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I'm totally illiterate in PDA. I wonder if some one can shed some light on which PDA is more practical. There seems to be two broad types: pocket vs palm. What are their differences, anyway? I'm more concerned with the following aspects:

  • medical resources available (especially the free ones, like dictionary, bugs & drugs, anatomy, diseases, etc.)
  • can read word, excel, powerpoint, pdf
  • file transfer to PC
  • connect to internet
  • long battery life
  • color vs B&W
  • and ???

mp3, camera, games.....these are junks for me.


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I am currently on my 5th Palm, and I absolutely love the Palm Tungsten E. It has a great color screen, and is compact and lightweight. Thin enough that it isn't a big deal carrying it around in my pants, scrubs, or scrub top.

Both platforms have good software, but generally speaking you'll find more free software available for the Palm platform than for the Windows platform.

All of the major medical resources should be available for either platform. Internet surfing was not an issue for me, so it wasn't a big deal that my Palm didn't come WiFi ready. I could buy a WiFi card to insert in the expansion slot and surf wirelessely, but I've already discovered that surfing on a Palm is much like surfing on a cell phone -- fun for about 10 minutes, and then highly annoying thereafter.

My palm syncs just fine with my Windows computers AND my Apple computers. It also reads Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and PDF files just fine. The Tungsten E also has surprisingly great speakers and comes with Real Player software for mp3s.

In November the Tungsten E cost $199, but the price may have gone down since then.

I would strongly recommend the Palm Tungsten E, for compatibility, price, and ease of use.


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My experience is with the Sony Clie JV35, and its characteristics are almost identical to Gavin's Palm (the two were usually compared head-to-head). They're not the latest & greatest anymore, but they're still plenty adequate for anything you'll need as a student.
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I've owned and used both a Palm PDA and a Pocket PC, and while my current PDA is a Pocket PC (iPAQ 2215). I would recommend a Palm model for your needs. I absolutely love my Pocket PC, but the reason for that is because I can do all sorts of cool things with it like use it as a remote control, watching TV via network streaming, control my desktop and laptop, access my entire music collection via the network, transfer stuff via bluetooth to my phone and my laptop etc. apart from the basic e-mail, internet, calendar functionality. Your needs are clearly different. You say that you want a basic reliable PDA with excellent software support, then get a middle of the line Palm and save yourself some money.

A Palm PDA can do everything you specified (get one with a color screen though). Some of them come with built-in Wi-Fi, but as Gavin said surfing the internet with it is a novelty that grows old (not Avantgo however - that stuff is very useful). The Wi-Fi does come in very handy to check e-mail though. If you find yourself in the future wanting to do more media intensive stuff then you can switch to Pocket PC at that time.

Other things that can help you make your decision:

Do you use both PCs and Macs? If yes, Palm is probably better for you.

Do you use Outlook and are you happy with it? If yes, then maybe you should consider a Pocket PC as it features an interface that you will be familiar and happy with.

Overall, I think that both platforms are converging to a point where they have the same capabilities. In fact the top of the line models from both camps use the same Intel Xscale processors at 400 MHz. So your decision could be made on price and model preference.

One thing I cannot help you on is the availibility of free medical reference software for each platform. Perhaps someone else can elaborate on that point, and I think that should bear most heavily on your decision.


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after using my first PDA for about 4 months, here is some advice:

1. first, identify the purpose of your potential PDA. Unless you just want the coolest and the latest model, you should think about what functions you want it to have. Do not confuse your PDA with a laptop, some powerful PDA can almost match up with a laptop, but if you already have a laptop, why the redundancy?

2. if you are highly Microsoft dependent, Pocket PC might be a nice choice due to software. Sometimes, I wish I could edit Word/ Excel documents on my PDA, but I need to buy Quickoffce. MS provides free PDA version of MS Money for pocket PC users, but for palm users, we have to pay for the software.

I have a Sony Clie SJ22, very basic type of model but it has high resolution color screen, 80 bucks. It fits exactly what I need

I am no expert on PDA at all, just my personal experience, there were threads discussing the issue, you might want to do a search
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