XDA II - PDA / Phone / Email / Internet ... 

The New XDA II - Is it worth upgrading? Is it that different or simply polishing the original? Tom Ball writes about why for a certain group of people, the time has come.

The XDA (If no-one has seen it - a souped up iPaq ... with a phone & now a camera) is an amazing device.

For gadget heads it is fantastic because

  • It does everything in one small package
  • It is as easy to use as a Palm / iPaq

For luddites it could be pure hell because

  • It does everything in one small package
  • It is as easy to use as a Palm / iPaq!!


You can use it as a:

  • Normal PDA - notes, calendar, etc
  • Office -
  • Walkman
  • Video Player
  • Dictaphone
  • Camera
  • Video camera (low quality!)
  • Phone (!)
  • Email - sync'ed - but also live
  • Internet

But can one device do all of these things well?  I think the answer depends on what you are used to.  To a one thumbed phone lover, the idea of using a stylus to phone someone is a bit of a no-no - but to a Palm/iPaq addict, you will hardly even notice and it will seem pretty intuitive from day-one.

The experience

So as a user - what's it like?

The phone / contacts integrated (and sync'ed with outlook) is fantastic - 3,000 phone numbers in easy reach.  "dona" - there's donato - and click to dial.  With a headset  you are then free to take notes, check your calendar ... or play solitaire whilst talking.  New numbers "on the road" sync to Outlook - so you never have that "I only had your number on my phone - which I lost" problem again.  People ask what would happen if I lost it - the answer is I'd have no phone for 24 hours, then you'd never know ... how about you if you lost your phone?  And your filofax?!

The Internet is superb - despite the rare use it gets from me.  It takes the freedom to the next level.  Drop any self-respecting executive overseas with a mobile & a credit card and they'll survive.  Add in the Internet - and you know you are unstoppable.  Forgotten the address of your next meeting?  Dying to check TalkGadgets / Ecademy?

The real thing for me is Email - being able to rapidly / cheaply check your email ... and then download attachments ... and read them ... and reply is worth the price alone.  Rarely will train journeys be dull again!

Plus you have all the usual music / video / game / avantgo / books / add a tube map type functions of an ipaq - see other reviews for details!

What's New

The upgrade features bring the camera, bluetooth, software upgrades, triband and a few extra buttons

The camera is fine - not great, poor in the dark (pubs etc) - but it's better than the alternative (not having a camera!) - and you can still take your favourite when you want to take a "decent" camera

Bluetooth is useful - and in my limited experience does what it says on the tin - will bluetooth to my PC and surf from the garden ... when it's a bit warmer!

Software is easier to use - the basic bugs (I.e. hard to send an SMS before) / complexity of a version 1 device has gone (though it was a good version one in my opinion - to my mind they went straight to version 2) - and it "just works" generally

The extra buttons make quite a difference - to record a voice note or take a photo is just one click - which makes them usable suddenly rather than gimmicks.  If a moment of inspiration hits you, the ability to record it rather than - "menu - programs - notes - new - record" is a blessing - ditto the camera

Triband means you can use it anywhere - lying on a sunlounger in South France checking your email is nice - and it's one less excuse you can use now


In summary - it offers everything you could want - do you want to take up the challenge?  If you love your PDA - go for it - if not, probably worth practising a bit first before commiting your communication needs to a stylus


Version 3

What next?  Hopefully more of the same:

  • The ability to hold more data - and have WiFi (Currently it's a choice!) - possibly even containing a microdrive (1GB in 1" anyone?)
  • WiFi built in ideally - no-one likes forking out for extras
  • A better camera - pixels & quality - perhaps even a flash?!
  • Better battery life
  • An attachment to get stones out of horses hooves
  • And of course ... bluetooth spectacles so you can see the screen whilst walking down the road

Best gadget I've ever bought ... call me and my bluetooth headset and I will send you a picture of my smile to prove it ;o)

Tom (Profile on Ecademy)

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