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Do People Really Use Their PDAs? 814

TAL asks: "With Dell entering the market with their new PDA, the PDA market appears saturated. I work in a high-tech industry and I see more people carrying their PDAs than actually using them. At the same time, I see many people actually going back to their paper planners. I've ran the PDA gauntlet myself and have found that much time is wasted syncing, charging and reinstalling the software. Have there been any studies on PDA turnover? I think the PDA has become more of a status symbol than a useful tool."
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Do People Really Use Their PDAs?

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  • by Frivas ( 219029 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:25PM (#4745239) Homepage
    just to play missile command
    • I carry mine for the sole purpose of Dopewars.

      Well, until the bird nicked it... for the sole purpose of playing Dopewars.

    • Sounds dangerous to play MC in a meeting... I can just see your panic as you frantically try to save your cities in the end-game. Does anyone notice?

      P.S. Will you share the source? ;)
    • personally, the games in my nokia phone and the built in organizer is all i'll ever need. a year or two ago, a friend of mine passed me a PDA he won in some school competition, and i carried it around for a week or so before i got tired of it.

      every once in a while when i need to remind myself to call someone, do something or be somewhere, the organizer in my phone is more than enough. it lets you set the event and its time, and the time you want the reminder alarm to go off.

      to be honest, i'm not all that organized a person and i rely mostly on my memory, so that might be a reason why i didn't have much of a use for a PDA. i noticed that most geeks aren't exactly organized, what with the huge pile of papers and other misc items their desks are usually cluttered with. if that's representative of most of slashdot's reader demographic, then most probably the majority of slashdot users don't have a need for PDAs. most just buy it for the cool-gadget factor, in my opinion.

      so before you go out and get yourself a PDA, ask yourself if you even have a paper organizer now. if you can live without the organizer, you definitely can do without the PDA, since the latter is just an electronic version of it.
      • PDA vs. ADHD (Score:3, Interesting)

        I've suspected I've had a low-level variety of ADHD for the longest time. I forget to do routine household tasks, because I'm distracted by the next shiny thing. Unless I have something written down for me to do, I'll forget to do it.

        I have programmed my PDA to remind me to do dishes, vacuum, clean the kitchen, do my laundry, take my vitamins, go to class, and other regularly recurring tasks. They follow me from day to day, and don't go away until I delete them, or check them off as done.

        I don't tend to remember non-recurring or long-cycle events either. I have yearly doctor's appointment reminders, holidays, birthdays, et cetera, as well as deviations from routine (such as when I'm supposed to pick up the kid).

        In the past year, my room, and indeed entire household, have progressed from extreme untidiness and mass confusion into something that actually has places to walk, no risk of mice, and everything done with at least a semblance of timeliness. For the first time in my life, I'm setting aside time to do my homework.

        For that alone, I could love the thing. The idea that it has an address book, games, e-books, et cetera, is just plain cool, even though I don't rely on those.

        I use mine every day, because I need it. If I didn't have that, I'd be using a whiteboard, sticky-tabs, notes on the back of my hand, and innumerable lists.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    They're just status symbols. (because I don't have one)
  • My PDA is... (Score:2, Informative)

    by bic2k ( 140221 )
    sitting at the bottom of a box unused for the last year... good turn over... most of my toys don't last more than 6 months...
  • Usage (Score:5, Informative)

    by pbobby ( 86169 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:26PM (#4745245)
    I use mine all the time.... to read eBooks /:)
    • Re:Usage (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jonathan ( 5011 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:40PM (#4745367) Homepage
      Exactly -- eBooks are an application of PDA's that the designers never really thought of, and one in which the PDA fulfills much better than full-size dedicated eBook hardware. I like to read books, but often I don't have one with me when I have a few free minutes. A PDA is far more portable than a paperback book and I almost always have mine in my coat pocket.
      • Re:Usage (Score:3, Informative)

        by dsoltesz ( 563978 )
        Actually, I bought a Rocket eBook a couple years before I got a PDA. I got the eBook for reading web course assignments on, but I still use it for reading actual books and stories. I do most of my reading at home or on road trips - one eBook is less to carry than the two or three paperbacks plus several magazines I used to take with me. But, the PDA is handy for reading the news on the way to work in the morning. The benefits of each are as follows -


        • Larger screen
        • Larger print
        • Same amount of memory
        • Easy to dump a web page (or set of pages) on
        • Comfortable - almost feels like a paperback, and is actually more comfortable to hold than one


        • Color screen
        • Easy to sync content that changes frequently (news sites for instance)
        • More flexible - you can install various readers to handle a wider range of formats
        • Of course, games.

        Of course, I've been waiting for the less-than-a-pound tablet PC to arrive. In a couple years I suspect I'll have what I want (and maybe be able to afford it), then the PDA, eBook, and the computer in the living room are all out the window...

    • Re:Usage (Score:4, Interesting)

      by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:00PM (#4745551) Journal
      Same here. Really, I don't do much of anything else with my pda. I keep all my phone number in my cell phone, and my schedule in my head.

      I always thought the idea of an ebook was dumb, before I got a pda. Then, when I got my HP Jornada, it came with a couple free ebooks, and I tried reading one. It was great! The screen's backlit, so I don't have to worry about light (I can even read in bed after my wife's gone to sleep), it's flat, so it's easier to hold with one hand, and I never lose my place. I've got 32MB (or is it 64? I forget...) so I can hold a few dozen books. I went on some file-sharing networks and found a few archives containing several thousand books, so every couple of weeks I put another 10 or 15 books on my PDA. Also, since I carry it around with me all the time, I always have whatever books I'm reading right in my pocket. Comes in really handy when waiting in line at the deli, etc. Now, if instead of having to buy a $400 pda to do this, if they could make a $75 ebook reader with a nice screen and large memory card, I'd be happy.
      • Re:Usage (Score:3, Informative)

        by motardo ( 74082 )
        just look for a RCA eBook Reader, they used to be plentiful, but now you can pick them up cheap.
      • Re:Usage (Score:4, Funny)

        by NearlyHeadless ( 110901 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:51PM (#4746040)
        The screen's backlit, so I don't have to worry about light (I can even read in bed after my wife's gone to sleep), it's flat, so it's easier to hold with one hand, and I never lose my place.

        Reading in bed with one hand after your wife goes to sleep? Just what kind of ebooks are these?
    • Re:Usage (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tomstdenis ( 446163 )
      I turned my GBA into an ebook reader... :-) Managed to pack 45 texts from PG on a 8MB cart [see left frame for link]

    • Re:Usage (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DataPath ( 1111 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:22PM (#4745723)
      I spend a lot of my free time reading ebooks, but I actually do PRODUCTIVE thigns with mine, too. As a college student, I have more classes and assignments that I can really manage to remember without some central way of tracking them. At the beginning of each semester, I take the syllabi (sp?) for all my classes and enter important dates in the calendar, and all assignments into the tasklist. It makes my life so much simpler. And while I'd be a liar if I said I never turned in an assignment late since, it's always been by choice, and never by accident.
    • Re:Usage (Score:3, Informative)

      by mikeboone ( 163222 )
      I recently got a cheap Handspring Visor and found this site [] for reading books with the cool Plucker [] browser.

