Since the Palm Pilot debuted in the 1996 and established the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) market, many had no doubts that, one day, PDAs will approximate the power of a personal computer.
That time is here – thanks to rapid advances in flat-screen & wireless technologies, as well as in flash memory – and there’s no company that understands it better than the original creator, Palm, Inc.
Just put your hands in one of their newer models – be it the Treo 680 (or, its Windows Mobile counterpart, the Treo 750), the Palm T|X or, their only model in the “mobile manager” category, the LifeDrive – and you’ll be amazed at the things these little devices can do. These devices had come a long, long way from being the simple electronic organizers that keep your notes, addresses, memos and loaded with simple apps like date book, calculator, note taker and an expense tracker.
I was surprised at the wireless capabilities of these handhelds today. Using Hands High Software’s WiFile Pro (WiFile LT is bundled free in the Palm software CD), I was able to access either Mac or Windows networked files so easily (wow!…really, hassle-free), via the built-in WiFi capabilities of the T|X or the LifeDrive.
With their Treo series, Palm was able to address the needs of users who like to have a phone integrated with their PDAs. And with the LifeDrive, Palm is still trying its hardest to assuage notebook computer users to swap them out with this pocketable device instead.
How about in its core business segment – the handheld or, the original PDA market? Palm realized that slowly and surely, the PDA market is undergoing convergence with telephony/wireless and that PDAs will soon integrate all the features of these mix. The Palm T|X is a case in point.
Except for a phone feature, the $299 Palm T|X packs in its 3.08″ x 4.76″ x .61″ shell, all the features of a decent Internet-capable home computer. Load it with the appropriate software & you’ll be surprised how easy it is to access your home (even your company’s) networked files, copy DVD movies (thanks to its SD/SDIO/MMC-capable slot as well as the fantastic storage capabilities of these stamp-sized memory devices) for viewing on your long commute or, simply browse the Web (WiFi’s built-in) for any information of your liking.
PQ Computing Inc’s $35 application, Pocket DVD Studio (for Palm/Pocket PC) can compress a 3-hour DVD movie into, approximately, a 368 MB .avi file – or, .wmv if you want . So, if you have a 2GB SD card in your Palm T|X, you can easily fit about 4 to 5 full-featured movies!
Some would say that for $299, you could buy a used, middle-end notebook & have much use for it than these “overpriced gadgets”. True. But, the last time I checked, these notebooks are still put into carrying bags & slung on shoulders. They still don’t fit inside my favorite shirt’s pocket.
Palm – and all handhelds in general – had indeed come a long way from being a nerd’s show-off gadget to an alternative device for people on the go who hates carrying that hefty notebook.