I'm not sure why. I'm guessing they had too much debt and needed to hit it big right away. Or perhaps it was simply to beautiful for this world.

Anyway, buy a Tapwave Zodiac! It will make your life better! Chicks dig them... well, ok not all... maybe not even most, but I'm sure some do. Besides it's cheaper than a porsche!

Origami (1)

BlueFiberOptics (883376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117457)

Yeah, because we all know Microsoft's "Origiami" is going to replace PDAs and be adopted by bored Soccer moms waiting for their kids. :D

phone, pda, laptop (3, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117475)

There's a lot of different device categories out there, but only so much space in peoples' pockets or in their minds. Two interactive devices, perhaps three if one is special purpose, is probably the limit.

On the high end, small and light notebooks are good enough today that they work as real computers - I have a Panasonic R3, and it's my only computer. I meant to get a real desktop as a complement, but I just never got arond to it. Whenever I have my bag with me (and I usually have), it comes along. And it is a far better platform for "computing" than any PDA out there. If I were to get a PDA again, it would have to be something that complements this one on the low end.

On the other end, my current, normal (not a smartphone) phone is capable of most incidental things I need. Calling (not that I actually speak that often), email, music player, small text reader (directions, schedule and the like), alarm clock, dictionary - web surfing too, though I don't use it much. It's certainly not perfect - the screen resolution does equal that of my old PalmIII, and is in color and much easier to read, but is of course smaller - but it is always with me and it is _good_enough_.

A PDA would have to displace either my phone or my computer for me to consider one again. And to do that it would have to do what the lost gadget did at least reasonably well, and give me something extra - some compelling functionality that would make it interesting to switch in the first place. I am not aware of any such functionality today.

PDA needs connectivity (1)

monopole (44023) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117503)

I love PDAs, I'm never without my last of the line Clie. I find the PDA indispensable not only for keeping lists and contacts but as an e-book, simple camera and a GPS enabled navigator (particularly with vindigo). On the other hand, I have a very simple prepaid cellphone because I despise cellular companies, particularly with regard to the level of control they attempt to maintain over one's data, as well as the privacy failures of various cell features.

And no, paper and pencil notebooks don't cut it. The strength of the PDA is the capacity to sync all the data you use. That and the capacity to dynamically process information such as maps and gps data.

The true strength of the present PDA is that it is always there. A PDA is only effective if you keep it in arms reach at all times, at which point it becomes indispensable.

The thing that PDAs need is a reasonably power efficient means of acessing the net most of the time. In the 80's and early 90's connectivity was a nice thing for PCs now it is effectively indispensable. A perfectly good PC, even insanely tricked out is near useless without a broadband connection. A reasonable web link capability on the part of future PDAs will be equally essential.

The strength of smartphones are that they have this connectivity, the downside is the cost and intrusiveness of cellphone companies and the limitations of power. It's hard enough to keep a charge on either a cell or a PDA the full day through. Doubling the functionality kills batteries very quickly.

Of course, several technologies show promise in restoring the PDAs luster. The first is fuel cell batteries, which address the power limitations, and the second is e-paper which improves the display quality. Add ubiquitous connectivity (wiMax or the like)and you have the rebirth of the PDA.

Connected PDA's and smart phones aren't! (1)

jivo (889268) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117504)

About 7 years ago, I bought a Palm V. It was a great device, and though I didn't use the calendar as much as some, I used it for notes during meetings. Grafitti took some learning, but it was effective (and I had the local high-score in Giraffe...!). The Palm was merely a smart electronic notebook, but it was good at it. Its biggest problem: I was never on-line. I couldn't send/receive e-mails without connecting to my PC first, and thought AvantGo was great, it was still off-line.

About 4 years ago, I bought a Palm Tungsten. Color screen and all, and being Bluetooth enabled, my plan was to make it go on-line through my phone, and perhaps e-mail pictures from my cameras SD card. It was a joke: The Bluetooth implementation and the IMAP protocol was basically crappy and useless, and the OS couldn't handle even medium sized images. So I ended up using it as a primitive and clunky music player and for some notes during meetings, though the battery life was a bit on the short side. Still off-line, and it appeared that Palm couldn't decide if they wanted to be a highly efficient device for a small number of things, or equally poor for just about anything. IMHO they got stuck between the two chairs.

Today I use a Motorola A1000. The Symbian OS works great, and it's multitasking and memory handling beats the snot out of PALM OS. The phone hardware is a technical marble with 3G, GPS receiver, cameras, PDA-functionality, touch-screen - the works! At least on paper, that is. In reality, it's half a PDA and half a phone being half integrated. I use Wayfinder for GPS navigation with the built-in GPS receiver, and when it works it is GREAT!

