Pocket PC Users

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by michaelrjohnson, May 13, 2004.

  1. michaelrjohnson macrumors 68020

    Aug 9, 2000
    Is there anybody here who uses a Pocket PC as their PDA here on MR? I my question has to do with the units themselves, and nothing to do with Macs... GASP! I am curious as to the real-world usability of such devices. I have some experience, and I really like them much better than Palm-powered devices, because (much like the newton) the entire screen is the "writing area" and it does not require a special alphabet like Palm does. I have owned a Palm in the past, and my problem with them is that it just takes too long to input text on-the-go. Whereas, on Pocket PC devices, it takes just seconds.

    What are your opinions/concerns/comments about using a Pocket PC device as your full-time PDA?
  2. annk Administrator


    Staff Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    Your question is maybe more specific than I interpret it as, and it sounds like you're maybe a more advanced user than I am, but here are my experiences with my iPaq, for what they're worth:

    I use a Compaq iPaq 3660 with a Targus Stowaway fold-out keyboard. For me, the iPaq is only useful when I can use it as an alternative to a laptop (in situations where pulling out a laptop creates unwanted attention or seems excessive). I use it LOTS for meetings - I can just pop it into its cradle when back in my office, and the document is ready to send out.

    I used it as a calender for a while, but frankly I think it just takes too long to imput without the keyboard (I'm a fast typist and slow at writing by hand) so I eventually went back to using just a plain old paper calender. I use the iPaq sometimes when I'm away from home and want a quick, easy way to check my mail, and send replies. But now that I have a phone with e-mail capability, I'll probably just use that for emergency travel-mail.

    It's GREAT for ebooks!!!

    I'm new to Mac, and haven't yet taken the time to investigate how and if handhelds work with Mac OS's - - at work we have Windoze, so the iPaq was an easy choice. I have a feeling that my new Powerbook will be so great to use, that I'll end up using it for all but the most basic mobile functions. My iPaq will continue to be what I take notes with at work-related meetings, and what I read ebooks on.
  3. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    I've never used/owned a PocketPC-based device (I do own a Palm, which I don't use anymore), but I know that Mac compatibility is absent without the use of third-party software such as Missing Sync. I've never used ebooks before either.
  4. saxman macrumors 6502

    May 13, 2004
    The Tungsten T3 (as do most if not all newer palms) use Graffiti 2, which is powered by Jot (the hand recognition software in PocetPC's). You can also get it to write anywhere on the screen easily.


    I've heard people getting 35 wpm on their palms... but text entering with a stylus on any system is still a work in progress. For serious data entry, an add on keyboard is a must for any handheld. If you need Wi-Fi, probably go with a PocketPC, palm only makes one handheld currently with Wi-Fi built in. There are add-ons, but not very elegant.
  5. poopyhead macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2004
    in the toe-jam of greatness (Fort Worth)
    4 or 5 years ago I bought an Ipaq when it first came out thinking that I could use it instead of a laptop for note taking. For me writing seemed natural on the Ipaq so input was not a problem, I could easily keep up while taking notes on it (I take copious notes, 4-8 pages per 75 min class and have horrible hand writing so this means a lot).
    Honestly the only features of the Ipaq I used were MS Word, solitaire, contacts, and the check book/ bank account functions which were wonderful.
    all in all it was great to have and remarkably useful but I have a short attention span and a gadget fetish so after about a year the Ipaq was relegated to my bottom desk drawer.
  6. jtown macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2003
    I've used a number of PDAs and never got the hang of any of the writing recognition systems. I use an on-screen hunt-and-tap keyboard to enter quick notes and an external keyboard for entering lots of info. For a while, I used an HP Jornada 690 which has the best keyboard ever attached to a PDA and a 640x240 display. There was also a 90% sized keyboard available for extended data entry use. It was great for entering text and viewing a (relatively) large amount of information but the overall package is rather bulky. I upgraded to a Casio E-200 (mostly so I could run new apps) and got the PCMCIA/USB host sled which lets me plug in a standard USB keyboard for data entry.

    The E-200's handwriting recognition is much better than what I was used to in the 90s but I still found it was faster for me to hunt-and-tap on the keyboard than it was to go back and fix the write-os.

