PDA Odyssey III

If you know me in meatspace, then you know that since 1996, I am never without my PDA.  I started out with a Radio Shack EC-379, switched to a Palm IIIxe, upgraded to a Palm VIIx, converted to a Treo 300 PDA/cellphone combo, later opted for a Treo 600 and then upgraded to a Treo 650.  I've also used a second generation iPod (never had an issue) and now use an 80 video iPod.

Well, I have now defected to the dark side and have left the comfortable confines of my trusty Palm PDA devices.

In short, the boss got me an iPhone for Christmas.  So, a review of the pros and cons is in order:


  • Sleek design – a truly gorgeous and slick looking device.
  • 8 gb of hard-drive space vs. the 32 mb standard with the Treo 650 (not including optional SD storage).  This provides tons of room for documents and third-party applications once Apple issues a firmware update to allow such.
  • Fast loading applications and have not yet experienced an application lock-up.  Frequent occurances of soft-resets and application stall-outs were commonplace on all my Treos, but not so often on my Palm IIIxe and Palm VIIx.
  • Clean, crisp graphics as only Apple can do.
  • Quick synchonizations with Outlook vs. the frequent stall-outs and contact duplications I experienced with Palm in recent years.
  • Built-in iPod music feature, with the ability to download music directly to the iPhone.  As I have an iPod already, this is not a major attraction for me on a daily basis.  However, when traveling I may decide to load more music on the iPhone and leave the iPod at home.


  •  No search capability – contacts are found via scrolling and calendar entries are found by manually selecting a date or scrolling left and right in the list mode.  I can search for text in multiple applications at once using my Treo.  This is a serious shortcoming and real pain for those of us with large contacts lists and packed calendars.
  • No cut and paste capability in email, contacts, calendar, etc.  This is a serious oversight that ought to be remedied via firmware update.
  • Keyboard is a bit clunky lending the user to excessive typos.  Palm graffiti and thumb keyboards are superior in this regard.
  • At present, third party applications cannot be directly loaded on to the iPhone.  As a consolation prize, there is a growing collection of web-hosted applications and games that can be accessed via Safari on the iPhone.  There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of third-party applications that can be loaded directly on Treo devices.  This is a problem that Apple needs to rectify quickly.  I would really appreciate the ability to load JFile, Documents to Go, eReader and other proven applications on the iPhone.  I have really become dependent on the my Treo for document access and editing capabilities.
  • Does not synchonize with "Tasks" and "Notes" in Outlook.  Given how complex the Contacts and Calendar synchs must have been to accomplish, the lack of such synchronization with Tasks and Notes appears lazy on Apple's part.

In the end, I am enjoying my new iPhone, much to my surprise and some of the negative press generated early on.  Being a long-time iPod user, I suppose I should have been less surprised.  Should Apple take action to address some of my concerns above, they may actually have created a device that matches, if not exceeds the Treo for business users.  As of yet, there is still a lot of work for Jobs and Co. before they can make such a claim.

Relevant Links:

PDA Odyssey:  http://jameslandrith.com/content/view/290/79/

PDA Odyssey II:   http://jameslandrith.com/content/view/2805/79/

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