Can you help me decide between (used) PDA's, Smartphones, Pocket PCs and the year 2008?
January 24, 2008 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me decide between PDA's, Smartphones, Pocket PCs and the year 2008? I am looking most specifically for info on the Sony Clie PEG NX70V ... IPAQ 4350 ... and IPAQ 2215. But advice on any of this would be immensely helpful! I did search AskMeFi, but found only info for new equipment or old posts. I'm talking used equipment instead, older but able to keep up with current software stuff. (More inside)

I'm interviewing for work as a personal assistant, something I did for years, but haven't done in years. A couple of interviewers suggested (strongly) that I might find a PDA useful, so I responded to a few online community for sale ads; I was most impressed by the IPAQ's 4350 and 2215, that were $175 and $90 used. On the phone, on the way home, I found out that my husband has a pda in the house, older and barely used. It's a Sony Clie PEG NX70V.

Now here's my questions, as I did not know that we already had one. I need to compare it to those. I've pulled it out and it's working fine. The question is, is it outdated? Or is it fully sufficient for my needs? If any of you know anything about them both, better than what I've been able to figure out online, that would be cool.

This Clie has a swivel tablet top, which is useful and cool, and I haven't been able to figure out whether the IPAQ's do. I liked the IPAQ because it seemed to offer more of what a small PC would ... but now I see that there is tons of freeware available for the palm, and that the clie is a palm; plus, in the reviews raving about the IPAQ's, it was said that their keyboards were "almost as good as" the Clie's. Hmmm.

The IPAQ uses a standard SD card -- I can't tell the max size, but this is the year 2008, where apps and media eat up memory ...and this Clie accepts only a memory stick, and only up to 128mb. Are they even available anymore? Is that enough for my needs?

My needs are a todo list and appointment calendar, as close to GTD style as I can make them; MSword or equivalent, and a way of viewing docs and pdfs and, hopefully, web pages. I don't mind syncing them from my laptop and transferring them, but I can't figure out how well either the IPAQ or the CLIE do these things.

With a laptop and car inverter, I've never even bothered to use the browser on my cell phone, I've just opened my laptop whereever I am and found a connection that way. But now, for these jobs, it is apparently better for me to use something handheld, like a PDA ... so I'm not really sure of what the action is for getting webstuff, nor of the cost of doing so ... my wireless laptop doesn't cost me anything to do this ... will the PDA or the Pocket PC cost me to use the WIFI cards?

The Clie comes with a video/still camera and mp3 player ... am I silly for thinking, well I already have portable hardware for those things ... I figure I can save on the PDA battery and memory by NOT using it for those, but that means that I'd be carrying three items with me instead of one.

For that matter, am I silly for not going ahead and buying a smartphone? As I understand it, that would mean carrying one thing instead of four things -- but again, I am HUNTING for a job, and since I already own a laptop, LG CU500 cell phone, 1GB mp3 player, SmallWonder video camera (which records 5 hours at a stretch!) and, now, this Clie PDA ...well even though the IPAQ pda's are "only" $90 and $175 respectively, and a smartphone would likely be around $250 ... I could save all of that money by using what I've got and not buying anything till AFTER I've had the paying job for a while. These items are all old execpt for the Small wonder, but that was only $100 -- $120 with the 2GB SD card, and let's face it, that's an amazing price for a 3x5 inch video camera that lets you record 5 hours at a a stretch -- I'm an amateur journalist in my off-time, so I felt that was a great investment.

Well! While I digressed there, I guess I answered my own question as to whether I should get one now ... common sense tells me "no" unless there is something glaringly wrong with the Sony Clie PEG NX70v or it's 128gb memory stick is something to laugh about ... but if any of you could compare IPAQ's pocket pc's to it, or know of other specifics, or could even point me to some good software for it -- productivity apps, logic type games (backgammon or word game or puzzle game stuff) and writer's apps ... that would be cool. And nice of you. Thank you for reading through all of this as I ramble. I've been up hours in those interviews and now in a quick search for comparison info and these billion questions are the ones that are still dancing round my brain.

