The onward march of smartphone technology has rendered the once potent PDA a sad and forlorn figure. And it's easy to see why it's slowly but surely going the way of the dodo. Why would anyone want to carry a separate device for your contacts, email and calendar when everything - and more - can be squeezed into one super-capable, pocketable device?
As the success of the iPhone proves, however, being able to squeeze the fastest technology and the most features into a device is not always, well, everything. Sometimes you don't need every bell and whistle to make a usable product.
Perhaps that was the thinking behind HP's latest PDA, the iPAQ 214. Not everyone wants to carry their office email and calendar around with them all the time - especially at the weekend or on holidays - a reminder of the treats in store when they return to the office, so why not split the two features in two? Why not keep the phone a phone and reserve the rest for a separate device?
If that's the road you want to go down, the iPAQ 214 should certainly be on your short list. This is truly a Rolls-Royce among PDAs: it's large and very, very wide and at 76 x 126 x 16mm (WxHxD) it's a good centimetre broader and taller than my TyTN II. It also looks and feels as luxurious to use as one of the famous stately cars, with a rear panel clad in thick, rubber-coated plastic, sides that are wrapped in gunmetal-silver and a front fascia finished in piano black. Like a well-tailored suit, it has an understated, yet very expensive-feel.
Turn it on and the luxury feel continues. The screen measures a huge 4in diagonally and this fills the iPAQ's ample chassis from edge to edge. It's bright too, with vibrant colours and has an impressively high resolution of 640 x 480. You can squeeze lots of detail on a screen this big and Google Maps is a joy to look at and use. Hook it up to the Internet via Bluetooth or the iPAQ's 214 Wi-Fi connection, and even browsing the Internet becomes viable - as long as you download a decent web browser first, that is.