Turns out I don’t think the laptop makes a satisfactory PDA, despite its obvious advantages and excellent form factor, so I bought a Palm Tungsten E the other day and have been whipping it into shape.  It’s a pretty slick device.

A bit of history:  I was an early-adopter for laptop computers–bought a Radio Shack Model 100 within days of the product announcement and have usually owned something portable ever since.  Despite that history, I wasn’t much interested in Newton or the original Palm Pilot; instead, I bought an early NEC MobilePro 700 (notice the keyboard) in 1998.  While this was a pretty primitive PDA, NEC did many things right with this design and I really liked it.  Unfortunately, the screen died a few days after the warranty ended and NEC was unable/unwilling to repair it.  Left with only $1,000 options, I spent the money on an HP 620LX (essentially an early version of the keyboard Jornada line).  This machine was very similar to the MobilePro, with a much better screen and an improved WinCE operating system–but had a decidedly inferior keyboard.  I still own this handheld PC, but the touchscreen no longer works well.

I picked up a Palm M100 in January of 2001 pretty much on a whim.  I knew the HP’s screen was failing, and I’d grown weary of shelling out $1,000 every time my PDA died, so I decided to see if I could live with Graffiti on the now-commoditized Palm platform.  It only took a few days to convince me; the Palm’s been running my life ever since.

Except for the past three months.  Mostly that’s because I wanted to test whether the Mac could handle the scheduler job–it can, but a smaller solution is preferable, and I’m not particularly fond of Apple’s iCal (it’s pretty, but the interface is clumsy and insufficiently customizable).  The other, and sufficient, reason for abandoning the M100 was that it can’t talk to the PowerBook–despite the abundance of ports on the laptop’s left side, my old Palm expects a serial connector.

The new Palm’s a lot like the old Palm, of course, only faster, with much more memory, and with a far prettier display.  I prefer the original Graffiti, but that’s clearly a personal preference thing.  (I do wish they’d made it user-selectable, rather than making the new version recognize some-but-not-all of the old characters.)  The interface tweaks, though minor, are important; I particularly like being able to store meeting locations in an explicit field, that the Palm remembers those meeting places for reuse, and that I’m now able to define a repeating ToDo reminder (a Thru Date would help, though.)

Good machine.  If it holds up (I’ve read the reviews), I’m going to like it.

Correction 4/6/04: The ToDo does have a Thru date setting, if you choose the custom repeat.