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THOUGHT: Looking back - did the XDA change my daily life?
Posted by PPCW.Net Editori - on Monday, 02.02.04 - 11:12:32 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 6904x
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Contributed by Dr. Wolfgang Irber, PPCW.Net Reader and Business Professional

When I bought the XDA in June 2001, it was more out of curiosity than a real need. I always had eyed for a Pocket PC, and this new combination of PDA and phone with GPRS eventually got me, promising easy Internet access at reasonable speed wherever I go; a glimpse to the future?

Now looking back while on the brink to UMTS and significantly higher wireless data rates in Germany, the question arises, did the XDA change the way I communicate or access the Internet? Did it have any effect to my daily life?

Using the XDA as phone
Calling with the XDA was great from the beginning: the excellent audio quality, the easy to use operating system, the big screen. With the audio quality being so good, I started to use the XDA for all of my phone calls, not even from home where I had a cheap rate. It was the convenience factor that drove this behavior. I had all contact details now on a single device and could easily synchronize with Outlook on my Notebook.

But, there was also the fun factor using the external speaker for joining a call with friends or getting friends into a private conference call.

The size of the XDA was never a problem to me. I now feel strange with a standard cell phone being so small. And some of the new camera or multimedia phones are not that much smaller today!

After all, even though I am not a phone person, I use the phone much more often now then in previous times.

E-Mail: Killer Application #1 on expense of Text Messaging
The top application right from the beginning was E-Mail over GPRS. I really got addicted to it. The easy access to E-Mail wherever I go often helped in critical conditions where fast response was required. I further recognized that limiting the E-Mail download to about 4 KB per mail is absolutely sufficient and helps to keep the bill low. If people cannot say it in 4 KB, they won't get to the point anyway!

Since most people I communicate with are online during the day, I more and more preferred to send E-Mails to people I formerly had sent a text message to. Even though there is no difference when writing E-Mails or text messages on the XDA, E-Mail is usually much cheaper, even under roaming conditions.

Some may ask, what about a messenger client? I tried, but typing on the virtual keyboard is not fast enough to keep a conversation going. Second, the messenger requires an always-on GPRS connection, which drains a bit the battery. And the connection gets dropped anyway when a call comes in. And, honestly, none of my friends is using an instant messenger right now.

But I can see the optional benefit of the messenger as a substitute for SMS chats when phones can deal with phone and data simultaneously.

Web Access: Killer Application #2 on expense of Newspapers
My second top application is web browsing. Before I got the XDA, I always bought a newspaper while traveling. Now, I go to my favorite selection of PDA-sized web pages to read the news. Over the web I get a much wider selection of news: newspapers and newsgroups from all around the world covering my personal interests.

My medium-sized GPRS package of 5 MB means a lot of traffic when merely reading news; even though I am browsing daily, in particular when driving home from work in the bus, the 5 MB readily last for the month.

I admit that pictures are mostly switched off when I browse the Internet. This is partly due to the cost factor, but more due to the delay. Pictures take too much time to load over GPRS.

Final Conclusion

Mobile access to the Internet is having a very bright future; at least for me. I am already looking forward to higher data rates which will be available in Germany this year.

And what about my phone bill? It has doubled or tripled since having the XDA, but I don't regret it at all. That's definitely good news for my network carrier! And last but not least, my girlfriend wants to get an XDA too, after she was watching me for the last 20 months…

Cheers ~ Wolfgang


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Posted by APA on 02.02.04 - 11:33:49

Turned out different for me. I have the XDA II, GPRS is already permanently disabled, since my carrier charges me 7.50 CHF per MB. Don't have the cash to waste it like that. 5 x 7.50 would be 37.50 CHF. I don't buy such expensive news papers, thinking that online access mostly costs subscription there too again. So as long as we do have such stupid rates GPRS is flat dead to me.

Second, I'm a one hand person, so the XDA II drives me nuts when I get of a plane and just wanna make a quick call while walking towards the customs and having my trolley in the other hand. Not for usage with one hand, you always need two to operate it.

Third going out at night, meeting friends especially when it's hot weather. Where to put it ? To bulky to carry in my hands, where already the house key or the car key might be.

As a organizer that doubles as a phone for professional work environment (meetings and so on) its great. Featurewise it is probably the best on the market. But clearly as a phone it is not my thing.

Posted by Wolfgang Irber on 02.02.04 - 19:01:01

Sorry to hear that your experience is so different to mine. With those GPRS rates as you described, I would refuse to use GPRS too. Fair point. I recently had an unexpected and unwanted very expensive GPRS experience in Switzerland too.

One hand use of the XDA is quite tricky too, you are right, the XDA is almost to big. But I managed it with having my important contacts in the speed dial list. The large virtual buttons can easily be activated by using the thumb.

And the where-to-carry-it-when-it's-hot-weather, well, that one I haven't figured out yet. I would love to see special pockets in my trousers. Hopefully someone from the clothing industry is listening smile

Cheers ~ Wolfgang

Posted by cheekymonkey on 02.02.04 - 19:27:39

Excellent article Dr Irber!

I travel into work by train and previously had carried with me my minidisc (remember those?), and stopped off to get a paper on the way to the station... then I got my xda and loved it for all the reasons you mentioned. The real killer for me was information: what I needed to know, wherever I was, whatever time of day.

I reckon the telecoms companies love us using our xda's as much as we do. My old Nokia meant I had a bill of around 25GBP per month, then as soon as I clasped my hands on the xda it rocketed to 45GBP and above. Not an uncommon story I guess.

As my two middle names are 'Early' and 'Adopter' I rushed out to get an xdaII and gave its predecessor to my girlfriend who now uses that everyday as well. And for those times when an xda is too big / valuable I got an mpx200 cos I had to, just had to! Besides I've found GPRS et al. just to addictive: compared to an xda a normal phone just won't do.

