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PDA for Tech Savy Students? 112

Posted by Cliff
from the have-cell-phones-destroyed-this-market-yet dept.
Kichigai Mentat asks: "When I was a student in High School, I was quite disorganized. I found that a good organizer helped me out, and eventually got myself a reliable Palm m105. As I'm about to go into college, I'm considering picking up a new machine to replace my nearly-dead PDA. However, the selection seems to be either Palm OS, which I find rather limiting in terms of what you can and cannot do on the system (I LIKE being able to organize things into sub-folders), or Window Mobile, which isn't Linux or Mac OS X friendly. What sort of third-party options are available that work with existing PIM apps, will work without Windows, and won't cost an arm and a leg?"
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PDA for Tech Savy Students?

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  • "savvy" (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The word is spelled "savvy". Not "savy".

    Thank you. Have a nice day.
  • A few things (Score:5, Informative)

    by PunkOfLinux (870955) <mewshi@mewshi.com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:01PM (#15959822) Homepage
    I can't remember who makes it, but the Zaurus line seems to be pretty cool. I know several people who have one, and they LOVE them. Also, you can get linux to run on a PalmOne device. Granted, it'll wipe the os... but... hey, if you wanna, go ahead.
    • The manufacturer is Sharp, and they no longer distribute them in the US. There are new models available in Japan, and they still all run embedded linux.
      • Re:A few things (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infamo[ ]net ['us.' in gap]> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @11:02PM (#15960032) Homepage
        The manufacturer is Sharp, and they no longer distribute them in the US.

        However, there are distributors that import them and do the English language conversion, such as conics.net.

        The SL-C3xxx clamshell models with built-in harddrives [on.net] rock. It's like having a laptop that was exposed to a shrink ray.

        I installed KO/Pi [pi-sync.net] on mine as an scheduler/organizer, and use the provided "Hancom Word" word processor to maintain my journal and do other writing. I got a WiFi card for it, and I can even hook up my cell phone via it's USB port and do a SSH session from anywhere I can get a signal.

        I think their success in Japan versus the U.S. is due to the fact that in Japan, the clamshell form factor seems to be very common for electronic dictonaries, while Americans are still looking for something that looks like a Palm Pilot. It's a shame and a crime that such a wonderful piece of technology, which draws admiring stares whereever I go, isn't more widely available in the U.S.

        • ...while Americans are still looking for something that looks like a Palm Pilot. It's a shame and a crime that such a wonderful piece of technology, which draws admiring stares whereever I go, isn't more widely available in the U.S.

          Its the price. Most people want comparativly stupid devices that either has a large cellphone formfactor, or is fairly cheap, mostly both. A good zuarus will cost you $350 - $750, depending on the model, and the US public want cheap, McDonalds fastfood type devices.

          At least thats
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by grahamdrew (589499)
        I actively used (and still have) one of the original Zauruses for a while, and although it was great when you paired it with a WiFi card and wanted to do some quick web browsing, email, or instant messaging it wasn't terribly good at PIM. Getting it to sync with anything but Outlook or Sharp's own app was a challenge at best. Strangely enough, getting it to sync with a linux box was harder than syncing with windows or OS X. It was a very nice mobile tablet at the time, but not a very good PDA. I had use
        • I second (or whatever number we're on at this point ...) the Zaurus fanboy train. But really, we're talking in English; shouldn't it be Zaurii rather than Zauruses?
    • Re:A few things (Score:4, Informative)

      by pruss (246395) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:43PM (#15959962) Homepage
      One does not need to wipe the OS to run Linux on a PalmOS device. In fact, in newer flash-based devices, you don't even lose your PalmOS data. See www.hackndev.com
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by solid_liq (720160)
        This reminds me...

        Anyone want to wager on when VMWare and/or Xen and/or some other virtualization project will be made available for PDAs? If you say never, you have no business reading Slashdot.
        Seriously, the hardware isn't that far from being able to run PalmOS and Linux concurrently. I'd love to see this. At the very least, you could have your home gaming vm and your work vm, so the two wouldn't intermingle.
      • I've been wanting to try this for a while, but it doesn't seem to be at all easy. If you're a Windows user, be prepeared to have "Windoze" thrown in your face a few times, conflicting instructions, and no real step-by-step instructions (yes, for *Windows* users -- not all of us are hip enough to run Linux boxes). And, make DAMN SURE you have your Palm backed up, because you WILL need to restore it.

        I still want to try it, but they seriously need to put some thought toward people actually being able to use it
    • by darnok (650458)
      I've got a Sharp Zaurus, but it sits unused because of the terrible battery life. While the fact that it runs Linux makes it highly configurable and theoretically a good fit for just about any purpose, the battery life makes it just about useless as a PDA.
      • by Punboy (737239) *
        I'll take it if you don't want it.
        • by darnok (650458)
          Thanks for the offer, but it's one of those things that I know I'll find a good use for some day. I don't have that use right now, but I *know* it's gonna appear.

