CE is more than just a choice... it's a lifestyle

A hard fact hit me today, as I was working on a particularly annoying issue involving my Aero 8000. You see, I purchased an Orinoco Silver card on eBay, and was looking forward to using it on my Aero so that I could do wireless (which I did with my Dell Inspiron, but my Aero is much easier to lug around). The excitement last approximately three minutes until I tried loading a page on eBay... and my Aero froze. When I performed a reset by using a clip in the hole on the bottom of the device the Aero hard reset.

I restored my device from a backup, and tried surfing wirelessly again. No dice. After just a few sites, the device would freeze, and hard reset. I tried different, compatible drivers, but they did not work. I was disappointed about this, and wondered- where did this leave me? I wanted to use the Aero for my main notebook, but if I couldn't use it for any network connectivity, I was going to be settling for less. And I hate settling.

Thankfully, I was able to obtain a different wireless card (a Cisco Aironet 350 card), and I have found that it works great (thus far) with my Aero. I had to fiddle with the configuration a little, but I got it to work. And as I sat back and realized that my Aero was going to be staying around for a while, I realized something.

I tried hard to get my Aero up and running on wireless. It would have been much easier with a regular Windows XP laptop, where Plug and Play is a piece of cake and drivers are plentiful. There will be new software coming out for XP for a some time, while my Windows CE 2.11-based notebook barely has any development for it. I can't run most peripherals on my Aero, I won't be able to attach a DVD player or an external hard disk. I have to be very selective in what equipment I purchase for it (I studied HPCFactor's HCL list religiously in my search for Ethernet and Wireless cards). I have to deal with an occasionally finicky Activesync and I must remember to backup my device to a memory card. These are things most people simply wouldn't put up with. It's almost ridiculous.

Then it came to me. Windows CE is more than a choice. It's a lifestyle.

We are the few and brave who find CE-based palmtops and notebooks to be of more value than regular laptops because of their obvious advantages (and obvious disadvantages). We'll fiddle, and tweak, and tinker to get something to work. We'll scour the forums for information, for new applications released, or to lend a helping hand. We'll explain to people why CE-based devices make sense, even when they roll their eyes and tell us we're crazy. I had an interesting experience where a co-worker saw my Aero on my desk next to me. He knew that I had an Inspiron before, and actually looked a little shocked and dismayed. I asked him what was wrong, and he replied "Are you really keeping that thing?" I was puzzled at first, and when I inquired as to the reason for his questions, he shook his head and said "It just seems like a step back." I was really surprised by that statement. I could see his viewpoint, and it could certainly seem that way. I began to explain how the Aero did everything I needed it to, in a sleeker, smaller package, and with better battery life, but then I stopped. He wouldn't understand, because he hasn't delved into the Windows CE world to any great extent.

It's almost like a cult. There's a certain level of fanaticism that you have to maintain in order to put with hard resets, driver issues, and lack of support for our Windows CE devices. That's why I keep coming back. That's why I've been hooked since my first CE-based device, a Palm-sized PC called the Nino, back in 1999.

You have to want it. You have to love it.

It's a lifestyle. It's our lifestyle.

Julio Ortiz
H/PC Writer & Developer

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