      It's old stuff, but it's free.
      • Re:Usage (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Hopper ( 59070 )
        I live by Pluckerbooks. I also use it to immortalize a whole bunch of other content. I have a "" cron job that runs through the front pages & some of the discussion at Slashdot, freshmeat, some other GNU/Linux news sites, the CNN front page, and other places. Before I plunge into my novel or technical reading on the bus to work in the morning, I catch up on my news sites to know what's new in the world.

        After electronic books, I use my palm mostly for scheduling. I have terrible memory for non-technical stuff, and the fact that it beeps at me to remind me of something is a huge help. I also set a lot of daily tasks with reminders so that I can remember to do them. They may sound simple to others, but a reminder to "spend an hour or two on your business Disaster Recovery Plan" leads to the important but long-term projects being completed in time.

        My wife also uses her PDA for ebooks, contacts, and calendars. She's caught on to the trick of using the calendar as the to-do list, and really prefers it to the built-in to-do. She's gone from carrying around an enormous, clunky planner with her everywhere, and often jotting down notes on sticky pads to get lost later, to jotting all the notes down in her PDA as a note attachment to the calendar event, and then liberally using the Palm's search function to locate those notes later. It's much easier to find that note you jotted down in your PDA three months later than it is to find that yellow sticky you stuck on a page that later fluttered out.
    • Re:Usage (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dun Malg ( 230075 )
      I use mine all the time.... to read eBooks

      DAmn straight. I use mine for keeping track of technical installation info at job sites (I install telecom systems), but the most important thing my Palm M500 provides is reading material while I'm taking a crap.
  • I agree... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wumarkus420 ( 548138 ) <wumarkus&hotmail,com> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:27PM (#4745258) Homepage
    When I first got my Palm, people marveled at the chance to look at all the phone numbers I could store at one time. I even kept it in my pocket at all times and tried to incorporate it into my wallet (pretty tedious with the original Palm). However, within a couple months, I was only using it to play Galax. I eventually gave it away to my girlfriend, who also used it for a week or two before deciding it really wasn't worth it to have this giant thing for the purpose of only storing phone numbers and playing the occaisonal game.

    So then I get a CE device from work. I thought I would give PDA's another chance. While this time, I had color and ethernet, and a decent media player, it fell prey to the same problems at before. I stopped using it within a month and it now sits in a drawer never to be used again.

    I think PDA's are cool, but no matter how much I want to like them, they just aren't useful.
    • by billwashere ( 167019 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:38PM (#4745353)

      I stopped using it within a month and it now sits in a drawer never to be used again.

      Can I have it then :)

    • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:40PM (#4745368)
      So then I get a CE device from work. I thought I would give PDA's another chance

      On top of that, the PocketPC devices-- despite being way more powerful and generally cooler-- are much less suited to the basic tasks of a PDA (storing numbers, calendar, etc.) They're just too big, eat too much battery, and the software isn't as concise as Palm's.

      I really thought my shiny iPaq would be a great replacement for my Palm and my laptop, with it's ability to handle an 802.11 card (and Ricochet back when that existed). Turned out that it was an enormous and inferior substitute for both, and it crashed a lot with the network card in. Now I don't use either, because I'm dissatisfied with the inflexibility of my Palm and the flaws of the PocketPC.

    • Re:I agree... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wellspring ( 111524 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @10:05PM (#4747658)
      I've seen this, but I think it has more to do with the device than with the notion of using PDA's. With Palm and M$ equivalents, you have to use graffiti. Any handwriting is a fairly onerous chore. Also, you have to poke around on the screen to do searches and app navigation.

      With the Blackberry you don't. So with that said, I am a major RIM fan (I'd imagine that the Good Technologies or Danger devices ought to be about the same). People get addicted to the Blackberry: they call them Crack-berries.

      When I had a RIM for my last job, I used it constantly. I responded to important emails as soon as they came in, religiously added people to my address book, and kept my entire personal and work schedule in the calendar (which meant, it popped into Exchange at work, too.)

      For all its flaws, the one test of how useful it is is "Do I use it?" Hell, yeah. Constantly. Without having it now, I feel more than ever how my schedule, dinners with friends, my dragonlance game, birthdays, etc. was always at my fingertips and accessable.

      OK, so what made blackberry different? The little minikeyboard was a better data entry system than a touchscreen. A jog dial means that everything has the same UI and you control it all from your thumb. The built-in wireless was slow, but communicated in the background constantly, so you didn't have to cradle except for recharges (once per week or two: I've had mine last for three weeks). The wireless coverage footprint is incredible, but the device continues to work fine withotu coverage... it just catches up when you pop back in. It is a durable device that you keep on your belt: it turns on when you take it out of its holster, then turns the screen off when you put it back in. No frills: no color, no music, no filesystem, nothing that drains power, makes the device more complicated, and adds 'coolness'.

      That's the message. The more cool the device is, the more it trades away essentials. If you want an MP3 player, buy a dedicated device. If you want a phone, buy a phone. If you want a PDA, decide what you want to run. For me it was email, schedule, address book, and a memo to jot stuff down in. RIM was perfect. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
  • Constantly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Devilzad ( 85311 )
    I use my Palm IIIxe constantly, and I don't travel a whole lot at all.

    The built-in address book, to-do lists, and calendar are all I use it for, with two entertainment apps loaded on it. One is an app that spits out Homer-isms and Bart-isms from The Simpsons, the other is called Space Trader, very much like the old Elite from the Commodore 64 of yore.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Like a decent pr0n player otherwise what's the point of having something you can hide in your pocket until ahem... uh... oops never mind.
  • Of course I use it. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Stradenko ( 160417 )
    I use my PDA (Sony clie) for everything I can - japanese study, scheduling (classes, work, travel) - it really helps me to prioritize things, games, pictures, contact info, etc. It's hard, well terribly inconvenient anyway, for me to do without it these days.

    It was definately a good investment in my case.
  • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n__0 ( 605442 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:28PM (#4745265)
    Seems people are trying ot find reasons to use their pdas once theyve got them. Realising they aren't as useful or as easy to use as they thought. My dad picked up one a few months ago and a lot of the price of the ipaq that he got seems to come in afterwards with memory expansions and interfacing wires etc. He doesn't need to interface it to everything, it jsut seems he needs to justify why hes got it and having gps and camera photos on their is really a status symbol.
  • by monadicIO ( 602882 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:28PM (#4745267)
    I found that I needed to be too disciplined to use my PDA for tasks that I'd use it for like todo lists and phone,contacts. I got a free one sometime ago. I tried using it but found I was spending more time trying to organise my life in the PDA. I gave up shortly finding that it was more convenient to forget things than to spend time and energy inputting every thing in the PDA.

