I’ve been waiting a long time to get a new phone/PDA.  I’ve carried a organiser for as long as I can remember.  Going way back to the original Sharp Organiser that was so big and heavy that it eventually tore a hole in some of my suit jackets.  I was one of the the first to get a Palm when they first shipped.  I bought a Palm 5000 back when they were still called Pilots and loved it.  Palm just got it right.  They had the right combination of form factor, UI and price.  Ok so maybe the text input method kinda sucked but I’ll leave that for another day’s blogging.  They followed that with another hit when they shipped the Palm V.  Again that was a product that you just knew was right when you held it.  I bought a Palm Vx and have been using that for going on 4 years, I think.  I’ve been ready for a new device for almost 2 years.  Maybe I’ve been too choosy but I’ve always wanted to combine my PDA with my phone.  There are so many good reasons for this but for me it was the hassle of carrying two devices and the fact that these things belong together.  I guess I knew I wanted a smartphone before I knew what a smartphone was.

The Treo 600 was a decent first attempt by Palm/ Handspring at this.  It was a pretty decent phone and had the Palm UI I was used and even had an almost usable keyboard to replace graffiti.  But for me it didn’t quite make it as I found it to be a little on the heavy side and didn’t include bluetooth for a wireless headset.  The Treo 650 is even better.  It adds a faster processor, a better screen, bluetooth, and even apparently fixes the keyboard.  It’s still on the heavy side and kinda pricey. 

I was this close to buying it but finally decided on the Audiovox SMT5600.  Amazon made me a deal I could not refuse.  How can you argue with that kind of deal?

The 5600 is a smartphone.  That means it’s a phone with a PDA integrated in, as opposed to a PDA with a phone integrated in.  Got that?  No me neither.  Basically it means that the form factor is smaller and all operations can done with one hand using a standard phone 10 digit dialer.

There are some trade-offs (like on the text input side) but mostly this thing rocks.  I now have a phone and a pda in a size that is smaller and lighter than both the phone and the pda it’s replacing.  The neat stuff about converging these two devices is pretty much what I expected.  The phone now has seamless access to my contacts which is seamlessly integrated and synchronised with my Outlook contact database.  Very cool.  My calendar entries synchronise directly.  And my email gets pulled down when I want it. 

I’ve replaced my cell phone and palm, of course, but I’ve also been able to replace the SPOT watch I’ve been trying to get used to over the past 4 months.  I now have in the palm of my hand one device that includes (in order of importance to me) a :

  • Phone (with a speaker-phone and bluetooth headset capable)
  • PDA (Calendar and Contacts)
  • Voice Recorder
  • MP3 Player (a decent one too)
  • e-mail reader
  • Photo Album
  • Camera (albeit a very weak one)
  • Game Machine (yeah, I know, a gameboy it ain’t)

My purchase was not without problems.  I had to suffer through AT&T Wireless' customer service.  They are by far the worst customer service experience I’ve ever had.  Not only that but the phone I got didn’t work properly.  The ear-piece didn’t work at all.  I could dial and use the phone with the speaker-phone or the headset but could use it as a normal phone, you know, like actually holding it up to your ear.  It’s a testament to how cool this phone is that even after these problems I still haven’t returned it.  I love this phone.