• Which PDA has the best basic functions?

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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).

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    Question by jolshefsky

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.

Answer by 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

Answer by moomba

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.

Answer by heptite

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.

Answer by robin

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.

Answer by jlaurel

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.

Answer by jackofbears

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.

Answer by pterhune

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.

Answer by teni

ipad for the win

Answer by crash893a

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.

Answer by jlaurel

ipod touch (or iphone if you're so inclined). I've owned everything from the Palm V, Handspring, Kyocera Smartphone, WinCE phones, iPhones, Blackberries, Android devices, and so on and so on. I know what you mean about the palm being so wonderfully designed, the iphone/touch are in the same arena. The Android is very open and lets you do a lot of customizations, but I find the core set of apps (calendar, mail, todo, etc.) very cumbersome. I've spent a ton on Android apps trying to see if I could find something better, but no luck.

With the iphone, the core set of apps are the best I've ever seen and with Siri, the iphone is even more amazing. Trust me, if you can afford the iphone with Siri, you'll never want anything else.

And if you really love Palm that much, there's a palm emulator for the iphone that will let you install palm apps (and it comes with the core set of palm apps). I think it's called StyleTap. I haven't tried it, but it looks promising.

Answer by jradi72

I was in the same boat - but Garmin iQue3600 which was a Palm disguised as a GPS. I too went iPod Touch. I did add Appigo's TODO to round out my perverse need to have a Task list in Outlook that is huge and needed more than the Touch's task type list.


Answer by greg

I certainly agree with the recommendations for an iPod Touch. Several users have characterized the device as an iPhone without the phone; that's only somewhat accurate. Phone calls can be conducted over a WiFi connection with Skype and other VOIP Services. Occasional calls could even be placed through one of the G3 WiFi hubs. Apple has their own brand of these services: Facetime (which is great if you're talking to other Apple users with Facetime-capable devices). With Skype, you can connect with users running Skype on their computers (or mobile devices). You can also purchase prepaid time for outgoing calls to cell phones or landlines. Google Voice is another service with an iOS app and gateways to the dial network; I haven't ever used Google Voice.

One other fun option is to get a GPS puck accessory for the iPod Touch. These either connect to the device's dock connection (bad) or via Bluetooth (much better). There's a myriad of iOS Apps available in the App Store for all sorts of outdoor activities: navigation while hiking, logging your path, geocaching, etc. Remember Murphy's law: never use a GPS as your sole source for navigating outdoors. When the iPod Touch has no GPS signal, the built-in map application will use local WiFi signal identifiers to compute your location. I'm rather astonished at how well this device can find your location in a WiFi-rich environment. Note: you're not actually connecting to those WiFi base stations; the device is just using the base stations' identifiers to help you find your location.

I think that the iPod Touch terrifies the cell phone carriers. Heaven help the carriers if a large percentage of our population realize they rarely need cell phone service.

Answer by floatingbones

I'm currently leaning toward the Samsung Galaxy 4.0 — an Android Gingerbread device. It's got a better camera than the iPod Touch (3.2MP) a microSD slot for up to 32GB more (per card) and built-in GPS which is something I think would be cool (my Garmin eTrex also died — despite repeated attempts to clean and reseat the display connector). I'm going to stop by BestBuy to try it out. I'm leery that the Android synchronization is woefully inadequate. But because it's popular, I see several aftermarket solutions that help it work with OSX.

As for comments about being Apple-averse, I'm finding Apple to lean a little too heavy on "evil" (per Google's "don't be evil" priority which they too have also been dancing around a bit). I don't like cloud or network storage (e.g. both Apple and Google), especially if I can't guarantee the data is encrypted before it is sent. Both make all kinds of promises about security, but I need exactly zero occurrences of my lists of passwords (including web hosting, FTP, PIN's, financial institutions, etc.) to get borrowed by anyone. That said, I do use Google Voice and GMail, but with a cautious eye.

Answer by jolshefsky
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