Palm i705: It does get better than this, doesn’t it? By David Morgenstern, AnchorDesk January 31, 2002 9:00 PM PT URL: http://chkpt.zdnet.com/chkpt/printthisclick/www.zdnet.com/filters/printerfriendly/0,6061,2844376-10,00.html The four-way stop that’s the intersection of truth, fiction, hype, and reality could be a tough one for the mobile computing industry. No matter how the latest devices advance, some folks are never satisfied–after all, they saw something better (and presumably less expensive) on Mission Impossible. This was the reaction of some of you to the recent column by my colleague David Coursey on the state of the Palm platform. HE OUTLINED a series of past and forthcoming events, including the release of the Palm i705 wireless PDA; mixed messages from Handspring over future directions following the introduction of its Treo phone/PDA combo; and the expected preview of Palm’s next-generation operating system at next week’s PalmSource conference. “I am underwhelmed by the i705 (and my current 7X for that matter),” William Estrem wrote. “I had hoped that the 705 would have at least a color option. I would love to have an all-in-one device, but at the very least I want decent multimedia. And I am willing to pay for it.” Michael Loewenthal Jr. argued that the i705 was too expensive. “$450 for a monochrome wireless Palm? For $50 less, I can buy a color Palm AND cell-phone together.” Others, however, saw Palm’s new device in a positive light. “Basically, at this price point, you’re trading a color display for built-in wireless, which to me is a no-brainer,” John Letaw countered. “You could add a color display; put in a larger battery to support color, and still get worse battery life; add $150 to the price (or $250 if you want more RAM); and increase the weight by 20 to 30 percent. Then you’ve got a PocketPC. “If you want cool games, get a Game Boy. If you want music, get an MP3 player. I want a functional, always-connected business tool that fits in my pocket, one that I can afford,” Letaw added. The i705 “is a wirelessly connected, always-on solution, the first of its kind,” Geremy Ferguson wrote. “You can have your imperative e-mail in your hand even when you are not at your desk. Not only that, but you have a handheld battery that, even under heavy e-mail use, will last 3 to 4 days without needing to be charged. And by heavy use, we are talking about near-constant e-mail bombardment and viewing.” MOVING BEYOND the i705 debate, several of you weighed in with tough, fundamental questions about the demand for wireless handhelds. “It’s my notebook that I need on wireless–NOT a tiny, impossible-to-use screen for Web browsing,” Regis Betsch observed. “My Palm has a VERY IMPORTANT place in my day-to-day business. It is the instantaneous window to critical data I keep on my computer. When I want to go on the Internet, however, the Palm is the last thing I want to use.” “Why is the computer industry so committed to the ‘all-in-one’ philosophy?” Tom Gladstone asked, sparking a wide-ranging thread on previous–as in defunct–products. “Cell phones make lousy PDAs (and vice versa). PC and TV convergence products have always been a joke. And who wants to use their computer as a telephone? Just because it can be done doesn’t necessarily mean it should be done.” To Thomas Dibble, the network will be your PDA. He wrote that convergence makes sense in the absence of viable ubiquitous networking. “A PDA/cell phone combo eliminates the duplication of your address book/quick-dial numbers. Bluetooth wireless should easily join two separate, fully functional devices to the same effect.” INTERESTING ARGUMENTS, but I still lean toward the convergence camp. For example, for many people, a multifunction printer that combines the capabilities of a copier, fax, printer, and scanner works great. I prefer a beefier scanner. But should I say no to the entire category? Let a thousand products bloom, I say. At the same time, I point out to you naysayers that any inexpensive, mass-market technology product is the result of an evolutionary process, not creationism. Your car, your computer, and even the Internet grew from primitive beginnings. And believe it or not, people bought them each step of the way.