The Gadgeteer's "Only in Your Dreams" PDA Contest Winners!
by Julie Strietelmeier and Judie Clark
Last date revised: 06/04/2001

JULIE = RED and JUDIE = GREEN

The "Only in Your Dreams" PDA Contest started on 5/1 and ran thru 5/31. During that time we received 56 entries from some very creative people. I only wish I had as much artistic talent as they have!

Julie & I had a blast reviewing the entries daily and seeing what might become possible if some of our readers could get behind a development team at a PDA company. 

I'd like to see big companies actually ask us average Joe's what our ideas are for a dream PDA and really listen.

While poring over the new entries as they came in was the fun part; we then had the unenviable task of sorting through dozens of worthy contestants to find the top entries in this, our first ever, The Gadgeteer's "Only in Your Dreams" PDA Contest. 

I think that Julie and I both went into the judging figuring that we would choose the PDAs that we would actually buy if they were to become available. 

It was really hard to pick our favorites because they were all so good.

There were several things that I thought were quite interesting about what people seemed to want in their "Dream PDA". Some of the main features our contest designers wanted to see in future PDAs included:

1. More built in memory
2. Better ways to enter data
3. Higher resolution screens
4. Built in Camera
5. Built in expansion slots
6. Built in wireless capability
7. Soft Graffiti/Handwriting area 
8. Voice Recording Capability
9. Color screens
10. Multitasking
11. Small form factor

I thought it was interesting that more than one entry had a dual screen system. I'd really never thought about having something like that till seeing these entries. Now I think it is a fantastic idea!

While I was slightly disappointed that there weren't more Pocket PC OS devices designed, many of the things that people were putting into their Dream PDAs were actually things that either are available or will soon be available on the Pocket PC platform - so I guess that that this says people want the expansion and multi-media features of a Pocket PC, but they want the familiarity of the Palm OS. What do you think?

I was also surprised that a major portion of the entries were based on the Palm OS. I was expecting to see some Linux or other OS PDAs.

Since we all know that buying any PDA is an intensely personal decision, it should then come as no surprise that there will be those that completely agree with our choices, and those that will scratch their heads as they wonder what we were thinking. In case you missed what all of the fuss was about, you can still review all of the contest entries.

 

So without further ado, here are the Winners of The Gadgeteer's "Only in Your Dreams" PDA Contest!

First Place:
6. Submitted by Rob Gentile 
Razor PDA64
-64mb of storage
-16 bit color display
- Detachable Micro wireless 56k modem
- Mini Thumb Keyboard
- Collapsible software based silkscreen
- Mic for voice recording
- Mini track ball to navigate with a cursor. It has a push in function to selecting and dragging.
- Headphone jack to listen to a built in MP3 player.
- Jog dial to scroll anything that has a scroll bars, also volume control for built in MP3 player
- Speaker located at the top for better hearing if inside a case or pocket.
- Stylus for Graffiti and pen navigation
- Infrared for I r functions, including bar code reading
- USB port for USB capability and future USB development
- Flash card reader slot
- choose to not incorporate phone to keep the size of the unit slim 1" thick.

Julie's Comments: I really like the built-in cursor trackball in addition to the jog dial. Also, after having reviewed the HandEra 330, a soft graffiti area is an absolute must have in my opinion! I also like the metallic design. It looks very techno and appealing. I could see myself buying one of these and using it instead of the m505 that I just purchased! The built-in keyboard makes it easy to input data while still keeping the small form factor which would be important to me if this PDA actually existed.

Judie's Comments: I think that this could be a really good idea for a Palm OS unit! I think there are a lot of people that have trouble with graffiti, and would love the ease of a thumb-based keyboard (like the RIM units). I liked the design of this unit, the whopping built in memory, and the other listed features. I would buy this device today - if it were available. Although Rob doesn't mention it - I would also like to see this unit with a higher resolution screen than the current Palms - maybe something along the lines of a Casio screen? What the heck - it's a dream PDA, right? 

