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Handhelds Hardware

Ideal PDA Feature Wishlist? 498

RichiP asks: "My memory is so poor I forget friends' birthdays and appointments I made a day ago. I sometimes have an idea I want to jot down but that I end up forgetting when I finally come upon pen & paper. To help myself, I was thinking of purchasing one of those integrated PDA and cellphone devices (first the Handspring Treo then another by Samsung), but I've always felt that these devices were still far from ideal. I was wondering if the Slashdot community would share their wishlist of features for what they believe would be the ideal Personal Digital Assistant. Features for input, processing and output are all welcome. Perhaps the device I want may be years from becoming commercial. Given the right ideas from input from others, I might be able to come up with my own device or start an open project geared towards it." Even if you do feel that PDAs have a limited lifespan, if you had a chance to add a feature to a PDA (especially if you felt it would increase the lifespan of the PDA), what would it be?
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Ideal PDA Feature Wishlist?

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  • Well... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Cave Dweller ( 470644 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:05PM (#3669743)
    (just summarizing here)

    1] Longer battery life
    2] An actual keyboard (or a stylus that works)
    3] Upgrade-able software
    4] Lots, LOTS of memory
    5] Ofcourse, the ability to run in a Beowulf cluster...
    • Re:Well... (Score:2, Informative)

      by minus_273 ( 174041 )
      sonds like a pocket pc.. i use an old (1999) compaq aero got it for less than $200. Have 32 megs of ram , with an option to get a micor drive (gigs), 70mhz processor, gray scale, nic, modem, and lots of software as well as upgrades from compaq and MS... my handwriting recongition is so good, i have natural writing enabled (which is also free).. i hate to say it but.. ive had it for a few years now..and i expect it to last even longer.. quite a product..
  • How about... (Score:2, Informative)

    by NickRob ( 575331 )
    A WiFI antennae. I've never heard of one being in a pda. Isn't it time to consider the posibility? I mean, granted, I'd just use it for email and slight telcom purposes.... but... I'd like 'em fast! ;)
    • Toshiba e740 Pocket PC - 400Mhz XScale, 64Mb RAM, built in WiFi. Just come out and appearing a CompUSA stores mainly. I checked my local store yesterday and they had a couple in stock.
  • A decent keyboard (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:05PM (#3669748)
    Which is why i bought a Psion series 5. All the features the others have and a truly usable keyboard.
    • Amen to that. I take notes during lectures on mine. _Good_ notes, much better than I ever managed with a Palm ;-) Course, this stuffs up integration with a phone somewhat, but a Psion makes the computer bit so much better.

      A while ago I was wondering about possibilities with proper keyboards in a Palmish form factor. Daft idea occurred to me - what about the keyboard from the Revo but rotated through 90 degrees anticlockwise? Hinge on the end, fix it to the screen. You could then hold it at the hinge and look at the screen while typing or using your finger as the stylus for input. Course, typing will be slower but I'd be willing to bet it'd be faster & more accurate than Graffiti.

      We have just massively bumped up the moving parts count, though, and the manufacturing cost with it.
  • Voice recognition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coreman ( 8656 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:06PM (#3669754) Homepage
    The first company to add voice recognition to a PDA to allow hands free operation, will grab huge marketshare. This will be the killer app of the PDA
    • by Ironfist_ironmined ( 554123 ) <jawest@g m a i l .com> on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:24PM (#3669845) Homepage
      then again there would be people who would walk up to you, ask for directions, wait for you to get out your PDA then shout "delete all files"
    • Yup, though it will need to be speaker dependent for security reasons, as noted. I want three specific things:
      1. Open calendar Calendar open New item meeting with joe tuesday at three thirty for two hours New item entered for tuesday june eighteenth two thousand three at three thirty for two hours - meeting with joe end calendar calendar closed
      2. open todo list todo list open new item get latest phaser mark... new item entered in todo list priority one uncategorized get latest phaser mark extend last item extending mark eight with enhanced disruptor last item now reads get latest phaser mark eight with enhanced disruptor categorize last item fry's shopping list last item placed in fry's shopping list category close todo list todo list closed
      3. voice recorder on recording blah de blah de slash who? de blah blah end recording... recording off playback blah de blah de slash who? de blah blah store as text memo slashblah converted to text and stored as memo slashblah
      Although it's a little verbose, I think at least the first versions will require the confirmations so you learn to trust it (or not, depending on whether it works). And it needs to have wireless and a long battery life. There's an empire the likes of which Microsoft only dreams of having awaiting the inventor of a good hi-capacity, quick recharge battery.
    • Keep an eye on Fonix [fonix.com]. They demoed some awesome command-and-control software for Pocket PC devices at the Pocket PC Summit in Philly a couple weeks ago. A representative also said that they will soon be selling an SDK to 3rd party developers.
    • Recognition for commands I could take or leave, but I want something like this guy describes [longbets.org]. He's betting $1000 on this:
      That by 2020 a wearable device will be available that will use voice recognition capability and high-volume storage to monitor and index conversations you have or conversations which occur in your vicinity for later searching as supplemental memory.
      Having one would make my life so much easier, especially for dealing with clients.
    • Nope, I hope they keep voice recognition OFF devices. If there will be voice stuff in devices, I'm pretty sure it'll be a gimmicky marketing feature implemented very poorly. You could say, I've already had bad experiences with certain "voice recognition cell-phones".

      Why? Because you end up yelling,"WIFE!" or "HOME!", to get the damn thing to "match-voice-to-number". After repeating the same name five or six times, I realized its just easier to just dial the 7 damn numbers.

