"Don't get caught in analysis/paralysis", was the advice my fellow blogger Lena West gave me recently when I mentioned I'd been stuck choosing between all the different kinds of PDAs and smartphones available. Lena, who writes the Tech Forward blog at Entrepreneur.com, suggested narrowing it down to the 2 or 3 main features that are most important - the "deal breakers" as she calls them.
Now that I have my own business I find myself away from my computer a lot, so I regularly go through "email withdrawal". That means a plan with unlimited internet is a must. I also want to be able to text quickly, so I'd like a full qwerty board (the one with all the keys in it, as opposed to having 2-3 letters in each key). The screen should have a nice size, especially now that my eyes ain't what they used to be. I'm often kicking myself for not remembering to bring my camera to events, so I'd like that built-in to the phone. Other little extras that would be nice are a media player, since I totally skipped the iPod craze and don't own one (that means it needs to come with a decent amount of memory to store the music), and an organizer with a phone book, calculator, calendar and stopwatch. Less important to me are things like Bluetooth, for using a wireless headset; GPS, for finding yourself!; or speakerphone capabilities.
After a little research I narrowed it down to the 4 choices you see below. To help me see things clearly I created a PDA comparison table, which you can click here to see. Keep in mind that these are only online prices - the brick and mortar stores may offer different/better deals so I would check with them as well.
Since the cost varies depending on the service plans and the phones, I totaled up the expenses for the first year, to even things out. Believe it or not the best prices were generally on Amazon.com (free Blackberry Curve if you sign up to a two year plan!), so I put direct links to their specific pages next to the pictures below.
To start out slowly I chose the packages with lowest number of minutes and texting, but they all have unlimited internet. I didn't include Verizon because their plans exclude Puerto Rico so that would mean extra roaming charges for me and who needs that. Also T-Mobile's price is less for me because they are my current carrier, so I qualify for a discount.
In the end I'm leaning towards the HTC Touch, only because it's got all the bells and whistles I want plus it's so similar to the iPhone and it actually has the lowest total cost. I'll let you know when I take the plunge...!
For more on smart phones and PDA's, read Entrepreneur Magazine's review in this month's issue: Pack a Punch.
Have you had good luck/bad luck with your portable computing devices? Please share!