    Now if only I had a personal human analog assistant inputting everything into my digital one.

  • Not Really (Score:2, Insightful)

    by toomz ( 175524 )
    I sold my PDA. People who first buy PDAs vow never to part with them. Soon you notice them sitting on the desk all the time next to the desktop computer.
  • I used to (Score:5, Informative)

    by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:29PM (#4745273) Homepage
    I used my PDA for a little while my freshman year in college (Palm V), I'd take some quick notes on it and use it to store schedules, important dates and addresses. Aside from that I used it for games during boring lectures, or to beam stuff to other classmates about the teacher =]

    Now it sits in my deskdrawer and I don't use it anymore. Batteries, syncing, and everything else weren't problems at all. In the end it was too cumbersome to enter data (even if you knew it well), and the software offered was minimal.

    I probably would have been happier with a Windows CE device, since they come with a much larger, easier to use range of applications. It's hard to say. But, I don't miss it much.

    On that note, how much is someone willing to give me for an old Palm V? =]
  • by Snarfvs Maximvs ( 28022 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:29PM (#4745276)
    But I work in a large (50k+) high-tech company and NOBODY in my part of the world uses paper planners anymore. Even our over-compensated super-high-up VPs etc. use a combination of RIM, cellphone, and Palm/CE devices to stay on track. When you're quadruple-booked for meetings all day in multiple geographic locations, paper ain't gonna cut it.

    My boss wouldn't survive without his blackberry! I make do with an iPAQ and sync when I get to my desk. The only way I get work done is that I don't have a cellphone or a pager. My boss keeps threatening to get me one and I respond with threats to quit. ;-)
  • I have a PalmIII which I used for about a year and a half. Eventually, the small screen, lack of a decent keyboard and the constant mess with syncing led me to simply carry my old but small Omnibook 800 around instead. I thus have a full Linux system (using the console only) with a far better screen and easy access to 'real' applications.

  • Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason DOT nash AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:30PM (#4745283)
    Usually the people in the tech industry don't. They get them for a toy and then don't use them. I didn't use mine much, so I gave it to my wife. She uses it constantly and keeps a lot of info in there. It's much easier than the paper system she had before.

    At my office the directors and VPs use theirs like crazy. They'd be lost without them. The guys on my team (network team) don't use them much, since we don't have all the meetings and contacts to track.
  • Well, I use mine, but the biggest bugbear is the syncing software. I have issues syncing with Mozilla mail, which by now may be easily resolved, but I got tired of dealing with it. My main use isn't notes and to do lists, but the calendar. I get disorganised on occasion, and having something that will beep at me when my next meeting is is invaluable, especially since my work uses a networked calendar program - other users add meetings for me and I don't have to note them... they just appear.

    You can't beat the convenience... until a dead-tree-organiser can tell me where I'm supposed to be, anyway...
  • Sometimes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by occamboy ( 583175 )
    It depends on the mode I'm in.

    Sometimes I'm fortunate enough to be working on one project with undivided attention. Then I usually don't carry my PDA -- it's easy to remember what I should be doing.

    When I'm in my more scattered mode (meetings-R-us), my PDA is a godsend, keeping me on track.

    In the past, I've always carried my PDA while travelling because of the address book feature. But I've just purchased a cell phone (Motorola V60i) that allegedly syncs to my Windows address book, so the PDA might not be as necessary for this purpose anymore -- we'll see.
  • by xchino ( 591175 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:32PM (#4745296)
    I have no idea how I got along before I got one. Mine isn't even a good one, Just a Visor Handspring, 16-bit grey scale, but damn is it useful. With my Nokia 3360 I can connect to the internet via infrared on the pda and phone and use PalmVNC to control my servers from anywhere. Also, the the infrared is hella useful as a universal remote control.. Between omniremote and pmremote I never have to miss my favorite shows whenever I'm around a public TV. I also use J-Pilot + the Keyring plugin to carry a nice encrypted list of l/p combos and general server info. I jot down notes on it all the time. I can also use the phone book etensively. I don't really use the scheduler at all, cuz I have no schedule :)

    But the BEST use for my pda I've had so far is basically as a gameboy :)
    • As a system engineer assigned to a system that had few computer points for data, I used my visor for walkdowns. I made a walkdown template with mark numbers, point description and units as a memo. When I walkded down a system, I'd just cut and paste the memo into a daily journal. It was very handy to have a few months worth of trend data in my pocket and easy enough to put all of it into a spread sheet (use commas between mark number, description, value). I imagine any palm device could do the same.

      The visor's improvements to Palm software were substantial and I completely replaced my paper planner. I had been using calendar creator plus to print a weekly view on 8.5x11 with hours between six in the morning and ten at night. I also kept a rolling do list on the back of the weeks. Visor's "floating events" with attached note pages took the place of the rolling do list very well. The contact list and calculator were also nice to have in the back pocket. It was also nice to have a word search, though it was not as good as grep.

      The thing that convinced me to buy one in the first place was a conversation with a spacey peer. As we were talking, his little palm peeped and told him it was time to go to a stupid meeting []. It worked better than paper. I was never late to a meeting.

      I got fired anyway, but that's another story.

  • Do I use a PDA? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mgrochmal ( 567074 )
    Sure do, because there are some things that a laptop can't do for me right now.

    1. It's easier to bring a synced PDA of information to do quick errands than it is to enter said info into a laptop. As in, I'm more likely to use a grocery list ina PDA that fits in my hand than bring the iBook.

    2. I don't tend to install many applications beyond the included suite. So far, the only things I've installed on my PDA since I got it are: an enhanced calculator, an eBook reader, and a couple of text games. If I need a full office-program or media apps, then I bring the notebook computer.

    As for paper/pencil, I tend to lose the pieces of paper easily, whereas I'm more likely to pay attention to a piece of electronics gone missing. Yeah, the PDA also won't handle a bunch of the accessibility functions that the iBook does, but for me, it's easier than lugging a several-pound book or relatively large notebook while on the go.

  • Constantly (Score:5, Informative)

    by CodeWheeney ( 314094 ) <JimCassidy@mai l . c om> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:32PM (#4745301) Homepage
    The reason I've stayed with my now old-school Palm IIIx is because it's invaluable to me. It doesn't have wireless or color, but it has my life on it. I now don't forget to carry the appropriate piece of paper or list with me because I always enter these things into my PDA. I'm currenlty 2700 miles from my home, but my PDA has all of the information I might need for my work or personal use (family phone numbers, infrequently seen friends who I thought of seeing because I was near them, and I had there number). It's also got important work information and useful lists. I can pop into a record store and pick up a new album on my list. I can also pop up several useful astronomy applications and get some casual binocular observing in, and log the results.

