My iPAQ is just an expensive mini web browser

I’ll start out by saying that I am still glad I bought my iPAQ 110.  It is a nicely made little device and it has been fun learning what it can do.  But my overall conclusion is that mobile technology isn’t “there” yet. 

 What don’t I use?  The calendar.  It’s a great calendar if you have a busy day and want to look at what activities you have scheduled for the day.  It’s a lousy calendar if you schedule for the month, like me.  My schedule has things on it like:  Birthday party at 4:00 Sunday.  Parent-teacher conference 7:45 AM Thursday.  School closed Thursday and Friday.  Dinner with Chris and Ian 5:30 Saturday.    I want to be able to easily look ahead at my activities over the course of several days so I can plan ahead, as in:  Make sure we have a present to bring to the party.  Review questions I have for the teacher.  Make sure Garrett is signed up for Extended Day on Thursday and Friday.  Make a dinner reservation.

 I also don’t use the Contacts list much because I have a separate cell phone. 

Synchronizing the calendar and contacts is great at work, where I run Outlook.  But what about at home?  What I really want to be able to synchronize with is a web-based calendar/contacts list.

Web-Browsing – I actually do use the iPAQ a lot for web browsing, but only to specific mobile-friendly sites.  General browsing is too painful; there are too many sites that break, take forever to load, or just look bad on a PDA screen.

What functions do I use?

Initially, I was using it for note-taking, but I have quit doing that.  The handwriting recognition software is pretty amazing, but it  still isn’t good enough.  It gets about 80% recognition, which still leaves an awful lot of errors.  And it’s terrible at anything other than alphabetic characters – things like numbers, punctuation, spacing, carriage returns.  Using the screen keypad works better, but it is slow and tedious.  I’ve reached a point where I dread having to enter any data into the iPAQ.

My main use for the iPAQ is for reading in bed at night.  I used to – and still do – read with a booklight, but that is a bit of a wrestling match to manage the booklight, turning pages, the correct angle of holding the book, and the bed covers.  The iPAQ is better – it provides its own light, no page turning (which can be surprisingly loud when the person next to you is trying to fall asleep, i.e., “Will you STOP turning pages??!!!”), lots of content, downloadable content or web content (wireless internet).  I love it for that.  It’s also QUIET, unlike my laptop computer, which I also use at night, but the fan is annoyingly noisty and the light is too bright for other people trying to sleep (“Will you turn off that computer?!!!”).

I like the iPAQ for reading at night so much that I think it was worth buying just for that.  Which may mean that I would like having a Kindle… But, I also like the small size and portability of the iPAQ.  I carry it around in my purse, and if I am stuck waiting somewhere, I can whip out the iPAQ and start reading.


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