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Selecting a PDA/Cellphone Combination? 44

Posted by Cliff
from the word-of-mouth-suggestions dept.
zrk asks: "It's coming time to replace my cellphone - way out of warranty, physically broken, the coverage isn't what it could be, and so on. My initial thinking here is that I should replace it with a combination PDA and cellphone, but I have no clue as to which way to go. The selection process seems to be along the lines of either getting the cellphone service/coverage I want OR getting the small computer I need and living with passable phone service. Another possibility is to get a phone and PDA that easily interact. I live in the north-eastern part of the US, and given that I travel occasionally, I'm concerned with phone service. Verizon seems to have the most complete coverage, but they don't offer all the devices. AT&T also seems OK, but there have been a lot of complaints about bandwidth. Sprint is OK, but coverage is spotty as you go more rural (insert your own Axe Gravy Soap joke here). I know of Handspring's various products, some of the Pocket PC type devices, and also the Kyocera Smartphone lines (still waiting on the 7135!). Which way do I go, George, which way do I go?"

"If you're going to recommend something, have some questions I'd like you to answer:

  • How is your PDA functionality - limited, annoying because of size, etc?
  • How is the phone service?
  • What do you wish your PDA/Phone could do that it can't?
  • Is it worth buying a combo unit or should I consider elements that interact properly?
The problem is that there is NO one place to get the sort of reviews I require, except perhaps through an Ask Slashdot posting, so whatever stories and experiences you share will be most appreciated."
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Selecting a PDA/Cellphone Combination?

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  • by Crutcher (24607) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:15PM (#5138689) Homepage
    I've got a Sidekick. Its a new platform, there developer program isn't even open yet. The service is through T-Mobile.

    But, the hardware itself is awesome. Its a JVM based system, and the hardware has:

    Qwerty Keyboard, spin wheel, D-pad, USB, IrDA, a Phone plugin, 16M ram.

    Current Apps:
    Email, AIM, Calendar, Asteroids Clone, ToDo, Notes, A NICE Address Book, Web Browser, SMMS Messages, Phone, Tetris Clone.

    And the "Desktop Interface" is unbelievable. You go to a website, login, and you have access to all of the application features of the device. It just keeps everything synced. And these aren't pared down interfaces on the web. It's a good email client, a good calendar, etc.
    • I really want one.
      On a lark, I checked out a review [zdnet.com], and I now need a new cell phone.

      That plan rocks too.
    • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:00PM (#5139034) Homepage
      I don't think there's any significant doubt that the Danger Sidekick is the superior product, as a product, but when I bought mine it had horrible coverage problems, and they just kept getting worse.

      When I first bought it, I could have lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and check the Internet while eating. When I last tried it, before giving up in frustration, I could not; there was no data service at all.

      Now it has a problem with its card, so I have no recent data. I'm going to take it to a T-Mobile station pretty soon and see what's up with that, but until then I can only recommend the unit if you get decent coverage in your area.

      In the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, coverage is lousy and - as I said - has gotten worse over the last few months.

      I met a Sidekick user, and he said that the external antenna really helped. This is a piece of copper that mounts directly under the SideKick, leaving the form factor unchanged.

      The bottom line is that the design of this device was superb, but ask other people who live in your area, and the other areas you plan to use the device, about coverage before you plunk down your $250-odd.

      Sorry to be so discouraging, because based on the other comments here I'd rate it significantly superior to the Treo. The keyboard works great, and although it's a bit small and the type is a bit tiny, it's clear, crisp and readable.

      D
      • Note that in California T-Mobile's cell sites are actually Cingular's cell sites (though T-Mobile has its own spectrum allocation so congestion on Cingular's network isn't an issue). So, if you are in California and get a Treo with GPRS through Cingular, you'll get exactly the same data coverage as a Sidekick with GPRS through T-Mobile.
        • Thanks for the reply. This is disheartening to say the least.

          If there are any Cingular Treo users out there, I hope they'll respond in this thread with their comments on data service.

          It would be a great pity if Danger did badly, not because of their device, but because their service didn't work right thanks to cheap cellular providers and their historically bad service.

          D

          • If there are any Cingular Treo users out there, I hope they'll respond in this thread with their comments on data service.

            At the moment there is no GPRS data for Handspring Treos on Cingular. Only circuit-switched data (CSD) is available. A software update from Handspring is coming "any day now". T-Mobile customers already have the update and it works fine.

            A few folks have got it working by swapping some files around and installing the GPRS software meant for another region. Apparently, it can be made to work, but obviously at your own risk and unsupported. FWIW, the Treo's GPRS software also works fine with AT&T GPRS, if you have AT&T GSM/GPRS available in your region, that may be a viable option.

            My recommendation is that unless you have VERY cheap GPRS in your area, that you just stick with circuit-switched data for now. The Treo supports this natively... you just need a dialup ISP to dial into (with some providers they act as the ISP at no charge). It's fast enough for email and browsing PDA specific sites and is usually free (only the cost of airtime).

