I’m a gadget geek.  I like technological toys, and use them in my life.  But they’re getting old.   My PDA is an out-of-date Palm Pilot (the Tungsten E – current price on Ebay about $40).  My cell phone can take pictures and do text messaging, but it’s two and a half years old (three and a half?  I don’t remember), has a slightly cracked screen, and works fine.  I don’t wear a wrist-watch: my cell phone knows what time it is, and I can set alarms on it.

I want to update my phone and my PDA, but money considerations and the lack of the perfect combination of features has kept me away.  I’m looking for the perfect gadget at the near-perfect price.

I want a cell phone that can surf the web.  I want a PDA that supports everything I do now, and more.  I want them together.  I want them at a great price (initial and monthly).

So web-surfing cell phones are a dime a dozen (well, the listings for them are.  I’ll discuss pricing later.).  Everybody can surf the web, for varying values of surf.  I want a full keyboard, not one where typing an S or a Z takes four pushes.  And exactly where are the dot and the space on this thing?  That’s not happening, not for my web-surfing phone.  I’m learning not to buy problems, and that’s a lesson I’m happy to have learned before getting serious about surfing the web from a mobile device.

For the PDA side of things, I like Palm.  I started on a HandSpring Visor, which was a Palm OS device that also accepted add-on cards (the geek in me was ahead of the curve there – and HandSpring eventually got eaten up by Palm).  Microsoft has done some good things – I’m thinking their mice, and Windows XP (eventually), and DOS 6.  Their PDAs don’t make the cut.  There are other operating systems out there (Google’s Android), but I really like having my Bible(s) with me all the time.  I like being able to play Pyramid, and to read free books through mobireader.

And I want them together.  As part of simplifying my life, I want to have one device that’s both phone and PDA.  The less stuff I carry around, the better for me.

Now comes the money.  The initial price for a regular cell phone is free, meaning it’s subsidized through your monthly bill.  How much is airtime and how much is phone subsidy?  Beats me.  I like free, but I’d rather they split the two parts out to make comparisons easier.  Even subsidized, it seems like web-surfing phones cost about $200.  That’s a big bite.  But I’m buying a PDA at the same time, so it’s easier to handle.  And back when I bought an SD card for my Palm, it cost about $84 – and that was for a 1G card.  Now, you can get a 32G card for less than that.

The other part of the cost comes in the monthly fee.  We don’t use a lot of minutes (“a lot” is relative, of course), but with the new phone I want to be on an “all-you-can-eat” plan.  Yes, that gluttonous, but we tend to be more sensitive to capping the maximum rather than finding the minimum.  It’s that way for our trash pick-up, and was that way when we had a land line phone (as opposed the the all-you-can-eat VOIP we have now).  The current best price for an all-you-can-eat is $50/month for Boost, which is Sprint’s prepaid service.  That’s a great deal, and Boost has done so well that they were overwhelmed with customers when they introduced it.  Unfortunately, I don’t like their phones.  Also unfortunately, they’re not Verizon.  In our part of the world, Verizon has the best coverage (this is an unpaid, unreimbursed advertisement).

So sorting out the hardware, it looks like the Palm Pre is the device of choice.  It has a cool OS, can run older Palm apps, has a dedicated keyboard, and has gotten good reviews.

And it is only offered by Sprint.  Bummer!

But Verizon should be getting it later this year.  Until then, I’m waiting, hoping that my current phone and PDA don’t die, hoping for hardware and usage prices to come down.  Hoping my car stays running.  Hoping the old house sells and I keep my job.

And realizing how petty and selfish this sounds.  Sure, it would be fun, and a good tool.  But in the big picture?  Not a make-or-break thing.  Remember that, Steve.  Not all that seems desirable is good or beneficial.  And this doesn’t only apply to phones.