Rewinding from immature Android to mature PalmOS

I like seeing new developments in technology, like the game-changing memristor from HP. At times, I get frustrated with new technology because it introduces complication without delivering improved quality of life. Case in point: Google’s Android operating system and the Nexus One.

In February, I fast forwarded from using a Palm TX to a shiny new Nexus One, due to the failure of the digitizer in the former device. I was excited about the Nexus One — reportedly the best Android device to date. As I began to use the Nexus One, I found several areas that were less productive than the Palm TX. I grew frustrated, and searched for add-on apps that would smooth out the bumps in the calendar and give me a task list.

I found three excellent apps that helped: Pure Calendar Widget, gTasks, and Calendar Pad. I put two 2×2 Pure Calendar widgets on my home screen, side by side: one for my calendar, and the other for my tasks (Pure Calendar displays data from Google Calendar, gTasks and/or Astrid). As I continued to use the Nexus One, I determined what I want in a PDA/smartphone, in order of priority:

  1. Quick access. I want a quick, easy way turn on the device, and I want instant access to my most important data: calendar, and tasks. With Android, it’s too cumbersome. I want a calendar button, and if I can’t have that, then I want additional unlock gestures, one of which will drop me directly into my calendar — at today’s date. Same for tasks. I’d like a physical phone button to quickly make phone calls.
  2. Bluetooth keyboard Support. If I’m going to invest into a PDA or a smartphone, I want a keyboard. It makes it easier to take notes, and it makes it far easier to use SSH. I don’t want a keyboard all of the time, but I will us it frequently. Android may well support this in the future (See this and this). The Palm TX supported it years ago.
  3. Better calendar. I want it to have most of the features of DateBk5 for the Palm including 1. collapsed day view (don’t show me wide swaths of time when there are no appointments). 2 floating appointments, 3. a compact “Calendar Pad” like view for month and week (with text), 4. a better built-in agenda-style widget, somewhat comparable to Pure Calendar Widget, 5. easier touch-screen editing and configuration of appointments and 6. I want calendar search built-in.
  4. Configurable alarm snooze length and snooze response. DateBk5 is fantastic in this regard. When an alarm appears on my screen, I want to be able to snooze for any length of time I specify, and I want to be able to specify it for each and every one that may be pending — not all at once.
  5. Contacts: I want to be able to sort by last name.
  6. Email: I want copy and paste in the email apps.
  7. Camera with good auto-focus. The Nexus One was so close, but ultimately, it failed to focus for 80 percent of my pictures. It would have been more satisfied without a camera.
  8. Standard headphone jack that isn’t finicky.
  9. Record audio to a standard, ubiquitous form out-of-the-box, such as wav, ogg vorbis or mp3.
  10. Full backup and restore.
  11. FM radio receiver. I like listening to the radio, and if I’m going to have a device that does it all, why not have an FM radio too? But if it costs too much extra, then no thanks.

A few weeks after I purchased the Nexus One, a coworker told me I could buy a replacement digitizer for my Palm TX for $35, which I did. I followed the instructions at instructables.com to do the replacement, and have been very pleased with the result. So pleased, in fact, that I considered selling the Nexus One. I like the precision of a stylus better than a fat finger. I like the ability to write, using Graffiti, without having to look at an on-screen touch-keyboard to jot down notes. If only I could have a keyboard for the Nexus One, then maybe it would be more productive.

I bought a foldable bluetooth keyboard (Palm 3245ww), on the (incorrect) recommendation that it would work with the Nexus One. It didn’t, but that was okay, because it works beautifully with the Palm TX.

I continued to use the Nexus One, but I found myself frustrated when I read email but had no physical keyboard to compose a reply — instead, I had to settle for a slow touch-screen alternative. I had a general purpose computer in the palm of my hand, but I felt crippled with it. My expectations exceeded the capacity for it to deliver. The Nexus One is a fantastic mobile internet device, and a great platform for consuming content, but not for creating content.

I found myself using the Nexus One to check email or read Facebook when I was sitting at the dinner table, when I really wanted to be focused on my family. I found myself updating apps to the latest version, instead of doing more productive things. I found myself distracted by the Nexus One to the point that it was reducing the quality of my life.

So I sold the Nexus One, and now I’m satisfied with mature, capable, legacy technology in the form of my Palm TX. I’ll continue to watch Android as it matures — after all, I like seeing new developments in technology.

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