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I am shopping for a new phone (mine is a Samsung VGA1000 640x480 camera phone for Sprint PCS from October, 2003) and a new PDA (I am still using a COMPAQ iPAQ H3635 from September, 2001; it runs Windows for PocketPC 2002, a CE 3.0-based OS, and it has a 200MHz Intel StrongARM processor with 32Mb RAM and 32Mb Flash ROM).

Nowadays, I mainly need good PDA features (POP or IMAP, browsing, synchronization, data transfer, MP3s, AVI, and perhaps 3G features). GSM/EDGE are a definite plus, but I am prepared to rent a phone when I go over to Europe or Asia.

My top choices are:

  • Palm Treo 700w
    MobileTechReview editor's rating: 4.0 / 5
    312 MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor
    32Mb RAM / 128Mb Flash ROM
    LCD screen: 240x240
    OS: Windows Mobile 5
    Other: EVDO, no 802.11b WiFi, Bluetooth, 1.3 megapixel camera
    Cellular/wireless service by VerizonSprint or Alltel
    New subscriber cost: $499, $399 with $45/month unlimited data plan

  • UT Starcom XV6700
    MobileTechReview editor's rating: 4.5 / 5
    416 MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor
    64Mb RAM / 128Mb Flash ROM
    Other: EVDO, 802.11b WiFi, Bluetooth, 1.3 megapixel camera
    LCD screen: 240x320
    OS: Windows Mobile 5
    Cellular/wireless service by VerizonSprint or Alltel
    New subscriber cost: $399

  • Cingular 8125
    MobileTechReview editor's rating: 4.0 / 5
    195 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP850 processor
    64Mb RAM / 128Mb Flash ROM
    Other: quad-band GSM, EDGE class 10, 802.11b WiFi, Bluetooth, 1.3 megapixel camera
    LCD screen: 240x320
    OS: Windows Mobile 5
    Cellular/wireless service by Cingular
    New subscriber cost: $349

  • RIM BlackBerry 8700c
    Intel Hermon/PXA901 processor
    OS: RIM BlackBerry
    Cellular/wireless service by Cingular



Poll #680415 Bana's new PDA phone

Which smart phone should I get?

Palm Treo 700w
3(37.5%)
UT Starcom XV6700
2(25.0%)
Cingular 8125
0(0.0%)
RIM BlackBerry 8700c
2(25.0%)
Other
1(12.5%)

If Other, what model?

Please supply a URL to a review or spec sheet if you picked Other:



Edit, 13:50 CST Sun 26 Feb 2006 - I called Verizon and learned that they cannot sell plans to people living in Manhattan, KS, which doth suck, yea verily. So, it's Alltel or bust, because I'm not inclined to buy another plan from Sprint, and hell will freeze over before I willingly deal with Alamosa again.



--
Banazir

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
dorukai
Feb. 26th, 2006 11:44 am (UTC)
I find phone/PDAs exceedingly annoying to use.
They can be competent PDAs, but in doing so become kind of crap phones usually - especially if you go for the ones that only have a touchscreen keypad. Ugh.

It's also a PITA to not be able to talk on the phone because you blew your battery playing The Secret of Monkey Island or something :D
banazir
Feb. 26th, 2006 04:45 pm (UTC)
My PDA and phone needs: notebook computer substitute
Here's the thing: I need 802.11b more than I need light and food.

My main constraint is that I already have a push-to-talk FMRS radio (mile range walkie-talkie), a PDA, and a cell phone, and so right now I can either carry my PDA or my phone without looking like a Batman wannabe.

I can live without any phone access, as long as I have a Skype-capable device, because that means that in the worst-case, I can use SkypeOut. (Modulo 911 dialing, for which I don't consider cell phones reliable anyway, I can reach anyone I need to in a pinch.)

This PDA phone is mainly for indoor use. Outdoor use is kind of optional. The emphasis is on PDA. Phone would be nice, but I currently have one, with a nice $30/month Sprint plan that has good coverage, even if it drops calls during busy hours due to Sprint's astoundingly incompetent policies. (I just learned from Dan Andresen on Friday that they allocate base stations based on number of phones sold in this campus town, rather than number of phones actually present in the area.) I would be willing to go to $45 for unlimited data, but right now I'm looking at a price hike to $80 a month for data + phone.

As for games, while it would be nice to have a good MAME (Multi-Arcade Multi-Emulator) system like my current iPAQ, this is not mandatory. I almost never play games on a PDA. I do use IE, and I would use Outlook for notes, calendar, and IMAP. E-mail is an absolute must: this is a notebook computer substitute. Text messaging, pictures, and video, not so much.

