It turns out that I have always been a PDA (as in personal data assistant) sort of guy. I loved my Jornadas and was suitably happy with my iPaqs. They did the things I needed them to do as a technology guy, writer, and geek.
As a result, I was sad when the advent of the smartphone killed the PDA off. Now, some people would argue that the smartphone was merely the melding of the cell phone and the PDA, but I would argue they are wrong. Smartphones have never really been very good phones and they have certainly been, at best, adequate PDAs for the kinds of things I tend to use them for.
What kind of things, you might ask? For example, I wrote all 70,000 words of the draft of my first novel on one of my iPaqs. I used my first Jornada as a mobile data collection tool way before apps like Evernote. The point is that I don’t just need a mobile address book and calendar. I need a mini computer that I can almost always be sure to have with me.
Which brings me back to the Frankenstein’s monster that is the modern smartphone. I’ve had several over the years, including HPs early Windows phones, a couple of Motorola entries, and HTC Fuze, and now a Droid 2 Global. They’ve all sucked at what I want them to be best at doing.
What I’ve discovered that I miss most about my PDAs that my smartphones have been terrible at is acting as a kind of personal tricorder. It’s not enough to have a camera and a note taking app. Everything on the device has to integrate and work the way I want when I want it to. My PDAs did that. My smartphones don’t.
Which then brings me to the Samsung Galaxy Note II. The reviews all agree that it is, at best, a mediocre phone. I don’t care because I’ve made about one voice call in the past six months. I have enough roll over minutes to never pay for them again.
No, what the Note II brings to me is the first smartphone designed to collect data. As a writer and a technologist, collecting data is the heart of what I do. The Note II promises to do it well, and that’s the best selling point any company could have for me.
I will grant that the Note II isn’t for everyone. If you use your smartphone as a phone, don’t buy it. If you prefer the tablet form factor over the smartphone form factor, don’t buy it. But, if you need a tablet-like device that you can carry with you everywhere you go, I think the Note II is the right choice.
I will find out soon enough if I’m right. And I will be sure to let you know what I find out.