            • Oops -- I'd forgotten that GPRS worked only with T-Mobile and not Cingular.

              If you really do want $39.95/mo flat-rate always-on and all the possibilities that brings with it (instant email, always-on AOL IM, immediate web browsing) the Sidekick is the way to go. It's definitely not a device for people who talk on the phone a lot, either in the plan or ergonomically.

              If you want a PalmOS device with all the compatibility that provides, and want a slimmer device with a more ergonomic phone and your choice of yak-time plans and providers, get a Treo.
    • Ah yes, the Danger Sidekick. It's a very nice gadget, but I wouldn't buy one. The reason isn't because of the unit itself (quite nice actually), but because of T-Mobile's horrible coverage AND ridiculous plan (at least around Pasadena, CA). The plan only allows 200 voice minutes (plus 1000 weekend minutes). 200 minutes? I use that up in less than a week. And T-Mobile won't allow you to add minutes yet. Unless you use the bulk of your minutes during the weekends, I'd go with another product/plan. Otherwise, be ready to be raped by T-Mobile.
      • The whole reason I love the device is that I need so fewer minutes of talk time. I'm doing the school thing, and anything which decouples communication is good. This thing has integrated wonderfully with the way I work, and I use many fewer minutes than before.
  • CNET reviews (Score:4, Informative)

    by JonRock (2367) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:16PM (#5138693)
    CNET seems to have a comprehensive list [cnet.com] of reviews. In addition to the product lines mentioned by the poster, I would like to hear user stories of the Samsung SPH-I300 [cnet.com].
    • I have used an I300 for roughly a year now (a little less), in Sprint, in the Boston area. As you may know, Boston has its own `quirks' for cell coverage, but Sprint is definitely toward the upper end here (whereas it seems to be reported as pretty bad in many places). I've used it in various places around the country, and the Sprint coverage, while far from perfect, seems overall much better than the GSM coverage.

      The device itself is good. I've tried most of the PDA/Phone combinations that came out before this one, on non-GSM systems, and I can say comfortably that this is much nicer than both the LG palm-like pdaphone and the Kyocera B&W pdaphone.

      Pros: good battery life, bright color screen, sturdy device. Having a `real' color palm device is nice, and the palm/phone integration is pretty good (not perfect).

      You can browse the addressbook using up/down `phone rocker keys' on the side (in addition to the normal palm keys on the bottom front), and dial from the addressbook list with the adjacent `voice memo' button. This means that you can dial from the address book entirely one-handed, which I gather may be a problem with some of the newer palm phones. I use DateBk5, and it fully supports the I300 phone integration, which is nice.

      The phone comes with both the WAP browser and Blazer; my previous phone (and many of my friend's smaller phones) have only WAP. From this experience, I'm not fond of WAP *at all*, and I basically never use it anymore. I do use a few PQA's (basically, I check Amazon from my phone before buying books/DVDs/CDs, although I generally buy books at local stores anyway). I have ssh on the phone, and while I don't use it often, it has been a lifesaver a couple times.

      I don't generally play many computer games (I still haven't started the copy of WarCraftIII that I pre-ordered before it hit stores), but I do find myself playing games on the phone while waiting around, and it's been great. The palm aspect means that it's easy to get new software, which has been great.

      The Cons: the screen is small. Basically, they `pinched' a color palm screen to get the overall size down, and it shows. I used to do a lot of `doc work' (reading, minor edits) on my old Palm V, but I rarely do so with my palm phone, although there are other important factors in this decision.

      There is no physical keypad. I'm ok with this, but it is a lot worse than having one if you're not dialing from the address book (or voice dial, which the phone does natively (not Sprint's extra service)).

      The OS is non-upgradeable, and PalmOS 3.5.2 is pretty long in the tooth these days (more on this later).

      The cradle is serial, which, frankly, sucks. I used to manage the device (install sw, backup, I never used the Palm Desktop Software) on my linux laptop, until I upgraded to a laptop without a serial port, then I did without until someone released a serialusb dongle that worked with Mac OS X (the first couple generations didn't).

      Right now, I manage it on my G4 desktop, and the Palm Desktop software (I'm not running 10.2, so I haven't tried iSync). The one annoyance is that the software insists on installing a 3.5.3 updater every time I sync, although it always fails to run.