That, however was the keywords: "WHEN it works...". The software built by Motorola really stinks! Menus contains spelling errors. Simple things like the alarm clock doesn't work. Sometimes the time is way off, until I reset the device! Sometimes the alarm wakes me up at 0:00 UTC, informing me that it's now 0:00 UTC, and that I'm supposed to get up in 5 hours! The text input is slow, buggy and highly unprecise. The phone and the PDA are in no way integrated: Eg. I cannot make it silent during meetings! The phone has no sound profile support. Bluetooth support is unstable, and only the handsfree profile is supported. The worst part: Motorola has stopped all support on the phone. No new versions will be made, no matter what! A2DP will never be supported, the many small and annoying bugs will never be corrected.

My point. Well, more than one, actually...

1) An on-line PDA or a smart phone would be great, but we're not there yet. Aparently the phone manufacturers cannot make effective PDAs, PALM OS is basicalli where Windows 3.10 were 12 years ago, and in general PDA manufacturers cannot make phones.

2) The devices are pretty expensive, yet support and software stinks. Stopping further development on a device that expensive within 5 years is completely unreasonable, and I cannot even pay to get uprades. "Throw the thing away, and se if you can find a new one..."

3) The devices are somehow seen as "toy gadgets", whereas the original Palm probably was more of an effective tool! This doesn't just go for the lousy support. Take input: In my opinion, nothing has really been as effective as Grafitti! In many ways, the devices are designed as small PCs with files, programs, clipboard etc. rather than exploring more effective ways of creating smart PDAs and smart phones!

Slow startup... (1)

cl191 (831857) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117548)

"but there is also pressure from small laptops, the upcoming UMPC" I have used a Toshiba Libretto 50 for a few years (until I got a Treo 600 couple years ago). The biggest problem I had with this kind of "palmtop" is that the startup time is way too long to be productive. Even with a clean install of Windows, it still takes more than 30 sec to start up and at least 15 seconds for it to come back from hibernation to fully functioning, while a pda will comes back on the moment you press the power button. 30 second startups may be fine if you are using it just as a regular pc, but if you just need to check your address book or email while waiting in line at the post office, that is too long.

I was given a PDA, so I use it but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117594)

I was given a PDA as a gift - an older model iPAQ. They don't make this model anymore, but current models with similar specs, 200Mhz, 64 ram, go for about $200.

I use it everyday, but I can honestly say that I would never pay for one of these myself.

The OS (Windows) is clunky. I know I could install Linux, but most of the software and games for the unit are made for Windows - what else is new? Things aren't where you'd expect them. Most included apps don't close when you quit - Windows is supposed to manage memory, but the unit runs slower and slower forcing you to go into the control panel to the memory section to select and kill open apps.

The hardware buttons suck, quite frankly. This makes the unit useless for emulator games - utterly, utterly USELESS.

I've given up on handwriting recognition - forcing myself to write neatly slows me down too much - it feels like a handicap. I would never buy a PDA without a keyboard of some kind.

I use Linux for everything, and I run Win98 in VMWARE to install apps. Utterly ridiculous that most iPAQ apps require a PC to install. The iPAQ is a general purpose computer, and some third party shareware and free software simply requires that you get the install executable to the unit and run it. Requiring windows to install commercial software is a CLEAR, in your face, slap from Microsoft and greatly lowers the value of the unit.

There are some positives. I use it mostly to read eBooks - I've become a convert. I love reading this way. The unit is light enough that I can hold it with one hand, in a totally dark room and turn the pages with just my thumb. eBooks are REALLY cheap and I can fit a ton on here.

I use it as an mp3 player too.

There are some games that are really really good and work nicely with the stylus. They also have the sophistication of PC games, Age of Empires is a good example. There aren't enough games, however, to make it worthwhile as a gaming platform, especially with the poor hardware buttons.

A good PDA needs a non-clunky OS, a PC/PC OS as an option instead of a requirement, a keyboard and buttons arranged for what many will OBVIOUSLY use their PDA for some of the time, games.

just face the truth guys (1)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117621)

i know it is hard for us to admit, because then we can't convince our parents, girlfriends, friends, wives etc that they are necessary, but we pda's are stupid!

i myself have had 4, the Handspring Visor Deluxe, the Sony Clie PEG-N760C, the Sony Clie PEG-T615C, and the Tapwave Zodiac2. in early highschool i used the Visor for notes, but it only was actually productive when i bought the Stowaway keyboard (which is so badass).

every PDA i had after that had cooler stuff on it. in late high school, i watched eps of Aqua Teen Hunger Force with some friends during class on the PEG-N760C, in college i did the same thing with the T615C, and eventually played nintendo roms on the Zodiac in class.

hopefully most of us have gone through enough pda's to realize they are nearly useless by now

6700 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117636)

My 6700 pwn3s.

