Home > Wireless > Which PDA Is “Simple” Again? Which PDA Is “Simple” Again? Eugenia Loli 2003-02-08 Wireless 57 Comments This late December 2002 article compares PalmOS and the PocketPC operating systems and their applications, in the ease of use department. Adding Qtopia-under-Linux to the mix, which PDA have you found to be the easiest to use? About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 57 Comments 2003-02-08 9:20 am Hello from my brand new 12″ Powerbook (yippee, arrived today). So, the only (real) PDA I ever used in my life, is a greyscale PalmV. It was offered to me just a few months ago. I used it a few times. I learned how to use Graffiti (no problem there), but while I can certainly say that using the PDA is dead simple, it is generally not a fast way of doing things. It just slows me down somehow. I prefer to have a piece of paper and a pen in my jacket’s pocket, and write down what I need, instead of having to use any PDA. I guess I am the traditional kind of type… Do you actually find PDAs (or even TabletPCs) productive? BTW, about two months ago, I saw at Frys’ a crashed Qtopia/Sharp Zaurus PDA. It was really funny seeing a PDA on text mode with messages looking something like “/usr/local/lib/blahbla.so library missing” 2003-02-08 9:40 am I have owned 2 palmOS devices, and a Zaurus (Using Opie). While the zaurus is a really nice *small computer*, as a PDA it lacks that ‘complete’ and ‘integrated’ feel that PalmOS devices has. I find that I rarely use it as a PDA, because its just too clunky (software wise) to use as one. When I know I’m going to need addresses or a calender with me, I always take the Palm. Its just much more handy, and its faster to access information on it. Should someone write some nice *intergrated* and *simple* PIM apps, I’d take the zaurus with me any day 2003-02-08 9:41 am I’ve owned a Palm… I’ve owned a PocketPC… I’ve owned a Zaurus… The Palm is hands down the best PDA, the Zaurus is hands down the best handheld computer, and the PocketPC was a sort of poor blend of the two. Too complicated to be a useful PDA, and too limited to be a complete handheld computer. -Nathan 2003-02-08 9:41 am You got a 12″ Powerbook? I thought you critized it was recommended everyone to get either the 15″ and 17″ one? Anyway, does anyone find it funny that Utopia means No Such Place in Latin, so Qtopia… no such Qt? 2003-02-08 9:52 am Hello from my old PC (yippee, it is my old friend). ) It is true that Palm V is slow for many tasks, but combined with a PC, I think it is quite powerful. Especially in cases, where you don’t write much, but edit a little, it is quite useful, since it is perfect for viewing jobs. It is slow for editing, but still ok if you don’t heavily enter data. Also pay attention to the excellent new apps, such as Documents To Go, Quickoffice and so on. These apps are really powerful. You can print from Palm V using an infrared equipped printer, which is quite handy. The problem with Palm V is the memory, so you may need Palm Vx. But even 8MB will not be enough after a while. So it is better to buy a Palm with 16Mb. I love Palms, however it seems that Pocket PC will win this war. What happened is that, Palm started with the right attitude to the problem, but the hardware prices, the technology was and is and will be in favor for PocketPCs. The prices are going down in pocketPC. You can’t even compare the similarly priced pocket PCs with Palms. Zaurus is an excellent handheld, actually better than almost any pocket PC out there. However, the Linux makes it hardly usable, since it has some significant problems. Palm OS is worse in that sense, however its simplicity is its advantage. Linux doesn’t have such an advantage, but still I heard problems related with the kernel and the GUI from the Trolltech. However, it is still promising for the future. Right now, Palm is a good choice for people who look for the best software available out there. If you think for the future go with Pocket PC, since most probably it will be the winner. If you are working on Linux, definitely go with Zaurus. If you look for simplicity, go with Palm again. If you look for value for the hardware, go with a Zaurus, or a pocket PC. If you want to run Linux, but want to buy a pocket PC, you can always install Linux on a pocket PC device, I am not sure for all devices though. 