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iPod Touch – The best new PDA on the market July 24, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Apple, Business, Information Technology, Mac, Technology, Uncategorized.

Almost two weeks ago I downloaded Apple’s new update to the iPod Touch (known as version 2.0). The release of the 2.0 software occurred at the same time Apple released the new iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 software.

It took me more than a day to actually get the software update (through the iTunes application) because Apple has some major problems with their update serves. They still have not fully disclosed exactly what happened, but industry experts think that a combination of crashing servers and high demand caused the significant delay in people being able to update their iPhones and iPod Touches (they essentially use the same software). But, after a full day of trying to download the update, I was finally successful and an hour later, I had an updated iPod Touch running the new 2.0 software.

My greatest interest in getting my iPod Touch upgraded was to test the new “enterprise” support, which simply meant that it would work with the Exchange server. Second to that, I was curious about the many different applications that would be released through the new Apple App Store, which is essentially the iTunes store but instead of music, you download programs for the iPod Touch (and iPhone).

I work at a college and I was off campus when I first set up my iPod Touch 2.0 to connect to the Exchange server. I don’t know if that was the reason it didn’t work at first or if it was something else. But, after playing around with the settings, I started to get login errors. So, I went to my laptop computer and tried to log into my Exchange account and discovered that I inadvertently locked out my Exchange account by attempting to log into it with the wrong password too many times.

That was a frustrating delay because it was on a Saturday and I didn’t want to either drive the 20 miles (one way) to reset my account (unlock it) nor did I feel it was urgent enough to ask someone on my staff to stop by the office to take care of my Exchange account. I knew it would reset itself in a few hours, so I shut down everything (the e-mail client on my Mac laptop, my iPod Touch, and my cell phone/PDA that accesses my e-mail and synchs to the Exchange server). About 24 hours later I was able to get into the Exchange server from my laptop, so I stopped experimenting with my iPod Touch setup for Exchange and spent the rest of the weekend just testing the new App Store function and downloading various free applications.

Once I was back in my office after the weekend, I once again tried to set up my iPod Touch to synch with the Exchange server and it worked flawlessly. Ever since then, it has just worked. In fact, it’s worked exceptionally well.

Between the clarity of the screen and the ease of use factor that Apple engineers into every one of their products, I find that the iPod Touch is THE best PDA on the market. I have had this iPod Touch for more than six months. And, while I used it from time to time for listening to music or podcasts, I didn’t really use it all that much. That all changed the minute it began to provide me with easy access to my e-mail, calendar, and contacts. Now, it has become a great new productivity tool that I am becoming dependent on for my work.

You might think that there is nothing special about the iPod Touch when it comes to synchronizing data with the Exchange server. You would be wrong. The experience of reading and responding to e-mail on the iPod Touch is significantly better than using any of the PDA’s on the market. I’ve been using PDA’s since the mid-1990’s and this is different. I don’t know if it’s the way the software looks and works or if it’s the user interface and the large touch surface that makes the difference. Maybe it’s both. But, the entire experience is different — better.

If you have no interest in changing cell phones or for some other reason don’t want to consider buying an iPhone, then look seriously at getting an iPod Touch. If you use an exchange server where you work, it is definitely worth it, but even if you just use it for personal e-mail, it works well with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo mail, etc.

But wait, there’s more! While the main value of the iPod Touch for me is compatibility with the Exchange server, there is also growing value and significance that it can be expanded to do new things by downloading applications through the Apple App Store. I have downloaded dozens of free games, utilities, news aggregators, etc.  Some of them have been very powerful and I think are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the iPod Touch and iPhone can or will be used in the future. It’s easy to predict that the iPod Touch and iPhone will become THE portable appliance of choice for custom applications and niche programs used in many industries. I can’t wait to see where the next innovative application will come from, but I would guess that there will be a version for the iPod Touch or a special client that will allow people to access the data from an iPod Touch.

My recommendation for anyone looking to replace or update their old PDA is to get an iPhone Touch. You will be glad you did.

This is not an advertisement for Apple. And, no, I don’t own any Apple stock, but I am tracking their stock price using the Bloomberg software on my iPod.



1. chirax - July 24, 2008

I bet its a good PDA, But we(Indians) haven’t been blessed with Apples Grace 😦 fully.

2. Mike - July 24, 2008

I use an iPod Touch too and find it more convenient to pick it up to check my email than boot up my laptop.

Users at work will need to make sure their office has WiFi though. Without it, they can’t connect to the Exchange Server to get emails, etc.

3. civ4freak - July 24, 2008

Only big problem with the ITouch or Iphone is its short battery life. Literally within not too many hours, it will run dry. My friend who has one commonly gets stranded phone-wise and cant call home because his phone’s dead. It bugged him so much, that now he has a recharging station rigged up in his car. Unless you have a power juicer handy, leaving it on is a killer. It would be neat to see a solar powered ITouch / Iphone if they could somehow achieve that. But besides that, they’re both really great devices. Good job on the article.