OK, lets just get this over with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117674)

Mark my words, the perfect computing device (at least with the current crop of crappy architectures):

  • Credit card sized
  • Wireless connectivity (bluetooth or similar/faster)
  • Mini-DVI port or similar for output to a real screen
  • Micro-USB or similar port(s) for connection of real pheriphrials (keyboard, mouse, drives)
  • Cellphone
  • GPS
  • CPU's with real (desktop) processing power
  • Lots 'o memory
  • Built in speaker(s) of course (for speakerphone, music, games, video)

Then you just carry your computer with you. Come in to work, plug up to your screen, keyboard, mouse and go to work. When done unplug and on the way home call the kids with it to see what they want to eat. At home use it to open the garage door, lock your car, and unlock the front door to your house. Plug the thing into your TV and watch a movie as it streams to the device or maybe plug in some controllers and play the latest crappy FPS game.

Death to the PDA, Long Live the Cell Phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117677)

The PDA no longer has a role to play. A modern cell phone

  • Can store hundreds of address entries
  • Has a calendar facility
  • Syncs with Outlook etc
  • Takes pictures
  • Plays mp3s
  • Does One-on-one video conferencing
  • Surfs the net

Now what do we need the PDA for? Really? Stop being so backwards, PDA fan boys!

But they only recently became useful! (1)

5pp000 (873881) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117680)

It's ironic to see the death of PDAs being predicted when, IMO, they only recently became really useful. The high-res backlit color screen and the Fitaly [] tap-optimized soft keyboard make my Tungsten T3 a very useful note-taking device. (I don't like the Treos -- the screen is smaller, the thumb keyboard is less effective than Fitaly, and they're bulkier.)

Well, I hope they don't go away entirely...

Design flaw questions (1)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117691)

There have been a number of design decisions that palm and other PDA manufacturers, and cell phone manufacturers for that matter, have made that I've never understood.

Lack of USB support. All the PDAs and cell phones I've seen come with a proprietary port... that I invariably end up getting a usb adapter for. Why the hell don't they just have a USB port at the bottom of the device? Is the hardware too complex?

Think about all the USB devices that this would give you access to... first of all usb keyboards, which are standard and would not require a ton of drivers. Think about the ability to use USB thumb drives to exchange your data...

Other devices like printers would probably be less well supported, seeing as a ton of drivers would need to be stored on the device, but still... it would be sweet.

Business people's desire (1)

TheSpatulaOfLove (966301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117694)

One of the best things I've seen is the integration of the phone with the PDA. Sadly, because of multiple standards (GSM, CDMA, etc) making that $500-$800 investment is a tough justification on a lot of folks whom don't quite trust the blinking box. Those who are handed devices to use don't pay much attention to their costs, but then you run into the ones who destroy phones regularly. Without an insurance policy a-la Sprint, I would never buy one due to costs. For the longest, Tmobile didn't offer that kind of plan, so I steered far away from expensive phones.

My next point is the fact that a lot of not-so-tech-savvy business people have a hard time adopting the PDA as a daily tool. Sure, it's a marvel when they first get one, but I point to the clunkiness of the Activestink software, and the not-so-easy backup functions. The first time they loose all their data, that PDA goes into a drawer or is not depended upon. Where I feel help is needed is syncronization that is nearly forced whenever the device is online. If people are to depend on the device, you have to take the brains out of backing it up regularly. Of course, I'm in the group that I want more control over the device, but in corporate deployments this should be handled at initial load and locked down for mouthbreathers.

I dread hauling my laptop on business trips. They issued me this 9lb pig that was poorly built, crashes regularly and is an all around PITA at airports. If I could have a PDA that does all the wonderful things like hooking up the projector, have the capability to call out, be a useful office task and internet device and provide me with full flexible storage options, I would leave the laptop far behind. Unfortunately, PDA makers seem to think that proprietary connections and expensive accessories are the way to make people happy - WRONG. I spent crazy money on the last PocketPC I had buying accessories that were soon outdated when the next group of machines came out that caught my attention. That pissed me off. Perhaps the solution is a hybrid device - half PDA phone, half laptop. Kind of like a docking station that has STANDARD ports allowing me to use peripherals seen on PCs and adding a 2.5" hard disk for items I need to have on hand. When I don't need the HDD or the keyboard, I can pull the other half off and use it as a phone/PDA thing. Makes sense to me.

