MobileComputingFilter - Help me pick a mobile computing device
March 20, 2007 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Mobile Computing Filter - my boss has informed me he would like me to get some sort of mobile computing device to become more efficient while on the road. I've been looking at Pocket PCs, Blackberrys, Tablet PCs, Trios etc. What do you use? What works and what does not? What features do you wish you had? (I've done some Ask.Mefi research with little success)

I need the following abilities:

* Fully functional Web browsing
* Ability to connect to Windows Remote Access
* View & Use Office applications
* Read PDFs
* Phone (sort of optional)
* Backup
* Wireless or Broadband Internet
* Encryption
* GPS functionality
* IM

Ideal (any of the below):

* Adobe Acrobat (edit PDFs)
* Camera
* Photo editing
* Bluetooth and.or RFID

Also looking for more "futuristic", bleeding edge features such as flexible keyboards, laser keyboards, plugin glasses/goggles for better screen resolution etc.
posted by bkdelong to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like a Windows Mobile device would be the way to go. That said, I've used Series 60 Symbian devices and have been using a BlackBerry for the past couple years, and I love the BlackBerry more than anything. Email and web browsing is fast and quite excellent, keyboards have been great and the phone and everything else works very well. Using it with a BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) gives it the most bang for the buck) makes it great. Using a Windows Mobile devices with MS Exchange is a pretty killer combo, though, imho, WinMo devices have been slow, clunky, and irritatingly bothersome. The devices, physically aren't so bad, but its the nuances of windows (such as having to go 5 submenus into something to change a damn ringtone) grate and bother me to the point where i've given up on them. And they generally have underpowered processors to boot. The BlackBerry's do a great job of maximizing processor load and speed, and the compression of the data that the BIS/BES does is really stellar... and sometimes faster than some winmo devices on Wifi.
posted by vrdx at 10:29 AM on March 20, 2007

Response by poster: vrdx - Do Windows Mobile devices have touchscreen/stylus ability? Or is it keyboard-based navigation?
posted by bkdelong at 10:41 AM on March 20, 2007

Avoid Windows Mobile devices like the plague. I've had two and they were both awful. I exchanged the last one for a Blackberry, and never looked back. I adore my Blackberry. It actually does what it's supposed to do, and it does it well and intuitively.

WinMo device had touchscreen/stylus, but I actually found it very inconvenient. Who wants to deal with an extra piece and two hands while walking down the street? With the Blackberry, you can do most of your navigating with one hand.

If you're looking for "bleeding edge" and you've got the money, check out They outfit crazy Japanese devices for the American market.
posted by walla at 11:07 AM on March 20, 2007

Response by poster: walla- thanks for the tip. What features of the BB do you use most?
posted by bkdelong at 11:13 AM on March 20, 2007

Maybe a bleeding edge umpc will do it for you? A full machine in the palm of your hand basically. Asus R2H comes with GPS. You could always just get an external bluetooth module..

If you'd like a keyboard though, check out flipstart or an equivalent sony model (sorry, dont know off the top of my head).
posted by aeighty at 11:37 AM on March 20, 2007

I have had nearly all the modern BlackBerry's and i second the avoidance of the WinMo devices. They are truly pain's in the ass.

I use my internet browser alot, BlackBerry Messenger, and of course for email. No device on the market today makes it easier to set up mail, business or personal on a device than the blackberry system. And I used to work for a wireless Carrier, so I've had experience with everything on the market.

They're easy to use and get the job done and then some, and the stylus, i'll agree, on winmo devices are more cumbersome than you imagine. It's very difficult to dial a number while driving and using a touch screen as well, i might add. The BlackBerry is very intuitive and 'learns' things, auto corrects words and names and finds numbers and links in things, and you can configure and scale things to your heart's content. I whole-heartedly reccomend a BB. They might not be the cheapest option out of the gate (depending on what/where you're looking/getting) but they're well worth every penny.