Thanks for any insight.

posted by thewhynotgirl to Technology (20 answers total)
Response by poster: Haha ... cute; be careful or I might just mark you as best answer!

Nah, what I mean is that I want to put 2008 needs on a 2003 PDA or PocketPC and want to know if the device can handle it.

But you knew that ... :)
posted by thewhynotgirl at 2:27 PM on January 24, 2008

I have a older Palm Tungsten T5. It's works great for my pretty busy calendar and long contacts list.

I use it for Contacts, Calendar, some basic notes and some games. The user interface hasn't changed all that much in modern versions of the Palm from what' s on the Sony PEG.

I never find that my cell phones camera is all that useful, not do I find browsing on the Palm all that great except in an emergency.

I'd say, try using the old Sony for a while to learn the ins and outs of using a PDA.

It you end up having any troubles, like battery or software problems, cut your losses and go for something more modern.

While the new PDAs talk about word and office documents and your ability to work with them,I haven't seen much need to "edit a word document or spreadsheet and email it" from a PDA in my life. I'd be somewhat surprised if you found it something you'd have to do.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:28 PM on January 24, 2008

Here's the questions you need to ask yourself when buying a PDA:

- What do I need it to do?
- How easy does it do the things I need it to do?
- Could I get it done easier/faster/better on a pad and paper or by simply waiting until I find a computer?
- How much money am I willing to waste?

PDA's never did what I needed them to do: get my email and EASILY allow me to schedule myself. I was futzing around with that stupid little pen so often, taking five minutes to jot down what I could have written in 5 seconds.

All those stupid applications and games are more trouble than they are worth. Ask yourself those questions, answer them, and check out which device fits your needs the best. I was never able to find one that fit my needs.
posted by jstef at 2:31 PM on January 24, 2008

PDAs were done right in the days of the Palm V. While I haven't kept up with the latest PDAs (for the same reasons as mentioned above), I do find CNET Reviews fairly helpful when making purchasing decisions...especially for side-by-side comparisons.
posted by samsara at 2:56 PM on January 24, 2008

For the long term, I'd actually recommend a smartphone or a PDA with a phone built in to it (a lot of them have this now), because you are right, it's better to carry one device than 4 of them!

For the short term however, I agree with other posters that you should try out the Sony and see how you go. The Palm OS hasn't changed that much in the last few years, so you can consider it training for when you get a 2008 "grown-up" PDA (if that's what you decide to do).

As for the 128mb memorystick, you shouldn't have a problem if you don't want to use it for music or video. Apps for the device are pretty small, you only need a bigger memory stick for multimedia. On that note, are you sure it doesn't support a bigger MS? 128mb seems small for a PDA, even an older one...

Oh, and you should visit Dave Allen's site for GTD or do a search on GTD and "palm"... I think you'd be surprised how many people have talked about developed GTD apps for the palm mobile devices! :)
posted by ranglin at 3:10 PM on January 24, 2008

Response by poster: Bottlebrushtree: 1. Thanks for the info that Palm's user interface of today is not much changed from yesterday. From the comments so far, it seems that Palm set the bench and pretty much still has it. 2. Grrrrrreat idea to work with the one I have before deciding -- that will give me a good idea of what I'm looking for one to have! 3. I do expect to need to edit small docs on mine, for work, I'm told.

Jstef: I'll probably get more specific as I use what I have, per bottlebrushtree above, but I need to be able to check todos, docs and calendars often and make changes on the fly, perhaps frequently, so it has to be realllly userfriendly. I just played with the cleo, wanted to drag an item from the todolist onto a specific date, will likely need to move things from one date to another in future or from an undated todo list ... and so far I either can't figure it out or the Clie can't do it. That would be a BIG failing.Anyone know if it can and I'm just not getting it yet?

samsara: That's a wonderful resource! Because the three don't fall on the same list page, it's gonna take a little finagling to get them to compare with one another, but the page is a perfect one for comparison and all three were cnet reviewed :)

ranglin: I was hoping the 128 would be fine without music and video, yay! And I'm implementing your search suggestions right now.