    BTW, there's a new PDA "keyboard" available that uses a laser to display a virtual keyboard on a flat surface. It detects your finger movements as you "type" on the projected keyboard. Here's a link to their Yahoo store.
  7. EJBasile macrumors 65816


    Apr 20, 2004
    My friend has an HP iPaq- i think it is ok but i have a Sony TJ37 with wireless networking and a camera- for the price ($299) i think it is an outstanding deal
  8. ingenious macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2004
    Washington, D.C.
    i own a Palm m515, but haven't had much of a use for it since i got my PB. besides, it froze all the time. it turned out to be horrid. i now personally hate pdas.
  9. SiliconAddict macrumors 603


    Jun 19, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    OK. Small history of my PDA computing experience.

    My computing adventure started out with the Apple Newton I got it for a song back when they discontinued the Newton. To this day I still use it for taking notes, playing a few basic games, and using it as a todo scratchpad. DAMN YOU APPLE FOR KILLING THE FIRST APPLE BASED PRODUCT I FELL IN LOVE WITH!

    In '98 I got my first Microsoft based handheld. Casio Cassiopeia E-100 Palm Sized PC. It had features that no Palm based device had back in '98 but the OS was a worthless PoS. For you see it was based on Windows CE 2.0. Which at that time was the equivilent of Windows 9x. A slow buggy underpowered expierance. Because of that in Fall of '98 I got myself a used Palm V. It didn't have as many bells and whistles but it didn't crash on me every 5 seconds.
    Then came fall of '99 when I started seriously looking at upgrading to a new Palm. I started checking out the online reviews of various models. In my travels of the various discussion boards I came across a tidbit of information. Microsoft was releasing a MAJOR revamp of their handhelds based not on Windows CE 2 but on CE 3 with a GUI and API front-end that will be called the Pocket PC. Skeptical but integrated at the leaked screenshots of COLOR! I waited until spring of 2000.

    Microsoft in typical Microsoftian fashion did what they do best. Market the **** out of the PPC by touring it around the US. When the Redmond giant came to town being the tech addict that I am I went to school on the Pocket PC. Literally. The tour was held in a school (I think it was where the PC usergroup meets.) I got a chance to fondle the first generation iPaq. Then and there I knew the device I wanted. Palm was nice. BUt this device blew anything Palm had out of the water.
    Keep in mind in 2000 Palm's lineup was 160 x 160 screens with 12 shades of gray on the Palm Vx and VII pathetic when you compared it to the Pocket PC.

    Well the fateful day came Sept of 2000 when I got my first Pocket PC. People say the rev A products can sometimes have issues. Well the iPaq had its share of issues for a first generation first of its kind device. It had a pathetic 32MB of RAM, dust that was viewable because of its revolutionary reflective display, and the center button that also contained the speaker occasionally stuck. But what it lacked in quality it made up in features. Sound so loud that I didn't need a headset to hear, e-books in all its cleartype glory, MP3's (More after I got the CF sleeve and my 340MB microdrive.) eventually Omnisky wireless that was hooked up to AT&T's network which meant total internet access from my PDA. On a nightly basis I huddled in the dark reading a book listening to a song marveling at this device. It really was a fantastic work of technology.

    Well 2000 passed by and 2001 rolled around. That winter/spring I can claim to be one of the first people anywhere to get a Pocket PC with 64MB of RAM on the system. I use to be a moderator at pocketpcpassion.com and Dale the head of the site got me signed up to have major surgery done on my iPaq. It was Frankensteined into a 64MB powerhouse by the cool folks at pocketpctechs.com They needed test subjects for their experimental upgrades and I had the pleasure of being one along with Dale. 64MB of storage was bliss esp with storing MP3’s!
    That summer HP announced the new 56x series of Jornada a device with very similar specs to the iPaq. In fact the screen and CPU both used those found in the iPaq. In fact it was the success of the iPaq that spurred MS to standardize on the ARM CPU. (The same CPU type found in the Newton. Apple was SOO ahead of their time it wasn't even funny.) The first generation Jornada that was released with the launch of the Pocket PC was not so much a dud but a letdown. The quality was top notch but it had some serious drawbacks. Mainly with the screen 8-bit color vs. 12-bit and MIPS vs. the faster ARM.) As more info trickled out about the 56x series I realized that it was my next device. So one fall day in October I made a mad dash to Circuit City and picked up a newly-released-that-day Jornada. It was and IS a thing of beauty. Since that time Microsoft has come out with one other upgrade. Pocket PC 2003 (Actually its Windows Mobile but I like the PPC name better.) I have yet to upgrade because I did not see a major difference between 2002 and 2003 even though the undercarriage had a major overhaul (Went from Windows CE 3 to CE 4.25.)