      Plus, you make a complete idiot of yourself around other people when they see you screaming at your phone:)

  • by jockm ( 233372 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:07PM (#3669756) Homepage
    I have seen too man scratched screens over the years. I would like to see some kind of integrated, and replacable, screen protector.
  • speech-to-text (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gergnz ( 547809 )
    I hate typing stuff in, and I hate writing stuff down. All I want to do is say "Cowboy Neal; Birthday; 25 December 1997" and a new entry for cowboy neal is added if it doesn't already exist and the birthdate is added.
  • Cheap. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Glytch ( 4881 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:12PM (#3669780)
    I want them dirt-cheap and mass-produced, like calculators.
    • Re:Cheap. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by limbostar ( 116177 )
      Add to this "I want them to all use the same data format, so I can easily transfer my address book from one to another when I decide I need a new one."

      Even if the el cheapo ones cost $5 at your local drugstore, it's useless unless it's easy to move data into and out of it. Nothing sucks worse than building up your data for six months and then getting a PDA with a completely different data format as a gift.
      • Re:Cheap. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by 0x20 ( 546659 )
        Solution: dirt cheap and wireless. Store your data on the server. PDA craps out while you're walking down the street? Toss it in the trash, walk into the convenience store, buy a new one, continue where you left off.
    • Hmmm. I *would* have agreed with you. Until I got the Palm m105 (see previous /. article). Now, I'd like to add "reliable" to the picture.

      I have one of the original Timex Datalink watches. I got it for a gift ~6-7 years ago. It still works great. The only issues I have with it are 1)limited memory (the 2nd edition solved that), 2) no way to add info on-the-fly, and 3)no Linux or Win2k support. I've replaced the battery once, and the band several times. And it just keeps going.
      Timex, it takes a licking & keeps on ticking. Hmmm, maybe Timex needs to make a Palm...
  • For me, it would need to have a seperate fold-out keyboard and be capable of running vim with 80 columns of visible colored text. Obviously for writing code anywhere.

    -metric
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:18PM (#3669814)
    I want one of those 3d girls.
    and force feedback
  • by digerata ( 516939 )
    A method to input data that is faster and easier to use then pen and paper.

    That's it.

  • by ruiner13 ( 527499 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:20PM (#3669825) Homepage
    is that as far as memory goes, 640K ought to be enough for anyone.
  • by sgage ( 109086 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:23PM (#3669835)
    ... what you need is a $.49 memo pad and pencil.

    Sheesh.

    - Steve
  • by daserver ( 524964 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:23PM (#3669838) Homepage
    linux pda [heise.de].
  • by strredwolf ( 532 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:24PM (#3669846) Homepage Journal
    ... should really be a hand-held computer.

    640x480 screen, extensible (by yanking it out) to 800x640
    Integrated pinhole camera
    Runs Linux (duh), w/compile-on-PDA
    64 megs operational memory, as-much-as-it-can-take storage memory
    Grafitti or similar writing system, with add-on keyboard (a la GoType)
    IrDA access
    Extension capability via high-speed, low pinout interfaces (more than one).
    Battery lasts for about three weeks under heavy usage.

    • Grafitti or similar writing system

      Ugh,... not Grafitti. Try using the Transcriber handwriting recognition on the iPaq or similar then try going back to Grafitti. It's unbelievably painful. Transcriber aint perfect, but it's a hell of an improvement on Grafitti, so I'd change that requirement to "decent handwriting recognition"
  • What I'd want... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:25PM (#3669847)
    City-wide flat-rate wireless internet access with real web browsing at a 640x480 minimum resolution.

    There is so much I could do if I had a web browser in my pocket all the time, and I wasn't nickled and dimed for using it.
  • At the top of my wish list, is a cell phone with the following features:

    1) MP3 player functionality, with 256MB flash memory and USB interface, mountable as a hard drive.
    2) Infrared/802.11/Bluetooth modem support, plug & play with any laptop computer, log on from anywhere. (No need to cram a web browser onto the cell display itself.)
    3) Ability to make calls over cell network, cordless landline, or internet, at will.
    4) GPS/navigational functionality.
    5) Last but not least, optional laser engraving for a paltry additional $49, of course. (Do-it-yourself paperclip engraving is just so five-seconds-ago. ;-)

    Maybe Apple's next Digital Device will be something like this. I have a Powerbook G4, and it's surprisingly difficult to find a workable log-on-from-anywhere solution.
  • My Samsung 8500 has a feature that lets you record voice memos. You just flip open the phone and press the memo button on the side while you talk. It automagically puts date / timestamp on it, or, if you have the time, lets you type a quick note (which is fairly easy with the "t9" word prediction software. Sounds like just what you need.
  • by HaveNoMouth ( 556104 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:30PM (#3669874) Homepage
    Start with the best features of the Newton ("soup" data management for programming, killer handwriting recognition, screen rotation) and add
    • At least a GB of nonvolatile memory (why is it that my digital camera can accept a microdrive but most PDAs can't?)
    • 802.11
    • Firewire
    • MP3 player
    • Color screen with MPEG-4 player
    • Microphone for voice recording to MP3, preferably with voice recognition but could be downloaded to desktop PC for VR later.
    • Wireless short text messaging/email with ability to use its wireless modem from a computer when I need a bigger screen
    • Microsloth-free
    I guess what I'm looking for is the bastard child of a Newton and an iPod with a few extra bells and whistles.
    • Sounds like the Zaurus. My microdrive works in it. I have 802.11, I play mp3's, I watch mpeg4 movies, I have kinkattalist for aim, I have a wireless cell adaptor with a flat fee. And best of all no microsoft.
  • feature set (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:32PM (#3669879) Homepage Journal
    1) Small or integrated power cable. This is much more important than battery life. If you can build in a transformer that's so small i'm not embarassed to unwind it, there's really no need for battery life above 6 hours. I'm always at least 4 hours from a wall outlet or cigarette lighter.