    My IIIx is very useful because it's simple, reliable and omni-present. I carry it everywhere.
    • Your entire life? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by twoslice ( 457793 )
      It doesn't have wireless or color, but it has my life on it.

      Your whole life... Wow, and I can't even fit my entire Pr0n and MP3 collection on my desktop system with an 80 GB drive. Oh wait, actually that is my life. Now that is sad...
  • I've used my palm Vx nearly everyday for last 3 years. The ONE thing keeps me using it is the rechargeable battery, and LONG battery life. If I had to run out to buy a set of AA every week I would have stopped using it. The Long battery life of 3 weeks on a full charge is great for extended trip. Palm Vx and mobile with infrared means I can keep checking emails quickly and easily.

    Avantgo is another program for adding value. Free editions of all main magazines and newspapers. Defiantly payed for itself that way.(Economist, Wired, Guardian, BBC)

  • I picked up a PDA on the cheap (Palm iiixe just before they killed the line) and used it for quite awhile. Ultimately the lack of a backlit screen and constantly having to replace batteries made it more trouble than it was worth. I used rechargeable batteries which helped with the cost, however this meant that "replacement" was more frequent. Once or twice I would actually lose my data because of this, so I had to go through the process of reinstalling all my software and then syncing back up.

    Finally I decided it was more trouble than it was worth. A backlit color PDA with an internal rechargeable battery would be much more useful to me, and I imagine that if I had one of those I'd still be using it today. Also, those Treo's have been /awfully/ tempting since you get Internet access on them as well. I may eventually get around to picking up one of these, however the time I would spend re-inputting my data might remove some of the utility/value--at least at first.
    • Palm IIIxe has a backlight. Press and hold the power button.

      I know, because I shocked my friend who owns one by showing him how to turn it on.

      I've also never lost data during battery replacement. I am in the habit of syncing first, but even so I've never had the batteries out long enough to lose info. I don't know what I'm doin differently, but your experience is different from mine.
  • If you work in an office where you have to go to a lot of meetings, they're invaluable, since your entire schedule is with you at all times.

    I find the Palm units superior for this functinon.

    I've owned every kind of PDA, and most ended up in a drawer. The Palm is the first one that I've used every day for almost 2 years.

    Oh, the games are a definite bonus.

  • I got a PalmV about 2 years ago. In college I find it extreamly useful tracking my schedule, homework, quick notes to myself, professor's contact info and office hours, etc. I seriously couldn't live withough it. However durring the summer durring my internships I find it quite useless. I no longer have such a complex schedule and all the company info is already on my PC. So why bother with the PDA? A PDA's usefulness depends really on what you need it for.
  • I've carried my Visor to and from work every day for almost two years. At the beginning, I used it constantly: the calendar, the todo list, etc. Now I use it only maybe once or twice a week, but on those occasions, it's fantastic. It's my definitive repository of phone numbers and addresses (I manually "sync" to my paper address book at home occasionally), I keep all of my infrequent calendar event in there (when was that concert again?), and I keep a bunch of Twain/Poe/Doyle short stories on board for when I'm bored in the dentist's office.

    So, it doesn't *need* to be a life-defining piece of hardware to be essential.

    Oh, and Bejeweled. Can't forget Bejeweled. Stupid, addictive game...
  • I've had my Vx for over 2 years now. I use it all the time. I never had to reinstall stuff, and syncing only takes about 10 seconds, much faster than re-entering data from paper to my desktop. that's for sure.
  • To keep a portable copy of the ridiculous number of meetings I get scheduled in Outlook, and to download websites (like Slashdot:) to read on the bus on the way home.
  • by ektor ( 113899 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:35PM (#4745332)
    I work in a high-tech industry and I see more people carrying their PDAs than actually using them.

    If people carry them is because they use them. Sure, you can carry some gadget for a week for its novelty factor but if you don't use it sooner than later you will stop taking it with you.

    Having said that PDAs are not for everybody. Unless you spend certain amount of time away from you desk and in need of contact information, scheduling or some specific application maybe a PDA is not for you.

    Personally I love my XDA [] especially because I have my email always updated anywhere I go. I don't use it as a phone very often but when I do it works very well although certainly not as well as a normal cell phone.

  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:37PM (#4745343) Homepage Journal
    I used to love having a PDA (Palm IIIxe []) around and used it for a variety of reasons including
    • Meeting schedule always handy even when I wasn't at work (plus beeping reminders).
    • Todo list always handy (plus beeping reminders).
    • Games to play during boring meetings.
    • Email Inbox always available
    • No more scrabbling for a pen when I want to get a girl's phone number
    reason I stopped using it
    • It started taking too long to sync Outlook to my Palm which sucked since I used to do it at the end of the workday and waiting 10 - 30 minutes for it to finish syncing wore on my patience.
    • by Slashdotess ( 605550 ) <> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:29PM (#4745783)
      No more scrabbling for a pen when I want to get a girl's phone number

      After she see you whip out your Palm IIIxe with custom linux faceplate, h4x0r3d memory and linux plugin any non-geek chick would probably give you a fake number. Of course, I wouldn't ;)
    • The limiting factor for syncing most PDAs is the speed of their connection. The Palm IIIxe and earlier palms use a standard serial connection to sync. All the current Palms (except the m100 and m105), all the Handsprings, and all of the Sony CLIEs use USB for syncing. USB is _far_ faster than the old style serial connection.
    • It started taking too long to sync Outlook to my Palm which sucked since I used to do it at the end of the workday and waiting 10 - 30 minutes for it to finish syncing wore on my patience.

      Looks like you abandoned the useful end of that connection. Where I worked they put in pop up screen that said, "Another application is attmpting to look at Outlook's contact information. allow this?" Yes it was a pain but it was worth it because Outlook never did a thing for me but my Handspring was very useful [].

      I imagine this pop up headache did not happen with WinCE crap, but I could be wrong. Microsoft would never use it's monopoly position to favor their own projects and programs, would they? When did it start taking ten freaking minutes? Because NT did not have USB support, I did all my transfers over a normal serial cable and it never took that long, unless I missed the stupid popup then the whole computer hung.