      In general, I like this device. It's pretty old, and I've been looking to upgrade for a while now, but I haven't found anything I like as much (for Sprint). The Treo 300 was a serious temptation for a while, but all reports (and several broken demos in Boston stores), it is too fragile for my taste (I hear that Kevin Spacey has broken 3 of them, for example). The I330 isn't really available yet, and doesn't seem to be much of an improvement anyway (a bit nicer hardware, noticably worse battery life). The Samsung I500 and Kyocera 7135 color palm clamshells are both very tempting, but aren't available yet. When they come out, I'll probably get one or the other; in the meantime, I'll stick with the I300.
  • Danger Hiptop (Score:2, Informative)

    by tuffsim (530429)
    You should check out the T-Mobile Sidekick, also know as the Danger Hiptop. The designers won a few industrial design awards for this device, and it combines pda/internet/cellphone all in one tidy package, with unlimited data!
  • From my brief researcy into the PDA/cellphone combos, I noticed that you'll probably end up picking the phone you like first, and, then, figure out who will support it. It seems the ones I saw (Samsung, Visor) work only on the PCS/CDMA networks and not the TDMA networks. I'd love for someone to prove otherwise, because a PDA/cell combo with multi-network capability would be awesome.
    • by EatHam (597465) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:28PM (#5138765)
      I had a Visor with the phone attachment. I *highly* recommend not using this one. It is almost completely useless as a phone. Decent PDA, but terrible phone. Problems are:
      • Difficult to dial because the buttons are on your screen
      • Next to impossible to dial from your phone book with one hand
      • Very difficult to answer the phone while driving (I know, but I had hands-free).
      • Vibrate mode eats batteries, and ringer is very quiet (uses Visor's speaker), so it's difficult to tell when you're getting an incoming call.
      • Mine used Voicestream's service which at least in the New York/New Jersey area is spotty at best.
      Would love to try something else, but for me, this one stunk.
  • by jsimon12 (207119) <tzzhc4@ya h o o.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:33PM (#5138805) Homepage
    How is your PDA functionality - limited, annoying because of size, etc?

    Functionality is good on the Treo 300, talk time is only 2-3 hours though, but it is enough, size is good compared to carrying a PDA and a cell phone, as phones go it is a little big but not too much so. About the only annoying thing is the screen isn't great in bright light, so unlike PDA's like the iPaq which have a great reflective TFT that works great outdoors it sucks to use the Treo outdoors.

    How is the phone service?

    I use Sprint, seems to have great coverage in all the area I have been in (mostly in the Southwest, where the rural coverage is actually pretty good).

    What do you wish your PDA/Phone could do that it can't?

    I wish my phone was upgradable, CF, PCMCIA, SD card, anything, it is totally non-upgradeable/expandable.

    Is it worth buying a combo unit or should I consider elements that interact properly?

    Sprints 3G is great for a little browsing and some POP3 via Eudora, I got it because I wanted to have Internet access anywhere, and it works great for that. So in that situtation, yes it is worth it, you do comprimise on some things (ie battery life) but other then that I enjoy the phone.
    • I love my Treo 300. I've talked about it a couple of times before on slashdot, even made a couple postings from it!

      I also use Sprint, in the Southeast, and get great connections just about everywhere. Data speeds tend to be very well too. And with a third party app I can download and install programs using the wireless link! No more waiting to get back to my base station to install something.

      I became hooked on the Palm OS tools as a PDA with a Visor, which I gave to my girlfriend about a year ago. So for Christmas she got me the Treo, great trade, 'eh?

      Actively using the wireless portion of it does drain the battery, and talk time isn't as good as it could be, but the battery changes amazingly fast and in "standby" mode (wireless on, no active connections) the battery will last about a week.

      Oddly enough, I also use Eudora. I wish it had an email "push" or a "check for new messages every X minutes" feature more like a RIM Blackberry, but I'm okay without it. TreoMail offers that, but it's a subscription service.

      The lack of expandability isn't too much of an issue for me. The only thing I'd like to add to it is GPS. Between my family and friends we've got a decent "hand-me-down" system where when someone gets new hardware, the old hardware goes to whoever needs / wants it the most. In a few years when I'm ready for something better I'll pass it on to someone else.

      In short, the complete PalmOS line of application, the SDK, mobile internet (at good speeds), color screen, it's everything I could want right now.

      Wooha! Love it.
    • After a lot of research, I also picked the Treo 300. Since I've been using a Palm since the first model, I was inclined to stay with the Palm platform, so I didn't look at the PocketPC items much. Previously I used a Palm V and a Nokia 6190, both of which I liked a lot.

      It works well as a phone. For me in San Francisco, the coverage is good, and Sprint's network sucks a lot less than Cingular's did. It feels a little weird against your head, but you get used to that. It doesn't feel as tough as my Nokia, which worked well despite plenty of abuse. And it's great having all of my contacts right there, rather than the 30 or so that would fit into the Nokia's memory.

      The always-on, flat-rate data connection is just ok when compared with a desktop, but fucking great compared with not having it at all. It's really nice to be able to use Mapquest on the road, to check my email from airports without paying $8 for the opportunity, and to be able to read the news when I'm loitering. And having Google in your pocket comes in handy more than you'd think.

