Thursday, May 17, 2007

PDA or Pocket Nanny ?

Remember PDAs- those little pocket-sized scheduling computers nerds and business types were carrying a few years ago?

I finally got one.

Okay, I'll admit it- I'm a nerd. But the reason I never had one of these before is because they were so expensive. $200 up through $300 or more. For a teeny pocket organizer? I can write appointments down on slips of paper and put them in my wallet for under a buck. Why would I want to spend more?

Don't get me wrong- scheduling is very useful. Especially when you work, have a home to maintain and have kids. But I can schedule on a $30 handheld device from Target. So what can it do? Phone book? Okay, sounds good, but my cellphone holds over 180 numbers-and it only cost $25.

Note and memo pads? Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Instead of carrying a bunch of post-its stuck together in my wallet, checkbook, and pockets, I can put all my notes in my handheld. That’s convenient.

How about ebooks? Sure enough you can install virtual libraries of books, from classic tales to encyclopedias.

Spreadsheets? I'm not some kind of pencil-pushing geek, so I don't need them, but a digital checkbook, that does the math for me? No problem, plenty of downloadable programs like that.

But wait- what's this about programs? You mean I can put games on here? Like what kind of games and how much do they cost?

Turns out, there's a ton of free games out there for palms; a Tetris clone, battleship clone, memory matchers and even Gameboy, Gameboy Advance and many other emulator programs! I can even play my favorite Amiga games on my palm!

But wait- there's more! MP3 music can be played. Heck, even short video files can be played. If I have a big enough memory card, I can store movies or tv episodes- providing I converted them from .vob or .avi files.

And don't forget pictures. You can hold a lot JPEG images on a 256Mb memory card. Pictures of the kids or even scans of comic books or old viewmaster reels.

Lots of stuff to satisfy the closet geek inside, but what about for dads?

Aside from providing my lazybutt something else to do at work during down time, or activities during commercials on TV, the PDA also proves a handy, pocket-sized entertainment center for the kids that I can take with me anywhere.

Don't want to carry cds in the car, or maybe all you have is an am/fm radio? No problem- load up a collection of the Wiggles greatest hits in MP3 and plug in the PDA to the car stereo. Instant audio pacification.

Stuck in the doctor's office for a long time and you've run out of ideas to keep the kids amused? No problem- play a video, or boot up a kids’ game.

And finally the best reason for dads- you finally have a way to remember all those important school dates, appointments, honey-dos, birthdays and anniversaries.

Oh, yeah- I should have gotten one of these years ago.

NOTE: this article was written entirely on a Tungsten E2 with a Targus IR keyboard.

WANT YOUR OWN PDA? Save a buck and check out eBay. Plenty of retailers are discontinuing stand alone PDAs in favor of cellphone-PDA combos and are unloading the PDAs for cheap on ebay. Just remember that if the kids break your Blackberry or Treo palm phone, you’ve got no phone and no PDA. At least keeping both separate you have a greater chance of one or the other surviving those little, destructive sticky-fingers.