Death to the PDA, Long Live the Cell Phone (1)

Jeppe Salvesen (101622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117714)

The PDA no longer has a role to play. A modern cell phone

  • Can store hundreds of address entries
  • Has a calendar facility
  • Syncs with Outlook etc
  • Takes pictures
  • Plays mp3s
  • Does One-on-one video conferencing
  • Surfs the net
  • Runs java

Now what do we need the PDA for? Really? Stop being so backwards, PDA fan boys!

Re:Death to the PDA, Long Live the Cell Phone (1)

TheSpatulaOfLove (966301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117732)

Sure, with a screen no one under 40 can read, crappy T9 text entry (or if you prefer the 332288553228842288999 method), and a dialpad that is a struggle to use. Let's not forget that every time you change phones, you have to buy all new accessories!!!! PDA's still have space in the marketplace for a while longer.

Re:Death to the PDA, Long Live the Cell Phone (1)

TheSpatulaOfLove (966301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117739)

Make that OVER 40.. I got a bit excited there...

I must be the only one here.... (1)

jtwronski (465067) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117748)

...who actually likes having my phone do multiple tasks.

I have a Sony/Ericsson Z520a phone that I got about a month ago. It includes a crappy camera, some commercials disguised as games (which i deleted immediately), bluetooth support, and some basic PIM funcionality.

Yesterday morning, I was out in the field with a customer, and took a couple quick photos of a room so I could get a good idea of where to set up some equipment. 5 minutes later, another customer called to see if I was available during the afternoon anytime next week. Since I use one of those wireless headset thingies, I was able to keep talking while pulling up my calendar, checking the dates, and ultimately scheduling an appointment. At lunch today, I used the crappy internet access to read some news while i was eating.

Now, I am very aware that the text input on my telephone sucks, the camera sucks, the bluetooth radio is weak, and the battery doesn't last nearly as long as i'd like. But for me, its really nice to have 1 thing in my pocket that I can use for more than one purpose, if the need arises.

  The only real complaint that I have is the text input. Its nearly unpossible to enter anything in my calendar unless I have 5 minutes to work through it. I get by by giving the appointment a simple name, such as the initials of the person that called, then giving it a better description on my laptop later. The bad camera, slow internet access, and all the other half-assed features don't bother me, since I use my phone as an Information Management device, not a laptop. Someday I might need to graduate to a full-on PDA, but I can't see ever needing anthing more powerful than a treo.

And by the way, It works pretty good for making telephone calls, too.

So, am I the only one here that finds that stuff useful?

I still prefer PDAs (1)

r.jimenezz (737542) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117757)

...question is, are there enough like me to justify the market? :)

I got an Axim X51v as my first Pocket PC. Had been explicitly holding off for about four years because I do not need a gadget to remind me of appointments, phone numbers and the like. Instead, the things that got me wanting a PDA or similar were:

  • WiFi capability (to read the Saturday morning paper in bed :))
  • A relatively large, readable screen. Lets me read books when waiting for doctors and at many other times
  • Powerful processor to e.g. play movies on it
  • Really good handwriting recognition. I don't take notebooks to meetings anymore
  • Last, because it really doesn't matter to 99.99% of users, something I can program for. I certainly don't code as much anymore but still prefer to scratch my itches myself from time to time

Interestingly enough, I've found plenty more uses for it - talking through Skype, playing, etc.

Convergence? Connectivity? Convenience? More like compromise to me. Sure, there's the Treo 700, but it's a pared down version of Windows Mobile 5 and a skimpy screen. I'd rather have the choice to use my Motorola V265 to talk (though it certainly does a fair bit more), leaving the Pocket behind when I'm heading for the outdoors or doing home improvement at mom's. I certainly don't want to stick my Pocket to my face to make a phone call (yes, I could use a Bluetooth headset permanently. Oh wait, I have to recharge it). The cell phone has nine months and I've beaten the soul out of it; the Pocket wouldn't have withstood the usage, the places I take the phone, the conditions... And I don't need it to.

Just my two cents... And I honestly wonder if I'll find something similar to it a few years down the line. It seems others are willing to compromise for the sake of convenience.

Slashdot's HTML looks AWFUL on a Palm browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117769)


And Wikipedia is even worse. It sorts into a column two columns wide.

