In the last few months, there has been a large sentiment of PDA users who have expressed that they want to upgrade to the latest and possibly greatest PDA. PocketPC users want the new Dell X50v or hx4700 to be their super-PDA. Some have chosen the HP h6300 because it combines a phone and PDA all in one, and has many of the features of the top level devices of both (Bluetooth, WiFi, large memory, camera, etc.). Others who prefer the PalmOS have been disappointed to see that the new T5 is not the super-PDA they have envisioned and have moved their sights to the Treo 650 or rumors of the Tungsten C2. In all of those cases, I have been on the side lines thinking that I may need to reconsider my PDA usage. That thought comes in part because I have been without my palmOne Zire 71 for a little over a month now and have had a PocketPC in its place to use and review (see the review on the HP iPaq rx3715 for those opinions). But the other part of that is because I have had to ask myself if I am really using the right tool to get done what I need to do from a mobile standpoint.
I Have Used Much Tech
In terms of mobile technology, I own, or have used, a PDA, a TabletPC, a laptop, and a mobile phone. All of which are really cool articles of technology and all me to see my differing usage patterns. While I was in college, having a PDA was possibly the best thing for me as it enabled me to keep track of projects and classes, as well as compose emails and notes, while on the go. I had a desktop computer at that time and knew that I wanted to take it with me, just not carry a laptop while I was doing it. If TabletPCs had been released though, I would have probably sold both and went that route as they combined the best of both my desktop and PDA (a full computer and you can write on the screen). When I left college, my desktop no longer became the central hub for my computing needs except for website creation. It was not great to go to meetings with different clients and have to use their computer to show them what I was capable of. Therefore, I made the change to a laptop, but kept the PDA. My PDA went from just my assistant, to the main computing device. My laptop became my mobile creation station with an internet connection. I had not had an active internet connection with my PDA, so email was limited to short readings and occasional composing. I left the bulk of that to my laptop. And that was good, until my PDA went bye-bye after drinking some of the Chesapeake Bay. And during that whole time, I have used mobile phones in varying degrees to make calls, chat on IM, and keep tabs on email which I use the PDA and computer to respond to.
At that point a month ago, I made the choice to reevaluate my computing needs. What I wanted to use was in one column, and what was available was in another. With the news and rumors of new models being released this fall, I was sure to be challenged some in the second list. But, I had to make sure that no matter what was coming out, that it would fit my needs, and (mostly) curb that want for the latest and greatest.
When I look at the different forums of people online who want a specific set of features from a particular PDA, mobile phone, or laptop, I want to ask them if they are really being effective with the tool that they have currently or have maximized the effectiveness of that tool. So many people have jumped on palmOne for not offering the features in the T5 that they desire (outside of the price which really is too high), that they might have missed their needs cannot be met with every new product. I even read a report this week that said sales of 17 inch display laptops are not doing well. This too is interesting because it seems people are being marketed towards wanting that hi-def experience everywhere they go. Is a 17 laptop really effective as a laptop (sounds more towards being a tabletop to me, but I digress)? Is a $400 PDA really what one needs just to say what appointment is next on the list? Or, has feature glut entered into our mindset as we need the features, no matter how much we may not use them.
The Point is…
Before it sounds like I am bashing people for having an opinion, I will clarify what I mean. To really get the most out of a technology, such as a PDA, mobile phone, or laptop, one has to put aside their expectations and really evaluate their needs. In some ways, I can say palmOne played on this with the Zire and Zire 21. They just were basic devices that did basic. And for the millions of people who wanted a PDA that did basic, it worked. People were not (at least to my knowledge) clamoring for it to jump off the roof and spin cartwheels. It did what it did and the expectations for it stayed at the capacity of the Zire/Zire 21 to perform. Why should it be any different for other devices?
My needs for a tech tool seem to grow and change with each year that I grow and change. At one point all I needed was a computer to write notes on and look for stuff on the internet. I then wanted to design websites, so I needed something more. But when I want my phone to be as great as my laptop, aren t I misplacing my expectations. Yes, technology is advancing, but is that really a place where I should put my phone? And if I do, I will complain about the battery life, because it is not nearly as good as my laptop.
My expectations of technology should be consistent with my needs. And if I expect more than what my needs are, I will always be reaching for that golden donut. I cannot be responsible with technology unless I am running towards some measure of accessibility that meets the abilities of technology with my needs. It is that reason that I am not clamoring as much for getting the latest and greatest PDA. There does not seem to be one that meets everything that I need (at least not with the PalmOS ;)). I have to be realistic and use the tools as they are designed to be used. That is the only way that I see that I will be able to subdue gadgetitis. At least until something else new comes out and I have to go thru all of this thinking again.
So Are You…
So what about yourself? Are you using the right tool for the job or being clouded by expectations that are higher than that technology (or your budget for that technology) can reach? With the holiday season upon us, there will be many products that advertisers will say we need and cannot live without. And if we succumb to those advertisers, will we be looking for an upgrade by Father s Day? Or, do we choose to be smarter shoppers and go tech out of need rather than want? Because what is new today, may fit your wants, but if it does not meet your needs then you will only be disappointed. And we know that eBay is full of those disappointments.