Personal Digital Assistants: Time management: this is a follow up to a presentation I made in Wh itby, Ontario, Canada, Oct. 17,2003 entitled "Making Time for Time management." Participant expressed an interest in decision making criteria for choosing a cell phone, a PDA or handheld computer, i.e. What is available and what to buy?  Contact management programs are a separate topic and my articles posted on this web site should be of value.  I currently favour Outlook in MS Windows 2003, as a product that meets personal data base needs and also those of a small business.   The following update for this topic is based on the author’s personal experience and a condensation of articles in Pocket PC, November 2003.  Writers include David Shier, Jim Karpen, Chris De Herrera, and James Kendrick.   This is a list of current electronic devices that may facilitate your efforts to be a better time manager.  Their purpose is to increase personal productivity through efficient storage and retrieval of information.  For a detailed summary of the pros and cons of handheld vs. paper systems, or combinations visit my previous and pages on this topic:

Paper vs. electronic: http://www.timemanage.com/pda.html Current suppliers of products and pricing: PDA pricing etc. 

Product reviews: http://reviews-zdnet.com

Always read reviews of users that are readily available.  E.g. or the Editors choices which can be found by getting a copy the magazine that specializes in a product line.  Editors provide the “Best buy” for products.  What you are going to use your handheld for is still the critical issue?  This article summarizes the categories – you need to match your need to compatibility and price.   These are the main categories to choose from. If you are interested in accessing your technical needs scroll down for the guide on Palm products by model number.  

1.       PDA handheld device with a custom operating system such as Palm or Psion

2.       PDA with phone capability.  Mainly a PDA but has cell full phone capability.

3.       Pocket PC.  A PDA like device with a Windows based operating system. 

4.       Smart phone: Mainly a cell phone with PDA capability – Palm or similar OS

5.       Windows Smart phone: mainly a phone with a Pocket PC Windows Mobile 2003 software.

6.       Handheld computer.  Slightly bigger than the PDA family.  Is a scaled down version of a notebook computer that can be held in the palm of the hand.  Can be based on a Windows or other proprietary operating system. 

7.       Industry specific PDA’s.  Not covered here.  A great # of selections.

  More detailed considerations by category.   1. PDA.  If you want basic Scheduling and a database a PDA will suffice.  Palm operating products are fairly reliable.  Buy with a minimum of 8 MB of RAM.  Remember many manufactures use the Palm OS.  Stay in the lower price range and become familiar with functions.  Migrate your database to a unit with more functions when your business grows.  Can synchronize all products to your desktop.  $200 +/- if you shop.  Palm, Handspring, Sony Clio.   2. PDA with phone capability but be prepared to buy a new cell phone plan. Treo. $700 Blackberry 6750 from Bell $599.   3. Pocket PC.  If you have over $400 to spend and wish to sync.  all your desktop Windows programs seamlessly with your handheld device or use this as a computer, this is your choice.  Preferably buy with Wi-Fi capability – can connect to network without wires. So if you use MS Word and XL while “on the go” this unit will useful.  As powerful as many laptops.  But no keyboard unless you buy a collapsible add on or a thumb operated add on.  You will need to have a separate cell phone.  You will also need to choose a “pocket edition” of a contact manager if you want more than MS Outlook.  Processor speeds up to 400 Mhz. and 64 RAM available.  Buy units with slots for additional memory cards.  Hp.iPAQ, Toshiba, Dell and most major electronic manufacturers.   4. Smart phones.  The smart phones mostly use a Palm type operating systems.  Handy for quick checks into to a higher capacity database, scheduling functions and note taking etc.  Keypads for typing are an issue and some innovative shortcuts are appearing. E.g. Samsung, Kyocera.  7135 -  $699   5. Windows Smart phone.  Windows compatibility will be found in these phones as Microsoft tries to take market share from the PDA's.  A good choice if the phone is your first priority.  Prices not yet established.   6. Handheld computers.  As powerful as medium price range laptops with all the same functionality but smaller screens.  Pricing is just a little less than a laptop or notebook computer.  So if you want reasonable computing power with a small keyboard built in and don’t mind a small screen, but bigger than a PDA screen this might be your choice.  But cost is high, $800 - $1600+ All major computer manufacturers.  HP has a good reputation in this area.  Models upgrade every year.   Note: If you need constant access to Email then a Blackberry would be the best current PDA choice and some have phone capability (e.g. Bell sponsored units).  Treo (Handspring) has some good PDA/phone models, but read the consumer reviews before buying specific models.  Remember with these products you need to buy a more expensive airtime plan to be connected all the time.   We all have different needs.  Match your product to your needs and not to fads and marketing schemes.  It takes time to set up and learn all of these new electronic devices, not to mention the need and costs to upgrade them – if they can be.  So if your focus is on developing your business, and you don’t want a relationship with technology, buy basic.Classifications of Palm products by Palm. When making purchasing decision for a PDA consider your level of altitude, interest and and needs. Here are Palm recommendations: if you are buying used products you will find some of the older model numbers on this list helpful.

