Monday, March 01, 2004

Whither next?

Mike Rhode has an interesting post about whether PDA OSes will scale up to add new functionality, or whether desktop OSes will scale down to work on pocketable devices. You can read the post and my comments here.


When I decided to move from the T|T to a T|E, I was aware that the main feature I would lose was Bluetooth. I had heard from a reliable source that there would never be OS5 Bluetooth drivers for the BT-SD card because the absence of those drivers was a marketing decision: if you want Bluetooth you must buy a more expensive Palm. So I stopped to analyze my use of Bluetooth on the T|T. I came to the following conclusions:

1. Text messages were cheaper and more efficient than mobile e-mail for sending messages to my wife while I was away from home.
2. I am obsessed with answering, or at least contemplating, e-mail as soon as it arrives, but nothing comes by e-mail that could not wait 24 hours, and I am (almost) never away from a connected desktop for more than 24 hours.
3. The only exception to 2, i.e. when I am away from a desktop for some time, is when I go to our cottage in the Dales, but there is no mobile signal there either, so Bluetooth to mobile does not help. I might as well take a laptop.
4. Though my phone (Fisio 825) has GPRS, my carrier does not support it, so I am limited to GSM data connections at 9600 baud and 10p per minute: so slow and expensive that there is no pleasure in it.
5. Bluetooth hotsyncs are fun but slow, and a retractable sync'n'charge cable connected to the USB port on my keyboard makes no extra clutter.

So I made the switch. But I failed to sell the T|T (the accessories went well, but not the device) and still have the Fisio, so when I knew that we would be making a visit to my mother-in-law last weekend, I decided to load up the T|T with Versamail, WebPro and Avantgo and use it as a mobile internet device.

I really enjoyed the 'wirelessness' of it: I left my phone in my coat pocket and sat in an armchair checking e-mail and reading PDA 24/7 without anyone taking me to be anti-social (in the way that hunching over a laptop is always frowned upon in social settings ;-). However, the slowness of teh connection made looking anything up on the web a real pain: getting weather forecasts for our return jouney took 7 minutes, and for anything other than a quick send and receive of e-mail, it would have been cheaper to go to an internet cafe.

So my experiences this weekend re-inforced my previous opinion: Bluetooth on a Palm allows it to do some fun things, but in the long-run, I would prefer to do those things at a desktop.