    2) Off-processor or otherwise more efficient multimedia processing. This would allow for a slower, cooler CPU to conserve batery life when not playing mp3s, movies or fancy shmancy games.

    3) Full access to the hardware via a standardized API (either CE, Pocket PC or PocketLinux).

    4) A microphone jack. Give me a mic jack and a wireless CF card with the ability to log into a GSM cell system and i've already got my cell phone.

    5) Seperate peripheral and memory slots. The new Toshiba unit goes a step further than this, with seperate "Secure" digital memory and compactflash peripheral slots, as well as a built in 802.11b slot. That's what I want.

    6) Built in "cradle." That is, I'd like a USB / firewire port on the unit and a USB slot on the machine, so that I can use quality, inexpensive USB cable and not the expensive proprietary stuff. If I could draw power from the line to charge up, it's an added plus.

    7) 802.11b. Then I won't need a cradle at all :)

    For my money, that new Tosh Pocket PC unit is close to perfect. It may offend you "pad & pencil" palm folks and you linux lovers to hear this, but the CE OS is very mature, has a ton of apps, is easy to develop for without heavy licensing costs (even if it is for the evil empire), and has so many genuine choices on the market, eg machines with very different hardware for people with different uses.
    • Re:feature set (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dvk ( 118711 )
      > 5) Seperate peripheral and memory slots.

      Handera 330 has had this for a while (CF and SD/MM slots).

      -DVK

  • 340*480 Color LCD
    QWERTY Keyboard
    Blackberry-style scroll wheel
    >128MB Flash memory
    PCMCIA slot
    USB connector
    Max 3.5"W * 6"H * 1"D dimentions (approx same size as a thick checkbook)
    Integraded wireless (data + voice)
    Headphone jack
    Stereo sound
    mp3 audio / mpeg video
    TV-out
  • Short List (Score:3, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <[ten.tsacmoc] [ta] [yburxyno]> on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:36PM (#3669894)

    Work as a cell phone

    Wireless Internet / Email access

    Simple database to track lists

    Encrypted data vault for PIN's

    Synchronize data with computer

    USB 2.0 port

    Smart Memory port that will use generic SmartMedia

    How about a PCMCIA port?

    Infrared

    Security feature that can't be bypassed with factory tools

    A longer stylus. Have two pieces that screw togethor and it would fit

    A belt clip, I don't always have a coat to put it in

    A vibrate feature for alarms and incoming calls

    Color! It's not a grayscale world

    Headphone jack for MP3's.

    • >> Security feature that can't be bypassed with factory tools ???

      Yes?
      I forgot my password, and i need my important financial data now!
      but sir it meets c3 guidelines for security as per your recomendation on /.
      THAT WAS BEFORE I NEEDED TO BREAK IN

      Always be careful of what you wish for, you may get it.

      • At which point I will learn my lesson about forgetting passwords. A lesson hard taught is not easily forgotten. Remember when the palm factory debug set was found to be able to bypass the security on any palm a year or so back. Poof! Security gone, that's why you can't have security by obscurity. If you lose your password you lose your data and will know better than to do it again. Besides, you ought to have had a backup anyways.
  • my ideal PDA... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AssFace ( 118098 )
    1) 22" LCD screen with a fast enough refresh to play games without the motion blur.

    2) dual athlon mp 2g or faster ideally. also, these should allow for future upgrades if need be.

    3) a full sized ergonomic keyboard

    4) full dolby 5.1 surround sound and subs

    5) as a base I would want around 80gigs of storage, but again, it would be nice to have the ability to upgrade that or add on.

    6) a bare minimum of a half gig of RAM, but ideall a gig or two. and again, this should allow upgrades or additions.

    7) that LCD needs to have millions of colors and have something along the lines of a GeForce 4600 driving it. again, when there becomes a faster version, I want that, so I need to be able to swap them.

    8) a very rounded case, that is so shiny I can see my face in it. think like the Nokia 8860.

    9) it has to be very light. I don't want to notice that I have this thing with me

    10) it should be bulletproof. I tend to keep them in my shirt pocket or inside picket of my jacket in the winter and I want this thing to be able to stop any shots taken at me.

    11) in regards to #10, I would recommend Titanium

    12) money is no object, but it should cost less than $200.

    that would be my ideal PDA.

    oh, and it should have some sort of integrated pointing device that is also shiny.

    eventually, I want it to be able to translate langauges on the fly, download things off of a wireless connection, read my mind, and create a neural net of my life experiences and sayings as time passes and eventually allow me to use it as my brain.

    ideally.
  • ...you should. Even though there's a lot to be improved in a standard Palm or comparable PDA, and in another decade we'll laugh at them, they still kick butt. I got a Palm VII a few years ago, my first PDA, and after just a day was wondering how I'd ever survived before. The handwriting recognition works fine (not perfect, but good enough), and the easy synching with my desktop address book, calendar, and to do lists made life 100% better. If you're already experienced with these and are truly looking for the Next Big Thing, then OK fine. But if you just want to get organized, current generation PDA's kick the shit out of pencil and paper. JMHO
  • So far, I bought half a dozen models and nothing seems to work well for me.
    - PalmOS: forget it. I can not learn graffiti. the screen is too small, the system is obviously for geeks. No wireless, why do I need a cell phone + this thing.
    - PocketPC: sweet screen, nice apps, but battery last for half a day and it's too heavy, too bulky. No wireless integrated. Too expensive.
    - Sony picture book: almost great, but too big and keyboard is not practical. Almost all the cons of a PDA and a laptop together.
    - My Cell phone (Nokia): it does the job. Appointment, phone directory, voice recognition (to call my friends), decent battery. wireless. Strongly build (fell many times, still works)

    Why would I need a pda, when I get so much more out of a cell phone that cost only $29 a month. And if I need to play games, I still can get a GBA (but not carry it all the time.)

