Here are a couple of quotations that give you the gist of the article:
“What’s so convenient about PDAs, even the newest ones? I still don’t get this. It’s another annoying box you have to carry around and make sure not to lose. Only it fits in your pocket, so it’s exactly what you will lose. It doesn’t hold anything new, but only provides a more convenient way of accessing information already contained on your laptop.”
“And “convenient” simply refers to the fact that you don’t have to sit through a laptop’s boot time. I know of no executive with any real use for PCs who can go on a trip carrying only a PDA. The laptop is always there.”
It’s not surprising, given the prejudice with which Rist approaches the topic, that he doesn’t “get” PDAs. Of course, if you’re going to lug around your lap-top everywhere you take your PDA, the PDA becomes superfluous. And if he’s never met an executive that can go on a trip carrying only a PDA, he needs to get out more. Even the “you’re going to lose it” argument has a flaw: The PDA fits into your pocket. You’re far more likely to take it with you because it’s already in your pocket. You’re less likely to leave it behind because it’s so easy to grab it and drop in into your pocket. (The reason a lot of laptops get left behind is because of the effort it takes to shut it down and pack it away. You’re always leaving it because “you’ll be right back.”
PDAs aren’t for everyone. If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re one of those that they’re for, though. Mr. Rist obviously isn’t, but he makes the common falicy of assuming his experience is normative for all the rest of us. As for me, I don’t even own a lap-top anymore. My PDA does everything I want in the field and no lap-top even approaches the power and flexibility of my desktop system.