Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PDA Update: Why I RETURNED the PDA I chose!

UPDATED Again June 24 - Now includes the phone I chose AND how I like it

In the summer I wrote a fairly comprehensive report on which PDA I chose for my clerkship, taking into account the pros and cons of the ones on the market.

In short, I ended up choosing the Samsung Jack (also known as the i616) from Rogers, known in the USA as the BlackJack II.

I LOVED this phone. So much. It was exactly what I wanted, and so much more.
I sent it back to Rogers today.

You see, Rogers came out with a new version of the Windows software - upgrading Windows Mobile 6.0 to 6.1. And that's when the problems began.

Why I returned it:

The old phone was fantastic. Quick to respond, looked great, worked amazingly well, good call quality, outstanding battery life, and ran all the medical software I used on a regular basis (post on this to come soon).

Then the new version of Windows Mobile came out, and it was horrible.

There were glitches that were merely minor annoyances, ie. waiting 7 seconds between songs in a playlist.

There were more severe annoyances, such as the phone randomly changing time zones, screwing up all your reminder and appointment times, or the battery life being significantly shorter with the new version of Windows.

There were major technological glitches, in that the phone would stop working - calls could connect incoming and outgoing, but would not have any audio. My internal medicine attending was not impressed when I missed his calls beacuse of that.

And then, to just drive me entirely up the wall, there were glitches that made me wonder if the people that designed it had ever used a phone before (switching the phone to "silent" silenced ONLY the ringers - but alarms, e-mails and texts would all cause the phone to ring loudly!)

Each one of these was a step backward - none of these problems occurred before I made the upgrade, which I downloaded from the cell service provider's website. And the improvements in the new version were minimal. So, I sent the phone back, and got a new one - which had the same new version of Windows - and ALL the same problems. And after a few months of not bening able to make calls, I finally threw in the towel and said "enough."

Which mobile phones I considered:

I looked at 3 phones:

  • the HTC Touch Diamond, which my provider was willing to exchange for free

  • Blackberry, which I would have had to pay for

  • the iPhone, which I would have had to pay for

I had some qualms about the Blackberry and iPhone from the last time I went through this choosing a phone process, and the HTC Touch Diamond was new to me, but I reconsidered all of these.

Which phone I exchanged it for:

I was really excited about the HTC Touch Diamond. It's a sleek phone, with a Windows operating system like my old phone, so I knew it would support all the exact same software I had used. So, I went to a Rogers store and tried one of these slick things out.

After five minutes, the phone had just about finished booting up.

After ten minutes, the phone was about halfway through its mandatory First Startup configuration.

After fifteen minutes, I was trying to figure out how to do basic things, like start the Internet explorer, add a new contact, and use the keyboard.

After twenty minutes, I was STILL trying to figure out how to do those basic things, and was starting to get annoyed with the touch screen which was a tad unresponsive.

After twenty-five minutes, I was STILL doing the above, and just about ready to throw the phone against the wall. Learning to use a new phone should not be that difficult...especially for someone who is fairly tech-minded like myself.

After thirty minutes, I gave up. Scratch the HTC Touch Diamond off the list.

My concerns about the Blackberry and the iPhone were that not a lot of medical applications were made for these platforms - most are made for Palm or Windows.

However the medical applications I found I used almost exclusively were:

  • Epocrates - a free drug lookup
  • UpToDate - subscription to the latest research on medical topics (wait until your med class does a group order for a massive discount, or better yet, arrange one yourself)

  • Archimedes - a free medical calculator

  • Diagnosaurus - a free differential diagnosis generator
Even though I paid for Merck Manual, I found that with UpToDate on my phone, I turned to UpToDate for most topics.

Turns out all of the above except UpToDate are available as iPhone applications, and UpToDate is available through the iPhone, you just have to use the Internet connection. As well, Rogers offered me a deal on the iPhone.

So, I decided to set my concerns about the touch screen keyboard aside, and went for the iPhone.

The Verdict...How do I like the iPhone?

Perhaps the best way to answer this is to ask, what do I miss about the BlackJack?

Frankly, almost nothing. While I thought I would miss the tactile keyboard, it turns out that I'm getting along on the iPhone just fine. My typing is slower, mind you, but not by much.

As well, until the iPhone 3G S came out, the iPhone didn't have video. But to be honest, I never used the video on my BlackJack.

The only thing the BlackJack had the upper hand on was battery life - the iPhone isn't that great (no word yet on how much better the 3G S will be). As well, loading UpToDate on the BlackJack was faster - I didn't have to type in a password, because it was downloaded to the device already, rather than accessed through the mobile web.

The iPhone is much better at browsing the internet, or surfing through a long page on UpToDate, for example. Rather than rolling a little scroll wheel over and over, you simply slide your finger - much easier.

And, the iPhone's GPS is much faster to lock a signal than the BlackJack (even though both are extremely accurate) - helpful for finding hospitals or doctors' offices on the first day of a new rotation, and for using RunKeeper - a FREE program MUCH better than Nike's run tracker - to track my exercise.

All in all, I don't miss the BlackJack. But to be honest, I was perfectly happy with my BlackJack...before the new version of Windows. I'll even go so far as to say that had the Microsoft update not been so full of glitches, and I stayed with my BlackJack, I would be just as happy as I am today, as far as a medical device is concerned.


Canuck Med Student said...

I loved your old post about which PDA to choose and I still refer back to it often as I plan what phone to get for my clerkship! I'm very interested to hear the conclusion of your story, hopefully you can find time to write it soon!

pacman said...

But your PDA looks good.. waiting for the continued part of the story.. ask a nurse

Anonymous said...

Couldn't you have downgraded back to 6.0?

Anonymous said...

We're still waiting to hear what you changed to! I'm also hoping to get a phone-PDA hybrid in the coming months...

Ken said...

If you can manage without it, take your iPhone back and wait for just a little longer. Apple just upgraded the iPhone. The new one is much faster, has more storage space, etc. and the older model is going on sale for much less.

medaholic said...

The suspense continues... I'm thinking it's an iPhone. It's only a matter of time before UpToDate comes out with an app.

Jeffrey said...

u finally got the iPhone!! good on you mate.

MedCalc and Eponymns are pretty good apps on top of yours. I didn't like Archimedes.

Canuck Med Student said...

Can't wait to think of what you think of the iPhone. I'm personally torn between the iPhone and the HTC Touch Pro for third year right now. I'm slightly leaning towards the Touch Pro because of its sexy, huge QWERTY keyboard and I can stick with my current carrier, and also I don't want to feel like a sellout for finally succumbing to Apple after years of steadfastly refusing to buy an iPod.

I also can't help but think about waiting for something newer like the Palm Pre or the Sony Xperia X1 to come to Canada.

By the way, you must be nearly done 3rd year by now! Congrads!

Anonymous said...

There are tons of medical application for the I phone...they are all accessed through SKYSCAPE which is free to download and just check out the website!!! There are alot just have to look a little harder!

Julius said...

I've been debating between getting a Blackberry or an iPhone for my clinical years. This answers all my questions. Thanks so much!

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