    PPA, the girl next door.
  • by under_score ( 65824 ) <mishkin.berteig@com> on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:53PM (#3669964) Homepage
    Here's my list:
    1. High dpi screen - maybe 400dpi would be acceptable - and a resolution upwards of 1600 x 900 with the ability to use portrait or landscape orientation.
    2. Touch screen so that it can be a writing/drawing surface.
    3. No more than 0.5 inches thick, but ideally 0.3 or less would be nice.
    4. About the same density as paper - hefty but not heavy.
    5. Good sound: do some magic with directional speakers so that the sound can be loud but relatively private without headphones. Obviously you would need a pretty intense intelligent sensor system to know where to point the speakers ;-)
    6. Extremely good voice and handwriting recognition.
    7. High-speed wireless internet access anywhere in the world on a flat rate. This should be a minimum of 1Mbps, but 10Mbps would be better.
    8. Strong! Should be able to withstand drops (while turned on) from about 6 feet up onto concrete without physically or logically breaking.
    9. As fast as possible :-) Ideally I'd want at least a 16 way Athlon XP yada, yada, no wait! 64 way... you get the idea.
    10. 3" CD R/RW is there a 3" DVD format? there should be).
    11. As fast as possible :-) (Again!) The graphics subsystem should be at least equivalent to the top of the line 3D NVIDIA card of 5 years in the future!
    12. Neural Jack - need I say more?
  • by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @04:56PM (#3669975) Homepage
    ...style communicator:

    - UWB (Ultra-Wide Band) wireless
    - Flexible/rollable display
    - Video camera
    - Realtime Full-motion video send/receive
    - GPS
    - Internet connectivity
    - 640x480 (preferably 800x600) 16 bit color
    - Soft function screen (keypad, display, video)
    - Enough power to last all day (at least)
    - Flat rate (unlimited) usage
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They already exist. They run WinCE (or WinXP now i think). They can play mp3 and all that amazing USELSS junk that is better suited for a regular computer.

    The reason that palms have much less ram, weaker processors, weak color abilities is 1. to make them cheaper, and 2. to make the battery last a while.

    The average battery life on a win device is around 8 hours. Palm devices go 2-3 weeks. Would you like to read a mini paper knowing that you will use up 1/3 of your batteries reading it? The reasons I like my palm are basicly a super duper paper notebook. The to do list is perfect for me. I bought a keyboard and use it to take notes in class (I can type twice as fast as writing, plus it can easily be stored on my comp). And creating my own progs for the palm is always a spiffy thing.

    P.S. for everyone that is gonna go a similar route as I did. I bought the HAndspring Neo for $200. Just telling you, all those shades of grayscale are almost never used (maybe in complex games, but thats it), and cpu speed really doesn't make much of a difference. I would go out buy a old device that has the same capabilities as the new ones but is just worst (slower, less shades of gray), but DONT go below 8megs of ram.
  • Once portable connectivity becomes ubiquitous (it may take a century, but it'll happen) I suspect the idea of the PDA will fall by the wayside. It'll never be practical to have a real portable computer, mostly because of power limitations. What I believe will eventually happen is the Portable Digital Assistant will make way for the Portable Terminal (PT). This doohickey will basically only act as a surrogate for one's home computer, searching its databases, and serving only as a display and data entry (and communications) device. The result will be a gizmo you don't have to worry about syncing to your desktop, or batteries; if you run them out, after a recharge you'll be back in business, with no need to stick it in its cradle and replace all its data. Battery life will also be improved since the processing and data storage requirements will be orders of magnitude less.
  • by Gaccm ( 80209 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @05:10PM (#3670019)
    They already exist. They run WinCE (or WinXP now i think). They can play mp3 and all that amazing USELSS junk that is better suited for a regular computer.

    The reason that palms have much less ram, weaker processors, weak color abilities is 1. to make them cheaper, and 2. to make the battery last a while.

    The average battery life on a win device is around 8 hours. Palm devices go 2-3 weeks. Would you like to read a mini paper knowing that you will use up 1/3 of your batteries reading it? The reasons I like my palm are basicly a super duper paper notebook. The to do list is perfect for me. I bought a keyboard and use it to take notes in class (I can type twice as fast as writing, plus it can easily be stored on my comp). And creating my own progs for the palm is always a spiffy thing.

    P.S. for everyone that is gonna go a similar route as I did. I bought the HAndspring Neo for $200. Just telling you, all those shades of grayscale are almost never used (maybe in complex games, but thats it), and cpu speed really doesn't make much of a difference. I would go out buy a old device that has the same capabilities as the new ones but is just worst (slower, less shades of gray), but DONT go below 8megs of ram.

    Note: I submitted this twice, once as an anonymous coward because slashdot cant read its own cookies.

    Additional note: don't get any device with an OS older than 3.0 lots of progs wont run on it. (if possible get a 3.5, 99.99% of all progs will work on it).
    • Amen to that. I've got a Palm V and the coolest thing about it was that it does a set of things really well and it's really small and lasts for weeks.


      I was surprised at how much of what I wanted done it did and just it was okay that it wasn't a full blown computer. I think Palm hit it on the head, the only thing they really missed as communication. They should have inked deals and made it more possible to put PalmOS on cellphone and they should have been the first out of the gate with bluetooth devices.