  • Do I use it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Unipuma ( 532655 )
    I have a Palm OS based PDA, and I have to say that I am using it more and more often. At first I bought the thing more or less as a geek toy (hence going for the colour screen, even if it meant it was more expensive), but I have found it to be of great use.
    Not only the usual basics, agenda, planner, but also checklists of things to do that you can actually archive (and not just dump on top of that pile of paper that is already eating up more than half your desk), but for me, most important was to have a database.
    I have been collecting Sci-Fi books since I was about fifteen, and used to keep track of them in DBase, keep a printed version of it with me, whenever I went into a used bookstore, so I knew I didn't get titles double (which is hard to keep track of once you go over a thousand).
    Now it's so much easier to have it all in a small carrying form (instead of a bulk of papers you have to scribble the new titles on untill you do a new printout), a quick search to see if I already have the title of an author.
    Also, I use it to keep track of the things I order at the comic shop, to see when I ordered something, and if it should have arrived already. And with a few touches to the screen, I change the order list into the list of comics I already own if I need to make sure I should backorder anything.

    So yes, it started out as a toy I wasn't using too often, all I did was write some appointments in it, but now I'm using it quite a lot.

    (As a side note, I have heard that the use of the PDA depends a lot on how easy it is to access, and that some PDA's are just so slow that you rather find the information some other way. So your question might actually result in different answers for different models and PDA OS-es)
  • by patSPLAT ( 14441 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:38PM (#4745350) Homepage
    I just got a cellphone module for my Handspring Visor. That nice address book becomes much more exciting when you just hit a button to call the number.

    ~ Patrick
  • to view pictures of naked, shaved pussy. []
  • I use my Treo 270 all of the time. It's damn near a laptop replacment for me. I can check my email & surf the web wirelessly (albiet at a 9.6Kpbs connection or thereabouts). I synch with my desktop email and can read & reply on the road. I've got an office-like package that lets me view & edit word & excel files (as both attachments and as independent documents). I synch with AvantGo to get offline reading. And, of course, there are a ton of games out there (although I do wish some of them were higher quality).

    Honestly, the main thing I can't do is write code on it. :\

    But, on an airplane, wandering around, on the train, in meetings, whatever, my Treo rules.

    As a side note, it feels VERY much like an early 90s personal computer. The screen resolutions, the performance, etc. all make it very interesting, especially for a small-scale developer. If I wanted to pursue a career as a shareware or very small scall (aka "income replacement" as opposed to "fast burn and flameout VC-funded dot com") developer, I'd take a strong look at the PDA market.

    As a final comment, note the GameBoy - it's something like $89, doesn't even have a (much needed) backlight, and kids are hauling them around everywhere. Or cellphones, for that matter. We're all getting used to hauling around these little devices, it's just a question of what they are going to do & look like.
  • Use it constantly... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by reezle ( 239894 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:40PM (#4745365) Homepage
    I use mine to keep track of where I've been. I travel to many clients, and have to record where I was, and how long I was there, and what I did.
    Every few days I synch it to the computer, and every other week, I sit down and put the information into a time&billing system. I've tried many times to keep a pad and pen in the car to track this stuff, but it never happens. Since I've had the PDA (about a year and a half) I've been MUCH better about tracking my time.

    Also, it plays a good game of cribbage. :-)
  • and have for years. Works great. Also carry around and use my iPod all the time. Looking forward to the two being combined in the next several years.
  • I thought they were fashion accessories for vapid marketing types?

    I had a Palm III once (received as a gift), but there was nothing I could do on it that I couldn't do with a notepad and pencil. Now it sits in a drawer with run down batteries, like 75% of a PDA's i'd imagine.
  • by gaj ( 1933 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:41PM (#4745379) Homepage Journal
    I'm a Palm user. Have been for quite a few years. I was a Franklin Quest user before that. I'm one of those people that needs a planner of some type.

    Lately, though, I find that my Palm Vx sits in its cradle most of the time. I still need the planner, but a palm-top is just too big a pain. I'm so keyboard-centered. I can use Graphiti just fine (faster than I can legibly write), but it is still to much of a shift.

    For my next laptop I'm seriously considering an ultra-light such as the Fujitsu P2000 series. My previous laptop was a Sony Z505ls, and it was almost small and light enough. Too bad the base battery only lasted a hour and a half. Reguardless, something with the following features would be perfect for me:

    1. useable keyboard (must be able to touch type easily on it. I'm willing to get used to a slightly smaller size than standard, but only if it isn't too far off
    2. standard battery life must be at least 5 or 6 hours.
    3. must run a Unix-like OS *well*, preferably Linux. By well, I mean that power management must be fully functional, and all hardware must be supported, with the only excepetions allowed being the internal modem, if there is at least one PCMCIA slot.
      1. Best fit I know of is the P2000 series. I think I could work with that. The Apple iBook is in the running, but all the samples I have examined have seemed cheap and fragile. Perhaps just perception. The keybards do have a lot of flex to them, though. Yuck. Also, sigle button "mouse" is a pain. (yes, I know I can define keys as mouse buttons. so what. when I'm using the pointer I want to use the pointer, not the keyboard, and vise versa)

        Anyway, that's my take. I still like the Palm the best of all the PDAs I've tried, and I still go through stages where I use I quite a bit. Perhaps if it were even smaller and lighter, like the new ones.

  • by jki ( 624756 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:41PM (#4745383) Homepage
    "I think the PDA has become more of a status symbol than a useful tool."

    You think so? I think atleast here in Finland the trend is beginning to reverse - if you carry a communicator - like I do - that is a sign of you being just a workhorse :) If you have the luxury of not needing it - then that's a real status symbol :)

    Anyway, I don't think just the PDA functionality would be enough a reason for me to carry it. But when it is at the same time your only phone, and a use anywhere SSH client then there is enough value.

  • The automatic alarm feature on the PalmOS is incredible. I have some issues with UI, but overall I've loved using my Samsung I300 []. However, I just bought a Sony Ericsson T68i [] with Bluetooth [], IR port, Calendar, and a camera. IMO, the PDA/Cell Phone convergence is most important. I HATE carrying around 2 separate devices when one will do. BTW, email me at if you are interested in purchasing my I300 :) --Joe
  • by Proc6 ( 518858 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:43PM (#4745394)
    PDA's will possibly be useful for the long haul if they would keep slimming them down, upping the battery life, but most importantly, they ALL... and I mean ALL Of them, have to have at least 802.11 but preferably some kind of always on cellular (or other type) connection to the net. The net is what makes most every computer useful, (what do you do with your PC when your net connection is down?, other than play games). So a PDA without a 24/7 nailed up connection to all your other PCs, office, home, and web, to me, is just really missing the boat. And Im not talking about some deck of cards sized wart you can plug into the top. It needs to be inside, invisible, and functioning all the time. Then Id stop putting mine in a drawer.
  • Of course (Score:2, Informative)

    by LegendNH ( 65593 )
    My dad bought me an ipaq (3635 I believe) when I was in my last year of high school. I wrote down every assignment, I set dates to do projects, when they were do etc.... I never lost anything again. In the summer I bought a (1) gig micro drive for it to play mp3's while I walked around my lake.