4. Tom - July 24, 2008

Cool little toy but I’m not sure I’d call it a PDA–it would have been helpful to have a list of your favorite applications that you’ve downloaded for it. Nice read though, keep bloggin’!

5. Hyrum - July 24, 2008

You really need to look into a little thing called Remote Desktop, you can customize the port so its not the standard 3389 and have Rick open it up on the firewall. Google how to do it (its a registry edit on the server). I couldn’t live/work without it.

btw-I upgraded my ipod touch to 2.0 and agree with you, best pda out there by far. I plan on getting an iphone 3g asap as I hate to carry multiple phones/pdas/ipods/gps/ or half jesus phones….

6. Matsu - July 25, 2008

Mike – you make a good point. I totally neglected to mention that the iPod Touch is only useful if you have wireless Internet. Without it, there is no realtime updating and it’s of much less value.

So, IF you have wireless Internet at your work and home, as I do, it’s a great PDA. I also have wireless Internet at my favorite coffee shop (Coffee Time) and favorite book store (Joseph-Beth Booksellers).

When I don’t have Internet access (wireless) I am able to still read e-mail and respond as well as check my calendar for appointments, but it just won’t by updated (synched) until I get back to wireless space. For me, that works just fine.

7. Matsu - July 25, 2008

Tom – the reason I call the iPod Touch with 2.0 software a PDA is because it works very well for contacts, calendaring, and e-mail. If you look at the PDA phones (like the Palm Treo or Blackberry), it’s the ability to check/update a schedule and e-mail read/respond that is critical. Included with that is always a contact database, too. That’s my definition of a PDA — having those functions.

My heavy meeting schedule requires a realtime calendaring program (portability like the iPod Touch is great) and e-mail is also critical as I check it dozens of times throughout the day. It’s nice to be able to read and respond to e-mail with the iPod Touch.

The added applications (through the new App store) is just the icing on the cake. But, that’s now why I classify the iPod Touch as a PDA.

8. Moose - July 25, 2008

Matsu, so it doen’t run on its own network, it needs your wireless to work?? There’s a real good chance I’ll be buying my first PDA soon. So I have an interest.

9. Gary F - August 3, 2008

I’ve tried two PDA’s — the iPAQ and Treo, and ended up not usng either. I never got comfortable using the stylus or the keypads. Maybe I’ll have to try the iPhone. You’ve made a good pitch!

10. rishabh - September 20, 2008

how can i connect my ipod touch to the exchange server…please reply soon

11. Matsu - September 20, 2008

Rishabh – Before you can “connect” your iPod Touch to an Exchange server, you must first upgrade the iPod Touch to 2.0 software. Until you do that, the Exchange server will not be supported on the iPod Touch.

After you buy the iPod Touch 2.0 software upgrade, then you can go into your settings, select e-mail settings, choose “add account” then select the Exchange server as the type of e-mail account. Once you put in all of our account information, it will just start working. It’s really amazing how easy it is and how well it work.

12. Dave U - December 3, 2008

I tried and can’t use it as a PDA. With my old Palm, I could press a button and synch calendar, contacts and tasks. Tasks, have to be separate application on destktop and itouch. Also with Palm, I was able to search for text across Calendar, Contacts and tasks. I don’t think I can do that on the itouch.

13. louis - January 18, 2009

ipod Touch… It really cool. I like it~

14. linda - January 23, 2009

I bought my thinking that it would replace my old Ipaq. It is nice however in my opinion it will never replace my PDA. I can add something to my calendar and it will sync when i get back to my office or home where the touch you can add to its calendar but it will not sync with your desktop.
If apple could do this it would take over the industry. It does have WiFi but you can not add an entry to your calendar and must be in a WiFi zone if you could and most docotr’s office’s that i go to do not have WiFi.

15. Matsu - January 28, 2009

Linda – Believe it or not, I used an iPAQ for many years as my PDA before switching to a PDA/phone running Windows Mobile.

Based on your comment, it seems you are not using the built-in software to synch your e-mail and calendar and contacts with a server (the desktop would then also synch with the server). I’ve used the Exchange server, Google’s services, and Apple’s services very successfully.

If you are not using a server for your calendar and e-mail and contacts, then I understand your point. But, why would you NOT want to use a server (Exchange or Google, or Apple’s new service)?

Apple’s new iPod (and iPhone) work very well in an enterprise environment where there is an Exchange server.

ed - April 29, 2009

Local retailer says there’s no way to input notes into IPOD touch -if not, it can’t replace my defunct Palm. can it be done? Is there a “Hotsynch ” equivalent? thanks a LOT, ed

16. RON - May 16, 2009

My Palm TX died. Not sure the touch will fill its place. Someone email me with thought…please…HTVPRODUCTIONS@AOL.COM

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