I was debating whether to post an entry about PDAs and how I think they may finally hit the mass market like laptops have, after an email conservation with a friend. Then t’other Neil went and published this entry citing the results of a Gartner report saying that sales of the devices had picked up, though the report also included Blackberry devices which may have skewed the figures slightly.
Personally I do think that PDAs will become more popular, but not necessarily as stand-alone devices – I’m thinking Smartphones with PDA capabilities, like the Palm Treo or all the Windows Mobile Smartphone models. Still, the fact that may PDAs now have wireless capability makes them a whole lot more useful – much of what I use mine for is internet-related which, unless you plug it into a computer (and thus negating the mobility element), is impossible without Wifi or Bluetooth. These technologies have only recently started appearing in these devices, though.
Wifi-enabled laptops are all very well but they’re still are quite big. Sure, they’re mobile enough to be carried around, but you don’t see people using them while walking about, do you? PDAs and palmtop computers, being handheld, are infinitely more portable.
Most importantly, PDAs are capable of being computers in their own right. A few years ago, you could use it as note-taking device and perhaps have your contacts and calendar on it, and not much else. Now, you can watch movies, play music, browse the internet, make phone calls, play games, check your email, write documents, present PowerPoint slides – all things you would have needed a laptop for.
PDAs are now coming to the point that laptops were at some years ago. Then, your laptop was a satellite device to your home/work desktop PC that you could connect to with a docking station. The laptop could do basic tasks but because it was often difficult to pack high-performance components into it you couldn’t use it as your main machine. Now, however, many laptops are comparable with high-end desktop machines and lots of people use them as their primary machines, like I do (or did).
Maybe soon, PDAs will reach the same point.