Friday, May 6

My PDA situation

My Palm Tungsten T2 is on its last legs. I've worn it into the ground. It won't hold a charge anymore, and it has hard-reset itself and lost all data at least 6 times in the last couple of months (including in my pocket on the way to work this morning, which is what has prompted these thoughts today). I've gone through the various options I have, and presented below is the thought process I have gone through.

1. Fix my Tungsten T2
2. Get a new Tungsten E2
3. Get a new Tungsten T5
4. Get a new Treo 600
5. Wait until the Treo 650 comes out for Verizon, and buy it

1. The T2 will cost at *least* $150 to fix, and it will still be used. This old piece of hardware has been used and abused for almost two years, and there's no way it'll ever be as good and reliable as it was when I first got it. It would be good to get a new one, and have this one as a "testing ground" to play with new software so that the newer one wouldn't get bogged down with all of my playing around.

2. The E2 has no real bad points, but then again it has no real good points either (other than the fact that it's the cheapest). It's basically a slightly less sleek, and much bigger, version of the T2 I already have.
Price from PalmOne: $249
Lowest price found (shipping included): $219

3. The Tungsten T5 is a great-looking handheld. It has the fastest processor of any Palm OS-based computer, and it's got a really big screen (the "writing" section is actually a part of the screen that can be minimized to allow the screen to expand). It's got the most memory of any handheld as well, and it can be operated in "drive mode" to act like a USB flash drive. The only drawback to this option is that I would have to get a new phone as well, but then again the "Upgrade" pricing from Verizon might make the new phone free or nearly free.
Price from PalmOne: $399
Lowest price found (shipping included): $319

4. The Treo 600 is an option, but the negatives far outweigh the positives. Sure, it's a smartphone, but the PDA part of it has much fewer features than even the Tungsten E2. It runs an older version of Palm OS than any of the other handhelds I'm considering, it has a low-resolution screen, it has no Bluetooth wireless sync capabilities, and its version of Documents to Go only allows viewing (no editing) of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. Also, it does not have a non-volatile file system, so the memory will all be erased if the power ever runs all the way down. All other options have NVFS, Bluetooth, OS 5.4, a high-resolution screen, and the ability to directly edit Office documents. The only good points of the Treo 600 is that it is a single device with both phone and PDA capabilities, and it has a built-in QWERTY keyboard. With the slowest processor speed of any new handheld I'm considering, I'd rather have even an E2 and a separate phone than get this contraption.
Price from PalmOne: $299

5. The Treo 650 is almost as fast as the T5, but it still has the smaller screen and a smaller amount of memory. On the plus side, it has a QWERTY keyboard, and it would be easier than ever to keep phone numbers updated in the phone because of the synchronziation capabilities. It also has a removable battery, which is a nice feature, but I kind of doubt that I'd ever get a second battery. The Treo 650 does not include a carrying case or any sort of protective cover, so that would have to be purchased separately. Also, it's cool that the PDA and phone features are combined, but if the PDA ever acts up I'll have a phone that doesn't work either. The Verizon version of the 650 doesn't even exist yet, and as such I don't even know how much it will cost. Treo Central thinks that they'll have one for about $369 after all of the mail-in rebates, but I don't know if the Upgrade credit from Verizon would make that end up any less.
Price from PalmOne (but not for a Verizon version, obviously): $449

1. Refurbishing the T2 would probably not completely fix my problems with it.
2. The Treo 600 would be a big step down.
3. The E2 would lower the status quo slightly (as compared to a fully-working T2, that is).
4. The Treo 650 would be a minor step up in PDA technology (though it would be great for consolidation of two gadgets I've always got around).
5. The T5 would be a big step up (and would even be a minor consolidation of gadgets, since it can act as a USB flash drive).

1. The Treo 650 would likely be the most expensive option.
2. The Tungsten T5 would probably be less expensive than the Treo, but still fairly pricey.
3. The Treo 600 would be relatively cheap.
4. The Tungsten E2 would be the cheapest new PDA, but not the cheapest option.
5. Refubishing the T2 would be the cheapest.

1. The Treo 650 is not yet available to me.
2. Refurbing the T2 would take some time, during which I would be without a handheld.
3. All other handhelds are immediately available.

Total scores (from adding up the relative merits discussed above):
Refurb: 1+5+2 = 8
E2: 3+4+3 = *10*
T5: 5+2+3 = *10*
T600: 2+3+3 = 8
T650: 4+1+1 = 6

It looks like the E2 and the T5 are tied as the front-runners, if equal weight is placed on the three factors I'm considering.

Ignoring availability, all options stack up the same way.
Ignoring price, the T5 gets the highest marks.
Ignoring technology, the Refurb and the E2 are tied.

If I put the highest weight on price by tripling all its numbers, the middle weight on technology by doubling its numbers, and the lowest weight on availability by leaving its numbers alone, the E2 comes out on top:

Refurb: 2+15+2 = 19
E2: 6+12+3 = *21*
T5: 10+6+3 = 18
T600: 4+9+3 = 16
T650: 8+3+1 = 12

But if the highest emphasis is on technology (with price second and availability third), I see the T5 as the best:

Refurb: 3+10+2 = 15
E2: 9+8+3 = 20
T5: 15+4+3 = *22*
T600: 6+6+3 = 15
T650: 12+2+1 = 15

If anybody has any personal experience they can share with me about the relative merits of the Tungsten E2 and the Tungsten T5 (or, really, anything I've talked about here), please discuss with me in the Comments section. Thanks!

Update: Welcome, readers! I had no idea my article discussing the comparative merits of the currently available PalmOne handhelds would generate so much traffic from another site. Thanks for coming; feel free to stick around.

I think I'm going to go with the E2. The main differences between it and the T5 are processor speed, memory, and screen size; these features are cool, but they're ultimately unnecessary. (Also, my wife would much prefer me to get the less expensive one...)


Scott said...

Hmmm, I wonder how the Palm TX would have done in this shootout...?

Brad said...

I just looked at the TX specs, and it certainly might have won if it had been available back in May!

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The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.