Ah, the promise of convergence: the idea that eventually we’ll be able to carry one little device that is a phone, a PDA, a camera, a web browser, an email client; a PC for that matter. This has seemed so close for so long, but it has proven hard to get the details right.
I had a T-Mobile Pocket PC phone back in ’02 that I thought was “the one.” It looked good on paper (most everything but the phone, in the list above), but it just didn’t work reliably. So after moving from a Motorola Star-Tac, Palm Pilot and Motorola PageWriter 2000 (remember those? they rocked) to that device, I reversed course and un-bundled into the devices I’m carrying right now: a Motorola cell phone, a Palm Tungsten C, and a Blackberry 7290. Oh yeah, and an Olympus Stylus Verve digital camera, for times when my wonderful Nikon D70 is too big.
Then I got this job at Microsoft, and I decided to look into Pocket PC phones once again. I want to play around with developing some applications for the Windows Mobile platform, and I also thought it might be good to do some research on the current state of small-device convergence. So after a bunch of reading on-line and swapping emails with a few people who know a lot about such things, I think I’ve found a winner: the Imate PDA2K.
I don’t actually have one in my hands yet, since they’re back-ordered most places, but I have one on order and should have it in 7-10 days. I’ll start posting details here when I get it, but these are some of the things I like based on the reviews I’ve read:
- it has a slide-out backlit keyboard; not having a backlit keyboard is a pain in the ass if you’re trying to type in the dark (something I’ve been known to do)
- it works well with pretty much every cellular provider on the planet, and is very popular with international travelers (another thing I’ve been known to do)
- it has a nice integrated camera
- the web browser has a true Java virtual machine; sorry, Blackberry, but the lack of that really sucked
- I like the way it looks
The bad news is the price: $800. But hey, if this is truly the silver bullet I’m hoping it is, I’ll use it so much the next couple of years that the price will seem insignificant compared to all the value I’ll get out of it. Right? We’ll see …