Internet Devices

Posted by Tejus Parikh on September 13, 2006

I’ve been on a bit of a quest to find a decent, PDA-sized internet device. I think I’m on this quest because I used to use the Palm Pilot a lot. Then Wi-Fi became ubiquitous and all the things the Palm is good at (tasks, calendars, contacts, and notes) slowly migrated to online services. Hence, I couldn’t update my Palm without jumping through a lot of hoops and the Palm started to suffer from bit-rot.

Or the quest could be driven by the innate geek desire to spend money on neat, but somewhat useless technology. I’m not really sure what the real reason is.

Regardless of the purpose, the goal remains the same. The early front-runner was the Nokia 770. Nokia has branded the 770 as an “Internet Tablet” which means that it does all the internet things that I want. It comes out of the box with an email client, IM, VOIP, and Opera. Since it runs linux (more specifically the maemo platform, what comes in the box is somewhat irrelevant since you’re just a community website away from getting a ton more apps.

However, the Nokia sufferes from some serious drawbacks. It’s $370, availability has been iffy, and it’s underpowered compared to it’s competitors at the price range. This lead me to consider the Palm TX. This device is cheaper and has a more powerful processor than the Nokia. Like the Nokia, there is a version of Opera available for it as well. But it too has some serious drawbacks. The first is Palm OS 5 is not multithreaded. Which means that you won’t be able to listen to Internet Radio and browse the web at the same time. The next is the darth of decent open source software. Instant messaging clients for the palm appear to be proprietary only. A platform without Gaim is not a platform I’d like to know.

Since this pretty much rounds out all non-windows pocket based devices out there (I want to surf the web, not reboot), my money will stay in the bank. For now.

There are some pretty interesting things on the horizon. Sony has announced the Mylo which has most of the things the Nokia does, plus an actual keyboard.

Archos, the guys that make really expensive MP3 players, have announced an
MP3 playing, video-ripping, Wi-Fi enabled device. It too looks like it will do everything I want, comes with Opera (notice a trend) and has the added bonus of replacing my Creative Nomad Zen. However, since it’s from the guys that make really expensive MP3 players, it might end up costing more than a new laptop.

The most interesting alternative is (surprise, surprise) Opera for the DS. This option could cost as little as $50, will get me the most important thing (the web browser) and will fit in my new favorite portable device. Unfortunately, there is no English version as of now (the expected EU release is Oct, 6) and no apparent plans for a US release. However, since the DS isn’t region coded, it may become a simple manner of paying a little more to get it from an importer.

So while the current terrain is pretty bleak on the front, the future looks very exciting. I look forward to the day when I blog without the PC.

Tejus Parikh

Tejus is an software developer, now working at large companies. Find out when I write new posts on twitter, via RSS or subscribe to the newsletter: