Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Are Pocket PCs the way forward for journalists?

I wrote the majority of this post whilst waiting for a physiotherapy appointment on a Pocket PC - or some might call it a Smartphone or even a wireless PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).

Whatever you want to call it, it's big and cumbersome and awkward to use as a phone when you just want to make a quick call - but it packs in so many features that you can easily forgive it this.

A full Qwerty keyboard, Wi-Fi enabled, quality camera, a mini Windows operating system with Office, and GPS integrated into Google Maps to name just a few of the functions I've managed to get my head around.

Now although the keyboard does not exactly allow touch typing it's still pretty easy to bash off a good length document.

In fact it could be ideally suited to reporting.

Journalists can sit and write their copy from anywhere, take pictures, or even a short video, and email it straight off to their newsdesk - either via Wi-Fi hotspots or over mobile phone networks such as GPRS.

I've even heard that you can download software to enable broadcast journalists to record high quality sound clips onto their device.

Several news organisations are already experimenting with these types of devices but even regional newspaper reporters could make use of them.

More compact and easier to use, and generally cheaper, than a laptop reporters could work from anywhere on their patch and still make sure multi-media copy is ready by deadline.

In today's cost cutting climate where small satellite offices are being shutdown this could prove invaluable for maintaining a visible presence in an area.

As long as it's used sensibly and correctly this type of technology could enable newsgathering to be simpler, swifter and more mobile than ever before.

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