2003-02-08 9:53 am I prefer to have a piece of paper and a pen in my jacket’s pocket, and write down what I need, instead of having to use any PDA. Did you try DiddleBug? http://www.palmgear.com/software/showsoftware.cfm?prodID=3457 For all practical reasons DiddleBug turns your palm into a piece of paper . I use it all the time ’cause Graffiti ain’t my cup of tea (it’s Freeware, BTW). Have an old and trusty Palm Vx myself and can’t complain about ease of use once I had installed a certain set of utilities and hacks. Regards monty 2003-02-08 9:56 am Now you have your shiny new machine, I don’t suppose you feel like writing a review, do you? I have my eye firmly fixed on a 12″ PowerBook myself. Very interesting article. I mostly agree with Nathan, though I do think the PocketPC makes a good PDA – certainly it has more options than the Palm. I agree that it tries and fails to be a PC – the Zaurus is much better in that regard. -Rich 2003-02-08 10:31 am They can have my Psion Revo when they pry it out of my cold, dead hands … 2003-02-08 10:32 am especially considering where the article’s from? Next we’ll see a major Palm site posting a response, explaining why a Palm is simpler. And back and forth, going “No, OUR PDA is SIMPLER than yours!” Zzzzz… Btw Eugenia, I’d love to see that PB 12″ review too hehe :> 2003-02-08 10:34 am Rajan, Utopia is from the greek: “Eu = good” + “topos = place”. You must be thinking of Erewhon. 2003-02-08 10:35 am I switched from a PPC to Palm M130. And i’m much happier with it. It runs fast and pretty forwarding (hard to say, but i never had to reboot my palm yet too). But one of the biggest pros is that it had descend *nix support, I don’t use Windows anymore, and J-Pilot works very good, not as good as Palm Desktop but good enough for me. 2003-02-08 10:38 am Ive used all three as a developer rather than an end user (i do have a palm m100 though) and have to say that the zaurus simply is 50 fold more productive from a developer point of view. Once you get bash on the thing you can even do development on the move using the built in keyboard. 2003-02-08 11:41 am “Utopia is from the greek: “Eu = good” + “topos = place”. You must be thinking of Erewhon.” Not quite that simple. The prefix in Utopia does mean ‘nothing’ but with positive connotations. As in a place that is perfect but does not exist. Similarly the prefix to dystopia has negative connotations while at the same time denoting ‘nothing’. As in a place that is very imperfect but does not exist. Thomas More (the writer of Utopia) did make the origin and meaning of the name clear in his writing. Whether it is incorrect or not in modern Greek is pretty much irrelevant as he was referring to ancient Greek. But that would still make ‘Qtopia’ the ‘Land of Q’. 😉 Baldur. 2003-02-08 11:41 am I have a sony clié PEG-T625C. 16MB, nice case and a highres color display. I wasn’t much of an organised type but I do use date book now to plan appointments and to look up my work schedule it repeats itself every 7 weeks so I only had to put it in once instead of filling out the whole year on the paper one. I use quicksheet for keeping track of things like carcosts, mobipocket for news and reading books, love the highres display and mobitype. Sol! II and Moon info! for the werewolf spotting. the todo list and the memopad. 2003-02-08 12:04 pm i’ve never read an unbiased PDA article.. and still havnt… 2003-02-08 12:17 pm I own an old Palm IIIx and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I’m an amateur film photographer, so I use Focus+ to calculate depth of field and I use FotoLog to keep track of all of my shots. I use it to keep track of phone numbers and addresses, too, but Focus+ and FotoLog are really the main reasons why I’ve kept my Palm IIIx for so long. 2003-02-08 12:23 pm The question is how many people actually *need* all the functions in a modern PDA. I have an iPAQ 3870 myself, and I must admit that after the initial novelty wears off, it becomes no more than a glorified organizer. Furthermore, to get WAN connectivity you need a mobile phone as well, which means you will have to fit two devices in your pocket (and btw, as pointed out in the article the PocketPC’s datacom config really sucks). Oh, the laptop? There’s no chance a PDA can replace that. Three devices… The device that is truly essential to all of us is