Battery life on my iPAQ went from 7.5 hours at my original levels of usage (mainly as a sporadic note-taking device) to 1.5 now (heavy 802.11b usage). I'll bet it would still get 2-2.5 without WiFi, but hey, as long as I can use it while plugged in, I'm good. Power, I'll generally have; it's wirelss I need.

--
Banazir
dorukai
Mar. 1st, 2006 10:07 am (UTC)
Re: My PDA and phone needs: notebook computer substitute
Maybe a teeny notebook would serve your purposes better? :D
I love my 12" powerbook for portability.

Hehe. It seems like you know your requirements fairly well though, and my knowledge of current PDAs is slight, and it doesn't seem like you're after a phone substitute as such, so my work here is done!
kaladhwen
Feb. 26th, 2006 10:29 pm (UTC)
It's also a PITA to not be able to talk on the phone because you blew your battery playing The Secret of Monkey Island or something :D

Roflol. Sounds like how I use my PDA. ;)

Plus, Bana, if you get a PDA and phone separate, you can talk on the phone WHILE you play Secret of Monkey Island and the many other addicting games I'm sure you'll download. ;)
dorukai
Mar. 1st, 2006 10:03 am (UTC)
I had such grand plans when I got my PDA. In the end it was fantastic for playing Lucasarts adventure games on public transport :D

You're clearly a person of taste!
kaladhwen
Mar. 1st, 2006 10:51 pm (UTC)
LOL!!

Hmm, I read that he needs a phone/PDA combination for sure... I guess he could put the phone on speaker phone and continue to play games... ;)
dashamus
Feb. 26th, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)
Don't get a smart phone. They suck monkey balls!

Get a phone and a PDA. You wouldn't buy a sofa that was also a table, so why compromise on both things jsut to get a bad middle of the road compromise.

Blackberries suck and look like they are going down.

I would get a Palm (I have a T3, but an looking at upgrading soon)> We have HP IPAQs at work and they jsut seem to complex for ease of use. Palm is easy, friendly and has only ever crshed once, and that was my fault for running the batters to 0.000001% :P

For phones, try SonyErricson. I have had one for the last 5 years (currently on a k750i) and never had a single bit of bother.

S
banazir
Feb. 26th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC)
YMMV - my reasons
Hi, Sham. Thanks for your response; I appreciate the thoughts. There are a few constraints that I haven't made clear, though.

Don't get a smart phone. They suck monkey balls!
They don't look so bad any more, is the thing - but do you have some experience with one recently that would make you recommend against a particular brand?

Get a phone and a PDA. You wouldn't buy a sofa that was also a table, so why compromise on both things jsut to get a bad middle of the road compromise.
Can't. Can't, can't, can't. I have an iPAQ that has sat unused for the better part of 4.5 years as a result. I got my cell phone the same month as my PDA (September, 2001) and carried cell + PDA for 2 years, using each for its own purpose, but both my PDA and phone needs were minimal then. By October, 2003, I had upgraded my phone, and it does more than I need right now (I don't use Sprint Vision PCS for photos, nor the pay-per-Kb wireless web). I would gladly pay $400 for a phone that could sync addresses books (with phone directories) with my notebook, and download them via USB, though.

Other than that - I need my PDA back. I haven't worn it for 2 years because WiFi is such a battery drain; it basically has a quarter the battery life of a normal PDA phone (a factor of 2 due to its being designed for CompactFlash 802.11b rather than built-in; another factor of 2 due to lithium ion battery memory).

But please tell me: what is it about a PDA phone that makes it poor as a phone for you? Some people tell me 2.3 inches is too wide. Dude, I would use my 3.5 inch clunker (3.9 with the CF sleeve) if I could. I teach using a Tegrity system that has a wireless radio, and you have no idea how stupid I would look with 4 things clipped to my belt (phone, FMRS walkie-talkie, PDA, Tegrity). I feel like an idiot with 3 as it is.

i>I would get a Palm (I have a T3, but an looking at upgrading soon). We have HP IPAQs at work and they jsut seem [too] complex for ease of use. Palm is easy, friendly and has only ever crshed once, and that was my fault for running the batters to 0.000001% :P</i>
I have ruled out another iPAQ - I was looking at the HP 6315, and it seems to have a strict subset of the UT Starcom/Verizon XV6700's features.