      As a PalmOS PDA, it seems fine. I too would like some expandability, but the built-in 16 MB of RAM is more than enough for everything I've wanted to put on there. One Linux caveat: the USB Sync cable for the Treo 300 doesn't work with current kernels; you must buy the serial cable, too. (It's only the 300 that has this problem; the other Treos don't.)

      Battery life is an issue; you certainly should charge it every night. Given that, it's fine.

      Overall, I'm very pleased with it. It's nice not to have to carry two devices around anymore. The only real drawback is that everybody who sees it wants a demo. I recommend it without hesitation!
  • by strudeau (96760) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:33PM (#5138807) Homepage

    I have a Samsung IPH-300 with SprintPCS. I've been mostly happy with the phone and grow less impressed with the service.

    The IPH-300 makes the primary compromise in the dialing interface -- which is a touch screen on the palm rather than physical interface. I haven't found this to be a problem, though it is a slightly less friendly way to go about dialing. It's also a little large for a phone these days.

    The screen is smaller than a normal palm, which suits me fine. PalmOS works like PalmOS. I use it for calendar and contacts exclusively.

    SprintPCS in Ann Arbor, MI sucks. I lose signal indoors constantly. That's my biggest complaint. Cingular has a good rep here, and I'd move but they don't support my phone, IIRC.

    The only thing I really wish this phone had was BlueTooth for syncing.

    If you, like me, only use a PDA for calendar/contacts, a combo unit is an ideal solution IMO. I'm also attracted to the Sony Ericson T68i.

    Good luck.
  • I have a new Treo 300 with Sprint as the wireless telco. I got it for a few reasons:

    • Unlimited PCS (internet / sms / etc)
    • Free roaming within the Sprint areas
    • Free long dist
    • Treo has keyboard, no wasted grafiti space.
    • You get a real IP address when you connect, meaning any TCP/IP app should work.

    After having this thing for a month, the things that are not as happy are:

    • Plan to be near a charger. This thing sucks batteries like mad when used as a phone (but not so much when using TCP/IP, oddly.) It comes with a car charger for a reason. Plan to plug it in every night.
    • The network (TCP/IP) seems to go down when you're not using it, so if you haven't done anything with it in a while you're going to need to manually tell it to disconnect before doing any browsing/etc. Learn the shortcuts to do this that are present in some apps
    • SMS is one way. You can receive two kinds of messsages. An actual SMS message results in you getting redirected to the web browser to check it, which doesn't seem to work for me ever. The other kind seems to work just fine. See my previous comments on their SMS support [slashdot.org].
    • Handspring wants you to buy a separate SMS product to make it fully functional.
    • No email support by default. (Again, they have a separate product, Treo mail.)
    • Blazer browser is very slow when you go forward/back, as if it's rendering it each time even when cached. I'm looking into new options.
    • Every time you open the unit, it goes to the phone application.

    The last one was a particular problem for me. One of the most pressing reasons to get this was to have ssh (using TopGun SSH) access from my phone in case of emergency, or just feeling the need to check my email with Mutt. If you closed the phone to pick up your daughter, your connection was dropped because you launched the phone when you opened it. I used Buttons-T to get around this by telling it to do nothing when the phone is opened, and no problems since then.

    The unit is probably heavy if you're used to a sleek model (I wasn't) but I have no problems keeping it in my pocket around the house at night.

    One aside: I've tried getting the TopGun SSH source, and can't seem to get the Login portions that it requires. Anyone know where I can get the complete source? Emailing the author(s) hasn't worked. I'd like to do a code audit to make sure it is correctly verifing host keys, which I suspect is is not.

    • SMS is one way. You can receive two kinds of messsages. An actual SMS message results in you getting redirected to the web browser to check it, which doesn't seem to work for me ever. The other kind seems to work just fine. See my previous comments on their SMS support [slashdot.org].

      I just wanted to say that I believe the poor SMS functionality is a Sprint-only issue... the Cingular/T-Mobile Treos don't have this problem.

  • by bscott (460706) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:37PM (#5138837)
    I bought my wife a Treo 270 for her birthday a few months ago, and our experiences have been mixed but mostly positive.

    She's thrilled with the Treo's features and look. The battery life isn't what we were lead to expect from the ads (we get about 2 days +/-, regardless of airtime use, not "1 week of standby"...) but otherwise it's been great. We particularly like the SMS-Email gateway, which lets us send short messages back and forth to the home PC without using airtime for going online. (of course they finally released the GPRS upgrade, but it's more money than we can justify for how much we'd use it) It's the first palmtop organizer device for her, and my first experience with a cellphone. Pricey, but worth it (if you want a biggish-screen, in color, and a keyboard); all she really misses is MP3 playback.