the mobile phone. Voice is, so to speak, the “killer application”. And with devices like the SonyEricsson P800 being both very nice mobile phones as well as having all the essential PDA functionality (and more!), I really don’t see a future for the “old-school” PDA – it can not beat a powerful mobile phone, nor can it replace the laptop. What remains to be seen, however, is if the mobile phone future belongs to “mobilephones-gone-PDAs” (like the P800) or to “PDAs-gone-mobilephones” (like e.g. the Handspring Treo or the MS-based devices). Judging from what I’ve seen so far, I’d guess the former since the latter are still too PDA-centric (ie. data-centric). Furthermore, the former still have (and probably will have for the foreseeable future) a huge advantage in the number of dedicated retail stores. Bottom line: Think before you buy – what is the purpose of the device? (…and be honest to yourself! ) 2003-02-08 12:43 pm was a Psion 5MXpro. It was far better to use than any of the WinCE or Palm PDAs I tried. The Psion sadly died last summer und Psion delivers no longer PDAs to the consumer market :-(( Since the dead of my Psion I have not decided to by a new PDA. WinCE -> never ever I don’t like WinCE and most of the devices are to power-consuming. Palm -> I HATE the static graffity-inputfield. I have no idea why Palm don’t get rid of it. Benefit would be a larger display. They could bring up the input-field when necessary. Sharp Zaurus -> I saw (and used) one a few months ago and I was shocked because it has a really bad cheap quality. The display is not very good and the case is cheap plasic – the same goes for the keyborad. So I am still at a loss which PDA to buy. Ralf. Now the OT part of the post: Eugenia – you purchased a Powerbook??? WOW WOW WOW I can’t believe that happens! Congratulations!!!!! I know about your relation to Apple and OS X for some time now and I never believed that you buy yourself one of that dogslow, expensive super computers ;-p 2003-02-08 1:09 pm …entering a URL in the “Post a new comment” email/URL field doesn’t seem to work correctly atm; you get a mailto:http:// link… Eugenia? 2003-02-08 1:25 pm Palm’s work well for me because I carry it with me all the time. I have a rather large database in HanDBase which I need to search quickly when I am doing support calls on medical devices. These calls come up quickly and at unpredicatble times. I used to have to run back to my desk everytime these calls came about but I can now be more mobile and have the right information. My theory is that any PDA that does not have the minimum functionality to make you WANT to carry it with you all the time is a wasted effort. If you don’t carry it with you then you would probably be as effectively served with a little black book. Once you find the particular use that gets you to carry it then the rest is bonus land. The dolts (stated with affection) in information systems want to give everyone a Pocket PC that is more expensive and NOBODY carries with them. They only use it to carry their calendar with them to meetings or on the road or such. The good news is that we are developing diagnostic tools in the Tungsten model to connect to our medical devices via IR to allow us to monitor(only) the devices in real time. Connecting with a cable would not be allowed since it would alter the electrical safety of the device. Bluetooth is not so good either in a hospital. We want to develop our diagnostiic tools in the Tungsten so that we can continue to develop and perfect our tools without having to go through the FDA (6 – 12 monthsr for a simple change) everytime we change the embedded device SW. Since we will be essentially selling the Tungstens as part of our product line Informations Systems will have to support them. And since they have to support the Tungsten’s it will not make much sense to have the Pocket PCs as I see it. Palm OS devices have consistently had good value in the right form factor and feature set. They continue to be dominant in the marketplace and we expect them to continue this history going forward. The Tungstens at about $355 and using Version 5.0 of the Palm OS will be good platform for a few years to come. The only thing we want is a good Java VM for Tungsten. 