SURVEY SAYS: Digital Assistants

April 19, 2001 - As you might expect, when it comes to personal digital assistants, people tend to fall into one of two camps -- you either love them and can't do without them -- or you can't imagine why anyone would spend that much money for a calendar/address book. Our survey respondents exhibited much of the same polarity, with a noticeable minority on the fence.

In all, 46% of our respondents had PDAs of one type or another, most frequently using them for calendars and address books. “To do” lists, calculators and note pads were also frequently cited as uses. Email was cited by about 10% of those, and 4% “admitted” to gamesmanship. A couple were taking advantage of news services, weather and even e-books to take their reading with them –while leaving the laptop at home. A couple have used it for personal inventories, directions and even Internet passwords – one has actually used it to track her husband’s dieting progress!

Of course, more than half (54%) are currently PDA-challenged.

Some comments from the readers (and the editor):

“I find that many people cannot put them down, use them in meetings, etc. While I do recognize “multi-tasking”, I also think that common courtesy appears to be forgotten by some folks. What could possibly be that important?” (it’s probably the games)

“I have witnessed far too many peers poking them with the special stylus to make updates or look things up that have proven to me it is much faster to track/look up/write things in my paper planner. It’s a bit bulkier, but faster!” (it’s not about speed, it’s about style)

“It has become a necessity for me. However, our techies freak out when they see these things on our desktops because it’s “unsupported software” and not part of the desktop protocol. They need to loosen up a little.” (that’s what techies do best)

“I have enough computers, laptops, telephones, fax machines, etc. Sometimes it is just nice to stop and smell the roses instead of looking at them as a screen saver.” (do PDAs HAVE screen savers?)

One non-owner noted “People’s days are brightened by the endless opportunities I provide them to correct and bring me up to date.” (we all have to do our part)

One spoke for those in transition, “I don’t have one – yet….”.

But our favorite was “The only “palm pilot” I have is if I write a note on my hand.”

Ed.Note: It was obvious from some of the comments that we have some very experienced PDA users out there –and also that we have some who are considering adopting the technology –but aren’t sure where to start. Let’s help each other out –if you’ve got words of wisdom, experience or recommendations for those considering a purchase -send them to ? and we’ll share the wealth.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!