    T-Mobile has been another matter. After considerable trouble signing up (several long stories in itself; but after 2 weeks we finally found a competent person who got us going within minutes), we've had few real problems with our service in Denver. However, traveling is another matter. The Treo has no analog mode to fall back on, so we're reliant on spotty GSM coverage on the highways. Vegas is OK; but in L.A. we're roaming fulltime on some other netowrk. When we went to South Dakota recently, there was zero coverage in Northern Colorado, Wyoming, and western Nebraska (except for a few brief blips in Scottsbluff...) In general, cities with 7-figure populations and the Interstate highways near to them are pretty well-supplied, but elsewhere, forget it.

    There is the Treo 300, which uses Sprint's PCS network that I'm told has far better coverage. However, we wanted a GSM phone since we also travel to Australia and Europe. I'm sure that GSM coverage in the USA will improve over time (heck, it could hardly get much worse...) - I hope it does sooner rather than later, since I want options other than those idiots at T-Mobile!
  • by DuckDuckBOOM! (535473) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:44PM (#5138899)
    SonyEricsson P800. Looks like it's one of the few, if not the only, full-featured cellphone + full-featured PDA out there.

    Downsides (for US users):
    - It's GSM, so carrier options are somewhat limited
    - It isn't widely available yet.

    • I can't wait for the P800 [sonyericsson.com], although i agree americans may have difficulty as it's GSM. AFAIC its the first fully-fledged PDA-phone combo thats actually the size of a phone.

      Upsides of P800:
      - size of a normal phone
      - pen-based input. Using Jot, which might have been a problem for grafitti fans until palm announced its shifting to Jot
      - all the usual stuff - MP3s, camera, bluetooth
      - java
      - Unbelievably, a mame [demon.co.uk] port.

      More downsides:
      - Cost - currently selling at about US$900.
      - Proprietary Sony memory stick rather than SD/MMC card.
  • Two devices... (Score:4, Informative)

    by singularity (2031) <nowalmart@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:57PM (#5139011) Homepage Journal
    I have been a big fan and user of the "two devices" mentality because I find that the solo devices do what they are supposed to better than any one device.

    Previously I had a Handpring Visor and a Samsung SCH-3500 phone hooked via a cable allowing me to use the cell phone as a modem for the PDA. With a minimal amount of work (five minutes of configuration) I was able to browse email and the web from the Handspring.

    Now I have a Sony Clie T665C. I still have the Saumsing phone, but I am thinking about upgrading. Since the Clie - 3500 cable is running about $50, I would rather not invest in that expensive of a cable only to replace the phone in a few months.

    Other than the original hardware charges- buying two devices instead of one and the cable charges (I got the Handspring cable for about $25) - the two pieces work well together. I have played with some friends' Treos and find them bulky.

    A minor pet peeve - things with cameras on them. I have a Canon S200 Digital Elph that I enjoy a lot. I do not want anything wasting space with a camera. I realize that there are good needs for them, but I hate that more and more things (PDAs, cell phones, etc.) are putting cameras on them.

    I realize this means that, along with my iPod, I will be carrying around four things in my pockets which could almost be combined into one device. I am willing to live with this since:

    1) If one part breaks, I am not out a huge investment.
    2) If one part breaks, I am not out the entire device.
    3) If I do not need one part, I can leave it at home.
    4) Each part does it job better than any combination device I have seen.

    One other question is if you can use the PDA/phone devices as a modem for your laptop (using a USB cable). That is another use for my phone.
  • Here is what I want in a PDA/Phone, I would pay just about anything for this phone.

    Let's start with what I DON'T want becuase they add weight, power usage, cost, and size. I have a Canon Powershot s230 and an iPod, keep that in mind.

    1. Color screen, i don't need it, i don't want it.
    2. Digital camera, good lord, no.
    3. Mp3 player, not yet, someday maybe.
    4. Games, if i want them i'll download them, don't sell them to me as a "feature", see OS requirments below...

    Now what I DO want!!!

    1. A standards based operating system that uses industry standards for storing, accessing, and syncing phone numbers, to-do lists, addresses, notes, and files.... I also want an SDK to be able right my own apps
    2. Bluetooth, i think this is a cool technology with real benefits, not just hype. Using my phone as a modem while i'm on the train for my TiBook would be cool.
    3. A Palm-Pilot sized hi-res OLED screen, it doesn't have to be color, just hi-res and bright.
    4. Form factor should be that of a flip phone, I think the Handspring is a very small step in the right direction, but it still feels horriblly cheap and is still about 20% larger that i would like. The bezels still seem way to big and bulky...
    5. Battery life should kick ass.
    6. I want it to sync and interact PERFECTLY with my OSX TiBook via BlueTooth, although this is mainly Apple's responsibility...
    7. Some sort of advanced security.... Any ideas?
    8. Make it compatible with as many networks as possible...

    Somebody make this phone and I will pay $500 for it today.
    I can always dream.....

    • Somebody make this phone and I will pay $500 for it today.

      I agree. And if that same somebody were to sell the above in Europe, I'd even go so far as 500 Euro.
    • You have almost exactly described the Ericsson T68.