And by 'used to work for a carrier' I mean i just recently resigned, so i'm current on my opinions and experience :) . If you've got more questions, follow the trail, PM me or email me.. or post here, I'll check up on it.
posted by vrdx at 11:51 AM on March 20, 2007

Response by poster: I'm liking the options of some of the UMPCs but think I may need more of a high-powered phone with faster Net access.

Where's the damn happy medium? :)

Some of the FMD/HMDs look nice like the mikimoto bean i-theatre:
posted by bkdelong at 12:04 PM on March 20, 2007

I'm going to go against the Blackberry crowd and suggest Windows Mobile. It has way more flexibility than the Blackberry.

Windown Mobile is fine as long as you don't go crazy installing random 3rd party apps and wondering why your PDA phone crashes so often.

I would personally recommend the Cingular 8525 (if you need a keyboard). I use Opera Mobile as a browser, TomTom navigator with a BT GPS, it has a built in Terminal Services client. E-mail setup was a breeze. It took my mail server, username and password. It then sync'd my exchange mailbox and activated push.
posted by mphuie at 12:21 PM on March 20, 2007

Second the Cingular 8525 (actually the HTC Hermes). Please to check this story for more info on new HTC devices - HTC kicks serious butt when it comes to full-featured slick devices (even if they do run Windows Mobile...)
posted by noahv at 1:42 PM on March 20, 2007

Nokia E90. Not out yet, but it's all that and a bag of chips...if you like a big bulge in your pants...
posted by lovejones at 2:00 PM on March 20, 2007

I travel a bit both personally and for work (I'm a consultant). I couldn't live without my BlackBerry 8700C. When I want to take a computer, but not my IBM ThinkPad (which is great, but big), I take a Motion Tablet. It's wonderful on airplanes when you don't have much space, it's the same functionality as my full laptop, and with an attachable keyboard, it's even perfect for large amounts of writing. Huge battery life, too.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:23 PM on March 20, 2007

At work were forced to change over to Windows Mobile 5 devices recently. They are awful. Mediocre PDAs and almost unusable phones. Way too many menus to navigate (in no apparent logical arrangement) to get even the most basic tasks done, inconsistent, slow and fiddly UI, it crashes ever so often, and it can't be used it one handed.

Email and the (cut down) web browser are it's saving graces, but they aren't nearly enough to justify the significant price and extra hassle of these devices, IMHO. They're perfect if you want an impressive looking toy, and a waste of time if you need a tool for your work.
posted by imbecile at 4:06 PM on March 20, 2007

how bout for mac environment? anyone else finding treos tre difficult?
posted by oigocosas at 9:50 PM on March 20, 2007

Yeah, I'm going to have to second mphuie and go against the Blackberry crowd. My group currently manages the mobile device backend systems that we were tasked to put in two years ago. We started out with BlackBerries at the request of our new CEO, but very quickly migrated over to WiMo at the request of the endusers. Our experience was that BlackBerries were good for the higly non-technical users, but those who had some skillz preferred the WiMo platform. We still maintain about 20 BBs, but have upped to about 400 WiMos. We don't get the kind of complaints I've seen on this post, but that's not to say they don't happen.

That being said, I don't think this particular debate is relevant to your question as some of the items in your "needs" list won't be met by the tiny screen on a mobile (specifically reading anything and full-fledged browsing experience, remote desktop is a bitch on those screens). I, too, have been looking at the choices out there, and haven't found much in the way of a solution (I also add the ability to read digital versions of comic books, so I definitely need a larger screen). At this point, I think I'm going to get myself an older HP TC1100 Tablet PC. It has all the connectivity I need, and combine with a bluetooth phone I can use that to browse when I need. It's not the greatest performer, but is light enough to carry around in my bag all the time. They can be had for less than a grand, even new in the box, from time to time.
posted by Spoonman at 7:56 AM on March 21, 2007

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