    In college now, it is like my best friend. I store a backup copy of class notes; many of the handouts (posted online only) are in Word format so I download them to my ipaq and read them off there. I couldn't do it any other way. The only time I print anything out these days are when my professors ask for a physical copy. I can play games in between classes. Listen to music when I work out, take notes, highlight handouts posted online. I store my daily assignments and tasks.

    When I am driving home from class and I forgot to do something, I would pull out my ipaq press the record button on the side and talk to it. When I get home I usually take a break before starting my homework and sometimes I forget what I was supposed to do. I play my recorded message and do what I was supposed to.

    I do so many things on my ipaq I couldn't even name everything. I don't think I could ever go back to pencil and paper again. I do other things like securely store my passwords, I have phone numbers in there, email address's of friends, family, people I am working with on a project etc... The ipaq was by far the greatest school investment for me...

    Also my ipaq case stores my College ID, Drivers License, Credit card, $40, and a phone card. So I don't have to carry around a wallet. My ipaq is truly an all in one device.

    I'm just waiting for the new ipaqs to drop a little so I can replace so I don't have to carry around a wallet. My ipaq is truly an all in one device.

    I'm just waiting for the new ipaqs to drop a little so I can replace my older one and at the same time replace my cell phone.
  • Many people do (Score:4, Interesting)

    by analog_line ( 465182 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:44PM (#4745399)
    I have several clients who might as well have had their PDAs surgically grafted onto them. The first thing they need installed whenever they get a new machine is Palm Desktop.

    I had a PDA for awhile, and there were a lot of neat things you could do with it, but it never really stuck with me. Toward the end of my use of my PDA (an older Palm) all I basically used it for was to play chess in the bathroom. Addresses I keep on my laptop, which is almost always on (or closed and asleep for quick access). It's much easier to take notes on my laptop than my Palm. Syching was always a pain in the rear.

    Guess it just depends on the person. Some people just love them. Some people can't stand them. Different strokes for different folks. *shrugs*
  • All the time. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jonabbey ( 2498 ) <> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:47PM (#4745429) Homepage

    These days I'm carrying around a Sony SJ-30 model, running PalmOS 4.1. Color, 16 megabytes, hi-res screen.

    What do I use it for? My calendar and address book, certainly. As a diabetic, I use it to record all my blood sugar readings. I have a very nice multifunction scientific calculator on it which I use all the time for anything for simple math or better. I have several games on it. I have a dozen e-books on it, which I read whenever I've got an idle moment. I have a dozen of my less-used passwords stored on it in a triple-DES encrypted form using Gnu Keyring. I use Plucker to download and carry around web clippings from national newspapers, and the Austin Chronicle's movie listings and reviews. I have several technical references stored as well, along with some utility calculators for special purpose conversions.

    I carry my Sony around with me all the time; I would feel rather naked without it.

  • tablet? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by simpl3x ( 238301 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:48PM (#4745434)
    well, i just dropped for a Fujitsu table, since it is light enough to carry around, actually has a real screen, and functions as a full computer. the oqo ( sounded cool, but is likely vaporware. and, the ibm version is nifty ( 06_metapad.shtml). i did have a newton, and would have loved a more capable machine with a bigger and better screen, though it wasn't all that useful when syncing is such an error prone process. i do not get syncing! i want a machine that is fully functional, portable--light, and useful as a desktop when docked. for now this ( shtml?products/pentablets/st4000a) is what i got.
  • My iPaq (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:49PM (#4745440) Homepage Journal
    I use my iPaq all the time. I don't even work since I'm disabled, but I use it to store all my contact info, which comes in handy during medical appointments when doctors want to confer with others. I would forget all my various medical appointments etc. without it. And I have alarms set up to remind me to take meds on the strange schedule they require. Also I play MP3s and games, of course. I have software to track diet and exercise, but havent been disciplined enough to use that much yet really. I listen to MP3s and play games or read ebooks while in waiting rooms.
  • by The Famous Druid ( 89404 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:49PM (#4745444)
    I have a friend who worked in an office where several people had identical PDAs. There had been problems with people picking up the wrong PDA after meetings, so he asked my wife to engrave a design on the cover of his, to prevent this kind of confusion.

    He sketched the design he wanted, then fished the PDA out of his bag. The thing was covered with little yellow post-it notes with phone numbers, addresses, and appointment times scrawled on them. There must have been 6 or 8 at least!

    I'd been thnking about getting a PDA myself, but that made me think again.

  • by Fished ( 574624 ) <> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:55PM (#4745502)
    First, I want to observe that all the screwing around with software, syncing, etc. seems to be something that happens mostly with pocketpc's. With palms, most of the software just works. You download it, and install it with a simple, one-time operation. The only software problem I ever had was when I moved to Mac OS X and had trouble finding working palm desktop etc.

    Second ... I use mine to: track my schedule, track my tasks, track my weight, track my diet, track my exercise, read my Bible (in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and English), listen to mp3's, and keep notes. Oh yeah, I use it as a shopping list too. And it has a calorie database for my diet. And I play video games on it. It goes everywhere I go, remembers everything I can't. It has a company phonebook imported, and I"m more likely to use that one than the web-based one.

    Geesh... How could I live without it? It must be confessed, however, that I'm ADD, which makes external organization very important. But still... Join the revolution!

  • by alexandre ( 53 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:57PM (#4745519) Homepage Journal
    personnaly i bought a Palm IIIx and after a year sold it and went back to pen and papers... (agendas) Syncing is annoying and the palm lose everything if you don't have fresh batteries.. i cant forget it in a corner for a long time. I did read some eBooks but it's not really worth it. I did have some fun with the software available but after a week you do something else :)
  • Bad input systems (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AEther141 ( 585834 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:00PM (#4745554)
    The real killer for PDA use is a bad heyboard, or bad pen input (remember the newton?). My favourite PDA is my Psion 3C, simply because of the great keyboard. The point of owning a PDA is tat it's easier to use than paper. If you're scratching away in graffiti at 3wpm, you might as well use a Day Planner and write at 20wpm.
  • Sony Clie... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bretth ( 195183 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:01PM (#4745565) Homepage

    I've been using my Sony Clie every day for the last 6 months. In the past I've owned 2 palms, a Newton, a cassiopeia, an ipaq, and the clie. The Newton was probably the most useful - except for the size. It's size made it nice to write on, but a pain to carry around (still a beautiful piece of technology though). The Ipaq has a great screen, but runs wince and I can't easily carry it in my pocket. The best organiser I've ever had has been the clie. It's got a nice clear color screen and fits in my pocket. The case is pretty scratched from my keys. It has been a pain getting it to sync with Linux, but it's working now. If you have a device running PalmOS, I'd defintely recommend installing DateBk5 [].