      1) It uses industry standards in that both Windows and Apple users can sync with ease. On your Apple, you can probably write something to add additional functionality.

      2) It has bluetooth - and it works well.

      3) You just arent going to get this on a phone... However the small screen is very readable.

      4) Not a flip phone - LEARN TO USE A KEYLOCK.

      5) I can regularly get it to last 5 days, a week if I turn it off when I sleep.

      6) Syncs perfectly with OSX.

      7) What security do you need? Keep it in your pocket.

      8) Works with all GSM networks worldwide. In the US you have T-Mobile, ATTWS, and portions of Cingular. I use T-Mobile and it is great.

      You do have to remember this is a phone and not a PDA, but it covers all of the basic needs. Also -- MUCH less than $500 depending on the subsidy from your provider.
  • How is your PDA functionality - limited, annoying because of size, etc?
    This phone is about the same size as cell phones were 3 years ago. It is a little larger than the average current phone but not unmanageable for a normal man's hand.
    How is the phone service?
    I live out West and Verizon has a plan that allows all of Nevada and California for one rate. The coverage has been very good. Out in the country/mountains there are stretches where I can't get a signal, but neither can anyone else so it's not just Verizon.
    What do you wish your PDA/Phone could do that it can't?
    I wish that security was connected between the two. On my old phone I left it locked all the time and only unlocked it when I was going to make a call. This one is difficult to lock and locking one side does not effect the other (Locking PDA does not effect phone and vice versa).
    Is it worth buying a combo unit or should I consider elements that interact properly?
    This depends on your usage patterns. I got the phone because I very seldom only needed just the phone or just the Palm. I always had the phone and I have to many phone numbers to keep them all in the phone and palm so most of the time I needed the palm. The newer phones have calendar functions and synch to the PC so if I was not already an avid palm user I could have continued functioning by just getting one of those. That would be my recommendation to anyone who is not using the palm for more than the built-in functions. If you use the palm occasionally then get the seperate devices. There are some cool "planner" binders that will hold both the phone and palm together and even come with a short sync cable so you can configure your palm to use the phone as a modem. This ends up being slightly bigger than the combo units, but it works.
    Features I Love
    There is a program for the Kyocera Smartphone that keeps track of your minute usage for the month and forecasts estimates for you. I use this all the time to manage costs. There is also a feature built in that adds an entry to the expense db for every call with a time/cost and the clients name. I help keep track of my client calls and get them into the right expense categories for work. I also use Eudora to check POP mail and the web while on the road.

    Summary
    Basically if right now you carry the palm and phone with you all the time, the combo unit is smaller so go with that. I also find it's harder to forget it because I am already conditioned to check for my phone before I leave the house.
    If most of the time you do not carry both and don't regret it then just get the phone. It is much cheaper (probably free with a 1 year contract and rights to your first born) and probably smaller. And finally, if you are only using the palm for scheduling, phone numbers, etc. look into the phones that have that built in. They can synch with a program on the PC and then you have the combo unit without the size/price.
    The Kyocera 6035 is not to expensive now because the 7135 is coming out. The 7135 is color (which I don't care about) and has an expansion slot (which I wish I had) so look at the reviews on it.
    • * How is your PDA functionality - limited, annoying because of size, etc?
      PDA functionality is excellent. With a belt clip, the size is a non-issue. Yes, it's big for a phone. It's still far better than my former Palm III/Kyocera 2035a combo by many orders of magnitude.

      * How is the phone service?
      I have Verizon, so it is stellar. Yes, VZW plans are more expensive. You get what you pay for. People on other carriers constantly bitch about their service quality/coverage, Verizon (And its predecessors, I started with Frontier Cellular in upstate NY, which BAM bought out and then later merged into Verizon) has served me very well for 3-4 years.

      * What do you wish your PDA/Phone could do that it can't?
      Not much. Packet-switched high-speed data would be nice, if it weren't for the fact that Verizon hasn't yet matched Sprint's Vision pricing for Express Network. (Rumor has it that this may change in the next month or so.)

      * Is it worth buying a combo unit or should I consider elements that interact properly?
      YES. The Palm/phone interaction in the Kyocera is *EXCELLENT*. It is one of the only PDA/phone combos that was designed as a phone first and not a PDA. (The Treos are decent, too, although I think the Kyos are better.)

      http://www.smartphonesource.com/ has lots of info on the Kyo 6035 and the semi-available (Alltel has it, VZW and Sprint don't yet) 7135. BTW, it's possible to activate an Alltel 7135 on Verizon quite easily.

