There’s an old Vermont farmer’s joke that goes something like “I’ve had the same axe for 20 years… Replaced the head twice and the handle five times.”
I’ve had my share of PalmPilot gizmos the last decade, and the Tungsten C has been a faithful companion for many years (nearly five – which is about 30 in gadget-years). People who work with me know that this unassuming little box is simply filled to the gills with historical trivia and random bits of useful information. It has over 10 years of accumulated journals, notes, reference information, and some pretty handy programs. And only one game. It’s been in my pocket (or nearby) in fair weather and foul, over 100 degrees and at 40 below. Betsy calls it my “other brain”.
It has been showing signs of age for about a year now. The case has cracks at the base that I have to treat gingerly. The keyboard has been doubling up on some of the letters. The back is so worn that the serial number and other printed information is no longer legible. The cover is barely hanging in there. The farmer’s joke is apropos: a few years ago on a photo shoot in South Dakota I pulled it out of my pocket to find that the screen was cracked and “not at all well” – so I had it replaced. I honestly don’t know if they replaced the screen or just gave me another used one. Doesn’t matter.
A month or so ago it started to hang up now and then – something it rarely did before. Finally last week it did a cold reset – losing everything on the device (I have a backup, but it is a couple of months old). So it was time to “put it out to pasture”, but I REALLY have other, more important, things to do besides gadget shop.
I’ve held on to the Palm TC for so long partly because there really hasn’t been anything remotely close to replacing it. Palm doesn’t make anything with a keyboard that isn’t a phone and I’m not going back to scribbling with Palm’s graffiti… been there, done that. Plus Palm devices and Macs just don’t work together very well. So I was content to watch and wait — but I didn’t count on my pal just giving up first.
While poking around the net for ideas I discovered that Apple is going to release the Software Development Kit for the iPhone, and because they are essentially the same, the iPod Touch. I’m not really interested in the iPhone right now, but I did know that it had a great screen and played videos. Word on the street was the iPod Touch shared these features.
So my hope here is that we have the beginnings of a portable professional photographer’s assistant.
First and foremost it will be a digital portfolio for my business that can be pulled out of my pocket anytime I need to show some photos of a particular topic – I can literally hold thousands of them if needed. Samples of my video work can also be stored there and played without any problems (although I’ll need some sort of mini-speaker). It has contacts and calendars that sync with Macs. With the latest update the iPod Touch supports maps, email, web browsing, and other stuff over WiFi. I’ve also heard that I can store music on it.
I don’t know if this was part of Apple’s plan, but I figure we’re about 30% of the way towards a full Palm-like PDA.
So I’m taking a gamble on the iPod Touch. I purchased the 8GB version for $300 at the Apple Store in Rockingham, NH. It’s slightly smaller and thinner than the iPhone (some of that svelte-ness will be lost as I’ve ordered a leather case for it because the iPod Touch has no built-in protection for the screen). The gamble is that the Apple SDK will be open enough that people will develop the apps that I need — and, if not, I’ll be taking a stab at them myself. I figure the obvious ones will get handled pretty quickly (e.g., voice recorder, better notebook, tip calculator (or just a decent calculator period), password safe, etc.) Some of these are dependent on Apple having a way for the Mac or iTunes to backup data.
I’m definitely going to miss some of the apps people developed for the Palm, many of them were just amazing. I’m betting that with 4 million iPhones out there, the market will be hot for apps on this platform — and I’ll find out if my gamble was worth anything at all in a few weeks.
I’ve had the iPod Touch less than a week now, so I’ll wait a bit longer before I say what’s good and bad about this switch (not that I had too many other choices).
I think this is going to be interesting.