In Praise of Older Handhelds

by Reads (46,549)

I’m about to tell you something that is going to make, Palm, HP, Dell, etc. cringe.

It’s quite possible that you don’t need a new handheld.

I know, when you go down to the store and look over the latest models you are almost certain to see features that are beyond what your old reliable Pocket PC or Palm has, but you must ask yourself, “Do you need these?”

And sometimes progress moves slower than you think. It’s easy to say that if you get a brand-spankin new handheld with a 400 MHz processor, then it will go twice as fast as your 200 MHz one. This really isn’t the case.

The software on the latest models is generally more complex than what’s on the older ones. This means that the more recent ones require a faster processor to run at the same speed as their predecessors.

Heck, if anything, I occasionally think that things are moving slower on more recent models. Yes, they can do more, but there’s a price to pay for that increase in functionality.

Problems Are Universal

Another common mistake is to assume that getting a new device will solve all your handheld problems.

It just isn’t true.

While it’s quite possible that a new handheld will not have the irritating bugs that you’ve been suffering through for years, I’d bet you a dump-truck load of money that your new device will have at least as many problems.

They’ll be different, but they’ll be there.

As a person who changes handhelds the way some people change underwear, I can tell you that I’ve never found one that didn’t have at least a coulple of nasty surprises.

For example:

  • Applications that I’ve come to depend on for years don’t work on this new model.
  • Something that I’m used to being in one place has been moved to another for no apparent reason.
  • Some feature I really like has been left out.
  • The latest version of one of my favorite built-in applications has clearly been mangled by ham-handed trolls to the point where it’s virtually unusable.

These are the sorts of things you have to deal with when you switch to a new device.

A Caveat

Let me make myself clear here; I’m not saying that no one should ever upgrade their handheld.

All I’m asking here is that you don’t assume that a newer model is automatically going to be wildly better than your current one.

Think about what you use your handheld for. If your current device can do all that you want, why are you going to get rid of it?

On the other hand, if there’s something you really want to do that you can’t do now, then upgrade by all means.

There are a lot of cool new functions. Mobile email and portable video are just a couple of the things that today’s handhelds can handle far better than their predecessors.

I just don’t want you to pay a couple of hundred dollars to buy a device that you use for the same things as your current one.

Saving Our Handheld Legacy

Suppose you decide that your Visor Prism or iPAQ h5500 still meets you needs. While that’s great, you have to be nervous that this device is going to unexpectedly die on you.

Sadly, electronics don’t last forever, and handhelds live far more hazardous lives than, say, your stereo does.

So there you are, living your worst case scenario. You’ve dropped your Clie and broken the screen. What do you do?

Simple. You call Chris Short.

Thanks to a recent article in The Inquirer, he’s quickly become the most famous repairer of broken older handhelds.

But Short is hardly the only person who performs this service, and there are companies that sell replacement parts for out-of-production handhelds of all kinds.

So, before replace that older device that you’ve accidentally broken, give serious though to repairing it instead.

You could save a bunch of money, and preserve an old friend at the same time.

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