      Put palmos on my cell phone (hard to do with the size and form factors. Put an okay browser on it and enable it for bluetooth and I'd be really happy.. Put together some smart internet syncing software so that I could select things to be synced up once every couple hours over cell or via internet over bluetooth and it'd do just about everything I want for a computer that size to do.

  • by The Raven ( 30575 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @05:17PM (#3670041) Homepage
    The ability to tell it something, voiced, and have it remind me about it later. I want to be able to add timer/alarm based voice recordings. It does not need to parse the entire language... just certain key words.

    Remind me to walk the dog every day at 6pm.

    REMIND ME TO (intro keyword, start listening)
    "walk the dog" recorded verbatim, played back when the timer goes off.
    EVERY DAY AT 6PM (parsed into an alarm)

    It should be able to handle many kinds of timers and alarms:

    Remind me to go home you workaholic every weekday at 6pm.
    Remind me to check for a new mozilla version next Tuesday.
    Remind me to buy mom a birthday card on September 1st.
    Remind me to call my brother every Easter.
    Remind me to check the pizza in 10 minutes.
    Remind me to check my heart rate every 5 minutes for one hour.

    That's all I want. I could care less about every other feature on a stupid PDA... I do not use them. All I need is someting to remind me of things, quickly and easily. A small LCD screen to review reminders, or possibly an IR port (or bluetooth) instead and some PC software.

    It would not need to parse quickly... it could take up to a minute to process the speech. It could confirm that it has successfully added by beeping or vibrating for a second... confused parsing or incorrect parsing would cause it to beep or vibrate several times to get your attention.

    Power needs would be quite low... the thing could probably go weeks or months on a single charge. I have a Casio Voice-Recording watch that I have not had to change batteries for yet, and it's over a year and a half old. Only parsing a new recording would tax its batteries.

    That is my killer feature. When something can do that for me, I will be on it in a hot second. And if someone patents it and sits on it, I'm gonna be suing for prior art, the b**ches. :P
    • Karen Holland, the late Austin artist [webfishart.com], said, "You need a device that not only has a dated to-do list with an alarm, but if you don't do the thing you're supposed to, the PDA starts telling your secrets."

      I don't know whether she meant out loud or over the net. Either would be a mighty fine motivator.
    • One thing I wish the Palm devices would do in the reminder dept, is to have several alarms for the same event. I always wind up putting in four entries for an important event, such as a doctor's appointment - one week in advance (so I remember to ask for time off work), one day in advance (so I remember to be ready for the appt tomorrow, such as fasting), an hour in advance (so I know to get in the car and start driving to get there in time), and the actual event time itself.
  • Well, judging from all of the replies I read here so far the future of PDA's is bleak indeed if these are the kind of people designng the next wave of PDA's/cell phones/mp3 players - in fact judging by "progress" made so far they must be one and the same.

    What I want in a PDA is a more modular collection of pieces that can each connect with each other - perhaps physically, perhaps wirelessly.

    So, rather than have a PDA that can play MP3's but has too smal a storage area (less than 5mb) to be really useful, a digital camera that sucks, and marginal phone built into a clumsy to operate hand unit - I'd like a storage device (700 GB plus please) I can keep in my pocket or piggyback on a real phone (perhaps something built into a battery pack) that services a range of devices I might have on me - A very lightweight PDA (half the width of the palm V) that is basically there to access and manage the storage and run programs stored there, a great 300 megapixel digital camera that also uses the storage device, and whatever other intresting things I can thing of talking to each other (like a shirt with a built in flexible display that mirrors the most recent picture taken ).

    Oh, and each individual device had best have a battery life of a month or more, or forget about it.

    Note that what I'm talking about sounds like the whole wearable concept, but I'm more about leaving devices in a form factor that suits us than trying to work out how to embed a camera in my forehead.

    If you wanted some advice for what to get now, get a Palm V (or at least that form factor) if you are actually going to use it and some other sort of PDA if you'd rather get a toy you'll likley discard in under a year.
  • An episode of Earth: Final Conflict (efc.com). See the thing they have called a global? That's what I want. Without the locator chip of course.
  • No bigger than a credit card. Fits in your wallet. 'nuff said.
  • I have nothing to contribute to this question but I honestly wonder if it was inspired by the article in this month's issue of DDJ where they talk about the battery life of PDAs [ddjembedded.com].
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @06:06PM (#3670228) Homepage
    Most pieces of technology reach a stage where they're "about right," become commodity items, and stagnate. OK, they never stagnate completely, but the differences between a 1957 Chevy and a 2002 Toyota Corolla--heck, even a Prius--are pretty darn incremental. They both have automatic transmission, you put gas in 'em, turn the key to start them, and drive 70 mph on the Interstate with them. You did it in 1957 just the way you do it now. Sure, now you fasten your seatbelt, get 35 mpg, and you never need to replace the vibrator in the car radio. (Don't snicker at that, you ignorant young whippersnapper. How ELSE did you think you'd generate the B voltage for the vacuum tubes?).

    Same thing with a PDA. What things do I want that I don't have already? Boring things. Incremental things. Cheaper, clearer, better screen, yadda yadda yadda. My personal shtick is a good eBook reader... but what I'm saying is, PDA's are OK. They've figured it out. A Palm is great for addresses, phone numbers, etc. Just like a four-function calculator is great for adding up a few numbers.

    Yes, I've seen calculators built into pens, into watches, calculators that graph equations, etc. but the classic four-function calculator is FINISHED--not in the sense of "dead," in the sense of COMPLETE.

    And the PDA is "finished," too. It has a pretty high gloss on it already, in fact, although I'm sure they'll manage to polish it some more in the coming decades.

