Ask the Readers: PDA Recommendation

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 13, 2007
Updated • Dec 1, 2012
Mobile Computing

I'm planing to purchase a PDA at the end of this year and would like to hear your opinion before I go out and buy something that does not meet my expectations. I never used a PDA before but tried to read about the different operating systems and the like to get a first overview.

I think it would be best to describe what I want to do with it and what it should definitely support hardware and software wise. Some of you are most likely PDA experts and it would be wonderful if you could point me into the right direction with some suggestions and probably brands that I should take a closer look at.

I basically need the PDA when I'm on the road to check E-Mails, write notes and use it for accounting purposes which means that it should at least support some kind of Excel / accounting software with import and export options. What I really want is a PDA with a way to quickly add text to it. I hate for instance writing SMS on mobile phones because of the layout - most likely because of my clumsy fingers.

It should support WLAN as well and a battery that lasts for more than a few hours. What I do not need is a phone, mp3 player, video player, game capability, fancy designs, mobile navigation, radio and the like.

I really do not care about operating system, a bigger screen would be nice but is not a must, it should at least support some kind of flash memory cards that I can use to store files on. Last but not least I do not want to pay more than €400 for it which equals around $600.

My own research which only took a look at the features but not at the usability lead me to the PDAs HP iPAQ 200 and HP iPAQ 100. Do you have experience with those two devices or know of other PDAs that would be a good choice for my needs ?


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  1. Dj Shinno said on November 14, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    I recomend to you the HP Ipaq 210 but the only problem is that it will be avariable until Q1 of 2008 but its the BEST stand alone no phone PDA in the market.. if you can not wait O2 Flame is good. but it come Phone.

  2. Juan said on November 13, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Dell doesn’t seem to sell their award winning Axims (X51, X50, etc) anymore, that was your best bet. Back in the day I got a X30 and it worked out pretty well, my 2nd choice was an HP one, so you are on the right track.

    Like Ace_NoOne said, PDAs don’t seem to have much offering at the end of the road with all the new ultra portable laptops/tablet pc coming out today.

    good luck

  3. Dante said on November 13, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    I personally use the HTC PPC6700. But in Europe, I would definitely suggest logging into eBay and look for “GSM PDA”. I saw a few really cheap ones – US$140. (Don’t get the AudioVox PPC4100 – they can’t be unlocked.) Just look for something that can be unlocked for your SIM card(s); and PocketPC 2003 or above (i.e. Windows Mobile 5+).

    All Windows PDA comes with Pocket Excel and Notes (which lets you draw/write directly into the note, not a Palm special character stroke lunacy.)

    Another reason for recommending a Windows based PDA are the hacks available at: alt.binaries.warez.pocketpc and alt.binaries.ebook.*

    I do find that if you’re a heavy user, don’t buy a PDA that has a slide out keypad. They tend to break. Just get one massive unit with no moving parts.

  4. Vharn said on November 13, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Hi there.

    I also own a Windows Mobile PDA Phone, one of the newer Kind, a E-Ten M700. It comes with WM6 (okay, I did a firmware update, but the new Versions got WM6), WiFi, Bluetooth and – my reasons for buying it – a full slide-out QWERTZ-Keyboard as well as a GPS Receiver. CPU Speed is 400MHz, though it is an older processor.
    While GPS is not for you, they keyboard really’ll get you, so try get one with a slide-out.
    When it comes to support, I’d really recommend you to go with the larger brands, my favorite among them being HTC. They – usually – offer decent battery life, the whole wireless-connectivity-thingy and you can buy lots of stuff for them, just like the DELL Axims.
    Thing is, they mostly manufacture PDA Phones, plain-old-PDAs are indeed found less on the market than two years ago. I also think, that one device for both is enough, since the PDA is big enough in your pockets.
    Working about 1 hour or so with the thing on a daily basis, the battery stays alive for two or three days with the phone module enabled, decent enough for me.
    As for the Transcribing-Function in Windows Mobile, it could never make any sense of anything I have written with the stylus, so i just left it alone and stuck with the QWERTZi…

  5. Rupert P said on November 13, 2007 at 10:58 am

    I bought a Del Axim X30 of eBay in the middle of the year for about £50. What an amazing bargain, it was pretty much brand new, it’s got WiFi, Bluetooth, a battery that last about 3 hours or so, a mini SD slot (so it’s got 4GB of storage) and runs Pocket PC 2003 SE, which comes with Pocket Outlook, Word and Excel. Once you install a few extras like Opera Mobile and a task manager, it truly rocks.

    I didn’t use it much for the first few months, but now after learning GTD I use it all the time, plus I can run Pocket Blender on it and also WiFiTunes (a nifty app allowing you to stream tunes from your iTunes library on your local network that you are sharing (of course, I shun iTunes software itself, so I am using the excellent Firefly Media Server on my NSLU2 instead, I can’t stomach all this Apple love…Quicktime…get out of my systemtray)). Its got an ok amount of memory, 64MB, which goes down to about 15MB free after it is up and running and start up apps have loaded, and has a ~300Mhz processor.

    I doubt you would need much more than that for what you want to do with it. The plus for going for an older version like the X30 (or even the X50 which is getting a little old now) is that all the accessories for it are nice and cheap now. I recently picked up a cradle for it for £5 off eBay and a new 2000mAh battery (it is sold with a 700mAh one) for about £10. There is also a 600Mhz version of the X30 floating around if you want real whizz bang. People might say go with a Smartphone (I’ve got a Nokia N73) and whilst it also has Pocket Office, as you mention, the interface is too fiddly, a touchscreen is much easier to use for data entry.

    Happy hunting

  6. kevinn said on November 13, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Try looking for a Windows Mobile 6 Smartphone unit. Dopod/HTC/O2’s units comes to mind. They have a mobile version of Office, Outlook, Windows Media Player, Wi-fi and other PDA’ish features.

    I’d rather have one unit that does both (phone and PDA) than plopping two units in my bag.

    *cringes in recommending M$* But hey they’re doing well at it.

  7. Ace_NoOne said on November 13, 2007 at 10:06 am

    I’m mostly writing this comment to activate the e-mail notifications – but haven’t PDAs been pronounced dead ages ago?
    I haven’t looked into this myself yet though, so I might very well be wrong.

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