          Just like those old 386 PCs in the back room... ;->
      • Battery like... (Score:3, Informative)

        by IANAAC (692242)
        You don't mention which model you have, but the latest models have MUCH better battery life. The earlier models (particularly the 5500) did have terrible battery life - with a wifi card I was lucky to get 40 minutes. 5600 improved to about an hour and a half.

        The new C1/3x00 series, however, goes for a good five hours of constant wifi use. As mentioned somwhere in this thread, these newer models aren't sold directly in the US. You have to get them through a distributor, which will import and convert to

      • by Kahm-Hime (73765)
        I suspect that you've got an older Z. The newer clamshell Zaurii have fantastic batter life - nearly 8hrs with 50% backlight.
        • my Palm IIIxe was good for DAYS as long as you didnt run the gameboy emulator which overclocked it.
    • Re:A few things (Score:4, Informative)

      by Infinityis (807294) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:54PM (#15960001) Homepage
      I'll second that. I bought a Zaurus (Collie, 5500) on Ebay for $100, and it came with a wifi card, 2 compact flash cards, SD card, and charger + cradle.

      Some of the nice things about it:

      -Keyboard is built in under a slide-out panel, for those of us who don't like graffiti input methods.
      -Trivial to flash with a new ROM (such as OPIE or GPE)...but I'd recommend either having two CF cards or a CF card reader/writer on your computer so you can get yourself out of sticky situations.
      -You can either plug in the charger directly to the Zaurus or via the cradle, which add immeasurably to the convenience, because you can charge it an use it at the same time without being at your computer.
      -Lots of nice programs for free, such as VNC viewer & server, PDF reader, etc.
      -Headphone jack for listening to music, either from songs stored on the Zaurus or streaming from a computer connected wirelessly.
      -The translucent plastic flip-cover can be removed easily.

      Did I mention it runs Linux?

      The only downside I've come across is that the battery life isn't the best in the world, but personally I rarely have problems with an empty battery. Also, it requires a little technical proficiency to get everything (like an internet browser) running well on the non-defaul ROM.

      I can't speak for the newer Zauruses, but they look even nicer than the one I have.
    • I have to agree, the Zaurus was definitely cool, but got killed off before it ever really had a chance to establish itself. The Japan-only versions with VGA displays and folded up like a laptop were probably the most interesting ones produced.

      I got quite a bit of use out of my SL-5600, using it for everything from a portable web server to emulation. Here's a shot of mine running the Mac OS:

      - http://www.bones3d.com/think/zmac.jpg [bones3d.com]
    • by hakubi (666291)
      I almost bought a Zaurus SL-C3000 a year ago, but then my laptop died and I had to replace it. Review of the new C3200 from 6 days ago: http://www.mobiletechreview.com/Sharp-Zaurus-C3200 .htm [mobiletechreview.com] Buy it here: http://dynamism.com/sl-c3000/main.shtml [dynamism.com]
  • by Silas Palmer-Cannon (973394) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:10PM (#15959854)
    There are solutions out there for syncing Microsoft PDAs with Mac OS X. Take a look at The Missing Sync at http://www.markspace.com/ [markspace.com] I have never used this solution, but I've heard good things about it from others.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBCook (132727)

      I've been using it for a while now (a year and a half or so). The biggest thing I should warn you about is that if you are a early adopter, you may have a problem. What I mean is that when Tiger came out, it took a few months before they released a version that was compatible with iSync 2.0. Since Leopard is going to have iSync 3.0, I'm guessing something like that may happen again.

      That said, I've had a Dell Axim X50v for two years now. The hardware is nice. The OS (Windows Mobile 2003) is not. They made s

      • by KingJ (992358)
        I'll agree, Pocket IE is absolutely awful. However, Opera have released their browser in a PPC format, it's not free but it's the best browser i've ever used on a handheld device, rendering the webpage perfectly.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:12PM (#15959858) Journal
    I have to work on my public displays of affection or cut them out completely.
  • by jbarr (2233) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:12PM (#15959859) Homepage
    I'm not going to recommend any specific PDA, but I do have this bit of advice: Don't let the technology cloud your need to remain organized. It's so easy to get sucked into the features and capabilities that you often forget the real reason to have a PDA. I wrote an article about simplifying my PDA use [jimstips.com] wherein I describe how I "stepped back" to using a Palm Z22 instead of the latest and greatest whiz-bang PDA. You see, for me, I was so easily distracted by the "stuff of the PDA" that I found that I was spending more time tweaking, playing, and hacking my PDA than actually using it productively.