    But the future is a $10 PDA that's about the same size, the same weight, and has about the same feature set as today's $100 Palm (or yesterday's $400 Palm)--or today's $30 cheapo PDA knockoff.

    The $400 Palm that makes coffee, walks the dog, is woven into your handkerchief, and plays realtime multiplayer Internet games ain't gonna happen.

  • Would be really neat if you could pop the back off, put the PDA on an overhead projector, and voila.
    • put the PDA on an overhead projector

      Finally, a sensible approach to the projector request. I can't believe how many people said they want a built-in projector. I mean, come on! Now a branded projector that serves as a docking bay for the PDA.. I like that idea a LOT.

      Remote control mouse, battery charger.. excellent!
  • Remote Storage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dangermouse ( 2242 ) on Sunday June 09, 2002 @06:30PM (#3670286) Homepage
    I want three things from a PDA:

    1. Wireless connectivity
    2. Small amount of memory, for caching
    3. The ability to store my data somewhere the hell else

    I enter data, it gets synced (transparently) over the Internet-- first hop wireless-- to my server. Do it through my cellular carrier, I don't care. I read data, it gets cached locally unless it's updated. But there's no need to cache everything locally, so don't load my PDA up with expensive memory.

    Do this, make it reliable, and make it cost less than $100, and I'll probably buy a couple and just leave them where I might need them-- one at work, one in the car, one at home.

  • With BigClock (free clock program) I can set my Palm to ding on the quarter-hour, dingdingding on the half-hour, and do something kind of similar to the Westminster chime on the hour, but it won't actually strike the hour.

    Settings for chime. I am not a musician and pert-near musically retarded but this works for me:
    1200 400
    800 600
    1000 700
    600 800

    But, I want more: I want it to do that Ding-dong, ding-dong... Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! ... ("Hey, is it five already?") Surely this would not be hard to program but I can't find one out there.
    • I want it to do that Ding-dong, ding-dong... Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! ... ("Hey, is it five already?") Surely this would not be hard to program but I can't find one out there.

      I bought the rights to this technology and had it suppressed. Why? Because for 90% of its users, it would be "Hey, is it half-way through the movie already?"

      The next phase of my plan is to make it so that the cellphone that makes noise costs $90 more than the vibrating cellphone. Then I will make it so that all car alarms immediately summon the police. Consumers will perceive this as a security feature and buy it in droves, but they will soon discover that the police, overworked and irritated, will summarily execute anybody who can't work their car alarm, which is apparently almost everybody.
  • Well, I already have one - but the perfect PDA would combine elements from that and all the other ones I've used, namely:

    - The ability to easily sync to Mac, Windows, or Linux (like Palms can).

    - Much longer battery life, like 20 hours or so worth at full blast. Only low-end B&W Palms even come close to that.

    - Easy-to-use media features (PocketPCs do media well).

    - A speaker as good as the iPaq's or better.

    - Grafitti strokes built-in to the recognizer (I retrained my Zaurus, but it's still not as good/easy as Grafitti).

    - A nicer Address Book that has a better list view. I'm sure it's being worked on.

    - Ditto something I noted in one of the reviews - the date book doesn't allow one-touch new appointments. Again, I expect it's being fixed in Zaurus.

    - I'd like to see a PDA that could be a USB master, allowing me to use standard peripherals. I know it's a power drain, so having to use an extra battery pack or A/C would be OK for that.

    - Finally, I'd lake the hardware to be sufficiently rugged that I can just throw it in a bag and not worry about it. All PDA's nowadays need somewhat delicate handling.
    1. A clip that can hold the PDA in my shirt pocket. No more bouncing it off the floor when I lean over to pick something up. This could be as simple as a pen-clip mounted on the stylus.
    2. MP3 playback & record.
    3. Some kind of removable storage, preferably CompactFlash, but anything with 128 MB and up would do.
    4. Durable. Metal shell, rubberise the corners.
    5. GameBoy style buttons (up, down, left right in a gamepad configuration on the left and at least 2 fire buttons on the right. For playing games, of course. Sony has many of the other features, but their buttons suck for game playing.


    Jon Acheson
  • MyTricorder (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheTick ( 27208 )

    Start with a modern cell phone, with calendar and contact list. To that add:

    • Some kind of decent UI. I hate poking out text on the phone's keypad. Gimme grafitti or something.
    • GPS
    • 802.11b or equivalent.
    • A decent suite of network apps: browser, email client, etc.
    • 1 Mpel digital camera

    Voila!

  • I want one device that meets all of the following requirements. When such a device exists for a few hundred dollars or less I will purchase my first PDA.

    1. It must be a pda, keep appointments, phone numbers, etc.
    2. Internet ready, must have wireless access to the net for e-mail web browsing, ssh, etc.
    3. It must be able to play digital audio whehter the files are stored in the device or on the net (streaming).
    4. It must have a full color LCD screen.
    5. It must be no larger than a modern cellular phone (palm pilots are too wide).
    6. It must be a digital camera.
    7. It must play digital video.
    8. I must be able to plug it into my desktop in some manner in order to trade information.
    9. It must have a large amoutn of storage space, say a few gigs. IBM microdrive preferred.
    10. It must run on one fully charged battery for at least 8 hours.
    11. It must have an intutive alphanumeric input method.
    12. It must not have DRM of any sort.
    13. It must be a digital cellular phone and pager.
    14. I must have a JRE (Java).
    15. It must have a fast processor, fast enough to do all non-3D tasks. Maple or Mathematica (lite versions at least) should run on it.
    16. It must have instant messenging, AIM, ICQ.
    17. It should have a VNC client or X over SSS or equivalent, so I can use my desktop computer from the middle of the street far away.
    18. The wireless net connection must be fast enough to stream mp3s.

