I’ve been using the HTC Universal (branded as an i-mate JasJar) for almost a year. This in itself has been a bit out of the norm, because many of the PDAs I’ve owned haven’t lasted near as long.
Let’s go tripping down memory lane, shall we?
The first pen-based (or stylus entry) Personal Digital Assistant that I remember buying was the Casio Zoomer, sometime in 1993. Beyond the contacts, calendar and Pocket Quicken that came loaded on the device, there was also a version of Pyramid that I could literally waste hours playing. The resulting scratches and scribbles on the screen would eventually help shape my firm belief in the value of screen protectors.
I bought my first Pilot from the Franklin catalog; Franklin as in the day planner company! This was in late 1996, and I can’t even remember what the cost of a brand new Pilot was, but a little known fact was that if you looked in the paper insert in the middle of their catalog – Franklin also sold refurbs. I wasn’t sure if I would like the blocky little monochrome device, so I reasoned that buying a slightly used one would be prudent. Up until then I had been using various keyboard-input clamshell devices, including my longtime favorite the HP-95LX and several of its upgraded future generations.
Once I got that first Pilot, I was hooked. I mastered Graffiti very quickly, and used to amuse family and friends with the way that I would obsessively jot everything down in the device.
Remember the days before rechargeable batteries? I can remember always keeping a supply in my desk drawer and in my bag. It was completely wasteful, really; when my battery bar hit a certain level I would change the batteries. I was so afraid of losing my data that I got quite proficient at changing the batteries quickly. Even so, I still managed to lose my data a few times because I took an extra second or two too long to complete the process…thank goodness for Palm Desktop and hot-sync’d data!
Ah, those were the good old days.
I was completely loyal to the Palm / Pilot branded line from 1996 to 2000; I bought every new version that came out whether I needed it or not…and then came the IIIc in 2000; this was true gadget nirvana. I had to have every available accessory because this was the PDA I thought I would use for years! I was so naive. My favorite feature was its 160 x 160 color screen. Some reviewers opined that the IIIc was too blocky, said it was slightly sluggish or complained there weren’t enough applications taking advantage of the color; I turned a deaf ear.
However, I would soon be swayed to the Pocket PC side of things…
My next true love was the Compaq iPAQ 3600. It’s beautiful QVGA TFT 240 x 320 color screen and sleek silver curves gave me a solid case of gadget lust. Once again I went crazy with accessories, even convincing a jeweler friend of mine that there was a market for luxury styli. Somewhere in my jewelry box I still have a sterling silver iPAQ 3600 stylus with an emerald cabochon circled by pave diamonds. Just using it to enter items in my calendar or tasks was completely decadent! I felt guilty moving on to the next PDA, because a new PDA meant a new stylus; I sadly had to retire that beauty.
Over the next few years I bought several different versions and upgrades of the quickly appearing iPAQ models; I felt that with few exceptions, they were they only Pocket PC game in town.
That’s not to say that I didn’t flirt with various other manufacturer’s offerings, such as those by Asus, Viewsonic, Casio, etc., etc. – I just always came back to the iPAQ.
Eventually Sony entered the hardware arena, introducing their exciting and innovative Palm OS line. The CLÍE was a device that I couldn’t resist, so I started buying its various incarnations – I even bought the massive NZ90 with its 2 mega pixel camera (until then unheard of in a PDA), improved keyboard, and 320 x 480 resolution screen. So what if it was a brick? It was a pleasure to use.
However, it wasn’t much longer before Sony stepped out of the Palm device arena, and their absence left a gaping hole. With no hardware company’s pushing them, Palm was free to regurgitate an array of largely unexciting devices running on their aging operating system. The last time I bought a Palm device was when the Tapwave Zodiac appeared. In my opinion, this was their last truly innovative PDA…and the company disappeared within only a couple of years.
I went back to the iPAQ – the hx4700 this time (True VGA, 4″ screen), then gave the Sprint Pocket PC Phone PPC-6700 a try (QVGA, 2.8″ screen), and then finally settled comfortably with the Universal (True VGA, 3.7″ screen) after being quite pleased with a loaner Microsoft sent for review last year.
And that’s the device I have been happy using since…until I was presented with an HTC Hermes (branded Dopod 838Pro) at Mobius last week. The Hermes is a Quad-band GSM Pocket PC Phone with a QVGA 2.8″ screen and a 2 mega pixel camera.
You would think that it would be a no-brainer for me to switch to the Hermes: The Universal is bigger, no EDGE, and in some ways already outdated, but it does everything I need and it does it very well. Could the Hermes really the better device for me? Could it be the perfect device for you?
Give me a couple of weeks and after I have used the Hermes exclusively as my main brain, I’ll write its review and answer those questions and many more.