Personal service

Can
you really fit a whole PC into something smaller than a sandwich? And
does it actually make your job any easier? Armed with these questions,
Press Gazette charges the frighteningly cutting-edge world of PDAs
(that’s personal digital assistants to you techno virgins)

THE ORIGINAL PalmOne Tungsten E2

£136.30 from Dabs.com

2 Star

At first glance this looked quite light and stylish, but unfortunately that faded away when I turned it on.

The
Palm Pilot was the original PDA and although they\’ve updated it a bit,
the menus look oldfashioned compared with the Windows versions now on
the market. It has the basics such as a calendar and email link-up, but
few of the extras. Tom McCaul

Pros: Small and light; looks stylish

Cons: Lack of features; the software to link it up to your PC isn\’t great

Best for: Someone who wants a PDA but doesn\’t really need one

THE CLASSIC BlackBerry 7290

Price varies depending on contract

3 STAR

I
was determined that testing this was never going to turn me into one of
those pathetic figures on the train, addicted to responding to every
email. But it becomes clear very quickly why the nickname ‘CrackBerry\’
has passed into media parlance. The trouble is, when your email already
dictates your life like an attention-hungry toddler, you may not want
it to intrude any further.

And this thing never sleeps.

With
the extra annoyance that I had it on a setting that seemed to play
havoc with my computer\’s email inbox, I\’d expect to be giving this
thing a very low score indeed. But the truth? I\’m writing this on the
train. Pathetic. Ian Reeves

Pros: It\’s the daddy of PDAs; your staff get to say: \”The best way to contact the editor is on his BlackBerry\”, which they like

Cons: If you don\’t get it set up right, you end up checking every email twice, on your handheld AND on your PC

Best for: Tragic figures who can\’t bear to be without email 24/7

THE ONE WITH SATNAV Acer N35

RRP £229

1 STAR

The
USP of this PDA is that it has GPS but I\’m afraid to say I thought it
was a BOS (bag of shite). Using the GPS nav system in central London,
it took several minutes to \”acquire\”

the necessary satellites
and because it is designed for drivers the directions proved useless to
me (I travel by foot or bike). The computer functions were all fine and
included handwriting recognition and voice memos. Dominic Ponsford

Pros: Booted up quickly; computer seemed to do most things my PC at work does

Cons:
Could only access the internet when connected to another computer (via
wi-fi or USB) so whole thing seemed pretty pointless, really; bulky;
found self longing for notebook, compass and a map

Best for: Those who love to carry bulky pointless electronic gadgets

THE TRENDY ONE i-Mate Jam

£306.34 from Expansys.co.uk

3 STAR

Being
technologically retarded, a PC phone was a major challenge for me, but
i-Mate wasn\’t that scary – once you synchronise your PC data with it,
you can email, surf the net, use mini Word and Excel programs, make
calls and take pictures. You can even scrawl messages on the screen
with your plastic pen, which are then turned into type (although it
seems to have a problem translating rude words). Colin Crummy

Pros: As light as an iPod and doesn\’t look too 1980s as a phone; handy for on-the-spot Googling

Cons: No
hard drive means any new data stored in the RAM will be lost if battery
dies; deleting a file on your PC phone won\’t delete it on your PC
until you synchronise the two again

Best for: On-the-go journos with impressively busy schedules; Etch-A-Sketch fans

THE REALLY SEXY ONE i-Mate Jasjar

£570.17 from Expansys.co.uk

3 STAR

This
machine is like the evil computer in Superman 3 that sucks the woman in
and spits her out as a homicidal fembot. Except this time that\’s a
good thing. You can phone, videophone, email, text, take photos, type
documents, surf the net, play music, watch films. You don\’t need an
office, or even friends. Which is lucky, because after you\’ve
demonstrated the twisty-turny screen with automatically aligning
display and told them \”I can watch videos, you know\” for the 100th
time, you won\’t have any. Alyson Fixter

Pros: It\’s very, very pretty; does absolutely everything

Cons: Expensive; complicated; the handwriting recognition programme is hilariously bad

Best for: Someone with a lot of money and no need of human interaction

Gizmos page is compiled by Alyson Fixter (AlysonF@pressgazette.co.uk)

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