Thanks, you all for all your help -- you're giving me exactly what I'd hoped but couldn't find -- At this rate, it looks like I'll get all my questions answered today :) -- I'm so grateful!
posted by thewhynotgirl at 3:39 PM on January 24, 2008

Response by poster: 1. Is drag and drop possible on the palm clie?
2. do I have to use outlook as calendar for sycing with my pc -- I have shied away from it because it was so virus friendly in the past, but maybe it's not a problem to worry about in this case ... particularly if I don't use it for email, just for calendaring ... can I use my google calendar with the clie palm in any manner?
3. Is there anyone here who has used an IPAQ and could tell me some of the benefits or other thoughts?

posted by thewhynotgirl at 4:23 PM on January 24, 2008

Response by poster: I found MultiTask via the search suggested by ranglin ... it looks to be just what I will need for my GTD software ... I'm posting it here because some of you said you could never get your pda to do just what you wanted, and maybe you wanted the same thing as I do ... a noncomplicated gtd project software with personalized template capability, and low cost
posted by thewhynotgirl at 4:29 PM on January 24, 2008

I used a tungsten E a few years ago, which was pretty much a direct competitor to the clie range, and was about the same age as your nx70. As a straight PDA, to jot down notes, and keep a calendar/datebook in your pocket, and my favourite function, todo lists, the palm 5's were always very quick and long-lifed on the battery. Frankly, for basic organisational functions, i.e. a direct replacement for a paper organiser, they're solid devices. I always get collared for jobs away from my desk, so it's very handy to be add then right into my main todo list so I don't forget them. Having my notes with me all the time also rocks.
They do also support minor editing of documents and spreadsheets on the fly using pocket office, but I wouldn't want to compose a whole one on an older palm - low res screens, so harder to read text. 128MB is stacks if you're not needing to put music or large amounts of images on it, and i think that was the limit for original memory stick devices. (mem stick pro was bigger but didn't come in till later)

There are replacement calendar and todo apps for the palm, a number of them. I tend to do the bulk of the planning work at my desk, then update on the fly. I used datebook 5 as the replacement calendar/todo program - mainly due to be able to have more than one calendar on it. There are a numbe of others, isn't a bad place to start to look for extra software to fill in gaps.

Wifi on a pda will work similarly to the wifi on your laptop, i.e. free. However, older pda's especially will not support all the current security standards for wifi, so will struggle to connect to access points so easily.

If and when you do decide to upgrade, I'd go for a smartphone pocketpc (windows mobile 6) based device; the always on connectivity, with wifi and a higher resolution screen plus phone is a godsend - I only carry one device instead of 4. That said, work paid for mine, I wouldn't have bought it out of my own pocket. Frankly, I could do 80% of what I use my smartphone (a glofiish x800) for on my old palm.
GPS and mobile 'net usage is handy, but not essential - you have the laptop to fill in the gaps with the pda. The main advantage of a pda is you always have it with you. The advantage of a modern pda/smartphone is always being connected for email etc without the need to lug about a laptop and phone as well.

I'd stick with the clie if you can, and then upgrade later once the need for more advanced features and a better screen becomes necessary.

Oh, and get a copy of bejewelled 2 ;)
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:58 PM on January 24, 2008

1) don't think so, not with the basic software anyway - palm os doesn't really do drag-and-drop. You could look into shadowplan (, that is used by some GTD people and gives much more advanced (i.e. nested) todo lists that you can use to create and link to a calendar entry (tho not drag and drop per se)

2) palm devices usually come with palm desktop, an alternative to outlook that actually syncs better with the palm OS. I always preferred it to outlook when using palm, and it should be available for free from
If you want to link with google calendar, you can use outlook or palm desktop.

3) I've never used an ipaq personally, but the early windows mobile pda's sucked badly (2003 and earlier) - slow, ate RAM, and worse battery life. Windows mobile 5 devices draw level on features with better screens (but still very power hungry - I did have an axim x51v). WM6 devices are IMHO, better, with a lot more features.

