I’d been a Palm OS PDA-user for about 10 years, starting with the old monochrome models, and ending with a Tungsten E that finally died last year after about 6 or 7 years of heavy use and abuse…. and on which, with the assistance of a wireless portable keyboard, I managed to successfully type my M.L.I.S. culminating exams while on vacation in New Orleans for a week in 2005.
At that time, I tried to ween myself of being permanently attached to what my family perceived as too many gadgets, so I took a 1 year PDA sabbatical and tried sticking to just a regular cell phone and regular paper organizer. I hated reverting back to a paper organizer, which took up far too much room in my purse and forced me to hand-write each and every recurring schedule item. Even worse, was trying to check email and read web pages on my tiny Nokia cell phone. I kept toying with the idea of going back to a PDA, making it a smartphone this time, but couldn’t bring myself to pay full price for a gadget that wasn’t absolutely necessary to my work (if it were necessary, I figured my employer would provide me with one).
When my AT&T Wireless contract came up for renewal last week, I jumped at the chance to end my suffering and get a smartphone at the discounted price available to new and renewing subscribers.
I wanted to return to a Palm product, but frankly the Treos are just too pricey for my budget right now. I’ve been eying the Blackberry Pearl and Curve as well, but those too were a bit out of my range for a personal-use gadget, and Blackberries don’t allow me to store and attach Microsoft Office documents. Both of these devices also require more expensive data plans on the AT&T Wireless network
So, I opted for the BlackJack, a moderately priced Windows Mobile OS model that allows me to store and attach (but not edit) mobile versions of Microsoft Word and Excel documents, quickly surf the web, quickly check my Gmail account through push POP3 email, easily Instant Message my friends on both AIM and Yahoo Messenger (Google Talk is only available through the Web browser), listen to music and audio books on Windows Media Mobile, and once again, program in my calendar and task items. Like its Palm and Blackberry counterparts, the BlackJack uses a must-have QWERTY keyboard, but runs off a much less expensive data plan.
My only real gripe — and it’s with Microsoft, not the BlackJack — is that the Windows Mobile calendar and contacts programs on my PDA do not sync with their Windows Vista counterparts on my PC, only with Microsoft Outlook, which no longer comes standard on Office 2007. So, I either have to upgrade the Microsoft Office Home Edition software that came pre-installed on my Vista-driven laptop, or choose to run my calendaring items solely on my PDA and risk losing my data if my PDA crashes. Nor does the Blackjack run off WiFi networks.