Thursday, January 29, 2009

PDA Wishlist

I've owned several PDAs: a Psion, two Handspring Visors, a Palm Treo, a Windows Treo, a Dell Axim, a PPC6700 and now an iPod Touch. Here's one more blog from one more blogger about the perfect device.

The next one I buy should have (not in preference order):
  • Touchscreen: So far, the iPod Touch wins. Except for the keyboard part (see below).
  • Bluetooth: for an external keyboard or file transfers.
  • Camera: frankly, this is a "nice-to-have" for me, but it would be nice to have. Doesn't have to be great, but should take photos of whiteboards in meetings or the position of your vehicles after the accident.
  • Real GPS: Not that half-assed wi-fi-dealy that the iPod uses. There's not quite enough public wi-fi around where I hang out. It's just not good enough for the potential of the location-based applications. Google Earth and Urban Spoon rock! But not on the half-assed wi-fi-dealy.
  • Wi-Fi: duh. Good-enough wi-fi that I can use the PDA as a Skype or Fring device.
  • A tactile (even external) keyboard (like the Psion Siena or PPC6700): Remember the folding keyboards for Handsprings? AWESOME. I can total imagine docking my iPod Touch on one of those puppies and being able to ACTUALLY TYPE. And, if it's a keyboard on the device, it needs to have a tiny depression in the center for a stylus to settle so you can type with a stylus if you had too many french fries last night. (This is not my idea, but I don't remember who suggested it to me. I'll give credit if I can remember.) My PPC6700 had a really nice keyboard, but the stylus would slip off of the smooth, rounded keys. I really dislike the Touch keyboard. (Yes, I practice, and yes, I have small fingers, and yes, it's gotten better, but why not make it easy to use out of the box? The auto-complete helps, for sure.)
  • External speaker with hardware control (Apple figured this out in the second generation Touch): I can't tell you how annoying it is to either be deafened, or to not be able to hear something, and have to type in my security password, find the app and then move the volume slider.
  • A solar battery. Just kidding, but wouldn't that be great? Or how about one that lasts a couple of days even when wi-fi and Bluetooth are on?
  • Ability to copy and paste text: Zowie...I can't tell you how frustrating this is on the Touch. And how simple it is on the PPC.
  • A phone with voice and data plan for way less than $70/month, and multiple provider choices: Come ON, Apple/AT&T!!! Is that really necessary? I won't do it, as long as this is my only choice. How about pre-paid plans?
  • Graffiti-like character recognition (or handwriting recognition): Yes, and I still think WordPerfect 5.1 was the greatest word processor EVER. But Graffiti rocks if you have a sucky keyboard like on the Touch.
  • Easy-to-use syncing software: Apple does really with iTunes and the Application Store. I was pretty happy with ActiveSync but not so much the Vista Version. At some point, Microsoft lost the ability for a one-way sync, which is important when you want to have a sad, old device that is simply a consumer of the calendar and contact information. (I still have a Handspring Visor that pulls contact information from Outlook 2007, which pulls from AirSet, which is pushed by Outlook 2003 and acts as an address book in our family room.)
  • Ability to customize the user interface: I LOVED the theme generators for PPC. I don't like the inability to easily group my applications on the Touch. It's just a big, black board with a bunch of sticky notes on it that I have to move one at a time. I'd like to be able to, say, arrange alphabetically or categorize. The drag and drop is clever and intuitive, but somewhat cumbersome if you have a lot of apps.
I dig my first generation iPod Touch; I really do. The second gen has added some of my wishlist items, but not quite enough for me to justify the couple-plus-hundred bucks.

Maybe the next generation of the iPod Touch, or maybe a new Google PDA?


  1. I can't believe I just read something by Susan Ramlet with "half-assed" in it.

    But, I do think that there's a market for an external dockable keyboard for iPod Touch & iPhones. Use Bluetooth to connect and only bring it when you want it.

  2. Absolutely! And I said 'sucky', too.


    I have a Bluetooth fabric keyboard collecting dust...say, since it's fabric, I can use it to dust itself!