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In 2001 I bought a Palm Vx which I had to resurrect twice (I smashed the display once, and it started getting flakey more recently). I think it's dead for good now (frequent hangs and crashes meaning maybe the RAM has gone bad somehow.) I have liked the utility of having an address book, calendar, and notebook in my pocket all the time, and that I can synchronize it with my Macintosh computer (alas lately through an iBook G3 since newer Palm Desktop software doesn't recognize the old unit).

Whenever I look at reviews of potential replacements, the focus is on all the apps, its WiFi, and media playing capabilities. One would assume that the basic features are all equivalent and work fine, but I have learned that is an unequivocal bad assumption. A key problem for me is synching with OS X as that seems to be frequently an afterthought, so it is often the most limiting factor. I have looked at replacing my cell phone (Vigrin Mobile pay-as-you-go — another limiting factor) but cell phone companies are the most prolific liars about their products (especially when it comes to nuances of features).

I should be able to enter address book, calendar, and notebook data on either the computer or the PDA. Synchronization should take place over USB or BlueTooth. From the home computer, the data should either sync to Apple's suite (Address Book, iCal, and preferably notes as files) or be able to be imported and exported in text (comma- or tab-separated) or at least XML. The PDA should support complete searches (e.g. on my Palm, I can search for a phone number and find its owner, or search on any field). The data should be protectable by password on an item-by-item basis (I had been using TealLock which supposedly encrypted my Palm data when locked).

The PDA should truly be pocket-sized, and although I'm not overly concerned about price, things in one's pockets are prone to breakage and loss, so cost is an issue for those reasons. An iPhone, therefore, is plausible, but I wouldn't be using the phone features (I don't think it'll work on Virgin Mobile née Sprint) and without a plan, it's one of the most expensive options. I also saw this LG Android which apparently works pretty good without a plan (per one reviewer's comments).

asked Jan 20 '12 at 11:42

jolshefsky's gravatar image


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Essentially any iphone/ipod touch or android smartphone will give you the basic pda capabilities. I am currently using an iphone 3gs for this, and while it has some gaps in functionality (such as no week view in calendar, no repeating events per day of week, etc'), these can be worked around. Both will sync with outlook and/or google calendar/notes.


answered Jan 23 '12 at 01:49

Aryeh%20A's gravatar image

Aryeh A

IPod Touch!! There is a week/multi-day view, turn device landscape. You get WAY more out of a iPod touch or IPhone than any PDA. Just the standard features would but with apps, it can e whatever you wish


answered Jan 24 '12 at 10:29

Moomba's gravatar image


When my Clié (PalmOS) started crashing on me too often I replaced it with an iPod Touch (aka iTouch), which is essentially an iPhone without the phone—virtually all iPhone and most iPad applications will work fine on the iTouch.

I chose to set it up to sync with Google's Exchange service so my contacts (addressbook) and calendar were easily accessible from the iTouch or from any computer with a 'net connection and a web browser. For notes, I use PlainText which is Dropbox aware. It's not as convenient as the automatic sync through Google's Exchange service, but it does work.

The hardest part of the transition was extracting the data from the Clié's various .pdb files and converting them to something that Google could import, but my situation there was slightly unusual; I suspect that if you still have access to your data through any kind of desktop software you will be able to export the data easily.

Overall, the iTouch has worked out better for me than the Clié did even when it was working well.


answered Jan 24 '12 at 10:37

Heptite's gravatar image


I'd second the mention of an iPod touch. If you really only want PDA functionality then an entry level model or even a 2nd hand 3rd generation one should be fine. It seems as though the 3rd gen units are selling at bizarrely high prices on ebay, so a new 8GB model would probably be the best deal. It will sync over usb or bluetooth, or wifi, and will also (optionally) sync automatically via iCloud.

The most notable feature you list that isn't built-in is the per-item encryption, although there is likely to be an app that will do that with notes. The device does have strong whole-disk encryption that protects it while locked (with remote-wipe or automatic wipe after 10 failed logins as user preferences), but when unlocked all items are visible.

