XDA – A Different Kind of PDA

by Reads (7,181)

Living in the U.S. I’ve been rather intrigued hearing about this device on the other side of the Atlantic they have called the XDA.  What is the XDA?  Anything with an ‘X‘ in front of it has become an accepted norm of our society to mean eXtraordinary in some sort of way (such as X-Men, X-Files).  Put an X in front of something and we’ll assume it’s awesome and somehow beyond what is earthly.

I have now had the chance to see, play with and get to know the XDA and am disappointed to say it is not out of this world.  Although it is definitely cool and has some life-simplifying qualities.

The XDA is sold by the company mmO2, which is a mobile phone service company in England, Ireland, Netherlands and Germany.  For those in the U.S., mmO2 does the same thing as Verizon, AT&T Wireless, Cingular and VoiceStream do over there.  Except, this company has decided to sell it’s own PDA.  The reason it sells it’s own PDA is that the XDA device is a PDA/Mobile Phone combo.  This Mobile phone uses GPRS (General Packet Radio Standard) which is widely available in Europe. 

For mmO2 to sell and market it’s own PDA is unique to any other service providing company I know.  What this means is that the XDA is sold like any other mobile phone.  You have to subscribe through mmO2 to even get the XDA, it’s not like buying a Palm or Pocket PC device from your local BestBuy in Johnson City, U.S.A.  mmO2 provides a nice little explanation of what the XDA does and how to subscribe on their website: http://www.mmo2.com/docs/services/xda_why.html

Having said all this,  let me say what I was able to tell from the device I tried out.  First of all, the device is good looking and easy to use.  I made a call to my brother using the XDA, and found the on-screen keys really easy to use.  The call was crystal clear and the device was easy to use as a phone, but obviously the store makes sure it’s service works well in the actual sales store.  The sales guy showed me how the XDA logs all the phone calls, you can store a heck of a lot more message logs on the XDA than your typical cell phone.  That’s always handy.

Another nice feature was that SMS messages went right to your inbox, just like an email.  Which of course brings up the almighty point about this device, it’s a truly wireless solution for your email and web surfing needs, GPRS is always on and 99% available in the UK.  Just use your GPRS to surf the web, send and check email, or even use the built in IE browser for SSL transactions to make purchases online.  Which of course brings up the sucky part about the XDA.  You don’t pay a flat fee for using the thing, you have to pay per 1KB transferred, check out these pricing plans: 

View Pricing Plans Here

.02 Pence per 1 KB is the same as .03 Cents per 1KB.  That’ll add up, one small email is 1KB, one web page can easily be 10KB – 40KB.  Umm, ouch to that price (.70P/$1.00).  Checking the news on BBC.com or CNN.com will cost you $1.00 a page view by my estimates*.  In other words, maybe it’s best just to use the XDA for smaller sized emails.  Text format, not HTML format emails that is!

The actual PDA functionality itself was standard Pocket PC 2002.  I would like to have seen more memory, 32MB is below the standard of 64MB now.  But performance was on par and all your usual apps were there.

So overall this is a really cool device, it looks great, works well and has some very powerful features.  The HP and Toshiba Pocket PC 2002 devices are much better PDAs, but obviously missing the phone aspect.  The subscription prices for the XDA made me shake in my boots, but if your money is ample, like say O2, then go for it because this thing will simplify your life like you wouldn’t believe.

*The front page of CNN.com for 7/5/2002 at 10:00 p.m. EST was 43,475 bytes, 1,024 bytes = 1KB, so CNN.com front page = 42.5KB, the cost to download on XDA would be .85P = $1.20.

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