Unless you desperately need a higher resolution screen, I'd stick to the palm.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:14 PM on January 24, 2008

BTW, you can assign a date/priority/category to a given todo entry from within the todo's - you just can't drag and drop it into calendar iirc.,subcat-HANDHELD.html

Here's also some GTD tips using only the standard palm software
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:22 PM on January 24, 2008

To answer your question, the Sony Clie PEG NX70V will probably work just as well as a brand new PDA for you. It sounds like you want to try and use PIM (personal information manager) like features and truth be told, there hasn't been any leaps in technology as far as PIMs go over the past few years. Although newer models may have stronger search features or something.

You shouldn't (although I have no experience with that particular model) have any problems syncing it with Outlook or some other PIM software. If you search Google for help I'm sure you can work through it.

You should work out what you can do on what you have before you decide if you actually need to go out and buy a new or used PDA IMO.

I bought a PocketPC back at the end of 2003. The iPAQ 1945. It was a cool little device. I carried it around with me everywhere, but to be honest I used it more to play SNES games through an emulator than what it was really suppose to be used for. It ended up being a very expensive toy. It just took too long to enter information in. The handwriting recognition did not like my handwriting and tapping things out on the little on-screen keyboard took way too long.

My boss lives by his. But then again he has secretaries that enter all his appointments and contacts in Outlook so his PDA is constantly up to date without him actually having to manage anything.

I currently carry a small journal around that I jot notes down in for both work and personal life. That works far better for me and is much faster. For appointments that I want to remember, I enter them in my cell phone as well as jot them down in my journal under a special section for that.

I think that PDAs are good things if you find yourself taking full advantage of all the PIM features of Outlook or something similar. If you have multiple appointments a day, keep to a weekly task list, and have an ever growing contact list then a PDA might be for you. Otherwise it is just another thing to carry around and keep the battery charged.
posted by nickerbocker at 5:27 PM on January 24, 2008

The best gadget is usually the one you already have. You shouldn't have any problems doing what you want with the Clie.

But a word of advice. Don't buy secondhand portable gadgets. The batteries are almost always screwed. Unless they take standard sizes like AA and AAA.
posted by krisjohn at 6:33 PM on January 24, 2008

I have a Clie SJ22 (very ancient). It doesn't do drag&drop, but it (and, I believe, all PalmOS devices) do cut and paste. Draw a / on the character-scribble area and you get a little menu with the usual Edit icons (and Beam, too).

It's annoying, but isn't 'annoying' what the A in PDA stands for?
posted by hexatron at 6:34 PM on January 24, 2008

It's annoying, but isn't 'annoying' what the A in PDA stands for?

Assistant, I believe
posted by rasputin98 at 7:12 PM on January 24, 2008

Response by poster: ArkhanJG: Omigosh, thank you for giving all that time and energy to answer so much. I really, really appreciate it. Also, the only other pda ad I'd answered was for a Tungsten E2, so it looks like I had picked the right ones to investigate :).

What you said: "I always get collared for jobs away from my desk, so it's very handy to be add then right into my main todo list so I don't forget them. Having my notes with me all the time also rocks.
They do also support minor editing of documents and spreadsheets on the fly using pocket office"

is EXACTLY what I was hoping I could do competently for work purposes.

I'll bear in mind the screen res info, too; I just gave up on finding the original cd for syncing, so will have to wait till I download drivers in order to view docs/spreadsheet. For what's on it already, tho, res is excellent.

As for the rest of your first answer, yes, I'm happy to do the rest of all that on the laptop till I choose some all-in-one answer then we may have laptops the size of a 3x5 card, with virtual keyboards and virtual monitors ... *that* would be well worth waiting for :), wouldn't it???

As for bejeweled 2 -- lol -- I like the other games in that set, too ... um, alchemy and collapse. An backgammon or an animated jigsaw puzzle would be cool, too ... but I'm just glad you didn't suggest a roleplay, arcade or shootemup game ...

