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THOUGHT: How much Smartphone, PDA or Notebook do you need to be mobile?
Posted by Arne Hess - on Saturday, 26.04.03 - 14:29:38 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 8675x
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For some time now I have my Microsoft Smartphone and I'm thinking about myself how much Pocket PC or Notebook I need anymore if I have a Smartphone. No, this isn't a thought about "The PDA is dead, long living the Smartphone" but I wonder why I use my Pocket PCs less since I'm using my Smartphone.

Here is my very personal user scenario for my mobile devices (Smartphone, Pocket PC, and Notebook):


  • Contacts and Appointments

  • E-Mail

  • Web access

  • Instant Messaging

  • To-Dos

  • Taking notes/writing down thoughts

  • Uploading stories to PPCW.Net

  • Remote Desktop access

  • Reading Office documents


  • Using utilities like CodeWallet and others

  • Creating Office documents

  • Listening MP3s

So if I bring it into a matrix which device is the best, it might looks as following:

Overall it doesn't surprise me, that a Notebook is more convenient then a Pocket PC which is more convenient then a Smartphone but why the heck I've started to use my less convenient Smartphone more then my Pocket PC? Maybe it's not because the convenient factor only? Let us check the mobility factor. But first - and this is so important for me - let me define my personal view what mobility vs. portability is:

  • Mobility: Doing stuff while I'm walking, driving or running. No setup or wires required - just do it out of the box.

  • Portability: Taking stuff with me but I can't use it while I'm walking, driving or running - it forces me to sit down anywhere.

For instance I can browse the Internet via Web or WAP with a cell phone while I'm walking; something I can't do it with a Notebook but I have to stay anywhere. Same for E-Mails (messaging in general) or viewing texts.

So if I sum up both, the Convenience Factor and the Mobility Factor I get the following result:

  • Smartphone: 39

  • Pocket PC: 41

  • Notebook: 29

Hm, that's an amazing result as we have three different winners:

  • Convenience: Notebook

  • Mobility: Smartphone

  • Overall: Pocket PC

So now I see a little bit clearer for me: the most importing part isn't the convenience but the mobility and if I have a look overall, it's the combination.

This I can acknowledge with my own usage conduct:

If I go into the city but want to surf the web, getting my E-Mail or even posting a quick note; I'm taking my Smartphone with me only.

While, I'm going to my girlfriend in the evening (she doesn't has any Internet at home expect an iPAQ with Wireless Pack), I take my O2 xda with me in addition.

If I'm going to conferences or vacation, I take my Notebook with me also; however, the interesting part is that either the Pocket PC replace the Smartphone nor the Notebook replace the Pocket PC or the Smartphone which means I'm carrying up to three devices with me.

So what does a Smartphone needs to provide that it could replace a Pocket PC and what needs a Pocket PC to replace a Notebook?

I think this can't be defined in general but overall I think it's about convenience here, not about mobility.

For instance the screen size (pixel wise, not width wise) of a Smartphone is to limited today to replace a Pocket PC and this is also the major fault of today's Pocket PCs. The screen size is too small and Landscape isn't a real option today. A Pocket PC with attached keyboard would be more or less powerful enough to replace most Notebook application scenarios but with this limited UI it isn't a real option for me. Also most applications need to be enhanced to compete with a Notebook.

Same for the Smartphone which offers pretty basic applications today on a small screen (which is on the other hand the benefit and the reason why it is so mobile).

Another important fact - as I said before is the keyboard. Typing texts on a keyboard is - at least for me - easier then doing it with a stylus, as long as we don't have real digital ink and handwriting recognition on Pocket PCs. I'm even faster with entering texts on a T9 based keypad then writing texts with Transcriber or software keyboards. So I would love to see Pocket PCs with attached but removable keyboards and I'm not talking about thumb keyboards.

Overall, it's pretty hard to come to a conclusion but now I see clearer for me, why I'm using my Smartphone more then my Pocket PCs - it's because the better mobility it gives me.

Cheers ~ Arne


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