    With that being said I am waiting with bated breath for their next OS release. The OS was released about 2 months ago to OEM’s. That OS being Pocket PC 2003 Second Edition. As you can tell it’s not a major release but a minor one. The minor release being native landscape support. Press a button and turn the display on its side. And the other big feature. Native VGA screen support. That doesn’t sound like much but VGA support alone IMHO makes this a must have upgrade. The text in e-books alone is going to be razor sharp. And before people complain “I’m not going to be able to read anything”
    I think the real turning point for the Pocket PC came in two major events that have happened only in the last year:
    The first being Dell bring to the table the idea of $300 or less Pocket PC. Up to that point it could be successfully argued if you don’t need the features why pay the average price, at the time, of anywhere from $450-$700 for a Pocket PC. Dell brought one thing to the table: Price competition. Before then it was who could outdo the competition in features. Dell said screw the features lets get the price down and the industry followed. You are still going to have high end prices for high end devices but at least now you have a choice. Back in 2000 and 2001 it was $450 or more or you went looking for a Palm.
    The second was the size of these devices. Palm users cried loud and hard that the Pocket PC was a brick. In truth it wasn’t but if you put a first gen iPaq or even a current gen Dell Axim next to a Palm V it’s going to look like a super model that gorged herself with 8 pizzas. This changed with the introduction of the iPaq 1910 series. If the first gen iPaq was a bloated model the 1910 series was a starved super model. The device was the first of its kind for the Pocket PC. A system was comparable as small as a Palm V!!
    The 1910 series.
    The Palm Tungsten T.
    And the Palm V.

    So what does this boil down too? Where does the Pocket PC stand vs. a Palm. The line has substantially blurred in the last 2 years as Palm has realized that the comment that their CEO made at CES 2001 that users don’t want color or sound was so freaking off it was stupid. Palm has played some major catchup but they still aren’t there. The Palm OS for all the tweaking Palm has done to it still remains a simple PIM system. It still doesn’t have true multitasking abilities. It still has no true file system. Its multimedia capabilities still lack behind the Pocket PC. And its OS lacks support for more high end features like WEP in WIFI. If all goes well sometime this fall new devices featuring Palm OS Cobalt will rectify this situation but once again Palm is playing catchup.

    Right now the Pocket PC still has the edge both in selection, price, expansion, features, and soon compatibility. (As soon as Palm drops OS X support in Cobalt that is.)

    If anything if there is one Akillies heel the the Pocket PC it is the sync software. ActiveSync, also know as ActiveSuck, ActiveStink, and CraptiveStink, is still at version 3 and has been since the Pocket PC came out 4 years ago. The reliability of the syncing has improved but it still can be iffy at times. If you are on the Mac, and since you are on Macrumors I will assume this, you don’t have to worry about this since MS doesn’t make sync software for the Pocket PC. You have two better options:

    Missing Sync for Pocket PC

    See part II.............
  10. SiliconAddict macrumors 603


    Jun 19, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Since I **sighs** don’t have a Mac yet I can’t tell you about the quality between one or the other but Missing Sync integrates into iSync. It stands to reason since its directly integrating into OS X’s utils that it may have more compatibility with iCal, Address Book, iTunes, etc. But that’s purely a guess. Honestly at this point I wouldn’t go Palm unless Sony does some serious magic with Cobalt and its hardware because right now IMHO Palm is lacking on all fronts.
    I think the main reason Palm OS was spun off as Palm Source is that the hardware side was dragging it down. Their hardware is hardly inspiring anymore. IMHO, the creative bunch in the Palm camp belongs to Sony.
    And if you think I’m being biased about Palm vs. Pocket PC I’m not. Heck I use to run a Pocket PC usergroup and kept arguing for the Palm in certain instances where the Palm was clearly a leader. I quite the group after the person who took over the reins started kissing up to MS in a big way. MS does keep in touch with their PPC usergroups. I was not happy with the BS that was going on with their local reps. They started having us distribute extra crap that eventually turned into MS propaganda crap for their latest OS/Office/Windows XP tablet/etc. I didn’t start the usergroup to brownnose. :mad:

    Anyways. Its almost 3AM and I've rambled long enough.

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