2003-02-08 1:30 pm Palms are great. I still only have a IIIc, but using it for storing my uni timetable and writing lecture notes (with the keyboard) make it more than useful 2003-02-08 1:45 pm Still the best PDA money can buy. 2003-02-08 2:17 pm I started with a Sharp Wizard (256K). While not technically a PDA, it was very usable. Minimalistic program did exactly what they were designed to do, and it integrated well with my Windows PC. I decided I needed a more “hip” PDA, so I purchased a Pocket PC that used Windows CE 2.1. That was a mistake. I still have the unit, but I quickly found it to be unsuited for everyday use. I then purchased a Handspring Visor Pro, and have been using it on a daily basis ever since. The applications are very much like the Wizard applications were, minimalistic but quite capable. Also, it exceeds the Wizard by being expandable (I’ve added games and other utilities, along with Documents to Go). It is also programmable, using either commercial products (Code Warrior, etc…) or by using GNU tools. All-in-all, it’s been quite useful these past two or so years. I’ve pretty much decided that my next PDA will be a Sharp Zarus. I’ve been lusting over them since I read the first magazine add for one. This will probably be a year or so in the future though, it’s kind of hard to justify that kind of expense in this economy. Just my $0.02 2003-02-08 2:47 pm Wow, you folks are pretty far beyond me with PDA technology… I’ve got a lowly Palm Pilot Personal 😉 Remember when they were called “Pilot” ? Granted, it has been upgraded to Palm III status, but it still looks like a museum piece. I know nothing of your “bloo teeths” and your “kuller screens” or your “wyerlus konnektivitees.” 😉 That said, I love my Palm Pilot. I use it like a glorified note pad. I rarely use it for scheduling. Never for anything “connected.” I don’t need to, though. It does what I want. It keeps lists of information and notes handy. I like writing with Grafiti, too. My first and only experience with a Pocket PC device was one of Toshiba’s new things. I loved the screen. Hated the OS. Part of it was my lack of familiarity with it, but then, when I started with my Palm I never HAD an adjustment time. I got to work with it instantly. Even Grafitti didn’t slow me down for more than 10 minutes. This PocketPC device left me frustrated and confused. Too many modes and states and configuration settings. Just like Windows. Luckilly, it was someone else’s. Happy thing was that it accepted beamed addresses from my Palm Pilot. The someone else is my sister. She’s an example of “blind brand association” that some readers here don’t believe in. She’s a smart person but she still thinks her PocketPC is a Palm Pilot. She knows that name, so she uses it for every PDA. I also have a Newton. Bought used off of Ebay for curiosity. Mostly, I’ve been buying things that I lusted after, but couldn’t afford when they were brand new. The Newton was one. I must say how amazing this device is. If it were a little smaller, and if the handwriting recognition was a little faster (it works impressively well, btw), it could almost take the place of my Palm Pilot. But it is too big to keep in my coat pocket. However, I have all I need to use it as a traveling word processor (keyboard, stand, good software) which my Palm is no good for. I even get my email and do some web surfing with it now and then. Amazing device. If Steve “I hate Newton because it was a product of the guy who ousted me” Jobs hadn’t killed the product, it would totally kick ass today. It’s not been updated since 1997 and it still kicks pretty good butt anyway. Anyway… my vote still goes to Palm. I’ve not used a Palm OS 5 device yet (freakin’ Staples only had batteries in the PocketPC device, all the Palms had fake screens and were demo-useless). Maybe Palm is overcomplicating Palm OS, too, these days. I hope not. Bloat and Palm OS do not go together in concept. 