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Problems with census PDAs could prompt a return to pencil and paper

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Harris Corp. may have nothing but good things to say about the HTC-made PDAs it's planning to supply for use in the 2010 census, but it looks like the handhelds are already starting to cause plenty of headaches for census officials, who are reportedly even considering a return to pencil and paper if things can't be resolved. As the AP reports, the problems start with the contract for the devices, which originally clocked in at $596 million, has since grown to $647 million, and could eventually balloon to as much as $2 billion. As if that wasn't enough, the handheld has also apparently proven to be "too complex" for some of the temporary census workers that took part in a test last year, and the device was reportedly "not initially programmed to transmit the large amounts of data necessary." As a result, census officials are now said to be considering a number of different options to scale back the use of the devices, only one of which apparently actually has the headcounters entering data into 'em as they go door-to-door.

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