Should I choose a Pocket PC or Palm handheld?
December 29, 2003 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Pocket PC or Palm?
posted by ajr to Shopping (16 answers total)
To use as an extension of what operating system? Mac OS X, Palm with iSync. Windows, Pocket PC with ActiveSync. It's just about the only difference between them, but tempers can run supernova over this question, so you can expect a holy war along the same lines as a Cupertino-vs-Redmond slapfest to ensue here any moment...
posted by JollyWanker at 8:09 AM on December 29, 2003

What are your requirements?
What are you going to use the device for?
posted by bshort at 8:17 AM on December 29, 2003

Response by poster: It will sync with Windows XP and primarily be used as an address book and calendar (with occasional entertainment use), so it will be carried in my pocket on a daily basis. I know that anything on the market today will meet these needs. I like the color screens and wireless connectivity (preferrably Bluetooth, but WiFi is also nice). I am considering a Palm Tungsten T2, but I am looking for suggestions. I used a Palm III for quite some time, but I have zero experience with Pocket PCs.
posted by ajr at 8:40 AM on December 29, 2003

For what it's worth, I just got a reconditioned Palm Tungsten T and it works well with my PC and Mac. In addition to the basics (calendar, addresses, to do, etc.), I use it for listening to audio books and reading ebooks. It cost $179. Not sure what a comparable Pocket PC would cost but I imagine it might not be as easy to sync with my Mac.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 8:42 AM on December 29, 2003

If you're using XP -- and presumably (?) MS Office programs, then Pocket PC is the logical choice. I've been using mine nearly 3 years, and it's great...syncing is never a problem, and virtually all of the Pocket PC programs are "intuitive" due to my use of MS Office programs. Prices are crazy-cheap these days...if you're looking for a balance between price and function, my suggestion is the Dell Axim Pocket PC.
posted by davidmsc at 8:52 AM on December 29, 2003

Tungsten E is a very nice mid-range Palm, take a look.

I've long preferred the PalmOS UI and such to that of PocketPC -- it feels designed for the device, rather than crammed into it.
posted by cortex at 9:32 AM on December 29, 2003

Pocket PC is horrible in every way... I have a Tungsten T2... and would highly recommend it. The Tungsten E is also a very nice midrange device.

Ironically Palm syncs much better with Outlook, and there are several Microsoft Office-compatible software suites for the handheld. The ratio of thirdparty software available, Palm to PPC, is about 1,000 to 1. Trust me on this one. Email me with more questions.
I am a Palm fanatic
posted by ac at 9:43 AM on December 29, 2003

sorry to piggyback on ajr's question, but... i've got a Palm Zire 71, and it's setup to HotSync with Microsoft Outlook on my machine. I've looked around, but I can't find information on how to change it so that it HotSyncs with my Outlook Express.
posted by lotsofno at 10:32 AM on December 29, 2003

I just bought a new handheld, a Dell PocketPC Axim X3i, and it is by far my favorite of all the handhelds I have owned over the years. The PocketPC software finally works, and works right.

But it also depends on what you are going to do with it? Maybe all you need is a Zire, which you can grab from Overstock for 40 bucks.

For Mac users, connecting Pocket PC can be done through PocketMac or Missing/Sync.

I am against HP products, so I would not recommend an iPaq.

If you are going Palm OS, I would go with a Sony Clie or a Tungsten 3 from PalmOne. I've tried the Tungsten E, and it is not a good handheld, and doesn't come with a docking cradle.

On the PocketPC, I don't like the Toshiba units, they feel cheap and oversized (thin, but wide). Again, no HPs. I'm not sure about ViewSonic units, either. The X3 at Dell starts at $206, too, which is a very good price.
posted by benjh at 10:34 AM on December 29, 2003

For an address book and calendar -- which is basically what I use my Palm m500 for -- the Palm works just fine. It syncs perfectly with Outlook, thank you.

While I have not used a PocketPC, what I gather from reading is that the compelling reason to go that way is to tie in with corporate IT systems. If you need that, than there's your decision.