2003-02-08 3:12 pm I use a palm as a mini word processor. I put my keyboard on it and type away. It’s small and it’s pretty easy to hook up to any OS right now. I don’t use my 200LX anymore (unless I need a small terminal) but I used to use it alot 2003-02-08 3:36 pm I heavily used a Psion 5 while at college, I must have typed over 200,000 words into it. It hardly ever felt slow and the keyboard was as good as most mini laptops IMO, overall it was a brilliant machine. I could carry all my notes, essays and research material with me on the P5 and easily search through it all. The organisational software was essential too, I don’t know how I would have kept track of projects or managed my time without it. Then there was the near perfect Spectrum emulator and the decent internet software for entertainment. The only problem was the size of it, carrying it around in my pocket or quickly flipping it open to check a date wasn’t very practical. Now I’ve got a Handspring Visor which is primarily used as an organiser. I use it to keep a diary, to-do list and brief notes, or to read ebooks and play text adventures in my spare time. It’s rare for me to use it for writing long documents, but that’s because I almost always have access to a desktop or laptop, not because the Handspring can’t cope with it. Data entry is quite fast with a Fitaly keyboard (certainly much faster than handwriting) and there are some good word processors for Palm OS. It’s very useful and more practical for me than a keyboard based PDA, but I couldn’t justify buying a much more expensive Palm such as the Tungsten T, for my needs it would be a waste of money. I’ve played with Pocket PCs but I was unimpressed. They don’t seem as fast or elegant as Palm OS devices, despite having faster CPUs. 2003-02-08 3:45 pm >Eugenia – you purchased a Powerbook??? WOW WOW WOW I can’t believe that happens! Congratulations!!!!! I know about your relation to Apple and OS X for some time now and I never believed that you buy yourself one of that dogslow, expensive super computers ;-p < ralf, if you coming from the people who get pissed about anything negitive apple side and think she has some anti-mac agenda maybe that would surprise you. I the reality of it is she’s just realistic about things. She has always seamed to like apple/mac/osx well anough but is realistic to admit it’s not the end all be all second jesus of an OS. OSnews isn’t anti apple and I don’t think she is, there is just to many people who can’t accept that anything apple is not perfect. I hope you enjoy your powerbook very much. Maybe with 2 macs (unless you have to give the cube back) in the house people will stop calling you anti-mac. I have many issues with macs as well, but I sure wouldn’t mind a 17″ powerbook. For PDA’s I like my Clie T615 (right model i think). But yeah forcing myself to use it has been hard, but slowly getting there. In time when the old habits break the new ones relize the benifits. But yeah I also doubt i will use many of it’s features. IF the zire or whatever the 99 dollar palm is had come out before i got this i might have gotten that. The palms untill then were was to ugly and plasticy. My clie has nice Aluminum case (note would look good with a new Powerbook). Also I wanted color. If they made a cheap basic zire in color that would have been great. The differance in price from B&W and color is insane. 2003-02-08 4:23 pm Did anyone notice all the smileys in the article? Kinda hard to take seriously now, I think. 2003-02-08 4:30 pm Brad, thank you very much! I could have never said it better about our “relationship” with Macs. Same goes for all the other OSes as well. RajanR, I bought the 12″ because it had better price compared to the other powerbooks. Also, I needed something small, so the 12″ fitted what I needed. I didn’t purchase the ibook because of the fact that is a G3 and the fastest iBook today is not faster than my G4 Cube 450 Mhz, believe it or not! So, I needed something faster than my Cube (which I already don’t find fast) and I needed a small laptop because my previous PC laptop is heavy and old and semi-functioning. I did my research on PC laptops, but I didn’t find something I really liked. So, it had to be the 12″ powerbook, even if it is crippled compared to the other powerbooks. I will be writting a review next week, but I like it so far (and no, it ain’t perfect). As for the other reader who said that the URL doesn’t work well on the comment’s form because our code adds a mailto:, I can’t do anything about it because the only way to predict that something is an email address and not a URL, is to parse and see if there is an @ there. But most readers don’t enter the @ sign, because of fear of spam, so writting any code to distinguish URLs from emails, won’t work anyway, so I leave it as is. 2003-02-08 4:31 pm I’ve never had a real chance to use a PocketPC