 

Second Place:
7. Submitted by Danny W. S. Whang 
iPalm
Let me call this creation iPalm, not a terribly unique name. iPalm is a cross between an (Sharp) electronic organizer and an
m505. My wish list for the perfect Palm for me isn't very long since I know that one device can NEVER be the dream PDA, not for long, anyway. So, I just wanted to take what is great already in an m505

- SD slot
- 8meg/33Mhz Dragonball
- 16-bit TFT screen

and build it in a electronic organizer/calculator form with the side flip covering doubling as keyboard. Of course, there should be a built-in feature to rotate the screen counter-clockwise (not an hack, either) so that the screen will be oriented properly. The rather thick area on the left of the device is for optional 2 AA batteries stacked vertical, so on the road when the internal rechargeables are low, you can pop in disposable batteries to carry on. It may not last 2 weeks, but even a couple of days (of heavy use) would be good enough since it's for backup, anyway. So the new features are:

- side-flip cover keyboard (automatic screen rotation for typing)
- allows use of disposable batteries in addition to internal batteries
- beefed up speaker (good enough for DTMF)
- and... keep it no thicker/heavier than m505

Is iPalm too close to reality be a dream PDA, you say? Well, please, anyone, prove me wrong and make them!

ipalm1.jpg (33805 bytes) ipalm2.jpg (36484 bytes)

Julie's Comments: An m505 and a keyboard in a device no thicker or heavier than the m505 would be great. The iPalm does look reminiscent of the older Sharp Zaurus clamshell devices. I always wanted one of them but never had one. The automatic screen rotation feature really makes this design interesting.

Judie's Comments: This unit totally reminds me of an older Hewlett-Packard flip-style PDA that I remember from the early 90's (I can't remember its name to save my life!). I thought it was a great idea at the time, but it didn't quite offer the all of the pluses that this unit would. I love the way the screen rotates on this guy when you are using the keyboard. I like the combination of rechargeable batteries with disposable batteries as a back-up option. I also have to say that a clamshell design offers some great benefits - especially if the size is kept to a minimum: you have built in screen protection, and the unit has a bit more built-in ruggedness for when it is in either your pocket or briefcase. If Danny would have added a bit more memory and a soft graffiti area, I would be very tempted to buy this PDA if it were available today...

Third Place:
21. Submitted by Bonnie B Bernardo 
Fliptop PDA Unit
Present PDAs still have room for improvements. As thinner and thinner models arrive, I see no reason why a clamshell model might not be applicable. With this design there is the possibility of coming up with extra screen to compensate for the limited area available in most models today. This screen in the "Fliptop" should be divided into two windows for multi-tasking and together with the larger screen in the main body should come in a more higher resolution. Speaker and microphones should be provided to make the unit a truly multi-media system at the palm of your hand.

But the most important feature should be a built-in camera. This, in tandem with wireless communication, should provide for a true PDA.

Julie's Comments: I'd take one of these in a sec. It would make a great replacement for my cell phone. I would love to have a Palm / Cell phone combo but right now the Kyocera is just too freaking huge! I can totally imagine surfing the net on this phone with a website displayed on one screen, my address book on another and streaming video coming thru on the 3rd screen. 

Judie's Comments: I love the idea of this flip-top with three screens! Being able to multi-task on a Palm would be FAB, being able to actually see the different applications you had running at the same time would be even better! The built in camera would be fun. Bonnie's design is elegant - and as long as it was in color and had at least 32MB RAM - I would spring for one!!

Popular Choice Award: 
Our readers have spoken! Here is the winner, with 26 out of 203 votes!
3. Submitted by Jay M. Arancio