Personally, I like the Palm's simplicity and longer battery life, especially with a B&W screen like mine. Plus you can pick up the older models pretty cheap.
posted by pmurray63 at 11:00 AM on December 29, 2003

If you're looking to use it as an organizer, get a Palm. If you're looking to use it as a computer and/or an Internet terminal, get a Pocket PC. Pocket PC used to be way ahead of Palm in media capabilities, but Palm has largely caught up in that department now. Palm's Web browser, to me, doesn't seem as mature as Pocket Internet Explorer -- or at least, Pocket IE renders pages using the same quirks as the desktop version, so things look more "correct" on the Pocket PC than on the Palm.

I bought an HP iPaq 2215 (2210 is the same model) a few months ago and it has so far met all my needs wonderfully. I don't use the organizer functions at all (my schedule is never so complex that I can't just keep it in my head). Bluetooth and two expansion slots give it plenty of connectivity and expandability. For Internet connectivity, I Bluetooth to either my desktop machine (with a 100-meter Belkin dongle, it's got range similar to 802.11) or to my Ericsson phone if I'm traveling. If you absolutely must have 802.11 there are iPaq models that have it (or both 802.11 and Bluetooth for the completist).
posted by kindall at 11:27 AM on December 29, 2003

As an organizer and desktop-sync system, it's hard to beat a Palm. The Pocket stuff has a very clumsy interface and to me they just feel unpolished and amateurish.

That said, your requirements don't sound too stringent. Have you considered just digging out that old Palm III? I'm using one (though with a major memory/storage upgrade) and it works just great, if perhaps just a bit slowly. It doesn't have bluetooth, but I've had no trouble using an IR connection to my GPRS phone and getting on the net that way, using the Blazer browser, pTelnet, and Top Gun SSH. A memory upgrade makes lugging 8 or 9 megs of Sitescooper/Plucker document around quite easy, and Vindingo still works on the old Palms.

Not to mention, a pretty fair portion of the Palm games still run just fine on the Palm III, with the exception of the Gameboy emulators.

The only features I'm missing out on are fancier displays and audio. And 802.11, which would be pretty cool.
posted by majick at 2:09 PM on December 29, 2003

I really like being able to fiddle with and carry and calculate with my excel spreadsheets (I'm a business major) out of the box with the iPaq my dad gave me a year ago for christmas.

On the other hand, I can't wait until he replaces the Palm he just got, because I can't get the iPaq to synch with my linux laptop. Palm's battery usage is also typically a lot lower than any PocketPC.

I'll echo what was said above, though ...if you're going to be using it JUST as an organizer, get a Palm. If you're going to be using it as an organizer and a mobile PC termial and surfing the web via WiFi and all that kind of stuff ... get a pocketPC.
posted by SpecialK at 2:26 PM on December 29, 2003

My Smartphone rules. The T9 text input makes grafitti seem silly and cumbersome. I have an Exchange-integrated calendar, contacts and inbox. Nice color display, web browsing capabilities. Battery life is good.
posted by tomharpel at 6:44 PM on December 29, 2003

I just acquired an iPaq 3650, which is 2 or 3 years old. I've previously owned everything from a Palm 1000 to a Palm Zire, and I *really* like the iPaq, even though it runs Windows.

Maybe I just didn't get high-end enough Palm units, they always felt slow and "clunky".

My wife picked up a Motorola MPx200 (same thing as tomharpel above) last week, and its a very nice implementation of PocketPC + phone.
posted by mrbill at 8:36 PM on December 29, 2003

Maybe I just didn't get high-end enough Palm units, they always felt slow and "clunky".

The newer ones have moved to the same type of RISC processor as the Pocket PC and are about equivalently snappy.

You should definitely plan on putting a Pocket PC on the charger every day or two. A Palm may be able to go longer. With standby reserve cranked down to 24 hours, my iPaq typically gets 4-5 hours of runtime on a full charge. I sprang for the extra battery for my iPaq (the cradle will charge a spare battery), and it did come in handy on my recent Christmas trip. One thing that really helps is not running the display at maximum brightness all the time. An underclocking program (run the unit at 200 or even 100 MHz rather than the usual 400) can also make a small difference if you're just whiling away the time with Jawbreaker.
posted by kindall at 9:03 PM on December 29, 2003

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