      The 7135 takes all of the best things about the 6035 and adds:
      16M ram (6035 has 8)
      SDIO slot
      MP3 capability
      Color screen
      Clamshell flip-phone design. (This may be a turnoff to some, though. I prefer the old 6035's design.)
      1xRTT high-speed capability

      Since getting my 6035, I've used my Palm a lot more, for one of the reasons Tye Informer mentioned - I put my phone in my pocket/on my belt clip by habit, and since my Palm is not in my phone I no longer forget it all the time. :)
  • I know that the 180g is old now, and been replaced with newer and hipper stuff, but actually I don't want to replace it.

    Also, being swedish, GSM is the only way to go for me.

    In short:
    Pros:

    The size, just about rigth. Smaller than a normal PDA, but not to small to be useful.

    It really works, both as a PDA and as a phone.

    The quick dials, 50 quick dial numbers easily reachable with a one hand.

    PalmOS, the basic set of apps are nice, but the fact that I can add almost anything to it (and easily hack something up myself.

    GPRS, always on, not blocking calls or SMS, not losing TCP sessions because of a temp hickup in coverage.

    Good handsfree, stays in my belt during most of my calls.
    Cons:

    Some random hickups, locking itself and needing a reset (doesn't loose data, just switch the mobile mode on again).

    It freezes for 2-3 seconds before presenting a new SMS or call (annoying if you're writing something).

    Grayscale, but it's not an issue for me, I have no need for a colour PDA.

    Battery life, 2-3 hours talking or actively using GPRS, 4-5 days standby. Solved by getting an extra sync cable and charger to the office.

    No hardware expansion, no slots of any kind. In theory you can expand it over USB, serial or IR.

    Currently not possible to use it as a GPRS modem/router. (But writing on that app.)
    Overall I'm very pleased with it, it does what I want it to.

    Ssh login to my boxen when needed.

    Surfin on the subway (reading /. ;))

    Check my mail when on the road (and clean out spam).

    Very nice for SMS.

    Connecting to the MUD while at the pub ;)

    Keeping time and alarms (with BigClock and sntp).

  • I don't remember the model number, but I saw the new Samsung PalmOS phone at CES in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, and it is the one to wait for.

    This thing is 4 oz, the same size as regular phones, it's a flip phone with a real phone keypad, and it has a separate dedicated graffiti area on the bottom half, along with the phone keypad. The top half of the flip is all screen. It's color, it's fast (instantaneous response) and it's big enough to be easy to read, without being bigger than a normal phone.

    Supposedly out in March.
    • A sweet little phone. Smaller than my old StarTac with a 16MB 66MHz color Palm built in. I opted to go with the T-mobile sidekick, though, as it was closer to what I wanted.

      My must-haves:
      1. always-on unlimited instant messaging.
      2. widely syncable calendar and address book
      3. POP email access
      4. works as a phone
      5. fits in my pocket

      My wishes:
      1. 640x480 or greater built-in camera
      2. color screen
      3. user-accessible GPS navigation
      4. MP3 player

      The sidekick fits most of my requirements. It's a little big for my taste, but still pocketable, and the synchronization is one-way for the time being. (Two-way software is supposedly coming soon from intellisync) But it was $50 from Amazon, so I can afford to buy it while everybody else figures theirs out.

      I looked at the Treo 300, and although their synching is better and you can run 3rd-party apps, the OS suffers from an inability to multitask. Meaning I can't leave my IM running in the background. Also, a crash on your treo (very common with AIM) wipes the data (oops, lost my phone book!!), whereas a crash on the sidekick simply requires a reboot, and your unit restores all your data from a network backup in a matter of minutes.

      I am assuming that the i500 will have similar limitations to the Treo. But if you don't want IM, it should be an outstanding little phone.

  • I'm extremely happy with my Handspring Treo. Having the chiclet keyboard is really nice for messaging. My service is with Cingular. When it works good, it sounds like a landline. When it's poor, it's nonexistant. Suggest you try one in your area before buying.

    The real "gotcha" with the Treo is battery life. You'll need to charge nightly. If you can live with that, it may be the device for you. I have the 180, which are really cheap now. In my opinion, the color ones aren't worth it.

  • by Nomad7674 (453223) on Friday January 24, 2003 @02:47PM (#5152435) Homepage Journal
    You may want to check out this [smartphonetalk.com] site for a listing of all of the phones available and which services they go with. There are actually a lot of choices out there, but you need to zero in on exactly which of them you are most interested in, if you want to make sure you are making the right choice.