    After a few months, in retrospect, I am now craving a higher resolution screen and more memory, but the surprising reality is that my Palm Z22 really works, and really works well...for me. And that's the key. Find what works for you and stick with it.

    So regardless of what you choose, try to keep the perspective of simplicity.

    -Jim
    http://jimstips.com/ [jimstips.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by StikyPad (445176)
      My mom always said, "Jim, you're 1 in a million." Given the current population, there are 6000 of me. God help us all!

      We should be okay as long as you guys don't find each other.
    • by digitect (217483)

      I have to agree with simplicity. I "upgraded" from a Palm m105 to a used m500 not so long ago, and it is all I need to stay organized. Between the Todo list, Memo Pad (notes), Calendar, and Address book, I've been able to continue rolling my data along since about 1997 or so. (I originally started out with DayTimer Address book before moving to their full-blown version.)

      I get alarms when things are due, I can take notes at a meeting (with a folding keyboard), always have someplace to dump thoughts such as

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by computechnica (171054)
        I love my Tapwave Zodiac: you get a nice 4 inch screen, Stereo Speakers that are quite loud, 2 SD card slots for 8Gb of total (2x4Gb SD cards when used with Fat32 Driver) storage, Bluetooth, and a 4-5 hour play time. Use Core Media Player and pocketDiVXencoder for video. You can encode movies down to 200Megs. Bluetooth GPS. I Use LJZ for Console emulation of GB, NES, SNES, Gen, NGP, WS,and TG16. There are also some SD games(Doom,DukeNukem,SpyHunter,Galactic realms, and Legacy). There is also a free version
    • ... the little spiral notebooks made of 3x5 notecards. Also, get 3-4 notecard boxes. Now, keep your notebook in your pocket with a pen. Write your organizational notes on the notecards, and file them when you get home. It's a lot cheaper than a pda, and can go more places.
  • Consider Symbian. (Score:4, Informative)

    by GrpA (691294) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:26PM (#15959906)
    Have a look at some of the Symbian phones out there. I'm lost without my Motorola A1000.

    The nice thing about them is that they double as a telephone, and are about the same size as well.

    Also made my Erricson and other phone manufacturers, and open source programmable... Lot of apps to D/L free or for fee as well.

    GrpA
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have to agree and disagree with this statement.

      I personally don't care for symbian, but there is a huge amount of value (for me) in having my PDA be a part of my phone.

      I've tried palm's, which I liked, from the first Pilot, to the Clie UX-50, and the biggest failure of every one, was that I would _sometimes_ leave it home, because of some reason or another.

      I'm now using Windows Mobile on my Cingular 8125, and so far I've been quite happy, mostly because I _never_ leave my phone at home. But my work PC is
      • I don't sync with linux- and I have to agree, my T-Mobile MDA (HTC Wizard, basically the same thing as your Cingular 8125 with a slightly different ROM image and build of Windows Mobile 5) has, in less than 2 weeks, caused me to stop carrying my IPAQ, and sync calendars with both home and work, which is imensely valueable to me. In addition to that I've got the added bonus of advanced entertainment options (recorded TV shows, MP3s, and video games) on the train, plus massively superior typing ability to an
  • None of the above (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:27PM (#15959909) Homepage Journal
    There's a pretty tight competition for "best portable organizer" right now. Although the leader [43folders.com] is extremely powerful and flexible, many love the simple elegance of the up-and-comer [moleskine.us].

    Seriously, after fighting through multiple PalmOS devices, each having a prettier display and more manufacturing defects than the one before it, I've taken my own advice above. I prefer the latter for its sleek lines and excellent performance, although the former still has my respect for its near-infinite adaptability.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Noksagt (69097)
      I dig the index cards--they're cheap & provide "random access" and allow for easier "beaming" to other people. Two downsides for me: 1)I like my paper gridded (though you can get gridded index cards). 2)Not durable enough (although you can get various coverings and briefcases, but most will make it less quick to access.

      While the moleskines address those points, I never understood the fad. It is so completely overpriced & overhyped. I've received & diligently used a couple as gifts. The pape
      • While the moleskines address those points, I never understood the fad. It is so completely overpriced & overhyped. I've received & diligently used a couple as gifts. The paper isn't all that great. The smallest moleskines are made of even cheaper materials & the larger ones aren't pocket sized.

        Agreed. I remember looking at some after hearing all the hype and thinking... "What's so magical about this notebook versus that one that this one is close to triple the price?" - I couldn't come up with

      • While the moleskines address those points, I never understood the fad. It is so completely overpriced & overhyped.

