Mobile Productivity Zen: One Device or Two?

As a Palm user since the old PalmPilot Pro days (with a brief escape to Windows Mobile land), I’ve often had the debate with people about whether its better to have a single phone/PDA combo, or 2 separate devices.

From early on, and at this time, I am a two device user.  I carry a phone (Nokia 6233) and a Palm TX.  On occasion I swap my Palm over for an iPod Touch (though only when I have assured WiFi).

I can see many benefits to going to a single device, but no single device has yet been good enough for me.

A phone is a simple device, whose task it is to make and receive phone calls, SMS and some simple related functions.

A PDA does (or should do) more, including calendar, contacts, web tablet, and some other applications.

There are many devices out there that do both, but none that I’ve seen that do both well.

Smartphones like the Treo family, O2 devices and others make a solid attempt, but these are still primarily a PDA with phone functionality.  Unfortunately, the phone functionality and the stability of the OS for most PDAs (to date) is sub-standard.  Its ok to have to reboot a PDA on normal tasks, but to have to do that before, after or even worse during a phone call is horrible.

Please surprise me, but I’ve yet to find a smartphone that is a good, stable phone.

Sure there are phones out there that have calendar and contact functions, and basic web surfing.  Some go further, but the T9 input is just not up to scratch, IMHO, for rapid data entry.  Syncing that data is sometimes flakey, and its still obvious that there is a compromise going on between the various functionalities.  Oh, and the screen size of most phones is not really good enough for good function.

Maybe its just that I am too used to the form factor of a PDA.

So, I’ll stay in the two device land until something convinces me otherwise.

What I see how ever is a shift back to two devices.  Nokia and Apple with their web tablets are showing that a different UI and form factor has its place in-between the phone and the laptop.  So I am tracking these devices for their suitability to be a good web tablet and a good productivity device (PDA).


Photography enthusiastic, writer, hiker and diving geek from Canberra (and Sydney), Australia. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

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