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Are Smartphones / PDAs User Friendly?

The other day I visited my doctor.  I noticed his computer desktop was absolutely cluttered with icons, a sure sign of a non-power user.  After a bit of discussion, he asked me to show him MobilitySite.  When I went to press the Internet Explorer shortcut, he stopped me, telling me Internet Explorer was corrupted, and had me use FireFox. 


Anyway, he asked my advice on replacing his aging Palm Pilot.  I started thinking.  What could I recommend that would be easy to use, and have a calendar application like the Palm Desktop?  We started looking at different options.  I told him Act! Software by Sage is an excellent product.  It’s easy to use, very intuitive, and has a great calendar module.  He asked me if it can sync with a pocket pc.  I told him it’s possible, but it’s not a simple solution.  He would need a third party solution to accomplish it, and even then it’s for advanced users. 

Talk turned to the iPhone, but it’s not made for business at this time, and as a doctor he needs a solid solution. 

I started talking about syncing with Outlook, and as I described Outlook I saw a glassy look come over his face.  For users that frequent tech blogs, Outlook is probably simple.  Well, at least it’s highly customizable and loaded with tons of features.  But I thought about the 500 page Outlook book I own, and I realized that Outlook would be overkill, or at least has far too many options for a non-techie. 

I thought of recommending a new Palm Pilot, but I they haven’t made any new products in a long time.  A new Palm would not be an upgrade for him.

Boy, did I feel stupid!  I had no idea what to recommend.  All he wants is a PIM (personal information manager) that syncs to a mobile device and is easy to use.  And Windows Mobile is certainly not very easy to use.  If you think it is, try explaining how the memory works to a non-user.  Then tell them about all the third party software available, the tons of forums to help people understand and work with pocket pcs, and you will get my drift.  This is a busy person who doesn’t have hours upon hours to spend analyzing why his WiFi connection won’t work, the pocket pc is not recognized by the computer, the SD card is corrupted, and how to recover data lost from a hard reset.  He just wants it to work and not be bothered with all the minutia.

My wife uses a Blackberry Curve.  She loves it – and she is waaaay not techie.  I don’t know much about it, but I know that she never asks for help and never complains.  It has a calendar, pim and plenty of third party apps.  Hmmm, that may just be a perfect solution. 

Well, after our visit and all my advice and analysis of his situation, he presented me with a bill:)  I guess I know what my advice is worth!


December 27, 2007 - Posted by | Opinions, Windows Mobile

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