        Too true. On the other hand, the yearly planner is just shy of $13, and makes you instantly more attractive to every woman at the coffee shop. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet. I'm already married and the best I can hope for is a cute barista not thinking I'm a complete dork, but the principle stands.

    • After several years of using electronic PDA's, for either of those solutions I'd be carrying around a stack of paper about 2 ft tall, by the time I transcribed my 2500 contact entries, e-mail, and ToDo information to 3x5 cards.

      For me, the up and comer is the HTC Wizard, which you can't buy independantly, but has been rebranded by several cell phone companies as their own "exclusive" offering. A thumboard that doesn't cause carpal tunnel for my medium-sized hands is a grand start, the auto-switch between p
    • Tell me how to search using a keyword for a note that you wrote five years ago, and get the results in approx. 1 sec, and I might consider that option ... That's the true beauty of a PDA - take notes randomly, search at leisure!
  • by Noksagt (69097) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:31PM (#15959919) Homepage
    One of the big trends floating around with the "GTD [amazon.com]" nerds is carrying a small paper notebook or a pile of index cards. This works quite well--you never run out of batteries & can trade info for people. Some nerd chick thought it was "cool because it was like a lab notebook."

    I've gone through the PALM, Clie (which runs Palm OS), and the Sharp Zaurus. The Zaurus is good, but the batteries would always die on me. Paper is great!
    • The Zaurus is good, but the batteries would always die on me.

      When I was in Japan I picked up a spare external battery for my Z. Harder to find here but I think some are marketed for handheld game systems, just need to find the right voltage and connector.

      Paper is great!

      ...until you want to enter whatever you wrote into a computer.

      I find it easier to type things (journal entries, poems, various small documents) the first time and be able to load them into my PC immediately when I want, rather tha

      • When I was in Japan I picked up a spare external battery for my Z.

        This could be useful, but there's obviously a size/weight tradeoff. Since I still own my Z: how large was the battery & how long would the extra juice last?

        I find it easier to type things ... and be able to load them into my PC immediately when I want,

        Indeed--when my Z wasn't being used as a toy (wireless, seeing which esoteric apps I can run, etc.), I'd be TeXing someting up or coding a bit on it. But typing stuff you intend to keep li

        • Since I still own my Z: how large was the battery & how long would the extra juice last?

          I'd say it's abut twice the size of a Zippo lighter, actually somewhat smaller than that. Holds enough of a charge to run my Z for two hours or writing, I haven't tested it longer than that.

          But typing stuff you intend to keep like this is generally slow & requires some amount of thought & is probably best done in quiet privacy (where you'd have access to a larger computer) wherever possible.

          Actuall

  • by joeljkp (254783)
    I agree with you about Palms being wonderful for organizing assignments and such. I have a trusty old Palm IIIxe I bought back in 2000, and it's still going strong today. Maybe I just don't know what I'm missing, but my old Palm seems to do everything I want it to, and well.

    • I agree with you about Palms being wonderful for organizing assignments and such. I have a trusty old Palm IIIxe I bought back in 2000, and it's still going strong today. Maybe I just don't know what I'm missing, but my old Palm seems to do everything I want it to, and well.

      If you ever buy another palm, pick one that doesn't do much. No mp3, video playing and the like. Not only you'll save money but much more importantly, you'll have a crappy battery life if you pick the kitchen sink models.

      Beside,

      • by tzanger (1575)

        If you ever buy another palm, pick one that doesn't do much. No mp3, video playing and the like. Not only you'll save money but much more importantly, you'll have a crappy battery life if you pick the kitchen sink models.

        Battery life really has come down a lot from the old Palm Vx days (actually I started out on the Palm Pro, but the Vx and then the 515 were my favourites, with the Vx still being a favourite), but I get about 3-4 days out of my T|X. I had the Treo 650 and really wanted to love it, but

  • Palm OS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vga_init (589198) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:42PM (#15959959) Journal

    I've had a Palm Pilot for the past few years. It's stable, compatible, and is the best organization software I've ever used. Pocket PC's with Windows CE (or whatever it's called these days) tend to cost a bit more, and sure, I think the operating system is more robust and flexible, but this is a device where simplicity is a feature. Also keep in mind that PalmOS is fully programmable (you can download the development libraries after registration--available for linux), and there exists a wealth of apps for it. On wi-fi enabled units, you can get such things as browsers and ssh clients (more then enough to satisfy the geek in you). PalmOS is also compatible with lots of linux apps (eg evolution plugins)

    Also, regardless of bells and whistles, it's a solid organizer--everything you need is right there in one package. In fact, you can get a cheap Zire without dropping more than $99, and you'll get all the organizing goodness of PalmOS (no features barred, same interface) as well as a generous 32mb or so of RAM (how many people do you know?). That cheap model won't have a fancy pants screen or play mp3's, but you bet your granny's knickers you'll be organized. Feel like spending a little more? Get a Tungsten E2--plenty of RAM, gorgeous screen, media playback, SD slot, and enough features spared to allow you to keep things simple and straightforwad and the price tag low (eg no wifi or bluetooth, but doesn't your cell phone do that? Or your laptop? Or...oh hell, just check your schedule).

