The More Things Change…

Over the past few years I've had quite a few Handheld PC articles and reviews published in Pocket PC magazine and I have been a big supporter of the H/PC platform since day one. When the magazine finally decided to place all of it's focus on the Pocket PC, I had a big decision to make, stop submitting articles or reluctantly join the new Pocket PC craze. I'm a pretty stubborn guy when it come to H/PC's and I was not pleased with having to face that decision, but I loved writing for the magazine and I just couldn't give that up without trying.

The Reluctant Pocket PC'er

So, I reluctantly put away my MobilePro 780 and I traded in my spare MobilePro 770 H/PC for a Dell Axim x5 - life would never be the same or so I thought. I have to admit that the shiny new toy had me mesmerized for the first little while, after all, how cool is it to go into CompUSA, Circuit City or Best Buys and see all the new P/PCs, software and accessories readily available right before my eyes. Many of you won't remember but that's the way it use to be when the H/PC was king, I tested out my first HP 620 right on the shelf of my local Office Depot store…I still get a warm feeling just thinking about it. Anyway, (back to reality) the Axim x5 was now my new companion and I carried it with me everywhere I went and once again began writing and submitting articles and reviews about my new P/PC. This is where the story should end with a "and he lived happily ever after" - Fine, but that would be the furthest thing from the truth. The truth is, you have no idea just how great you H/PC is until you've used a Pocket PC (exclusively) for several weeks. Sometimes the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence and you can indeed, judge a book by it's cover and newer doesn't mean better (stop me before I cliché again J )

Having It My Way

I've never bought into Microsoft's theory that the H/PC is simply a tool, companion to compliment your Desktop or Laptop PC, I've always considered my MobilePro as my main PC and I treated it as such. It's only after using a Pocket PC that I realized what MS was getting at…. without a keyboard and a decent size screen, the Pocket PC is indeed just a tool to compliment your Desktop. Any serious work has to been performed on my desktop pc and then the data can be transferred to my Pocket PC for viewing and minor manipulation. Even writing this simple article is a nightmare using Pocket Word on my P/PC, so I'm using my MobilePro H/PC to do all the important little things my Dell Axim is not well equipped to do. This includes, written articles, using spreadsheets, roaming the Internet, multitasking and reading a good book (without going blind or getting thumb cramps using the scroll dial).

Why ask Why?

Don't get me wrong - Pocket PC's are powerful little tools, but there are so many simple (and frustrating) things that they don't do particularly well. Why should it take 3rd party software or several extra steps just too permanently close a program? Why doesn't tapping on the x in the top right corner mean what it does on all other MS operating systems? You can run several programs at the same time, but why does it have to take multiple steps to switch from one to the other? Such a sophisticated computer and such a useless file explorer - why? Why is the solution to every problem, "soft reset"? Why do you have to buy a 3rd party modem - why isn't it part of the system? Why? Why? Why?

Taking the Good with the Bad

I'm not here to trash Pocket PC's (I still use mine - in a limited fashion) after all there are some things they do very well. For example Pocket Outlook (in all its parts) works quite well and seems well suited for this platform. The overall size of the P/PC makes it easy to carry around and it can be consulted at a moments notice. It is a great little companion to my Desktop PC and if you are a PC game nut - the P/PC can be a gamer's portable dream machine

And In the End

I carry my Pocket PC everyday, but it can't replace my Handheld PC, let alone my desktop pc - believe me I've tried. My H/PC is not perfect, but it comes closest to replacing my desktop pc and that's what is most important to me. When there's serious work to be done, she's the one I always turn to - my true companion.

Do I Love My H/PC? What do you think?

February 5, 2004

John Ottini
HPC:Factor Guest Writer