As part of my current organization kick, I've been thinking about what I want in a portable computer (PDA, handheld computer, smartphone, tablet PC, whatever). I'm a geek and a bit of a gizmo freak, but I try to be at least a bit practical--do I really want a Linux-based PDA that's going to need ongoing sysadmin work just to be usable?

My experience with the Windows-based Motorola MPx200 smartphone rammed home another point--an organizer that can't sync reliably is useless.

Finally, playing with Life Balance and ReaderWare has demonstrated that organization applications with both a PDA and a desktop component can be more useful then either component would be on its own.

Three simple points that most of us already know, but they're easy to forget when faced with gratuitously cool new hardware. In short, the purpose of computers is to run software, and the point of software is to give you access to information, and if your handheld can't run your software, or it can't access your information, then it's really just a cool paperweight with a nice display.

Since I'm running OS X on my primary computer, it stands to reason that I'd be best-served by a handheld that syncs with the Mac, and has as many applications as possible that can sync application-specific data between the Mac and some PDA application. And, since I want to run Life Balance, I'd be best served by a handheld that can actually run it. In every case, the best choice is some flavor of Palm, either a traditional one from PalmOne, a Sony Clie, or a PalmOS-based phone.

Now that I've finally answered the question "what do I want a PDA for?" I can stop looking at PocketPC handhelds, Zauruses, and whatever else is out there, because they aren't going to do what I want them to do. It's a nice realization, and I guess I have Motorola to thank for that, mostly. Who knows where I'd be now if they could build a battery that worked :-).

Now, if only PalmOS 5 didn't suck so bad...