    Whatever you choose to buy, you won't regret it. To those who need them, a sturdy organizer is worth its weight in gold, and Palm knows how to make that work. They also how to please your geeky self.

    • ugh, for the price of a new zire you can as well get an used xda (htc wallaby) which has a much better hardware, better operating system and is also a gsm phone (pda and phone is a very practical combination).

      if a wm2003 device seems to be difficult, just install some other organizer software on it.

      programming on wm devices is easy to start, too.
    • The Tungsten E2 is wifi capable, it just requires an SD wifi card. There are some catches with that, it sucks battery life at a ridiculous rate, and it can't do WPA, but it works. Also, I believe the Tungsten E2 will do bluetooth.
  • slim pickings (Score:3, Informative)

    by juventasone (517959) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:46PM (#15959967)

    The Symbian OS is primarly for smartphones [symbian.com], and unfortunately they usually make for lousy PDAs. But if you're still interested check out the Nokia E61 [nokia.com] or Sony Ericsson M600i [sonyericsson.com]. Same could be said about RIM's Blackberry OS.

    There's also an plethora of quirky, mostly-discontinued embedded linux PDAs [linuxdevices.com], including the geek-famous Zaurus [sharpusa.com].

    If you thought having only two major players for PDA OS's was unfortunate, Palm has started replacing the Palm OS with Windows Mobile on some of their own hardware [palm.com].

    • Or, for a clamshell PDA/phone with full Qwerty keyboard... 640x200(?) resolution, Wifi and such, the older Nokia 9500 [nokia.com].
      • by BenjyD (316700)
        I wouldn't recommend the 9500. The keyboard is nasty, the CPU is underpowered, the phone is huge and heavy and it's generally fiddly to use. The 9300i looks better (same size as the 9300, but with WiFi), but I haven't used it.
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @10:48PM (#15959976)
    Man, I was the PDA king -- back in the day. Original Palm Pilot, Rexx, WinCE, Win Mobile, I forget what all else, latest greatest bestest every year. But when the cellphones began to offer Office functionality that I could barely get in my laptop, let alone my PDA, I re-evaluated my personal electronics. Did I really need to update my spreadsheets on the subway? No. Was I ever really that far away from a PC with a USB port that I couldn't jack into with the thumbdrive on my keychain? Not really. So all the info I need at a glance -- appointments, phone numbers -- are in the phone, and every other file I own is backed up religiously onto my keychain. If you want to be all geeky about it, you can fit an entire Linux distro -- as well as your file folders -- onto your key fob. Sure to impress the co-eds...

    More importantly -- and you'll thank me for this in about 10, 15 years -- the arrangement encourages me to think about "computer stuff" when I'm near a computer, and not on line for the ballet or at the beach. Remember, there are other, stealthier ways for the machines to win besides the plotlines for those Terminator or Matrix movies....
    • by jbarr (2233)
      You bring up some good points, but converged deviced aren't always the best solution. In my case, work provides my phone, so I have no choice in what phone they provide, and what they do provide is just a basic phone...nothing more. If I want PDA functionality, I have to provide my own. Yes, I now have to carry two devices, but the benefit is that the PDA is mine, how I implement it is my decision, as is what data goes on it. And if I change jobs, it goes with me.

      Obviously, everyone's situation is different
  • by wolf87 (989346) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @11:04PM (#15960041)
    I have quite a bit of experience in this regard. I had 3 PDAs in HS (Zire 71, Tungsten C, and HP 4350), a Treo 600 during my first 2 yrs of college, and now I have a Moto Q. Some advice on PDAs and smartphones for college:
    • QWERTY is your friend. When going from class-to-class, there is no way you can use the handwriting input fast enough to get assignments down. Physical keyboards are best. Windows Mobile has the best on-screen.
    • Don't worry about platform compatibility with a WM PDA. PocketMac (http://www.pocketmac.net [pocketmac.net]) is a great piece of software (used it form the HP 4350). It's actually more reliable than ActiveSync, in my experience.
    • Personally, for storing class and assignment info, I prefer WM. Newer Palms with better calendar software may be better, but this is my experience with Treo 600.
    • Consider a smartphone. It's a lot easier, especially for contacts. For example, I keep all of my professors' office hours in notes attached to their contact entries. Makes it really easy to access the info.
    • Get a sturdy case. When you're running from one end of campus to the other, you will drop your PDA and/or phone. My failure to do so is one reason I now have a Q (who knew 5 drops onto pavement was the Treo's limit?). I like aluminum ones; then again, I'm a klutz.
    If you have questions, feel free to contact me. Always glad to help a fellow student.
    • by MadJo (674225)

      Don't worry about platform compatibility with a WM PDA. PocketMac (http://www.pocketmac.net [pocketmac.net]) is a great piece of software (used it form the HP 4350). It's actually more reliable than ActiveSync, in my experience.

