1. All PDA's have this feature.
3. Most have an onscreen keyboard you can bring up, and most also have external keyboard attachments you can purchase seperately.
4. Depends on what you're familiar with. PocketPC 2002 interfaces with Outlook 2000 and up (and comes with it). PalmOS requires Palm Desktop (which also comes with it), but can be used with Outlook with added software.
5. What do you consider decent? With my old Palm I would go 3 - 5 days before I realized I hadn't put it in it's cradle, and the battery indicator would show about 75%. With my new Axim, I've tested the battery life by going 5 days without putting it on the cradle, and the battery has held up beautifully (no noticeable loss of power, as power meter hasn't dropped under 99%)
6. Most newer ones have this. My Axim has an SD Stick slot, and a Compact Flash card slot. As well as 64MB onboard memory.
7. I think this is only a feature of PocketPC based PDA's
8. Either flavor has plenty of software available. PocketPC based PDA's can usually use Palm based software as well, but Palm can't used PocketPC software.
I personally would suggest a PocketPC based PDA. It's the best of both worlds on software support, and it contains a ton of extra features that Palms don't have. My Axim has a built in voice recorder for taking quick messages, has the ability to write notes in my own handwriting (no having to learn a convoluted "Graffiti" system, or even having to learn Jot/Quick Notes). The character recognition is decent, if you want to use it. I tend to leave notes in my own handwriting though, as it saves the hassle of having to re-write words/letters that don't quite get translated correctly.
On the default battery that comes with my Axim, Jose has experienced about 6 hours straight of playing mp3's before the battery died. I read a few reviews of the Axim that had the same experience. 6 hours of constant high power consumption use ain't bad. I opted to get the upgraded battery with mine. Like I said, I've gone 5 days (and I use it pretty extensively daily), and the power usage didn't go under 99%. It was at 100% for 4 days. So, unlike chamber's claim ... battery life isn't a problem with PocketPC based PDAs.
You also have "One button access" to your most commonly used programs by the 4 buttons on the case. Where the PocketPC differs from PalmOS though ... you can actually program those buttons to your needs, if the defualt "Calander, Contacts, Inbox, and Home" don't cut it (which those may just be the default buttons on the Axim line ... might be different for other brands.) I know with my Palm it was Home, Calander, Contacts, and I think Calculator (Either that or To Do).
While having a straight up "tool" like a Palm is ok for it's function ... it's definitely nice to have the extras (like mp3 / video playback, more complex video games than "yet another variation of Othello") for when you want something to do ... like say you're on a flight. Sure would be nice to plug your headphones in and listen to some tunes. Or play some decent video games. Or maybe even watch a full movie that you saved to a Compact Flash card. You get all the functionality and usefullness of the Palm, AND you get the extra bells and whistles for when you want to use them. And the extra features don't suck up battery life, unless you're actually using them. It's not like they just sit there doing nothing, and consume battery life ... which from the way chambers describes, that's what it sounds like.
And finally, as for formfactor, my Axim with it's default battery is only marginally larger than my Palm was. About a half inch wider at it's widest (1/4 inch on each side) and about an 1/8 inch thicker. Same height. With the upgraded battery that I use, it's about 1/4 inch thicker than my Palm was. Oh the horror!
Yeah, I'd definitely rather "lug" that beast around if it has all the functionality, and then some. It's not like PocketPC PDA's are like carrying a laptop around
And the Axim is, according to numerous reviews / comparisons I've read, the bulkiest of the PocketPC's. So if you want a slimmer figure, the HP / Compac, or Toshiba (or other brand) offerings might appeal more to you (though I don't know what kind of extra features that they offer)
Oh, and one more thing, on price. Most PocketPC's are in the stratosphere on price, so Palms have them on that. But the Axim has all the features and functionality of other PocketPC's, but at a Palm price. The 300MHz / 32MB version is around $250, the 400MHz / 64MB version is around $300, which is comparable to the new Palm lines. Hell my old Palm (which was actually a Handspring Visor, but it was really just a Palm V with a different shell ... and a lower price) was $200 on clearance because the new line was getting ready to take it's place. And it had nothing in the way of upgradability/expandability.