Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who Still Uses Palm Pilots?

I do. You bet I do. Lemme talk about it. Back in the day all my friends in high school had Franklin planners (yes, I used to run with a very nerdy crew). I wanted a Franklin planner, but they made those things so ridiculously expensive that my parents wouldn't cover it (smart move on their part. Those things were overrated). I ran around with the inferior Cambridge planner with a fake leather binding and much cheaper fillers. If you're too young to know what a Franklin or Cambridge planner is, think of it as a glorified Trapper Keeper (just look it up).
 Anyway, I'm not sure what the obsession was with planning your day as a high schooler. I did the same crap every day. The only real benefit was keeping track of which speech and debate tournament was which weekend. Anyway, as I said, I was behind the times with my lack of proper planning accoutrement, but it wouldn't always be that way.

When I got into college, my Dad gave me an unexpected gift: his old Palm III. He had just upgraded to the Palm IIIC (which I would later inherit from him) and he gave me his monochrome Palm III. I bought a fold-out keyboard for it and used my first PDA for everything from playing games (what I did the most) to taking notes in class (what I did the least). Best of all, I had technology that my pen and paper toting colleagues did not. I was on top of the world. I indicated that I would later inherit my Dad's IIIC. This happened after the III got dropped and suffered irreparable damage. So the Palm IIIC became my first color PDA. I've owned several since then, but have only held onto three.

Here's a list of PDA's I have owned inasmuch as I can remember and in no particular order: Dell Axim X30, Palm Tungsten T, Palm IIIC, Ipaq H5150 (given to my wife), Sony Clie N760C, Palm IIIX, Palm VX, Palm M130, Palm M505, Palm Tungsten E, and probably a few others I'm forgetting. Now that I look at it, that's a nerdy freaking list. It's important to note that none of those PDA's double as cell phones. I don't currently own a cell phone and don't want one. Yeah, I'm weird.

Anyway, I just wanted to talk a bit about why I love the three PDA's I've held onto and why I keep using technology that the world has largely given up on, especially now that tablet pc's and smartphones are all the rage.

Palm IIIC- Despite being released 11 years ago (not that long ago for a car, a million years ago for tech) the Palm IIIC actually has one of the best color screens in the business. It doesn't suffer from being in direct sunlight as many other displays do, but I couldn't possibly venture to guess why. I actually carried this thing around and used it on a daily basis until 2006 or so. I would see people with Tungstens and other higher powered PDA's and I would always say, "When I can find something I need this thing for other than keeping phone numbers and playing games, I'll upgrade." Of course I eventually did upgrade, but imagine being a girl in 2005 and having me ask for your number and jot it down on what was, even at the time, a dinosaur of a PDA. I didn't care. This thing was 100% reliable for me. I actually pulled it out and charged it a couple days ago. Not only is it still holding a charge, but it still works just as well as it did when I first got it (2001 or so). I still have the foldout keyboard for it, and that still works like a charm. I don't know what ever happened to the Rhino Skin case I used to have for this thing that allowed me to wear it on my belt like dorky mcdorklepants, but I have all the other accessories and software and were it not for two more recent PDA's, I'd still be trotting this thing out. A classic, a tank, a machine that reminds me of simpler times. I love it.

Palm Tungsten T- I bought this bad boy at Bookman's in Mesa (one of my happy places. A great store for books, electronics, video games, and general nerdery) as a replacement for my IIIC. Mainly I just came across a bunch of games I wanted to play that I couldn't play on that old dinosaur. The Tungsten T is my favorite of the Palm Tungsten line, mainly because it includes a feature that helps me combat boredom: it slides open to reveal the graffiti pad. Look at the picture on the left. Do you see a graffiti pad? Nope, it's hidden. Slide the bottom portion down and voila, you've got graffiti. Because I'm the sort of guy who likes to click, pop, or slide things when he's bored, this bad boy is a prize of a boredom reliever even when it isn't on. The Tungsten T is much more powerful than the IIIC. It can play MP3's, it has a microphone and voice memo button, it has a nifty spring loaded stylus, and it can play the all the Astraware games you could wish for. I put a bazillion hours into Bejeweled on this thing before my next PDA purchase which came a short 8 months or so later.

Dell Axim X30- This is my current PDA that I still carry around with me and get strange looks for owning despite the fact that this little machine is only 6 or 7 years old. I found it at a thrift store for 5 bucks and couldn't help but buy it. This thing is quite the little powerhouse. It has a 624MHz processor, which is actually faster than the first computer I ever built. It can play all sorts of games. I've even played Doom at full speeds on this bad boy. It can run emulators. It can surf the net. It can play video and audio. Most importantly, it can hold the entire Astraware and Popcap library without depleting all the memory. Oh, and you can write native Word documents on this thing. It's so much better at so many things than my other two PDA's that it's my natural choice for a day to day PDA. It even comes with a little leather snap case that makes it look like I'm carrying a miniature Franklin Planner (full circle, eh?). This is the PDA for me, and since it doesn't look like anyone will ever be building PDA's ever again, this may be the last PDA I ever buy. I'll probably carry this thing around with me until I'm lured into the tablet PC market.

Anyway, those are the three PDA's I still own. They all still work and I still own all the accessories for them. I love each of them in their own way. I don't really use any of them for planning, but I never really used my first Palm for planning either. I didn't use my old Cambridge Planner for planning. I used it for doodling and writing cryptic messages about the girl I liked.

So if you ever wondered what kind of outdated nerdy nerd would still run around with an old PDA, that would be me. I tend to not throw technology out. First of all, I'm always nostalgic for old technology (which explains my vast Atari collection) and secondly, if you choose (as I have) to be the sort of person who isn't driven by market forces and the need to own the latest and greatest thing, you'll find that the things that were the latest and greatest thing 10 years ago are still remarkably nifty. This is why you should have a working Mac Classic in your house and why you should have a utility belt with a working pager and a Palm Pilot. Never give up, never surrender.

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