Nearly a month ago I blogged about upgrading my cell phone to a Palm Centro. (Note that I have my cell phone service with Sprint, but I have no basis of comparison, so I’m not discussing cell phone service providers here.) So how is this going?
My intention in purchasing this phone was to improve my organization, a daunting task for someone who has reached 50 years old. I have a tendency to write lists and schedules on various loose pieces of paper and then lose them. Thus the key to making the Centro work for me was to make sure that I moved everything that has to do with organization into the machine and that I also remember to carry it with me.
A belt clip has served well to get me to carry the phone regularly. I also got a plastic case for it that helps to protect it from damage.
The key improvement on this phone is that my connections are better than before. In fact, I had so much trouble in my office, which is a metal-clad building, that I had to tell my clients to call my cell phone and leave a message, but then also to call my office phone if they didn’t get me on the cell, because I couldn’t reliably receive calls or even get messages in my office. I would often hear the phone ring and get a “Roaming” notice. The Centro gives me solid connections sitting at my desk in my office. That one thing was worth a new phone, though I might have managed it with a slightly lower cost device if that had been the only consideration.
I think the best way to comment on how things are progressing is simply to list the tasks I need to do, and comment on how this is working with the Centro.
- Always have current contact information with me
This is working just fine. I haven’t yet exchanged vCard info with my Ubuntu Linux desktop, but I regularly sync with my Windows XP laptop, and I don’t foresee problems updating everything using vCards. This has already saved me considerable time. I normally would update an address in whatever device I was carrying, or write corrections on paper. Now I enter everything into the Centro no matter where I am, and then sync.
- Access to the internet sufficient to do minimal management work on blogs
This has turned out better than I thought. I wouldn’t want to write long entries like this at the pace I write on the device, but I can do mini posts with ease as well as respond to comments.
- E-Mail on the run
With DocumentsToGo, I can access e-mail and attachments.
- Work with and maintain word processing and spreadsheet files
With the added difficulty of exchanging between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office, this is still acceptable. I would note that formulas in OpenOffice spreadsheets (.ods) may make the files not load on the Centro. Generally, however, I can do what I need to do, at least as well as I can work with Microsoft Office in general, which is already necessary.
- Writing, including story/book outlines
This is much better than I expected. Operating the internal keyboard with two thumbs is more effective than expected. Friends who thought I would never text now get text messages from me. I even wrote a substantial blog entry on the Palm, though I posted it from this laptop.
- Carrying grocery lists
This may sound strange, but I wanted to eliminate carrying paper grocery lists, and I have done so. My wife makes a list in Word, and I transfer it to the Centro. (Note that I generally e-mail it to the special e-mail account I created just for the phone. Then I take the attachment from there.) Since she works from sales lists online, I also generally create a PDF file of the actual web ads in case I have problems finding the right item. I have found that this works reasonably well–I’m not going back to paper.
- Scheduling and Tasks
The calendar and task list work reasonably well. I’d like to combine the display, but that doesn’t work so well. Adding memos to calendar items or tasks allows me to keep lists that go with each together.
- Voice Memos
I added this because the phone does it, but I really have found no use for it. It works fine, but I don’t like recording notes and listening to them.
- Replacing sticky notes in books to make notes on reading
I hadn’t actually thought of this when I bought this device, but I use sticky notes like mad in books I’m reading from the library, and then I either have to collect the notes or xerox the pages to keep files of quotations. I discovered that I can take a photo of a page, attach a caption and even draw on the page to mark the item I’m interested in, and then save it.
I think you can see that this little device is really helpful. I have attended numerous meetings and remembered tasks, such as sales tax deadlines, corporate paperwork deadlines, and so forth that have already saved me substantial money. I can’t tell how much I’ve gained by more promptly responding to clients, but there is something there.
I regard this device as an excellent investment, and I’m completely pleased with it.