    First off, there are basically three O/Ses to choose from:

    1. Palm: This is the old faithful. Palm has a number of SmartPhones out there to choose from including the Tungsten W (their own model), Kyocera's 6135 (black and white model) and 7135 (color model), Handspring's line of Treos, and Samsung's i300. Palm is a great O/S for SmartPhones because of its low power consumption and easy integration with different form factors. The best of these in my opinion are the Kyocera SmartPhones [smartphonetalk.com] for their depth of integration and focus on being a phone first and a PDA second. You can find Palm-based phones for both GSM (i.e. AT&T Wireless, Cingular, etc.) systems and CDMA (i.e. Verizon, Sprint, etc.) systems.
    2. PocketPC: PocketPC phones are out there and there are a lot of providers to choose from. Aside from the clunky first-generation PocketPC phones like the AudioVox Thera, the newer ones use a version of PocketPC specifically designed for phone use. These models are powerful, fast, and look very cool. They generally only have one form factor - a normal PDA shape with an antenna attached. So don't go looking for a flip-phone model. PocketPC phones have a few downsides, however, as they tend to be battery drainers (don't expect to be away from a plug for days on end) and the O/S can crash (sometimes in the middle of a call). However, if you want PDA-first, phone-second functionality, this is a good choice. At the moment, PocketPC Phones only come in GSM models, the only CDMA model out there is the AudioVox Thera.

      You may also have heard of SmartPhone 2002 which is another effort to bring windows to cell phones. The only model currently out is the Orange SA phone and based on the early reviews, your choice here is simple - STAY AWAY UNTIL REVISION 2!

    3. Symbian OS: Symbian O/S is the descendent of the EPOC O/S which ran PDAs in Europe like the Revo and exists today as a powerful PDA operating system specifically made for cellular phone integration. Nokia is the main owner of this O/S and has the most interesting offerings [smartphonetalk.com], but Sony Ericsson is where you will find the best phones in the USA. Their P800 will be a great choice when it comes out here and the t68i is already a hit for AT&T Wireless and Apple with its built-in BlueTooth technology. Symbian phones are only available for GSM networks at this time.

    For the Northeastern USA, the best choice will probably be the Kyocera 7135 SmartPhone [kyocera-wireless.com]. You are right that it is not selling on the Verizon system yet, but you can buy it from the Kyocera store activated for Alltell and then have your local Verizon store activate it for you. (Yes, they will do that.) You will want to check out SmartPhoneSource [smartphonesource.com] for a good community of people who have done this and for directions on doing it.

    Hope this is helpful.

  • http://www.my-siemens.com/MySiemens/CDA/Index/0,27 30,HQ_en_0_product%253AMW%252FNG%252FSX56POCKETPCP HONE%252Fdesc,FF.html

    A coworker of mine has one. Loves it. The only drawbacks to these is the high cost $500 roughly and then you pay a monthly cell bill ($39 600 mins or so) plus a data rate which (40Mb for $39 a month) and the size of having a PDA to your ear to talk. Personally, Id buy one but it has one thing I cannot do without - car and handsfree cradle. I dont want an earbud in my ear, or headphones. I checked with AT&T and Siemens, and no word so far on their plans. You can find out more information on it on www.mobileplanet.com and I thin ZDNET did a story on it.

    Battery life is good, screen is one of the best on a PDA, and it can handle any web cept JAva applets if I remember correctly. Speeds are claimed to be 128K best case.

    I personally cant test this speed, but when I had an Aircard 300 CDPD, I was getting 9.6-19.2K depending on the cell I was in. Loved that with my Ipaq 3650, but AT&T and Verizon are dropping CDPD service in NJ next year.

  • ... and I almost went with the Treo 300, but I didn't because lack of expansion.

    My ideal PDA has:
    - color screen
    - keyboard
    - PocketPC
    [Note that I need PocketPC to do terminal services support against our servers for work. Since work will be paying for it, it's a requirement of my own. Big fan of Palm, but unforunately our FW software only comes with a WinCe version
    - Expansion slot
    - MP3 Player
    - High Speed internet access
    - Phone of course
    - Belt clip

    And finally, there is one coming out. Check out the Hitachi i700 [infosync.no]

    As a bonus, it even comes with a digital camera. It may be a little bulky, but I'll save space by having a PDA, Cellphone and MP3 player all in one device. I can't wait!
  • If price is an issue, get a used handspring (mine was $78, if wish I'd gotten a rechargeable one) and a FREE Sprint phone attachment from Handspring. It's clunky, doesn't ring loudly, and doesn't work with many 3rd party apps, but most of those problems have to do with buying a crappy Visor Deluxe.

    Get one with a newer OS and you'll be fine. In two years when everyone has a Sidekick, you'll be able to get one that's more powerful and expandable that the ones available today.
  • I've been using my 6035 for TWO YEARS and I'm still a big fan. The only real downside is that it seems to freeze, crash, reset itself from time to time. I keep looking for something better but I come to the conclusion that what I have is the best available. The main thing wrong with most of the other combos is that they aren't real phones - the Kyocera has real buttons for the number pad so you can dial with one hand while driving! Samsung and many of the pocket PC's have touchscreens which is a two handed op. Of course it does all the palm stuff and syncs up with the PC. You can look up a number in the address book, tap and it dials. I can collect e-mail, though it's slow. The web browser is a joke. I'm waiting for the new 7135 model to be available in my area. Half the size, even more features.

"Life, loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it." -- Marvin the paranoid android

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