I will check out the drag and drop software that you mentioned ... I mentioned finding multitask earlier ; I've found a second product ( that interests me, too, because it allows the user to drag and drop and mix "the way you want. For example, you could put an Address and a Datebook entry together, or mix Expense, Memo Pad and To Do entries". For GTD, those might actually be the only two softwares that I need. Wouldn't it be amazing if it were that easy???

And thank you for the other softwares/platforms/learning links ... Again, the wealth of help here is awesome from you guys, filling in all the gaps I missed in my own searching.
posted by thewhynotgirl at 9:41 PM on January 24, 2008

Response by poster: Nickerbocker: You said "truth be told, there hasn't been any leaps in technology as far as PIMs go over the past few years. Although newer models may have stronger search features or something."

and finding this out from you guys has been a major relief for me, insofar as not feeling like I'm gonna be working with a chisel and stone while the rest of the world has ballpoints.

Thanks for sharing your ppc experience, too ... I think my biggest strength here is that I'll be using it only for pim stuff ... and the aforementioned games that I usually carry in the little $14 versions anyhow. I am a horrendously disorganized person in my personal life, and the more I read the manual, the comments here and the links, the more I get the real feeling that this is going to change that for me, and with far more ease than I ever expected it could.

As I sit typing this, there is a 2 foot pile of paper scraps behind me, on the floor, where I've just dumped it while looking for something within a drawer. Next to me, in a backpack are 3 or 4 appointment books and notebooks of different types. Nothing in this whole paragraph has worked for me, so I have always been pretty envious of you who do not have the 2 foot pile of scrap papers looming! And the thought of entering appts in a cell phone, and then in a notebook, or remembering to do either ... it just doesn't happen in my life. One item, electronically flexible ... that sounds good. Maybe not as good as your boss has it, but good till I get my own staff ... someday ...

The key, I think, is that the Clie recognized my handwriting 100%, which was really surprising - cuz only family can usually read it lol; and that for speed, it has that virtual feature, where I can write in cursive and draw sketches or whatever at real speed and then save it with a category and name and it's all fully legible. Those two softwares I found, I'd never seen before when searching for GTD stuff for my pc.

My husband has already been properly thanked :) for having this quality thing lying around. With the info I've followed through this forum today ... I'm getting happier and happier what I have here :)
posted by thewhynotgirl at 10:10 PM on January 24, 2008

Response by poster: krisjohn: It took me a moment, cuz I've had GREAT success in buying almost all of our minor electronics second hand ... but you know, I don't think I've bought anything at that had a nonstandard battery ... except cell phones, since my teens used to lose them monthly so we began buying used in bulk and just saying "look in the phone box!" when they'd lose the next one lol! ... but isn't that amazing ... nothing else with a nonstandard battery. That's good advice. Thanks!

hexatron: okay, so that does indeed sound annoying but even better ... I haven't seen that edit ability mentioned anywhere in the manual or ondevice demo ... thanks for that!
posted by thewhynotgirl at 10:25 PM on January 24, 2008

Response by poster: Just an update in case any of you return to look at this thread:

I spent the past two days (not counting one on which I was at an out of town seminar) searching EVERYWHERE for my husband's installation cd-rom, since the clie PEG nx70v has a "unique" desktop unavailable from sony or palm and then found everything I needed via this site and am now set up and trying out various apps recommended by many of you.

The clie, even as is, was indispensible at my seminar ... it turned out that I was called upon to be a speaker and, with the clie (using the basic apps before getting the installation cd), I was able to make some notes, reference earlier speakers and walk up to the podium with my clie in hand --- giving a grand speech that afterward found me surrounded by people asking me to join their organizations and work with them on related projects.

Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone!!!

I'll post again in a few days, just to offer anything helpful that I've learned, to anyone in future who may need this thread, and to assign "best answers".

I hope your weeks go as well as you've ensured that mine will.
posted by thewhynotgirl at 10:36 AM on January 27, 2008

posted by samsara at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2008

« Older Best Windows TIFF combiner?   |   Pinup Girl Bachelorette Party? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.