24 March 2010

Heartbreak Hardware - iPod touch vs. Handspring Deluxe

Is life full of surprises or what? Some time ago when I started a series of blog entries called Heartbreak Hardware, I planned to write about my old Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), electronic devices that have a calendar, an address book, a note-taking app, plus other. Back then, I already was using the iPod touch as a PDA. Of course, the iTouch also played music, served as a dictionary (American Heritage) and handheld game console, etc. My latest PDA at the time, the Handspring Deluxe, was allowed to lose its battery and withered away. The entry would be about the Handspring's death. Or so I thought.

A little over after my iTouch turned 2-year-old, it just died. Up to that time, its charge was not holding that well and I already had to charge it whenever I was near an electrical outlet. If left on overnight, even in sleep mode, it would not boot up the next day. The headphone jack was already mono and Wi-Fi decided to quit some time ago, too. It was still usable so I made the most of it and carried a charger with me most of the time. In the end, it simply would not boot up. Not from being connected to an outlet or via USB to the computer. I took it to Tekserve in Manhattan hoping it would be a simple battery replacement. Alas, they tested it with two different batteries and it still would not come back. Probably the circuit board, too expensive and not worthwhile to replace.

A typical hot-blooded consumer would go out and buy a new/replacement device. I am not that kind of person. Yes, I will get a new device eventually, when Apple decides to sell an iTouch with a still camera, whenever that is. In the mean time, I am making do with an old second-generation iPod, a Chinese PDA that I really use for its Oxford Dictionary, and the venerable Handspring Deluxe.

With only 8 MB, greyscale screen, stylus, USB 1.1 connection, AAA batteries, and no music-playing capability, the Handspring (HS) pales in comparison to the iTouch. But the thing that counts the most is that it is usable and not dead like the iTouch. I had to dig up the Palm software to install so that the HS would be recognized when synced. My decent organizational skill helped, Palm Desktop 4.1 was easily found in a folder called Install on an external drive. Next I had to find the cradle that has a USB 1.1 connection to the computer. Lastly, I had to sync all the old, neglected data I had on the computer to the Palm. It took a long time to run but by the end I had a functional PDA again. I plan to use the HS as a diary, to record events of the day. As far back as 2002, I had a series of notes in the Calendar app of the HS to record events of the day. I had a kick out of reading them, mostly mundane stuff like babysitting my 2-year-old son, going to the library or the playground, but also momentous events like my mother's surgery or some job-related announcements.

As a twist of fate, the Hardware that Broke my Heart in this instance is the iPod touch. Some day in the not too distant future, I will get another iPod touch but for now the Handspring Deluxe will be carried around everywhere I go.

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