Items in the built-in apps are globally searchable, but if you bought an app for per-item encryption, these would only be searchable thorugh whatever interface the app itself provided.


answered Jan 24 '12 at 10:39

robin's gravatar image


Yup--iPod touch. I followed roughly the trajectory jolshefsky describes--from Visor from Handspring, moved to a low-end Palm when the Visor wouldn't synch with Mac, and then the Palm died/did not seem adequate. I love my iPod Touch 4th generation as a pda. Several free apps to access calendar and other PDA functions. The one app I've paid for & glad I did is GoodReader, which can synch up with Dropbox files for notes, databases, etc. (This app does more--I mention merely what I use it for.) Beyond pda functions, you can also search the web, catch up on your RSS reading, and more.


answered Jan 24 '12 at 10:48

Jlaurel's gravatar image


I'd also recommend an iPod touch. It's basically an iPhone without the phone; all data exchange is handled over Wi-Fi. As mentioned abovbe, any iPhone, iPod Touch, or Android device should offer the ability to sync your calendars wirelessly, without effort on your part beyond a little setup. I use GMail and Google Calendar for my iPhone, and when I update the calendar in one place, it automatically updates in the other (so long as my iPhone has internet access, which it generally does).

While I've owned both Apple and Android devices, I'd recommend an Apple device for you over an Android device. Something you may have heard about Apple's stuff is "it just works". Their support is great, too. Android devices tend to be a little more whiz-bang (Bigger screen! More megapixels! Battery-draining LTE connection!) and the need to differentiate Android devices from those of other Android manufacturers tends to result in customized builds that aren't able to take advantage of new software updates to the Android OS.


answered Jan 24 '12 at 11:11

jackofbears's gravatar image


edited Jan 24 '12 at 11:13

iPod Touch is an excellent solution. However, it sounds like you might be Apple-averse. I am also a Virgin Mobile customer and have been happy with the LG Optimus V smart phone. Pretty basic Android phone, running version 2.2. Not flashy but quite competent and usually well reviewed for what it is. Only downside I have with it is that internal memory is quite limited (200MB I think). You can expand external memory using micro-SD but some app's force you to store on the phone itself.


answered Jan 24 '12 at 12:35

pterhune's gravatar image


Oh my gosh, this is going to be your EIGHTH vote for an iPod Touch! If I were an advertising consultant for Apple, and they wanted me to come up with an ad campaign for the perfect customer for an iPod Touch, it would be YOU!

@pterhune, I don't think the inquirer is Apple-averse. He mentions wanting to sync up with his Apple Suite, and is interested in something that works with OSX.

What he's not keen on is getting an iPhone. He doesn't want to be tied to a big contract (doesn't trust the phone companies) and he doesn't necessarily need a smartphone.

Seriously, I can't think of a better product than the iPod Touch. It was designed JUST FOR this fellow!

My suggestion is to just stick with a relatively plain phone (maybe a pay-as-you-go option) and get an iTouch (iPod Touch). You can actually install Skype onto your iTouch so when you're home with wifi access, you can chat with people right from your iTouch.


answered Jan 24 '12 at 14:35

Teni's gravatar image


edited Jan 24 '12 at 14:37

ipad for the win


answered Jan 24 '12 at 15:06

crash893a's gravatar image


Pay as you go phone -- I've got a basic model TracFone. Buy time/minutes in bulk (online), and the cost averages around $10 a month! I'm swimming in minutes, more than I can use, b/c I generally only use when traveling. You've got to keep the "amount of time left" up to date in order to hang onto your assigned phone number, as well as purchase minutes separately, but that's the only catch. Text, talk, and nothing else. A real dumb phone. I couldn't be happier.


answered Jan 25 '12 at 07:02

Jlaurel's gravatar image


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Asked: Jan 20 '12 at 11:42

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Last updated: Jan 26 '12 at 10:11

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