Mobile Madness

I’ve always been obssessed with (or tormented by) portability and mobility. I want my information with me, accessible, all the time. This obsession began over 10 years ago.

The Early Days
I bought my first laptop around 1997 – a Dell Inspiron 3000. It had a “brilliant” 13.3″ XGA display, a “screaming” 233MHz processor, a “large” 3 GB harddrive, and an “abundance” of RAM (I maxed it out at 144MB). It was a screamer, and it was mine for the reasonable pricetag of $3500. As I write this, I find the Inspiron 3000 on eBay with an $11 bid and only hours to go. OK, bad investment. Imagine what I could get today for that price. Today, my sidekick is a two year old MacBook Pro.

My thirst for portability didn’t stop with laptops though. I also purchased a trusty PalmPilot for those rare cases when I’d left my laptop at home. Of course, the woes of cabled synchronization never set well with me, and while IR (infrared) sync worked ok, I wanted true OTA (over-the-air) sync. I wasn’t happy, and as a result, my days with the PalmPilot ended after a failed bid with a Sony Clie.

Somewhere in those early days (probably around 1998), I purchased my first cellphone. The ability to talk to anyone at anytime is a cursed blessing. Regardless, I had the phone, and was connected. Now if only I had OTA sync, especially e-mail. Enter RIM.

Smartphone Adolescence
In late 2005, I got my first Smartphone – a BlackBerry. I don’t recall the model, but I recall my excitement in knowing that I’d be able to get e-mail virtually anywhere at anytime. I worked for a small start-up at the time and we didn’t have Exchange integration, so I wasn’t able to sync my calendar. That didn’t bother me then, but it didn’t take long for my demands of the device to increase. I left the startup in mid-2007, turned over the BlackBerry, and immediately went in search of a Smartphone that was going to give me e-mail and calendaring with OTA sync without requiring Exchange. (Note: I did not resign because I wasn’t able to sync my calendar OTA). Enter Palm. Again.

Growing Up
In August 2007, I purchased my second Smartphone. A Palm Treo 700p. At the time, I seriously debated purchasing a 1st generation iPhone, but the EDGE network and a family data plan with Verizon held me back. The Palm did most of what I needed to, and it even did some of it fairly well, as I elaborated in my review of the device.

I had OTA e-mail and calendaring, though it was a bit of a hack. It seemed I was constantly fiddling with settings and configuration to make calendar sync work well, and I was troubled by the occassional sync error that resulted in missing appointments on my calendar. I reached a point where the trouble to make it work consistently outweighed the joy of a ubiquitous calendar. Even given the calendar woes, the 700p did what I needed it to do, though in a rather clunky fashion that truly amazes me given Palm’s presence in the market for so long. Maybe they’ll reverse that trend with the Pre. We’ll see. Anyway, after a few months, I dumped OTA calendar sync on the Treo, and dreamed of something better. Enter iPhone.

The Golden Years
In August 2008, the search finally ended when I made the trek to my local AT&T store and purchased an iPhone 3G. It satisfies my needs for OTA e-mail and calendaring, and I do appreciate the ability to integrate with Exchange and a POP e-mail account. I like that I can download new applications OTA, and the browser is unbelievable. I like that I have my iPod, phone, and PIM (personal information management) functions on a single device. I’m also quite fond of the Wi-Fi capabilities.

It does have a few flaws, though. A feature I thoroughly enjoyed on my Palm was the Camcorder feature. Copy and paste was nice, as well. I wish I could rearrange the photo albums on my phone instead of needing to use iPhoto. I wish there were search capabilities for Notes. Google maps GPS capabilities is a sham. Regardless, bless Apple for a wonderful device. The problem this time is the network.

The network coverage provided by AT&T is abysmal, at best. Verizon’s was far superior in my part of the country. I guess the alleged investment AT&T made in their 3G network wasn’t near my house. Even when travelling to larger cities where reception is much better, I still suffer frequent dropped calls. The iPhone is great; the network not so great. Naturally, I’ll continue to search because that’s what I like to do. But for now, the iPhone is the best option out there.

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