Special Features

Operating Systems
By: Dave - 12/17/2001

Students use their devices for a variety of things.  Some use them simply for the look of having one, some play games, and others use them for more practical school applications.  Based on what they use them for, students tend to have different devices.  Often, students receive devices as gifts from family, so the choice on what they will use them for actually decides itself.

I find most students use Palm OS based devices.  There are a few reasons for this.  Palm OS devices tend to have the name ("Palms") that people are used to hearing, and often draw attention.  Another thing that draws attention to these devices are the price tags  The cost of owning a Palm OS device is low.  A low priced device will be bought by many students.  There is no doubt about that.  Overwhelmingly, the devices I see most are the Palm m1xx (100, 105, 125) series.  Why is this?  They are the cheapest devices on the market.  They are small, with a sleek design (especially when you compare them to the Palm III series devices and the Visor Solo and Deluxe).  Many students that have these simply use them as an address book and planner.  I actually doubt that many of them even plug them into their computer.  Palm OS devices also tend to have the battery life that student like.  Long.  It is easy to forget to charge up your device at night, and with some devices, if you don't recharge them, you won't be using them the next day.  

Students generally use the Palm OS based devices for an address book and planner.  Students that know a little about computers are able to find specialized software to help them keep track of events and activities better with there device, as well as perform other personal information management (PIM) tasks.  There are a select number of students that actually use their devices to take notes on in class.  The students that use their device for notes, often have become good at using the Graffiti input method.  Some students prefer to use a keyboard to input there notes, though in some classes this can be more of a bother then a help.

There are less students that use a Windows CE (Pocket PC) based device.  An extremely small number of students use Handheld PC's (clam shell devices that have an attached keyboard).  Though in some cases I think an HPC could be a good idea, they tend to be to expensive for students.  Students that use Pocket PC's tend to know a little more about computers.  They often use there device for more then just an address book, planner, or note pad, and use more of the multimedia functions (such as MP3 and video playback).  Games are also another application you will see more often being played by a student with a Pocket PC then a student with a Palm OS device.  Since the Pocket PC's also tend to be more expensive, students tend to use these devices more frequently and knew what they wanted to use it for when they bought it.

What do you want to do with your device?  Do you think it will mainly be an address book and planner, or will you being using more multimedia rich applications?  How much money do you have to spend on a device?  Answering these few questions can help you to narrow down selecting a device.  Students need to look around their classrooms and see what other students are using their devices for.  Talk to them.  They will know if they think the device they are using was a good buy or not worth the price.

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