or Linux-based PDA, but I’ve owned two Palms. My first was a IIIxe; it was useful enough, but I just didn’t find myself using it too much, especially as it sucked through the batteries (new pair every week or two, and this is on regular addressbook/datebook use, not games and ebooks). Presently, I know have a Zire. It was a challenge getting over all of its limitations, but for what it is (datebook/addressbook) it fits the bill rather perfectly. The screen’s a bit small, but resolution is decent enough. It has no backlight, but the contrast is high enough to make it work in most situations. (Besides, why do you need to check your schedule in the dark? Or if you’re going to look up a number to call, it should be in your backlit cell-phone, too =) It’s niether exapndable nor upgradable, and only has 2MB of RAM, but for dates and numbers, that’s plenty. When I was looking at PDAs to replace my unused IIIxe, I found that Palms simply are much or simple than a PocketPC (in my in-store tests). Outlook’s nice for desktop contact management, and Windows seems to get by, but having the horridness of both on my PDA just wasn’t appealing. The Palm may have a slower processor, but for regular PDA stuff, you don’t notice it. — Rob (BTW Eugenia, send me an email about how you like your new PowerBook. 🙂 I’m looking to buy one, but not sure if its limitations are enough to get over. agtalpha @ earthlink . net Thanks) 2003-02-08 4:31 pm I can see from some of the posts that certain specilaized applications can make PDA’s a handy and important tool for some. But, for most, I just don’t know. I have an iPod and, at first, it was music only. Now it has phone numbers, addresses and email addresses. And I can use iSync to update at any time. That along with my run-of-the-mill cell phone seems more than enough. To this day, as Eugenia suggested, entering text, whether by way of Graffita or hand writing recognition, is still awkward compared to just writing stuff down on a pad of note paper. Off topic mini-review – the 12″ PowerBook is not dog slow, is pretty fast, the aluminum case is very rigid and solid, the screen is beautiful, the left palm rest does get very warm, but not hot, keyboard is great, AirPort Extreme card is great (we have an AirPort Extreme Base Station), slot loading SuperDrive (or other configuration) is really nice as opposed to tray and its form factor is just right – especially considering the keyboard is regular sized and full featured. This one is a winner. 2003-02-08 4:50 pm First impressions of your Powerbook? 2003-02-08 5:06 pm I will be writting a review soon. I know that David, the owner of OSNews, also awaits his 12″ Powerbook as well, so we might have a dual review soon. 2003-02-08 5:18 pm Psion invented the PDA before the term existed, and it’s my only choice as well. As a poor student with limited use of business scheduling software, my old Series 3A serves me well, filled to the brim with 2 MB of memory. You never need to learn any silly handwriting recognition schemes, since it’s got a quite usable keyboard. I’ve even written entire articles on it, and saved them as RTF for direct submission. The OS is also dead-easy. Cooperatively (yes, I know, it’s hideous) multitasking from the start. Just leave for the menu and choose another program. The OS is dead-easy because it doesn’t go about inventing many new paradigms, it just works like any old WIMP, save the fact that you use a manu button instead of a mouse to navigate the menus. I use it for keeping addresses and phone numbers in the simple built-in database. As useful as a pen and paper is, it’s just so much easier to displace a paper than a small computer, and the database is easier to update. I also keep machine specs in the same database, for when I’m out shopping around in the bargain basement. The word processor is quite capable. And the keyboard works. When I had some memory to spare, I also used it as a portable music player. No MP3s, just horrible, squeaky samples at a low quality, but then it was never intended for use a a music player, either. Another use is to write glossaries, and as a character dictionary, though its 1992 date starts to show when dealing with such amounts of data. The time-keeper wakes me up at morning, if lucky. I just sleep to tight to hear its speaker unless situated in close vicinity of my ear. The killer-app right now is as a terminal, though. Found the RS 232 interface and filled it up with apps, and it now acts as a terminal for whatever workstation I manage to find. If it only had an 80*25 screen, it’d be even better, but the screen still beats most other current brands in the size department. The next time I visit computer-less relatives, I’ll just bring a modem and my Psion, and be using my shell account like in the old days. Oh, and it runs off two AA batteries, which means you could be in the middle of nowhere and still make it work. 2003-02-08 5:18 pm Bah, same thing. 