Why can so many 'tech' writers miss the simple... (1)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117791)

Why can so many 'tech' writers miss the simple stuff?

PDAs were always basic 'PC' functionality that fits in the pocket.

The older PDA market was based on a simple fact. Portable processing power and storage managed with battery life.

If you play out battery life at the important item, phones are surpassing PDA technology of a couple years ago, and giving you 100% of the functionality. Look at the smartphone from MS even, it is a low overhead OS but you can browse the net with standard browser specifications and even do Remote desktop from your phone into your office PC. One other note on battery life, is the new portable small form factor PC technologies run 3-5hrs, and this is more than most cell phones do now, especially if you are in a call, which sucks the battery 10 times faster than basic PDA operations. It also wasn't that long ago Cell phones had 45min talk times and had to be rechared every 6-8hrs.

As for storage and media storage, Media Players like iPods and from other companies again surpass the PDA capabilities. Even some Phones, like my older Motolora V710 has 8gb storage, more than enough for most basic music libraries and a few movies, video clips and photos.

Processing power is being dominated by the small form factor PCs, like Microsoft and other companies are pushing, that offer desktop OSes on a device that fits in your pocket and again have large storage, but not quite the PDA or Phone Batter life, yet...

The latter of these are the most important. When you can carry your computer in a small form factor, and still have access to a reasonable display and run all your basic computing tools and even new computing tools like VoIP and Cell capabilties on it with a comperable battery life, then THESE devices will be the next PDAs.

Sure PDA technology as we know is over to a degree, but will continue to exist in SmartPhone and other phone technologies and Media Players until the portable PCs can hit the battery life and size needs of basic cell phones and media players.

However when they do hit the battery life and sizes needed for an all day usage in and out of the pocket, PDAs and even PocketPC/Smartphone and other Phone OS technologies will no longer be needed. So that will be the death of PDA OSes...

Microsoft has even realized that the PocketPC/WindowsCE OS is not a long term OS solution, even WindowsXP embedded is already replacing WindowsCE technologies in smart clients and routers and fits on small flash memory.

The PDA is dead, but only if you continue to see a PDA in the OLD model. A tiny computer trying to do the best it can with the hardware available in a small format was what PDAs were.

As both the open source solutions and MS solutions for example can run full OSes on devices that are as small as phone, then that will be the new PDA, but not just a freaking organizer.

People could argure the success of some of the early PDAs were due to the simplistic non-full OS style format and applications, but these same types of applications can run on full OSes as well, and you could use the 'simplified' interface, or switch to your normal apps if you are not on the go. Take the Media Center Interface for an example of a dual 'UI/Interface' model for a single OS.

Both OSX and Windows have good Speech and Handwriting technologies, and Vista will be bringing even a new level of them to the market so they are more common occasional use.

So there is NOTHING a full OS can't do that a PDA can...

The real future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117794)

is the tricorder. Throw in a whirly sonic medical detector into a PDA and we're all set. Think of the police uses! Instant crackwhore detector. We'd be well on our way to a cashless, drug-free, crime-free police state^W^WFederation of Planets.

Future = Treo form factor (1)

James McP (3700) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117844)

I've got a Treo650 (which I love) and it's pretty obvious that this is the form factor things will use. By this, I mean it has a screen as small as you can get away with in PDA/internet applications but is as big as the masses are willing to lug around. 2.5" x 4.5" x 1" is about the limits engineers have to work with from a market standpoint.

I figure the next generation Treo, call it the Treo800, will have all the required checkbox features: bluetooth (headset, modem, keyboard, stereo audio), 3G wireless data, wifi+VoIP, Expansion port (SDIO probably), >128MB of usable static memory, >2Mp digicam and hopefully a bog standard mini-USB port with a multiplatform driver so it acts as an A/V device.

Ultimately, there will be 4 flavors based on two hardware choices and OS: keyboard + small screen vs. large touchscreen + pen input and PalmOS vs Windows. Theoretically we could see a Unix-based product (PalmOS isn't Unix until I can run bash!), maybe from Apple, but I think the user-interface hurdle and the low margins will keep that unlikely until the Chinese or Indians are forced to perfect it in an attempt to avoid licensing an OS.

But whatever you expect to see, expect to see it in a 2.5" x 4.5" x 1" package. Maybe smaller but I doubt it. Clamshell & flip-screen designs will continue to fail in the market until they can fit that form factor without being delicate. Even then I expect them to fail b/c the keyboard will still be too small for the way most people type and the expense of the additonal components will be more than the market will bear.
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