    That's all I can think of now. Any other features added are just bonuses.
  • While I was at Georgia Tech, a couple of kids decided to see if they could hookup a GPS unit to a Palm and provide functionality that reminded you to do things when you were the in the vicinity of a place where a task could be accomplished.

    User Scenario: Driving back from work. PDA beeps or [voice message] to remind you to pick up some groceries/get an oil change/drop in on a friend/etc when you are near the store/Jiffy Lube/friend's house.

    I seem to remember that they had a lot of code written but were hamstrung by the fact that the GPS unit they wanted to attach to the Palm had its release date delayed and the fact that the Palm would have to be "always on" to receive GPS signals was another issue.
  • This is an Ask /. that I have seen before
    Here is my ideal PDA:
    The demensions are similar to that of a legal pad full of paper when it comes to LxHxW. The height should be at most no thicker then todays iPaqs.
    The screen should be easily readable, backlit, and full color. It needs to easily handle different fonts and display them nicely.
    Bluetooth is at the heart of the connectivity process for this bad boy. Syncing with the PC should be done with bluetooth. Using it for your cellphone should be done via a bluetooth earpeice module. The phone portion should be modular enough to support major carriers in the US of A. Communication to accessory devices (such as a detatched keyboard) also needs to be handled by bluetooth.
    Expandability is a key. USB and Firewire ports make the most sense but some kind of CF slot or PCMCIA makes sense for an accessory you always need. I just talked about bluetooth for syncing etc. because bluetooth is ideal for short-range. Making this PDA 802.11b accessable is necesary so it can be used house/office wide.
    With the size being a full sheet of paper, long battery life should be easy to obtain. So should onboard docking for the cellphone accessory. Another possible accessory would be something like a mini screen. This would talk to the big mama via bluetooth and could quickly be used for getting information such as Datebook, Phone#s, etc and could also be used as the dialing aparatus for the bluetooth phone adapter.
    The ability to securely network and actively work between others of these ideal PDAs is a MUST! Whiteboard, chat, etc. between two PDAs in a room shouldnt be too hard since they are going to be bluetooth / 802.11b enabled.
    A good amount of storage is not crazy these days with the state of solid-state-memory. I think the ability to keep a DivX or a collection of mp3s or just a lot of pictures would be great.
    Input would be customizable. I mentioned a keyboard for when you need to type something on the go. However, I think stylus input is perfect. Due to the size and memory, it could store everything as normal text input and wouldn't HAVE TO translate it to ASCII, but that would be prefered. Also a grafiti system would be available. Since it is expandable and should have a fair ammount of memory on it, voice record/voice recognition/voice2text should not be hard to implement, especially if you can use the cellphone adapter to interact with this mama.
    Again with the docking. All accesories should be able to connect to the main PDA for recharging while the main PDA is being rechared / should use the same power input as the main so that you dont have to have different chargers for all the accessories.

    ... I wish ...
  • Long battery life. Really long.

    A versatile, multichannel, wideband radio receiver. So I can listen to the radio, shortwave, cb, watch tv, talk on the phone, etc.

    Killer DSPs to go along with aforementioned radio equipment.

    A killer display. High defnition gas plasma.

    Built in ultrabright microprojector.

    Microphone array, so I can place it on the table and it can do noise cancellation as I talk.

    An option roll-out semitransparent display like those funky things on Red Planet

    Bucketloads of memory. A few gigs of ram, and about a terabyte of fixed storage.

    A built in stun gun.

    A pocket-warmer mode for cold days.

    Voice recognition & comprehension.

  • My ideal PDA:

    NO keyboard
    Natural handwriting recognition
    LARGE, half-VGA (320x480) color display
    Overall size similar to a paperback book, maybe slightly taller
    DECENT PDA operating system (NOT PocketPC or Palm)
    PCMCIA slots!
    Reasonably fast CPU, expandable memory

    I do not care about: voice recognition, smaller and smaller sizes (if it's small enough to fit in a pocket, it's not big enough to read a book on, browse the Web on, do serious handwriting on, etc.), keyboards (if I want a keyboard I will get a laptop), graffiti (SLOOOOOOOOW), pocket Word/Excel (if I want office I will get a laptop), digital camera add-ons, etc... None of these things are worth anything to me.

    Basically, my ideal PDA is the Newton 2100 but with a nicer color display and maybe a little bit thinner.

    Why did I say "and you will hate it"? Because basically people get furious when I describe my perfect PDA, as if by making my ideal PDA, the market will necessarily make unavailable theirs (which is usually something the size of a credit card with a built-in keyboard with keys the size of sand grains that can run a Web server and Adobe Photoshop while using a digital camera attachment).
  • I have a small Radio Shack voice record; it does it's job exceedingly well. I can record, skip around messages, organize them into four folders, and so on, without looking at the display on it. Very handy for driving. While a PDA is technically capable of this, the voice recorder feature (WinCE's) isn't that natural for tactile-only handling of messages (while driving).

    Similarly, you can get clunky digital-camera add-ons for your PDA. And cell phone add-ons. And GPS add ons. And so on. These things which have the *potential* of lowering the "device count" that I like to carry around with me, but they don't do these features well enough for me to eliminate my other devices.

    When they start doing these jobs as well as the indendant devices, that's when I'll start getting excited. And when they start eliminating the need to buy or carry these other devices, more and more people will buy them.

    Oh yeah, and some kick-ass battery live to go along with it would be needed as well. Give me a nice little fuel cell, and better integration with cell/camera/voice-memo/etc., and I'll be in heaven.

