PDA vs Netbook vs Smart Phone vs Laptop

This post is from my own personal experience, I don’t have unlimited funding for PC equipment, and I was investigating a solution that is practical for work outside of the typical office environment.

My need was simple: “I need a mobile computer, something I can carry around, take to a few meetings, and take some notes using MS Word, Excel. Have access to web while on the move. A nice to have would be the ability to take photos of board meeting notes.

I originally thought – “Great, I know what I need a PDA”. Yeah, till I saw the prices. PDA might be a great idea, but “Why should I pay through the nose for it!!!” After all its a smaller device than a laptop. PDA’s are not a new concept, surely the manufacturing costs should be cheap-ish. Why could I not find a really cheap budget PDA?

I then decided – “I know I’ll find a cheap netbook”. Netbooks are better priced than PDAs in terms of value for money / functionality. I did manage to find a few decent little netbooks, but I still was left wondering if perhaps the laptop / notebook wasn’t still better overall value for money.

Laptops were just a little bit more expensive, but they did provide the richest computing experience and even the cheaper laptops are starting to come out with 3GB’s of RAM, a semi decent display card, and ample HDD space.

So in the end I was left wondering if these bespoke little gadgets (PDAs and Netbooks) are perhaps not really a great solution for the average man on a budget. I weighed up all the pros and cons, and I’m now decided that a laptop is still the best overall solution to mobile computing.