      So you only have Windows and Macs as platforms? Nice...

      You are forgetting about Linux (for starters), so yes, I'd worry about platform compatibility, if you prefer not to use Windows.

      My experience with PocketPC devices and Linux is that they don't match. There are programs out there

  • by Yeechang Lee (3429) <ylee@pobox.com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @11:15PM (#15960079) Homepage
    As I posted just yesterday [slashdot.org], I've had a Palm OS-based PDA of one kind or another since 1997 when I was still in college, and just bought a Treo 700p. Every one has been a huge help in keeping me organized.

    As a student I didn't find synchronization with a desktop PIM essential. I entered all my contacts and schedules on the PDA and used pilot-link on my Linux box for app installs and backups. Since I graduated and entered the workforce that's completely changed, but you have at least four years before you'll likely have to worry about that. Assuming you were the same way in high school, this gives you a bit more flexibility than I have in terms of picking a PDA; my need for Outlook synchronization meant I couldn't consider a Nokia 770 or a Zaurus, no matter how badly I wanted real Linux on my pocket device. My post from yesterday talks about why Windows Mobile and Symbian were out for me. That leaves . . . just Palm OS.

    You mention cost. Brand-new Palm PDAs are as inexpensive as $99 for a Z22. Or, do what I did and get the Treo 700p; Amazon.com offers it for new Sprint or Verizon customers for as low as $250 after rebate and a two-year contract. Not a bad price for a combination of state-of-the-art Palm PDA and EV-DO-capable handset!
  • I have a Sharp Zaurus sl-5500 running the OpenZaurus [openzaurus.org] firmware and the only real issue I have is finding sync software. When I first got the PDA I installed Multi-Sync and had no problems syncing with Ximian Evolution. However, it seems Multi-sync has disappeared.

    As for syncing to Windows/Outlook(TM) I believe the Qtopia desktop software will sync with the OpenZaurus firmware. You should be able to easily find the hardware on eBay...

    -- Chop

  • Nokia (Score:3, Informative)

    by JanneM (7445) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @11:33PM (#15960137) Homepage
    The Nokia 770 [nokia.com] looks really, really promising. It runs Linux and has a pretty active developer community.

    If or when it starts supporting Japanese input I'm getting one myself.
    • by alcmaeon (684971)
      The Nokia 770 is absolutely sweet. I would pick it over any other PDA on the market, hands down. The screen is gorgeous and there is nothing like it out there on a PDA. The power is amazing and, of course, you can hack around on it if you are so inclined.
    • by i.r.id10t (595143)
      I've had a 770 for a few months now, and love it. Haven't updated to the newest OS yet, but mostly due to time. My biggest gripe about it is finding an inexpensive (relatively) phone that will allow the 770 to connect via bluetooth and then surf using that.
  • I've owned Palms, Pocket PCs, Windows Mobile devices, etc., but hands down, I've found the most productive experience I've had has been with Psions.

    A touch typable keyboard, great productivity tools, MS outlook and lotus compatibility, a raft of freeware apps, and a enthusiast community can't be beat.

    Downsides include lack of multimedia support and slightly old hardware, but personally I value productivity over bells and whistles. The company's has since exitted the consumer market, and hence you'll ha

  • Kudos for keeping your m105 that long--mine eventually developed the backup capacitor problem and even though I repaired it I couldn't get myself to use it again.

    Possibly for the following reasons:

