Special Features

By: Dave - March 26th, 2001

People have been keeping me pretty busy with their questions on which device to buy as well as technical questions.  Since I like to focus on working on helping people looking to buy a PDA (whether it be their first or just a new one) find what they want, I thought it might be good to take a look at just a few questions that users are having.

Why would I need color? Could grayscale work just as well for me?
Many people love their grayscale devices while some people with color devices say they can't live without color. The biggest difference comes with what you are doing. If you are just using your device as a planner or address book, then color isn't really needed. Grayscale will give you a better battery life and often times, it works better in extreme lighting conditions. If you are planning to play lot of games, watching movies, or viewing pictures, a color screen would be something you would defiantly need.

33MHz or 300Mhz?
Once again, the question is what are you going to do with your device. You might have heard that a 33Mhz processor on a Palm device runs as fast as a Pocket PC (that is no a fact, but a rumor). Thought it might seem like applications start at the same speed, it is a combination of different architectures and distributions of resources. Chances are, based on other questions, processor speed will be basically decided for you, but if you still have to make a decision consider what you are going to do with the deice and how much you are willing to spend.  Think to the future, because like most things inside your PDA, this cannot be upgrade.

How much memory do I need? How can I figure this?
What are you going to do with your device? (See a pattern forming here?) That question once again is something you need to ask yourself. If you are playing games, listening to music, or watching movies, you are going to need more memory. For some of these tasks, you might consider using an external memory source since they tend to be much larger (storage wise) and you can change (swap) them when you need more memory. You are always best off to get the most on board memory you can. Why? YOU WILL FILL IT UP. No matter what you are doing, you will fill it up. Even if you just want an address book and maybe to be able to read ebooks oh yeah, and contacts tasks maybe some games a PIM or two... some Mazingo channels BOOM, your device is full. Plan ahead. Buy a little more if you can afford it. Even if you don't see how you could use 16mb instead of 8mb, or 64mb instead of 32mb you will figure it out soon after you start really using your PDA.

What are the pros of memory expansions vs. onboard memory?
Pros of Expansions 
Come in sizes over 1gb

Pros of onboard memory
Drains battery evenly (different expansion cards need different amounts of power)
Always connected
Can be redistributed to Program memory instead of storage memory

SD or CF? Which is "really" better?
This really depends on what you are going to do with your device. If you need memory, then both SD or CF could cover you, but if you need a network card, camera, modem, or other expansion, right now, CF has that covered, and SD, not so much. In the memory situation, SD is smaller then CF which makes larger storage sizes and cheap prices more scarce (right now at least). CF has been around for much longer and comes in sizes far bigger then SD. Eventually speed and security are suppose to be a major part of SD, but as of right now, speed is debatable and security has not been implemented yet. If you want expansions (meaning peripherals), then SD is not good at all. Right now the only SD expansions are bluetooth and memory of course. CF has man expansions built for it including networking, modems, connectivity solutions, wireless, cameras, and more. Which is better? That is up to what you are doing with your device.

Do I need or even want Bluetooth or 802.11b integrated?
If you can afford to pay a little more to get an integrated solution, it is probably a good idea. Chances are somewhere in the near future you will see Bluetooth solutions integrated into more products as well as 802.11b networks popping up more and more. If you don't have it integrated you will probably will have to buy it as an expansion pack (whether that be in an SD, CF, or proprietary form). It all really depends on what you will use your device for and how much extra you want to put in up front. If you have a laptop or desktop with bluetooth or plan to print a lot from your device, consider getting a device with bluetooth integrated.  This could make syncing faster and printing easier.  Also if you using a cell phone and are interesting in using it to transfer data to a mobile computer, you might consider getting a bluetooth phone to connect to a PDA with integrated bluetooth.

The Compaq and HP merge worries me? Are my worry warranted for what will happen to products released by these companies?
Mergers of companies are something to consider when looking that what products to buy. I would say there is a strong chance that both the Jornada and iPAQ will be supported through the next operating system release. Now that could be simply through the 560 series Jornada's and the 3800 series iPAQ's, or there could be a couple more product releases before the merge. Either way, the product you buy before the merge, will be supported at least for a little while. Just remember to jump at the chance to upgrade. Don't wait around when HP/Compaq has decided to go with only one line of PDA's and offers a product update...otherwise the merge will be a problem for you.

Keep the questions (and comments) coming.  I love to hear from you and chances are, if you have a question about something, the answer will not only be helpful to you but others in the community.

Feel free to email me about your own PDA, questions, comments, articles, rumors, and reviews.  I can be reached at dave@davespda.com.