    Oh yeah, and it shouldn't be much bigger than a matchbook, using one of those retinal projection chip thingies to give me a big screen display. :-)

    -me
    • Ability to use a readable 80 character display
    • Wireless networking without the need for PPP (dammit, palm!).
    • Voice navigation ("memo directions", "find dad", "up", "down", "back", etc)
    • Portable keyboard that can be used at the same time as the network (again, dammit palm!)
    • A good built-in scripting language would be cool. Embeddable in compiled apps too.
  • A) Dual CF and SD slots, since they are used for both peripherals and storage. I like having both slots on my Zaurus, but I'd rather have two CF slots than one CF and one SD slot.

    B) "Adjustable" CF slot. Spring-load the connector end of the slot with a catching gear to hold it in place until 'ejected'. My CF NIC has a 1/2" CF-sized portion that sticks up until it reaches the large block for the RJ-45 connector. It would be nice to push that portion deeper into the unit, making it easier to find a good case for it and leave an often-used CF peripheral inserted.

    C) Two slots for stylii. You always lose one, so why not sacrifice an extra 1/4" hole to hold a second one.

    D) Integrated *standard* ports. USB, DB-9 RS232 serial, an RJ-45 connector for lan, RJ-11 for modem (or integrate lan/modem, although that would be disadvantageous to me, personally). Think about it--we're not far off from being able to integrate these things cheaply. The circuitry needed is *very* small, and the connectors themselves wouldn't make a huje difference in PDA size (maybe 1/3 inch wider if all were put on one side, or 1/3 inch taller if all on bottom--quite possible).

    E) Rubber-key keyboard. I love the Zaurus keyboard, but I'd rather have soft-rubber keys than the hard plastic (easier to grip with finger, nail, or stylus).

    F) Higher-powered IR. I want my $500 TV remote =P

    G) More integration: 802.11a, 802.11b, bluetooth. Why not? So long as power to the circuits is only enabled when in use, it won't make a huge difference in battery life. IANAEngineer, but certainly these have enough in common to share a good chunk of electronics.

    H) DC power input with tolerence for a good range of voltages/amperages. You can always use another AC/DC adapter in a pinch, and save money on the high-priced name-brand adapters.

    I'm sure I could come up with more, but...
  • Current PDAs may be down to pocket size but at the cost of screen real estate. What is really required are several technical advances:

    Cheaply manufacturable flexible screens

    More efficient batteries that can be manufactured in significantly smaller sizes

    (Optional) Voice recoginition (mentioned in several places elsewhere)

    The first two points are the most important. If the battery can be made small enough and the screen flexible, then, conceivably, one could almost construct a device with the functionality of existing PDA/cell phone devices in the form factor of a wristwatch! If the above changes could then be produced cheaply enough--say within the $200 range, then the MIT's so-called "pervasive computing" suddenly becomes a far more realistic proposition.

  • by wirefarm ( 18470 )
    All I'd want is a decent folding wireless dumb terminal with SSH and a reliable free 64K wireless net connection. Maybe a couple of MB of local text storage.

    Yup, that would just about do it for me...

    Cheers,
    Jim in Tokyo

  • This is a big reason why paper is more popular than other PDAs, and why Game Boy is more popular than other handheld video games. One way to get it is either with a reflective LCD or an OLED. I'm looking forward to the latter.
  • I just bought a Kyocera [kyocera-wireless.com] Smartphone. So far it works great. I got it from Verizon. It's price has come down a good deal, down to $250USD, but even lower if you get a service plan (mail-in rebate).

    You remember that a company called Qualcomm made a palm/phone combination. A few years ago they went bankrupt, and their great idea of a PDA mixed with phone was sold to Kyocera, a Japanese company. What's nice about the newer models is that they upgraded the PalmOS to take advantage of the marriage, and fixed some physical issues with the 1.0 release of the phone.

    Let me first elaborate on the design. It is a rather wide flip-phone. It's got a numeric keypad that flips open to reveal a full palm screen. There's an extendable antenna, and a nice jog dial on the side to scroll down large pages. It comes with a docking cradle/charger. There is a nice manual showing all the features, as well as a Palm Desktop CD (Windows only?)

    First off, it's a black and white screen. Eh, no big deal, except that its competitor, the Handspring Treo has a color screen. The Treo also has about 3 good calls in it before it needs a recharge, I hear, while the Smartphone so far is great. Plus, the Smartphone is way cheaper.

    The phone works as a phone when the flip is closed. Only the top half of the Palm screen is used, the time is displayed, and you can use the jog dial to navigate your address book, take a voice memo, or check e-mail, send an SMS text, etc. When you open it, the full screen comes into use, and the palm can run. Interetingly enough, you can run the palm, with the phone part set to On or Off. That's nice, as you can therefore use the Palm apps on a plane, unless the stewardess on board accuses you of lying/sabotage and confiscates it.

    It's digital, can run palm apps, including Palm Clipping apps that connect to the 'Net. There's WAP support, though the WAP browser is really bad. It feels slow, and clumsy interface IMO.

    A nice feature is that it can plug into a laptop and become a wireless fax/modem, both with a serial cable or IR port. You can download a Palm remote control app, meaning you can change the channel with your phone.

    There is no bluetooth support yet, but the salesman told me that in a few months there will be an add-on to the phone's cradle port allowing it. Meanwhile, you have a headset jack, a speakerphone that lets you hear the conversation (but makes you yell to be heard on the other end), IR, and the wireless web.

    The Wireless Web differs from carrier to carrier, but with Verizon I was able to send e-mails without dialing up (using a digital network) and use the pager service (for Verizon's network at least).

    Kyocera's site is over at www.Kyocera-wireless.com Check it out to see the newest Smartphones, the latest model as of Summer 2002 is the QCP-6035. 8MB of RAM

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