Monday, October 31, 2005

The death of Palm OS?

I've had a succession Palm PDAs over the last five years, and I've become more and more dissatisfied with the hardware and, perhaps more importantly, the user interface as it lagged behind the expectations raised by Nokia's Series 60 smart phones, and Apple's Powerbooks and Mac OS X operating system.

I'm not even going to go into the horrible development environment and the ghastly mess that writing code for a Palm OS device turns out to be, even compared to writing J2ME for Series 60 device, let alone the simplicity and rapid development offered by the Python for Series 60 port from Nokia.

So with the last of my data copied off my ageing Treo and wrapped safely inside Apple goodness I discovered I was carrying the PDA less and less. The canonical version of my "life", my calendar, address book, and the other meta-data you accumulate was all on my laptop.

This was fine to a point, but even the 12" Powerbook is a bit bulky to carry around everywhere, and you don't really want to pull it out of your rucksack when you're down the pub. There was something missing, I really did need a PDA it seemed. The latest release from Palm, the Lifedrive, wasn't really what I was looking for, and some of the same user interface hassles that were depressing me about my Treo seemed to be still hanging around.

So I've been following the forthcoming release of the HTC Universal with interest. It's a quad-band, 3G phone, with WiFi and Bluetooth support along with a proper VGA screen and a QWERTY keyboard. In other words it has everything...

CREDIT: Engadget
The HTC Universal

The only problem? The fact that it runs Windows Mobile...

However today my Orange contract was up for renewal so I took the plunge and ordered their new SPV M5000 which is their re-branded version [1, 2, 3] of the HTC Universal. It's back ordered, and late, but I'll still be one of the first to get my hands on the new phone. Look out for a review in a couple of weeks, once I've had my hands on it for a while, to see if I get on with Windows, or if I decide to drop the entire device directly into the bin...

The cost? Because of the crazy way that the UK mobile industry subsidises their handsets to new (and existing) customers, I picked up this bleeding edge £400 (US$700) device for free. Which is a lot less that I would have had to have ponied up to get myself a Lifedrive.

Why didn't Apple come out with a replacement for the Newton so I could have just bought that instead? I would have actually paid money for that...

Update: My first impressions...