I hate PalmOS with a passion. I actually need a notebook replacement, because I actually want to do work with my PDAs without walking around with a 7-pound notebook that's 14" on a side. (The size, power supply, and devices are more of a bother than the weight. Touchpads are disgustingly clunky for me, and Windows Vista drains my battery at just over 1% per minute.) I mean that I need apps - Pocket Excel, Pocket Outlook - I would even use PocketDistiller to make PDFs and mail them off if I could. I have a Targus folding keyboard for my old iPAQ that never worked well, but I will almost certainly get another slide-out QWERTY keyboard for the new PDA. Now, that's a tall order for a phone, but if I don't mind talking with an iPAQ (and remember, I'm going to use Skype for PocketPC as much as, or more than).

The Treo 700w I would consider, since it's got Windows Mobile 5, but is there really a difference between Palm and non-Palm then?

The bottom line is that I'd save $45 a month ($35/month instead of $80) by having a good PDA with WiFi, because I wouldn't need wireless data. I could go over my home or uni WiFi networks for VOIP calls, too, which would save rollover minutes. All I would want would be integration between my phone address/number memory and a notebook computer, and between my "camera phone" and USB-capable PCs and notebooks - which is what I'm really asking about. Right now I cannot sync anything: not numbers, not digital photos. That sucks monkey balls.

So there you have it - my reasons only; YMMV.

For phones, try SonyErricson. I have had one for the last 5 years (currently on a k750i) and never had a single bit of bother.
I've had Samsungs for 4.5 years and am quite happy with them - no bother at all, save for the USB data sync limitations. If Sony Ericsson makes PDA phones, though, I would switch.

--
Banazir
(Deleted comment)
banazir
Feb. 26th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
Day planners and memo pads versus PDAs
Hi, Hax.

You raise a good point, and I know how you feel. Most of my colleagues used memo pads or pocket calendars until a year or two ago, and a few still do. Here's my take. I've found that if you only need to take notes, make quick sketches, or write down appointments, a note pad is just fine. Text on the page is nice and freeform, and PDAs are nowhere near "portable Graphire" capabilities yet, not even Tablet PC-competitive. If you need to transfer any kind of formatted data, though, a PDA saves you time. Phone numbers, address books, anything you would have to retype.

We even have environmental science and ecological genomics projects where we need to download data from a weather station or outdoor sensor network to a PDA. Any time you can't transcribe as easily or it would take hours to manually sync, a PDA is good because it saves time and effort, and is less error-prone.

I also like having a voice recorder. I don't do a lot of dictation, but it's nice to have audio recording available in your pocket in case you need it. I suppose the 3G features will come in handy, too, such as when I need to record a tornado that's about to touch down. ;-)

Again, those are just my personal mobile computing needs, and YMMV.

Cheers,
Banazir
(Deleted comment)
susanjacobson
Feb. 26th, 2006 02:18 pm (UTC)
Don't get anything that does not have WiFi capabilities.
banazir
Feb. 28th, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
No PDA without WiFi
Oh, absolutely not: I definitely need WiFi, as I mentioned here and here.

--
Banazir
sze
Feb. 26th, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC)
my job gave me the BlackBerry 7105t and i love it. i barely use my razr anymore. it's quite perfect if you're tied to outlook and everything. it's been rather handy for me to get all my data/email/appointments synched on to it. the browser is rather handy too. nice little compact all in one. but you're tied to the blackberry OS and the possible impending doom of RIM due to the lawsuit :)

kaseido
Feb. 26th, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
yes... but the BlackBerry *bites* for viewing and manipulating attachments: I find myself going, "oh I got a doc I need to look at - better get back to my computer..." which kind of defeats the purpose.

Do you have that problem, or is it okay for you?
sze
Feb. 27th, 2006 02:29 am (UTC)
yeah, attachments are cumbersome due to the small screen but that's with any mobile device, really. we have eOffice on our devices which works fine.
kaseido
Feb. 27th, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC)
Good to hear - I've been thinking of getting eOffice. Thanks!
banazir
Feb. 28th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC)
Attachments
Definitely important for me. Heck, I need Distiller.

--
Banazir
kaseido
Feb. 26th, 2006 06:26 pm (UTC)
I voted for the Treo, which several friends have and adore: full chat software, pretty good camera, very good phone.

I've got the Blackberry 8700c, because I didn't want to expend all my capital at work fighting for the Treo. On the plus side, the phone is *excellent,* and the 8700c is not nearly the lobotomized piece of crap its predecesssors were. But attachment viewing is an asspain at best, there's no camera or MP3 capability, and it's not an ebook reader.

