I'm finding myself doing quite a bit more traveling that I have in the past. Since I spend a good deal of my time on the Internet, as a software engineer as well as writing this blog, I developed a bit of a dependency on it. It's probably not a good thing in terms of my social development, but it hasn't been all-together bad either. Either way, that's a question for another day. Today, I'm looking for straight-forward technical advice.
I read an article yesterday about Palm and how it's business has always been a roller coaster. It reminded me of something that I haven't seen someone use in over two years - the PDA. It's a business on the decline as people turn towards smart phones. I am one of those people who have adopted smart phones for 4 or 5 years now. However, since my Treo 700P is on the Sprint network and doesn't have wi-fi support, it can't connect to the Internet overseas. It occurred that a few years ago several made PDAs with wi-fi built-in. All I would need is one of those and I could be on the web as long as that country has some kind of public wi-fi network for me to sign onto. Such companies include the aforementioned Palm, but Dell and HP make Windows-based PDAs as well.
So here's what I'm looking for out of my travel computer:
- It has to have wi-fi - at least 802.11b. That's key to whole concept.
- It must have an SD slot. I have a lot of SD cards and with my camera and phone already taking them, I'm sticking to this standard.
- It should have a fast processor. I've found that my 700P can connect to the Internet fast, it often is slow to render a page from the web. When I use the connection for laptop it's nearly broadband speed. The Treo has a Intel XScale 312MHz processor
- It should have a very nice screen, a size that could make those with a video iPod jealous. This is most so I can load some entertainment on an SD card and watch it on the flight to and from my destination. It will also help with the browsing experience.
- It should be easy to learn. In an ideal world, my non-tech-savvy fiancee could bring it on her business trips as an option instead of her laptop.
- I'm leaning heavily towards a Windows-based PDA for one reason, but it's a biggie. Being able to use Skype (via SkypeOut) to make phone calls in an foreign country would save me some solid cash.
- I'm not looking for something like the OQO Handheld Computer or this Sony Handheld Computer. They are marvelous devices and would be perfect, but their price is way too high for what I need.
- I've touched on the main uses, but they are more or less the following: update this blog, check and respond to e-mail, web browsing, some small word processing, some multimedia applications - MP3 player, Video player, Skype calling, etc.
- Battery life is more or less unimportant. I don't envision needing to use it for many, many hours without a power source. The longest would be on the plane traveling. The rest of the time I would imagine the use to be intermittently.
- Portability is important. One thing that I hate about bringing laptops when I travel is that they don't fit into any hotel safes. This solution would do that.
- Some PDAs may come with a thumb-board, I'd rather have bigger screen.
- It must have bluetooth. In order for this to be a real useful computer on the road, I'd like to be able to use a bluetooth portable keyboard with it.
While on the topic of the portable keyboard, I'll need one of those as well. Here's what I'm thinking:
- Something like this Fabric Keyboard is of interest to me. It seems extremely portable and it can connect through bluetooth. I'm nervous that it might not feel like a keyboard though.
- This Wireless Foldable Keyboard is also of interest to me.
- Those are the two main options that I'm considering. Feel free to give my your opinions of each.
Budget: I'd like to get this under $250 for keyboard and PDA if possible, but I can go to as high as $300. I'm willing to convert my Sony points into spare cash using a method that I outlined here. I think this is very possible since Ebay and Craigslist are relatively full of these devices. If I can get 90% of it done for a lot cheaper, I will consider it as well.
Are there are features I should consider that I missed?
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