Posted by Arne Hess on 02.02.04 - 19:40:03

Don't you guys wear Dockers Mobile Pants ( or at least a Scott eVest ( ;-) That's the right "geekwear"! :-D

Posted by Jayson on 03.02.04 - 01:39:01

Here in the Philippines, i don't find myself surfing from a mobile device because our networks charge 25 cents per kb!!! My browsing is limited to WAP pages that are not blocked by my carrier's free service (very limited!).  To access other wap, internet sites and download email, I would have to use the paid service.

Posted by Wolfgang Irber on 03.02.04 - 09:34:37

Well, summarizing the comments, the carrier's prizing strategy definitely prevents many users from using mobile internet access over GRPS.

If a carrier is not providing any "package" which brings down the MB to about 1 or 2 Euro, people refuse to use the new technology. Many from my friends had a VERY unpleasant experience when they got the bill, saying shocked: "I just had played a bit. I'll never use it again. Too expensive"

I understand that initially the operators wanted to control GPRS access and network load over the prizing strategy. But now they complain that the expensive equipment is barely used. I wonder why...

Back to my newspaper experience as described in the article: a standard newspaper in Germany costs about 1 Euro, but what do I really read: maybe 10% of it. If I cannot get an equivalent amount of information when accessing the news over GPRS to about the same or twice the prize, I personally wouldn't do it.

That's actually my formula generally applied to using GPRS: what does it cost in real and what does it cost over GRPS? Is the content I am getting right, is it convenient, up to date, easy to handle? I am not using GRPS because it is there, I am only using it when it pays off for me. Fortunately, it does it for me in many cases.

Hopefully it will reach the stage in other countries too with a better (for the customer) prizing strategy.

Cheers ~ W

Posted by Lee on 04.02.04 - 13:21:21

To the Swiss poster in this thread; my wife has an o2 XDA2 and she's over the moon with it.  Using Orange (Swiss) with Express/World Option, all traffic within the portal is free - so emailing using their servers is free.

Avantgo could perhaps serve your newspaper needs without chewing up GPRS Mbs?  Either in the cradle to an internet-connected PC or as we do using the Socket SDIO Wifi card - as we have cable internet, it's quick and there's no associated cost-per-Mb.

I do agree with your size issue; one-hand dialling isn't that much of an issue for me but phone size is relatively important, hence I have a SE t610.  But I have an ipaq h4155 to go with it.....thus allowing me to have the extra functionality when I choose.  A winner for the ladies or those who don't mind belt-clips?

I love the machine, the 128Mb RAM, the excellent screen, the speed.  I'm not a belt-clipper hence my choice but it is the best gadget I've seen for years!

Posted by Wolfgang Irber on 04.02.04 - 16:27:09


Avantgo is certainly an option, and I am using it as much as I can. But it happens very often to me that I don't find the time or have the internet connection for synching my channels for days. So reading news via GRPS is the freedom I always wanted. And the worldwide selection of pda-sized KB-saving web pages is growing fast, good news for the wireless mobility smile.

I recently travelled through New Zealand which does not have a GPRS roaming contract with operators in Germany. I suddently noticed how I miss the convenience of "everywhere" on.

Cheers ~ W

Posted by AlexCaesarRomae on 06.02.04 - 13:53:10

Well I have a bluetooth pocketPc, i use it with my ericsson t39 (very small bluetooth gsm phone), I't wonderful, always on !!!!

In Italy we have a FLAT GPRS , 19euro per month, 24h/24h. you can reach 5.5KB/sec, in normal condition you have 4.1KB/sec.

You can't imagine who internet change your life, everything in your hand....

When i don't need my PPC i bring with me only my small phone,so for me PPC + GPRS phone is perfect for any situation (you can manage you contact list of the phonr from the PPC,it became as a PPC phone edition).

FLAT GPRS WOW!!!!! and we are waiting for UMTS FLAT....

Posted by Wolfgang Irber on 06.02.04 - 18:15:42


You can imagine, people in many countries around the globe with be pretty jealous of your GPRS flat rate (Honestly, mee TOO!). Italy appears to be the GPRS country in Europe. Very good news for all Italians!

Cheers ~ W

Posted by APA on 12.02.04 - 10:47:41


thanx for your info, I was aware of this option from Orange, however the content they offer for free is not really what I need. My emails are on my own servers so that wouldn't help me either. With these prices I just decided to save my money until they get a realistic pricing together. Anyway I really hope WIFI will kill some of their business in the long run. These innovation blockers really deserve it smile And then please let's start with Voice over IP smile

Avantgo I use and it is practical until I'm more than 1 day away from then net. Since I'm frequently in Hong Kong I really can compare the prices and I feel ripped off by the Swiss providers overall. Also I stopped using roaming (4 CHF per Minute vs. 0.3 HK$ a Minute with a local SIM Card, ha ha)

I don't mind if a company earns money, but being the modern form of a robber-knight doesn't help the innovation neither the whole industry. sad

Posted by Van on 21.02.04 - 12:18:08

@ Wolfgang Irber

I have to agree with you almost but I think that:

"When I bought the XDA in June 2001" may be your mistake???-must be June 2002

I have been using XDA for 15 months and now MDA II; intact I love it, working and relax everywhere, anytime



Posted by Wolfgang Irber on 01.03.04 - 18:57:23


You are perfectly right, it has to be June 2002 and NOT 2001. I noticed the error a while ago as well, but since I don't want to bother our busy Arne all the time for getting some typos right, I decided to let it as it is, curious to see when I'll get the first comment about it smile

Tx for pointing it out ~ W

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