  • Yes I do. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:03PM (#4745575)
    I use my PDA constantly. No not every minute of a day, but whenever I need to write something down quickly or get a phone number or even waste a few minutes. My Calendar is there. Contacts, maps for when I go out of town (Pocket Streets), MP3's occasionally, and some games. I also have vxUtil on there which is a nice tool on and off the network (Ping, spread ping, capture html, time synching, and when off, I can figure out netmasks and ip address ranges with ease without having to sketch the patterns out. Calculator is in there too and I save all my travel info in there (Hotel number, Airline, Gate Numbers...). I also use it as a laptop replacement on the road so I don't have to put up with the inane rule that says I must remove my laptop from it's case. With the PDA stuffed in my camera bag, it just goes right thru. I have a modem, WiFi and soon hope to get a ethernet card to sync avantgo at work. I use it to read on the bus too. There are so many uses I can't name them all here. I say go with power because then it will become more of a necessary tool. Some folks don;t use the calendar that much. If that's so, then get a powerful one rather then a palm. PocketPC's are right on the brink of being just fine for most uses. IM's are very useful for keeping LD bills down low. Now if only more airports had WiFi in them.
  • by uncleFester ( 29998 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:03PM (#4745579) Homepage Journal
    I love my Vx. It serves a number of nifty litle uses..
    • Surrogate laptop.. until I become re-employed (and buy my iBook) it subs as a laptop.. ok, more of a compact email/web terminal. Between PalmEudora and AvantGo/EudoraWeb I still manage to get my various mail/web fixes. I only wish I could find a better NNTP client than the few out there so I could sync ASR.
    • Along those lines, AvantGo is great for snagging latest site content from (I can hear the hissing here), AnandTech, BBC, Kernel Traffic (hey, you can roll your own), etc. Nice to read online content while sitting at a park, waiting at an airport, before going to sleep.
    • With pocket telnet/term programs, it makes a GREAT serial console in a pinch. I've used my Palm to reconfigure ethernet stacks and capture kernel oopses (doing that right now to debug an aic7xxx error).
    • Yes input can be a little cumbersome, but you can pick up a keyboard for ~$30 these days.. and I do a few journal entries.
    • I think I have the PDF for Linux LVM1 and a set of release notes for Tru64 in there.
    • When all else fails, I have a good Euchre program and DopeWars. :)
    So yes, I still use my Palm. It's not as fancy or new as the latest crap, but for what it is and what it does, it is and does better than I expected.
  • Useless gadget (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geek ( 5680 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:06PM (#4745609)
    I'm not the office going type. i don't carry a beeper unless the job requires it, i don't carry a cell phone because I don't like people to get a hold of me when it's convienient for THEM. I carried a cell phone for a while on the premis that it was for emergencies only (car accident etc) but that got old, especially when I looked back at the previous 25 years of my life and realized i didn't need one then, why should I now?

    I don't need a PDA. The important phone numbers I need I have memorized (all 4 of them plus 911). My calendar is basic, nothing I can't remember.

    I have a simple life as do most people. These gadgets just make things more complex to us simple folk. I can acknowledge there are people who could use this stuff but honestly, I'd rather have an iPod. It does all the basic functions your typical PDA does plus plays all my music.

    I've never understood the fuss over these things. Maybe some people like being bothered 24/7. I'm sure arguments can be made one way or another, i just don't see how these things have significantly improved peoples lives. If anything I think they degrade the quality of life. Email 24/7? Phone calls 24/7? Being paged when on the toilet? Nah, it's my life, I'll talk to you when I feel like it, after I take a shit.
  • Vindigo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SamIIs ( 65268 ) <.ude.hcetag.htam. .ta. .mAImaS.> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:07PM (#4745614)
    Every person telling a "I don't use my Palm" story is a person that hasn't used Vindigo.

    I agree that using a Palm to hold phone numbers and addresses is a waste of a device. Paper can do that. The useful part of a PDA is it's extension of your computer.

    When I first got my Palm, and saw all the fancy net-capable ones as well, and each time I needed directions, I wished I had one. MapQuest was the part of my computer that I wished I had with me when I wasn't at my computer. Vindigo does that for me.

    Vindigo costs me about $25 per year, and I can load any collection of cities from their list. I mostly just use Atlanta (since I live here), but load vacation cities when I travel. The information they have on each city contains (but probably isn't limited to)

    -every resteraunt and bar, with address and phone number, organized by price and location and genre

    -movie times and locations and summaries

    -maps of the area, with the ability to zoom in and out, AND give walking or driving directions from any location to any other. This feature is linked with the above databases of addresses.

    Now, the information is never completely up to date. It only updates when I synch. But I never need information that's newer than a week old. I needed connectivity on my Palm, but I was ok with a week lag. :)

    Most of what I use my Palm for is Vindigo, now. I still hold phone numbers and addresses and stuff, but when I leave my Palm in my other pair of pants, I can get by without everything except Vindigo.


    (Usual disclaimers apply. I don't work for Vindigo. Just a happy customer.)
  • by Superfreaker ( 581067 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:19PM (#4745699) Homepage Journal
    ..uses his for the sole purpose of calculating sight marks for archery.

    Nifty little program that takes into account, arrow weight, draw length, draw weight, etc, and generates precise "pin" lications for various target yardages.

    He has never sent an email in his life, but somehow figured out how to install the cradle, select the correct COM port, install and synched the device. I was impressed.
  • by Graabein ( 96715 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:20PM (#4745701) Journal
    I tried a traditional Windows CE PDA, but stopped using it after a while. Too bulky, too heavy, too much hassle.

    I used my cell phone (Nokia 7110) instead, just to keep track of phone numbers and jot down notes. Then I got my Nokia 7650 []. I carry around a cell phone all day anyway, but this phone also doubles as a very capable PDA. I can even play Doom [] on it.

    The classic PDAs are converging with cell phones to create a new class of devices that people actually do carry around and use everyday. The sheer volume of phones produced by the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson will ensure that prices will continue to fall, the devices will become smaller and more capable and the traditional PDAs will morph into cell phones or disappear.

  • by 3Y3 ( 302858 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @07:12PM (#4746272)
    I bought mine with the sole intention of trying to make simple games on it. After a few attempts at a Diablo 2 port (You can run around a basic grass level with a necromancer, never got beyond that), I basically gave up on it because it never seemed to be as handy as the old pen & paper combo. Of course, this may be due to myself owning a pen knife that was much cooler then the PDA itself :)

    OtherTechGuy: "I got the newest Palm"
    Me: "I got a pen knife"
    OtherTechGuy: "So..?"
    Me: "I'll cut yah"
    OtherTechGuy: "Here..take the Palm pilot..." (nervously hands me his PDA)

    could you do that with a PDA? I thought not. Now mod me up, or i'll cut yah.

  • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @09:04PM (#4747217) Journal
    It absolutely only depends on the way you live your life. The PDA is a good solution for some people, and a really crappy one for other people. This was illustrated to me with my ipod.

    I got one as a cheap bonus with my ibook during my senior year in college. I used it *everywhere*. Since I walked to and from everything I did, it was permanently inside my jacket, frequently synched with my newest music, always synched with my contacts.

    Then I graduated and started driving to work every morning. The ipod immediately offered me nothing. Sure, it can play in my car stereo, but with a 20 minute drive, I may as well play MP3 CDs. I didn't use it for months.

    Now I've got a new job where the commute includes a 40 minute ferry ride and a 15 minute walk, each direction, every day. I'd shoot myself without my ipod. But I never use the contacts/scheduling features because I can do all that with my PC at work.

    Blah, blah, blah. The point is, PDAs, or any other such device, are useful if your life fits their uses. They don't conform to you. You shouldn't conform to them either. If you're a homebody, drive only between work and home, or home and the bar, your PDA isn't going to do anything for you. If you constantly find yourself not having your information when you need it, get a PDA. This is, at max, like 5% of the population.
  • by UncleRage ( 515550 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @09:11PM (#4747264)
    I must admit, aside from storing necessary information on systems that I'm currently working on, or acting as a chord dictionary; the only real use my Visor has is to annoy and frustrate people.

    Example: I head down to the bar w/ my Visor and find a good place to camp (preferably between the TV & the bartender). When the bartender aims his remote at the TV to change the channel, I lock onto the signal w/ my Remote app and save it. A few minutes later, I turn my Visor's IR port towards the television and set a script to continually change the station every 5 minutes or so.

    Once the bartender is swearing loud enough... I offer to "take a look", fix the problem and drink free beer for awhile.

    And yes, that's free as in beer AS IN free beer.

  • Paper is Cliche (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msheppard ( 150231 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @10:16PM (#4747734) Homepage Journal
    Saying that you can do everything you can do with a PDA with a pad of paper and a pencil is completely CLICHE. It's more a "status symbol" saying you don't need one, and that you use paper and pencil.

    It's going to be very hard getting honost results on any poll about who uses them becuase 'the man' doesn't want that data to become public no matter what it says.

    Personally, I use mine for all the stuff they market them for, plus reading eBooks and astronomy stuff. Given time a lot more people will have PDA's than computers, once they replace the need for a computer. They are already as powerful as some sucesful personal computers.

    Really, I'm suprised slashdot would stoop to this level. Maybe it's a joke and I didn't get it?

  • GNU Keyring (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cutriss ( 262920 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:08AM (#4749552) Homepage
    Nobody'll ever get to read this comment, unfortunately, but I've found an absolutely indisposable app for my Palm - GNU Keyring. Essentially, you use it to securely store account/password combinations. It has its own passphrase which you use to enter the database, and timed lockouts. Everything is stored with RC5-64, IIRC. Plus, it has a built-in password generator which can create random passwords with/without a-z, A-Z, 0-9, symbols, and other stuff, between 4 and 20 characters in length. It makes "secure" web browsing a lot easier when I don't even have to try and remember passwords for my online banking and such.

    Yeah, a single password is a single point of failure, but since the data is stored on my person, encrypted, and password-locked by me, if someone were to get at my account information, I'd probably have more to worry about than someone making a mess out of my credit. Combined with JotLoc (or a superior gesture-based device security system - I'm sure mine isn't that great), it'd take a rather monumental effort to get at my data.

    I also use it to store license keys for software I frequently install. It's really really handy.

    Oh...and of course, since it's open source, it'll settle the stomachs of most /.ers.
  • by ebbe11 ( 121118 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @05:39AM (#4749841)
    Actually, when my first 5mx died in February, I got a new one (well, a second hand one since they are no longer in production..) ASAP, loaded the backup (damn, three weeks old! That'll teach me!) and was up and running again within a couple of days.

    I don't have any of the problems you mention. The Psion runs for about a month on two AA batteries. It is my only calendar and contacts database so I don't synch it with a PC. And once software is installed on it, that software tends to just work.

    But eventually it will give out of course. I just hope that someone launches a decent PDA before then.

  • I love my Palm PDA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @12:06PM (#4751634) Homepage Journal

    I've owned three PalmOS devices over the years and I would hate to live without one. However, I don't think PDAs are for everyone. Too many people are thinking "hey, neat" and purchasing one without thinking about why they want one and what they're going to do with it.

    When I purchased my first PalmOS device, I had a number of very specific goals: I was already carrying a little addressbook in which I recorded appointments, phone numbers, addresses, and various notes (shopping lists, books to consider, ideas for stories). I knew I needed the book (it replaced my existing habit of having pockets full of scraps of paper with nodes), but I had problems with it. I was frustrated that as the book filled and the year passed, I needed to purchase a new book and transcribe everything into it. (I could get a book with removable pages, but they were too large to be comfortable to always carry.) The book certainly wasn't large enough for my never ending stream of notes (my list of restaurants, movies, and video games that others have recommended I check out, my notes of my flash of insight into something I'm doing at work). Also, as a geek, I was uncomfortable having that one book not be safely backed up somewhere else. (True, I could transcribe it, taking up my time, or photocopy it, but if I lose or damage the original my restore process involves buying a new book and transcribing.) Finally, my little book couldn't remind me that I was missing an appointment.

    So, when I looked seriously at my first PalmOS device (a Palm III), I knew specifically what it would do for me. It would hold as much information as I could practically throw at it. It would be backed up to my computer frequently, ensuring the safety of my data. I would never transcribe by hand from one source to another, once it's digital I can copy it easily. And it can beep when appointments come up. Sure enough, it worked perfectly.

    Of course, once I always had a small computer at my side, I started doing additional things with it. While I'm not a big fan of reading books on the small screen, when I'm forced to wait for something (picking up a friend at the airport and the flight is delayed, doctor's appointment, etc), having something to read of my choice is certainly convient. And it turns out that with the keyboard, it's still much smaller than a laptop computer, but powerful enough to do real writing on.

    In fact, the only thing I dislike about various PDAs is the size. Most PDAs, including much of Palm's line, are uncomfortably large. As a result, I upgraded to the much slimmer Palm V. I know other people who purchased the Handspring Razor for the same reason. These days any PDA is more than powerful enough for my needs. I don't need 16MB of memory, 8 is plenty (and if I'm a bit more picky about what books I upload into my PDA, 2 is plenty). I certainly don't need color, I'm just reading text. I need a long battery life and a small size. I will not trade any battery life or size for memory or color.

    Sure, lots of clueless people purchased various PDAs but have no use for them. But there are plenty of people who love their PDAs, use them frequently, and would be very disorganized without them. I know. I am such a person.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.