The screen on my Palm IIIxe is starting to go. With what should I replace it? There seem to be two possible directions: a smartphone and an internet tablet. Neither of them is perfect; I’m torn.

Things I’d like, in the fewest devices possible:

  • Essential: syncing my calendar with Outlook. If something doesn’t beep at me, I won’t be at the meeting.
  • an MP3 player. I’m ready. I won’t be buying tunes, just ripping cds and listening to podcasts.
  • web access, anywhere, any time.
  • a phone. My wife and I share a cell-phone, with the most bare-bones plan Rogers offers. I’m a little phobic about phones and only use them when there’s no other way, but sometimes you need one; and I could probably get into texting.
  • a newsreader. I’m used to AvantGo, going back to pre-RSS days, but I could probably live with a straight RSS-based reader.
  • an internet radio, that’s not tied to any of the computers in the house: the BBC should be as convenient as the CBC.
  • some interesting mobile computing capacity, just to tinker with.
  • a camera would be nice.

The options I’ve stumbled across so far:

  • Blackberry Pearl from Rogers. $250 plus $20/month increase in our current cellphone plan (for a three-year contract), plus paying for web access. It’s a phone, a camera (not great resolution, can’t do video), always online, easy syncing, but I hate the ongoing costs.
  • Nokia 770. $350. No phone, no camera, but good web access via wi-fi. Therefore free on campus and at home, problematic elsewhere. It’s a Linux box, which is very cool. It doesn’t come with the PIM functions, but you can install open-source packages. But: there’s no simple solution for syncing with Outlook. There’s a hosted solution that costs $10/month - forget that. There are some clever hacks.

The big question is whether wi-fi is connected enough, or is the extra functionality of the cellphone network worth the cost to an antisocial skinflint like me.

And there are always the Windows Mobile and other Palm OS options. Or wait for the iPhone. What to do?