Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Todd Asks: What PDA Should I buy?

Todd Bailey emailed me asking for my recommendations on what PDA to buy. I thought it might be interesting for others to chime in as well, plus I’d have my thoughts on it here for posterity.

Todd’s initial email:

I’m looking for many basic functions:
  • spreadsheets to compile lists
  • large address book
  • basic word processor
  • (preferably) colour display
I don’t need any flashy modem or camera.

What is the advantage of bluetooth?

What would you recommend? I’ve mainly been looking at the Palm and Sony Clie; some of the Compaq.

No desire to deal with Futureshop.

Would be willing to spend up to $350-400.

Best place to buy?

I’ve found the Sony Clie’s to be great. Sony seems to be doing a better job than Palm at putting together really nice, solid feeling products that have lots of integrated functionality.

You really only have basic needs, so I would stick with the Palm platform. Once you start looking at the PocketPCs, the price goes up, the battery life goes down, and it doesn’t really give you that much more (until you start spending serious coin, at which point you may as well buy a TabletPC or a laptop!)

There are freeware apps to do lists and word processing, but many of the Clies come with Documents To Go, which integrates with Excel and Word.

From the list of stuff you mentioned, I don’t see any need for colour. The new Clies all feature black text on a white background, which is much easier to read than the green/gray background. However, colour doesn’t cost that much more these days.

Bluetooth is a short-range wireless protocol. However, pretty pricey these days, and an upcoming wireless standard called UWB looks like it will be faster, longer-range, and consume less power, so Bluetooth’s days may be numbered. The adapters, for both handhelds and PCs, tend to cost almost as much as a handheld. Hold off – you don’t need it right now, and will be able to get an adapter after the fact.

If you don’t want to go to Future Shop, the Compucentre in Rideau Mall is really good, especially for handhelds. The guys know their stuff without being pushy.

I have the PEG-SJ20, which looks to be around $230CDN right now (black and white). There is an SJ22, where the only difference is colour, that is ~$300.

The next jump up has more features (the SJ3xx series), and is ~$400+. If I wanted one with an included MP3 player, I might go for the SJ33, which is colour and has MP3 playback at ~$500, but that is definitely going beyond basic functionality.

So, in summary, I think the PEG-SJ20 or -SJ22 would be the best choices for you. They both come with 16MB of space built in. Mine is only half full, and I have a couple of dozen pictures on it. You can add MemoryStick media in 16MB, 32MB, 64MB, or 128MB sizes, but that is easy to add down the line.