In all the fuss about tablet PCs and the fact they aren’t selling so well because people actually find keyboards still to be a useful input device I’d have to say that PDAs have moved away from where I want my ideal device to be. You see, I too like a useable keyboard. Not a thumb-board or a pen/stylus thingy. so far, the only PDA I’ve found (and use regularly still) that achieves most of what i want is a Psion 5mx. This machine meets my criteria in most respects:
1. it fits easily into a pocket so I don’t leave it behind, and I have it with me most of the time.
2. it has an integrated keyboard that is big enough to touch type on – on real keys, and I don’t have to assemble the keyboard as a separate component – so it’s always with the PDA.
3. it uses compact flash – same as my digital camera (a canon A-40) so i can take photos and slip the card into the PDA to build the web page while sipping coffee at the coffee shop.
4. it has a decent width screen – so I can see lines of text at their proper length – the way they will appear in print or on a desktop.
5. it has a decent web browser (I use Opera) with which i can preview my web pages as i build them on the fly.
6. yes I have the infra-red travel modem which makes it possible to go online and use web and email – but only if there is a suitable phone socket nearby… anyone ever used a wireless wi-fi card with a psion 5mx?? i’d love to be able to do web work while I’m on the move, say in airports or coffee shops where wifi hot spots are offered
7. Compact flash again – yes it means i can transfer files quickly with macs and PCs quickly and hassle free (no probs with connection software or finding the decreasingly available serial ports on teh PCs (mac doesnt have them any more)
8. Most of the psion software can be saved or converted to desktop standard formats very easily (thank you Neuon!) so I can type and save to Word format or plain text or RTF really easily. the only one I can’t seem to transfer is psion presentation into powerpoint (I use a mac so I can’t use the psiwin converter 🙁
9. The only two things I ask for a future PDA developer is to have the psion form factor with its pocket (chequebook) size, proper keys and wide screen display, but to build a USB port into it and wifi internet capability – that would make it a perfect PDA. Colour might be nice too, but I can live without it. It look like Psion stopped making the (almost) perfect PDA just when they had reached (almost) perfection. Trouble is – they stopped making these things in 2000 and no-one has filled my particular niche. It was the best computer in a pocket – and has yet to be bettered! Go on – there’s a challenge!