    -I don't need a device for mobile internet access. I can access the internet at home, at the office and at uni. If I want, I can take my laptop with me and go to a hotspot. And if I absolutely, desperately need to look something up on the internet or check my emails, I can do it with my cell phone. But I rarely ne
  • Alpha Geek PDA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CompMD (522020) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @12:36AM (#15960346)
    I work for a university spinoff company, and operate all over the place, from remote USAF bomb ranges to KU's campus. I have a UTStarcom PPC6700. It does EVERYTHING. 420MHz Intel PXA270, 128MB memory, 1GB miniSD, EV-DO (~2.5Mbps on Sprint around Lawrence, KS and Kansas City), 802.11b, Bluetooth, 1.3MP camera, WinMo 5. I have loaded a full featured media player (TCPMP) for DivX movies, PocketPutty and Terminal Services Client to manage the office network when I'm away, and AgileMessenger for multiprotocol IMming. The phone integrates seamlessly with Contacts, and that all syncs up to Outlook at the office. Its a serious gadget and it helps me get work done a lot faster. It's damn near a laptop replacement.
  • by frankmu (68782) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @12:37AM (#15960349) Homepage
    i'd get a google account first. it has email, chat, voip, calender, word processor, spreadsheet, etc. then get a nokia 770 to access it. wireless access is pretty easy. there are alot of free access points called "Linksys". good luck.
  • You're going to college, right? What will the PDA be used for?

    I've found that in just about every class in college, I was allowed to use a laptop. Sure, it could be a distraction (IM, etc), but so can the cute girl two rows down in the lecture hall. And if you can handle distractions, the laptop really can't be beat.

    Wireless in every building, good reception (if not an actual access point) in every classroom and lecture hall. A full keyboard (it's a Powerbook) on which to type notes -- much faster than
  • Have you considered retro solutions [google.com]?

    If you want GPS, music playing, games, contacts, alarms, and whatnot all in one device you'll need a piece of hardware - but these days your celphone probably does all the address book stuff that PDAs were originally sold for.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You all do realize with always-on global wireless connections and piconets that laptops are going to be cellphones, and cellphones aren't going to be the present forms.

      For example in a classroom setting the professor is writing on a electronic blackboard with wireless piconet capability. Your "cellphone" could tap into that (more reliable than using a camera for those of you thinking ahead), and for the professor's voice the "cellphone" microphone will do.* The "always-on" part comes in handy for heavy-lift
  • Try one of these. [nokia.com] They've got all your happy PDA functionality, fold out QWERTY keyboard, will sync up with your mac laptop with bluetooth and also happen to be a cell phone. With a GPRS data service you can also connect your mac laptop to the Internet with it when you're out and about and away from your favorite wirless hotspots. With its SIP capabilities, you can connect it to a local Asterisk server when you're in range of your wireless hotspot. It's the ultimate road warrior phone. Sure it's pricey and
  • I have a T5 Tungsten. Although I love the equipment, the OS is lacking. If you wait a bit, Palmsource is destined to release their upcoming next generation OS built on Linux. You'll have a fully functional PDA on an open sourced OS with development kits-a-plenty. I've seen the screenshots and I'd have to say it is quite an improvement over the PalmOS in its current incarnation.
  • Keyboard.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @01:58AM (#15960547) Journal
    Grafitti, Jot, On-screen keyboards, THEY ALL SUCK. When you're going to be writing more than a couple words here and there, you NEED a PDA with a keyboard, and the 1/3rd of a keyboard on a phone doesn't count.

    I tossed my WinCE device after a month of struggling to do anything useful with it, and bought a Psion 5. I used it daily for the next couple years. Not just taking little notes, mind you. I would write-up entire multi-page reports, with the proper font, spacing, headers, etc. Then I'd often switch over to the drawing programs, sketch out a damn-good diagram, and insert it into the report, and print the whole thing out via one of 2 IrDA laserjet printers that were around. Not to mention that 2 AA batteries would power it for over a week of CONSTANT 24/7 use (one time, just before finals). And this was back when WinCE would go apeshit and screw-up or hang, if you just tried to italicize text.

    These days, things have gone backwards. Psion became Symbian, and now you practically can't find any with keyboards, let alone B&W screens which work in direct sunlight, and run for about a month on a pair of AAs. And a tall narrow screen can't even compete with a wide (640x240) screen.

    So there's my advice. Do your best to find a Symbian/Psion PDA with a B&W landscape LCD screen, full keyboard, slots for CF/SD, and standard-sized batteries.

    It's a bit of a cop-out, I know, because you'll be lucky to find a new PDA with ONE of those features, never mind ALL of them.

    And no, I won't sell you mine. The only thing my (now old) Psion 5 has against it, is lack of ethernet or WiFi adapters, which are indispensible today.
    • I bought a Dana [alphasmart.com] a week ago, as a writing machine. It has:

      * B/W landscape screen
      * Full-size keyboard, one of the best I've ever used, on any computer
      * Standard-sized rechareagble batteries (3 x AA)
      * Runs 30 hours on one charge
      * Two SD slots
      * Infrared
      * USB connection for printer
      * USB connection for synchronisation, also charges the device
      * Wifi

      The screen works in direct sunlight, and also in dim light. The only drawback is that it does
  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @03:46AM (#15960794) Homepage
    I have Zauruses, a Nokia N770, a PocketPC, and a Palm.

