Prior to switching to a Blackberry 7290 this past winter, I was a Palm user for eight years, and I really liked the flexibility of the Palm as a PDA, the number of applications available for it, and everything that I could do with it.
I went through many of the various iterations of Palm Smartphones, looking for the best and simplest way to stay connected on the go (anybody remember the Qualcomm pdQ 1900?). While these were all neat solutions, I found that they complicated my life more, rather than simplifying it. There was such a thing as having too many options, and when you spend more time playing with the technology than using it to do your work, something is wrong.
Like many, I was eagerly awaiting the Treo 650 as my next upgrade (I had been using a T3 with a BT cell phone at the time), and although I had followed the Blackberry over the years, and the whole push e-mail concept was very appealing, the device had always seemed too limiting compared to a Palm device.
However, after playing with a friend's Blackberry for a few minutes, and then doing some research and discovering much of the information on this site (mostly Mark's FAQs about what you can
do with a Blackberry now), I decided to forget about the Treo 650 and take the Blackberry plunge.
While there are a few things I miss from my Palm days, the overall simplicity of the Blackberry in simply getting the job done is a huge benefit. Complete wireless synchronization has become a huge feature for me (I can't imagine going back to Hotsyncing, and in fact I purposely avoid BB applications that require connection to a desktop to do anything). Another benefit is the fact that my e-mail is pushed to me as it comes in (on my previous Palm devices, having to think to start up an e-mail application and "poll" for mail when I was in appropriate coverage meant that I usually didn't check my mail that often unless I was expecting something specific).
The bottom line is that if e-mail is a mission-critical application for you, then there is really no solution nearly as viable as the Blackberry. If, on the other hand, you're looking for a full PDA feature set, and staying connected isn't that important, then you would probably find a number of other devices, the Treo 650 included, more suited to your needs.
In a few years down the road, solutions like Windows Mobile 5.0 may become viable for those who want the best of both worlds (a PDA with serious push synchronization functionality), but right now Windows Mobile 5.0 is still largely vaporware, and the fact that it will only support Exchange 2003 SP2 coupled with Microsoft's track record at first releases of new technology..... Well, you can fill in the blanks yourself....
To me, the Blackberry is the best example right now of "appliance" technology... Technology that is so straightforward and intuitive, you don't even realize you're using it.