I had to give up my Dell PocketPC for this thing, and it's daily agony.
banazir
Feb. 26th, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
Blackberry, Crackberry, whatever
The problem with the Treo, for me, is that it has a 240x240 screen, and I already have 240x320 from 4.5 years ago. I was hoping there'd be a 480x640 screen available by now, but people don't seem to care! Either that, or the silly tablet PCs are still sucking up that end of the mobile/portable computing market.

I cannot see what people see in Blackberries. If I wanted text messaging on my cell phone from anyone other than 1337 teenyboppers, I'd set it up using real IM (preferably AIM, YIM for PocketPC). Windows Mobile 5 is definitely the way to go, for me.

Camera: not that important; I have a 5 megapixel Canon S-50.
MP3 player: would be nice, but not essential; I will still have the HP iPAQ H3635 for that if need be.
e-book reader: PDF viewing is a must.

But I won't settle for chat only; I need e-mail (attachment sending) and a browser, and I would prefer to have a mobile version of MS Office and Adobe Acrobat if those are available. A prorated on-demand wireless data plan would be nice, but nowadays it's all ($45 more a month) or nothing. It's not as if I would send more than a few megs a month from this, whereas on my notebook I transfer half a gig a day, up to about 3-4Gb a day on my whole home wireless network.

--
Banazir
kaseido
Feb. 26th, 2006 08:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Blackberry, Crackberry, whatever
About Blackberries, the only appeal I can see is to the technologically ignorant - it doesn't do too much, you can't do too much *to* it, so you just get issued one and you can read your email and have your Outlook calendar with you, without dealing with much.

I'm interested in what you end up with: my solution has just been to carry my laptop nigh everywhere. Which is good for lower back strength, but it definitely adds an ironic note to "portable" computing...
banazir
Feb. 26th, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
Technological ignorance: ach, ss, fie
About Blackberries, the only appeal I can see is to the technologically ignorant - it doesn't do too much, you can't do too much *to* it, so you just get issued one and you can read your email and have your Outlook calendar with you, without dealing with much.
OK for enterprises, but do you know what this hobbit says to that?
Ishkhagwi ai durugnul!

I'm interested in what you end up with: my solution has just been to carry my laptop nigh everywhere. Which is good for lower back strength, but it definitely adds an ironic note to "portable" computing...
Yes, exactly. I don't mind exercise. I do mind pretending that this is frakking 1983 and 20-pound Kaypro luggables with 9" amber screens are "portable computers". ;-)

--
Banazir
kaseido
Feb. 26th, 2006 09:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Technological ignorance: ach, ss, fie
lol!

Or looking like my day job involves parachuting into Afghanistan...
banazir
Feb. 26th, 2006 09:57 pm (UTC)
Ishkhagwi Ai Durugnul
Afghanistan?

The above is Gimli's retort in the Special Extended Edition of FOTR (ad libbed by John Rhys-Davies, according to David Salo) when Haldir and the elves of Lorien insisted on binding and blindfolding the Fellowship. Since JRD made it up, it's unclear what it means, though in fandom it seems to be thought to imply a curse upon the object's beard.

--
Banazir
kaseido
Feb. 26th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Ishkhagwi Ai Durugnul
lol!

Afghanistan: I work at a university, but don't have an office, so gearing up involves a Swiss Army laptop backpack with laptop, writing tablet, pens, pencils, sticky pads, water bottle (need it here in the desert), two sets of keys, etc. Plus the Blackberry on my belt like a good nerd.

Feels like paratrooper gear...
banazir
Feb. 26th, 2006 09:57 pm (UTC)
Kaypro Luggables
Oh, never mind - sorry, I thought you were referring to the other quote, not the Kaypro comment.

--
Banazir
kaseido
Feb. 26th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Kaypro Luggables
ah, gotcha -
neoookami
Feb. 26th, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC)
Personally...
I tend to prefer keeping my cellphone and PDA options seperate, and Palm OS.. HOWEVER I also read later on down and so I won't pursue that matter any further, it's just my opinion after all.

I voted for the Treo though since I happen to really like the form factor there as well (and the unlimited data plan is a big plus). Though the screen on it's somewhat troublesome as older apps tend to not like the non-standard screen. (Still not even sure why Palm did that! It would've made more sense to at least be non-standard as far as PocketPC devices go and use 320x320 ala most other Palm devices right now!) It's also worth noting that I've mostly just had brief flirtations with PocketPC devices so I may not be the best judge here.
pursuer
Feb. 27th, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
U.S. Cellular
From a reliable source (my Dad, who works for them), I've heard that U.S. Cellular just bought Alltel in the Manhattan, KS market. I'm not sure what all will change, but I know that for here (NH), they get really reliable service and a decent rate.

Just a random piece of info.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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