    The Palm is the one I use day in and day out. If Handera hadn't folded, I might still be on my Handera 330, which wasn't even color.

    Here is what you need:
    1. Datebook/calendar software of some sort.
    2. Usable text entry.
    3. A good alarm.
    4. Decent battery life.

    That's it. Day in and day out, that's what matters. Can you take a note quickly enough to get it down before you forget? Can you get the alarm to go off at the time you need it to, and will it do common things (snooze for 10 minutes, for instance) with simple clicks?

    If you can get that, you're done. You have a PDA. Do not let "features" distract you. My Compaq iPaq, with a 640x480 screen, untold memory, both SD and CF slots, wifi, and so on, sits on a shelf somewhere. My Palm with Datebook5 goes with me ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. There is no comparison. PalmOS is technically inept; so what? It works. When an alarm is due, the machine makes a piercing noise I can detect even if the PDA is in a bag. It can go in a bag without breaking instantly. If I forget to charge it for a day, it still works.

    In short, it's a kickass PDA. Which is what I want. Yeah, I would like it if PalmOS sucked less. But PocketPC isn't in the running, and after a couple of months trying to run various Linux-hosted PDA apps, I went back to Datebook5. It's just plain better.

    If you want a portable computer, think of that as totally distinct from your PDA. The portable computer is for hacking on, for debugging interesting problems, for spending a week wondering why you can't get a new kernel to work with the sound hardware. The PDA runs one or two off the shelf apps and does it reliably and consistently.
  • I faced/am facing a similar problem. It sounds like you want a fancy doo-dad that can do everything from the palm of your hand. I recommend a decent laptop and a feature-rich cell phone. I got a laptop a year ago, and have found my need for a PDA to decline (I have an older Palm, but now never use it). I was thinking about getting a new Palm, but have decided against it, because there are a number of decent cell-phones out there with near-PDA functionality (minus the touchscreen) in a smaller package (I
  • I'd strongly recommend what I use, which is a Palm T|X [palm.com] with a 4GB SD card. The T|X itself has great features: 320x480 screen, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, stereo with standard headphone jack, solid battery life, 128 MB of NVRAM, in-box compatibility with not only popular PIMs but MS Office files in native format. Add to that a 4 GB SD card (available for about $65 or less after rebate at Newegg.com [newegg.com]--I use the Transcend one), and you've got enough add-on storage (which supports hierarchical folders) to store a whole
  • If your primary motivation to avoid Windowz Mobile is OSX hostility, you may want to look into Missyng Sync by Mark/Space [markspace.com]. In fact, if you have an OSX machine and device that is supported by Missing Sync, get Missing Sync! At first glance, one might think this little utility is a way to level the playing field on your Mac when syncing mobile devices. It's much more! I'd much rather use Missing Sync with my Treo than try the included software for Windows. It's stunning what this little gem can do.

    So, look
  • by obi (118631)
    I really like my Nokia 770, having the ability to run _real_ applications (web browser, gnumeric, etc) on such a small device is a real treat.

    To sum it up for me:
    + runs linux
    + active developer community (with regular updates through apt-get/maemo garage etc)
    + relatively cheap
    + (desktop) apps are relatively easily ported (gnumeric, gpe, ...)
    + has wifi, usb and bluetooth, headphones out, a mic, and a mini-speaker
    + gorgeous screen (800x480 high-dpi)
    + decent form design

    - no keyboard (though you could use blueto
  • I have a WM5 device, the T-Mobile SDA, which I really praise because it has WiFi. This is one of the new crop of devices really produced by HTC and rebranded by the cell phone companies; another one available in the US is the Cingular 2125. The wireless card means I'm paying $30/month for voice access and getting Internet from my home or school network - why pay for data when you're surrounded by so great a cloud of WiFi (with apologies to the author of Hebrews)?

    It's working decently with my Mac. Bluetooth
  • If youn want an MP3 player or web access device or something that makes neat clicky sounds when you scroll, that's one thing.. but if you want a PDA, it's still Palm, Palm and Palm. Windows Mobile has improved enormously to the point where it's genrally usable, but next time your're in a store that sells both, try firing up a Windows Mobile device and add an appointment to the calendar with a start and end time. Now make it recurring and set a custom alarm time. Then switch into the to-do list and add three
  • In college, I carried my PDA everywhere, but mainly because it had alarms for all my classes. After breaking the screens on 3 of them, I decided there must be a cheaper solution.

    I have a $15 durable cell phone that goes everywhere with me, and a Google Calendar account. It serves all the same basic calendar functions as a PDA, and will send you SMS alerts before appointments.

    Also keep in mind that you (should!) have a laptop with you at all times at college, so you can "take notes" in class. Bejewled is

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