  1. First time user - Palm 100. As of year 2003 a "Zire" would be similar but has greater memory.

  2. Young Student and Professional - Palm 105

  3. Use for work and play - Palm 111c

  4. Power Users and Mobile professional. - Palm Vx

  5. Corporate users and early adopters - Palm m500

  6. The true technophiles - Palm m505. This would be replaced by the Tungsten in 2003.

Note as of Nov. 2003 Palm and Handspring (makers of the Treo PDA/phone) have joined forces   Some old and new ideas.   My current perspective has not changed much in the past year since investing $300 in a Handspring (Palm Operating System 8MB PDA).  I use my PDA as a database for phone numbers and the occasional note taking.  I still prefer my paper day planner for planning and keeping track of my projects and commitments.    I use a laptop extensively for all my computer related work including Email.  I pick up my Email twice a day.  Most of my Email involves sending or receiving attachments from my MS Word or XL applications and a PDA would be cumbersome for this.    I like to use a phone as a phone with hands free whenever possible  I use a collapsible full size keyboard for my PDA to enter most data – not the pen.  I have a relatively good and inexpensive digital camera HP 315,  2.1 Mega Pixels (cost  $230 CDN, new) and wouldn’t use the poorer quality images when a camera is built into a PDA or cell phone.   I use a USB cable on my laptop to connect to LANs  (Local Area Networks).  I use a D.Link wireless card to connect to wireless networks.  My cell phone has a cable ($100) that connects to my laptop and this enables me to get Email using my Bell Mobility account – right into my laptop.  25c a minute and slow.  Or, if you buy a cell phone with the new 1x technology (and new phone plan) you get faster speeds but pay by the amount of MB that you download – so you probably wouldn't’t use the cell for cruising the web.   In 1998 I bought a new sub notebook computer.  It was about the size of an average hardcover book.  Weighed 4 lbs.  It enabled me to do all my important work on one unit.  I used a full blown ACT contact Management program on it and could type, design, Photoshop, web design and Email as fast as I wanted, and with plenty of memory (for those days).  I still use a laptop today as my main business tool.  I still think this is the most productive approach.  My PDA is my phone book if I need to look up #’s from an extensive database while away from my laptop.  Appointments are only in one place.  In my planner.  “May I get back to you…”?    I like to flip my day planner open to the appropriate pages when I am on the phone and write once, directly into the correct places.    Contacting your Internet provider if you travel a lot and don’t use AOL or want their L.D. surcharges.  The best long distance discount plan I know of is CI CI.  I use it for all my long distance calls and to get my Email when I am out of town.  3 cents a minute.  I connect to my Toronto ISP by adding a specified local numbers ahead of my Internet dial up number and placing,,,,,,,, (commas) to give time for the operators messages.  I then download and send mail very cheaply.  I used to buy the CI CI cards in convenience stores but now you can have a permanent account, without pin #’s for most calls.  Call 1-888-836-2347 to set up account, have your various phone numbers assigned to the account and then prepay or credit your account from $20 and up. This can be done by phone or web.  From that point on you just pick up the phone dial one number and you receive huge saving on long distance and you are advised how much available credit you have with every phone call.  No surprises.  Tell them Fred Pentney 416-697-7177 referred you and ask your friends to do the same for you.  You get a token credit on your long distance account.    If you have a product you like or a system that you would like to share please send me a brief summary and I will include it in my next write up. I am currently reviewing scanning software called "Paper Port" (available at Staples), after a referral from one the group in Whitby. This enables one to set a filing system for all documents scanned into your computer. I am encouraged to try going paperless in some aspects of managing my office/files after reading Bill Gate's book, "Business at the Speed of Thought" 1999, Warner books. All the best, Fred