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When I got my first tablet, I noticed that my use of my PocketPC waned… it felt like I never really used it, except to make the occasional “note to self” voice recording… so I gave it to my wife, who loves it.

However, after a little while without the PocketPC, I noticed that I really did still need a PDA: the tablet is too big to take with me everywhere, and sometimes the 5-seconds to resume from stand-by is just too much to jot down a quick note or check your calendar.

Not wanting to carry yet another device, I decided to pick up a SmartPhone. This seems to be a nearly perfect compromise for a tablet user– the SmartPhone makes an excellent “read-only” view of your PIM data, or allows for (painful) data entry in a pinch. It starts up immediately, and works very well. I’ve been pretty happy with the purchase.

However, I’m doing some consulting work for a company whose primary product is a PocketPC-based application, so I have been playing around with some iPaqs the last couple weeks. They are a bit smaller than they used to be, and a LOT faster. I finally broke down and bought one the other day: an iPaq 4100 series. This is a really nice device– very compact (and surprisingly light) and attractive. It has a transflective screen, so it looks beautiful inside, and works well in direct sunlight. However, the big win is built-in Wi-Fi.

I had no idea how useful this feature would be when I bought the device, but it turns out that it is a fantastic thing to have in a PDA. A couple of things that this has enabled, including network printing, and even network syncing. Wireless network sync is the killer app for Wi-Fi-Enabled PDAs… the first time you press the sync button 100 feet away from your machien you’ll be hooked.

I’m not sure whether or not I’ll continue to use the PocketPC after this gig is over… but I have to admit– I have enjoyed this little glance at the product landscape. These are really nice little devices.

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