Blue-Ice
My dream PDA is close to becoming a reality. The one I have designed is not long in the future and includes the final details and touches that make it the perfect accessory for work and life. Using a double-side flip design, the Blue-Ice2 allows for multitasking using either a split screen (320x240x16) for dual applications or a double wide screen (480x320x16) for larger spreadsheets, DVD movies, maps, gaming, and much more. The 10GB Flash drive (optional) allows for maximum storage for both files and movies, and is connected through either USB or firewire for fast simple transfers and synching. The Six Variable (programmable) buttons along the side, and the Sprint(tm) Dial can be used for one handed access and control, which is very convenient as it also functions as a digital phone. Using the CDMA technology, it also allows for near continuous online access and instant communications. Complete with a cordless speaker/mic unit, it makes hands-free voice activation (including dialing of course), voice recording and sound playback, for movies, built-in FM receiver, games, or calls, private with the mono ear plug or using optional headphones with the 1/8" stereo jack. Of course it has all the basic Palm functions including integrated address/phone call lookups, calendar, note pad, to-do, and memo pad. Vibration/LED alerts can be set for alarms, phone calls and low battery. I can't wait to carry the BLUE-ICE2 in my shirt pocket.

"The Matrix" Photo courtesy of Warner Bros., All rights reserved.

 

Honorable Mention:
12. Submitted by Brian Mathis 
Wireless Flip
Feature List:
- built-in wireless
- built-in bluetooth
- SMS messaging
- full internet, email, web browsing
- desktop syncing
- SD/MMC expansion card slot
- USB/Serial connector
- standard palm organizer functions
- enhanced address book displays the image of person for outgoing and incoming (caller ID) calls
- infrared support
- 65,536 Color 320x320 display
- backlit screen
- backlit graffiti area
- graffiti area displays battery life, signal strength, time, date, echo graffiti strokes
- rechargeable detachable lithium-polymer battery
- rechargeable internal battery backup
- tri band (digital, analog, GSM) cellular functions
- wireless cellular modem
- GPS Receiver
- Audible and Silent (LED blink & vibrate) alarms
- wireless bluetooth headset
- page up/down & select buttons located on left side of unit
- bundled map software integrated with GPS
- standard cell-phone functions like caller ID, etc..
- 16 MB onboard RAM
- 8 MB Flash RAM

Julie's Comments: For me, it was hard choice between this entry and entry #21. Both are really cool and something I would totally want today! 

Judie's Comments: I would trade my Kyocera in for this baby, today!!!! Brian, get on the phone with either them or Motorola, please!

 

What contest would be complete without some silly entries from people with excellent senses of humor? Here are our favorites:

Julie's Personal Fun Favorite:
36. Submitted by DT

PHUD: Always on, always connected
Testimonial --
"Owiginally I was dwawn to the PHUD digital assistant as a weapon for killwing that wascally wabbit. Its wabbit-wike shape sewrves as the puwrfect disguise. The 3G connection also gives me bwoadband wireless access to intewnet wabbit-killwing guides and a GPS-like mapping capability. Furthermore, the x-way, infwawed, and night-vision video camewa is vital in hunting wabbit. However, upon using the PHUD for a number of days, I couldn't take it off. The bwoadband wireless pipeline awwows me to wemotely wun any software for any platform fwom anywhere at anytime. I especiawwy wuv to watch movies and music videos in full-scween mode while in my wabbit blind. The voice-dwiven intewface is puwrfect. I just have to say, 'PHUD, what are my tasks for Today not including wabbit killwing' or 'PHUD, open my bwowser." (Though it sometimes, inexpwicabwy doesn't understand 'bwowser’ the fiwst time.) But above all, I wuv saying 'PHUD.'" - Elmer Fudd

Available at: Victowia's Secwet

I couldn't help but chuckle over this one! And after reading the deswiption, I couldn't stop talkwing like it!

Judie's Personal Fun Favorite:
29. Submitted by R.A Prieston
PPnP
A picture is a thousand words.
I am a PDA junky. Sometimes I sit and stare at the ceiling wondering why I bought all those expensive PDA's over the years. I remember when a Pencil and Paper in my pocket was all I needed.

I have to admit, reading my faux review on the bottom of this gem was the clincher for me!! R.A., tell me what type of PDA you use, I bet I can find a booby prize for you that will go with it...either that, or a brand new tablet & pencil! ;0)

I had to laugh over this one too! I liked the optional MP3 player!!!

Well, there they are...our winners! What do you think? 

Let us know your comments on The Gadgeteer's "Only in Your Dreams " PDA Contest Winners,  and read what others have to say.
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