2003-02-08 5:27 pm It would be a 15″ Powerbook. No, I don’t want a small laptop, my brother has a 12.1″ Compaq Evo laptop, I absolutely hate it only because of the size (I like big keyboards :-P). Plus, the 15″ PowerBook has one of the best value for money in the market (PC laptops included), at least for the features I want (mainly, light and long battery life). Of course, maybe Banias/Pentium-M would change all that…. Just wish there was a subnotebook PowerBook. I like subnotebooks, I rarely, if ever, use a optical drive while on the go. PC subnotebooks are well too small (screen size and therefore keyboard). I’m sure the $2300 price would go down if there was no combo drive. 17″ is a no-no for me. Mainly because it is too big and I can’t imagine seeing myself walking around with it especially once in awhile to school, especially after checking it out at a Mac dealer. Plus, it only comes with a SuperDrive, 100% useless for me. 2003-02-08 5:32 pm I am also difficult about the size and usability of the keyb oard on a laptop. You will be in surprise to learn than the No1 thing I like in this laptop, is actually its keyboard. 2003-02-08 5:47 pm The new keyboards on the 12″ and 17″ are, to me, better than any other PowerBook I’ve used (since the PB100 days). And I find using the Palm is much easier than the PocketPC PDAs. My first Palm was a IIIe, followed by a IIIxe, then an m505, and now a Tungsten T. I had a iPaq for two weeks between the m505 and Tungsten T model, and I just hated the interface and the way PocketPC handled. YMMV. 2003-02-08 5:49 pm Well, I tried out the keyboard, I don’t quite like it. I have big fingers, so you see. And I’m extremely picky with the keyboards. That’s why I have a USB keyboard for when I need to use that Evo. If I’m typing light, the 12.1″ keyboard is fine, but if I’m typing heavy (lots and lots of words) as I usually do, I doubt I would be comfortable with such a small keyboard. 2003-02-08 6:12 pm I have an old palm IIIc and it’s nice and lightweight, gets good battery life, and because it doesn’t feel like I’m actually using a computer. It’s snappy as all getout, no “Processing this or that” and does what I want without extra baggage. Eugenia, congratulations on your purchase! I was reading around on the ars forums and a lot of people have said that they really enjoyed using the 12″ powerbook keyboard. I personally plan to get an updated 15″ when it comes out, 1024×768 really isn’t enough real estate for me (goddamn photoshop palettes) and i use my machine for everything. But 17″ is far too beastly for even me to handle. 😛 2003-02-08 6:40 pm On laptops, the only laptop that makes me dream awake (because I haven’t the money to go buy one) is those Sony Picturebooks. Not only because I LOVE subnotebooks and the Picturebook looks like the only subnotebook available here in Brazil, but also because Sony knows how to do things in style. And yes, there’s the onboard camera And about PDAs… I owned a Palm IIIc and actually own a Jornada 680e. The period I used the Palm IIIc was the only period in my whole life that I actually knowed people’s phones, what I had to do and such things PalmOS is easy to use (especially because you haven’t the computerish interface that Windows CE/Pocket PC sports even now), and the Zen of Palm makes things even easier. Unfortunately once I traveled with it on my pocket, I slept over the Palm and broke it (( After a year of deep empty pockets and unemployment, I got my Jornada 680e in a trade with a PowerMac 5500/250 (nice machine to run Linux, BTW). Windows CE 2 (the Jornada uses 2.11) has a “I’m-a-mini-Windows” attitude, but the PCMCIA and CF expansions are handful, and the keyboard is great! Now I use the Jornada more to write stuff than as an organizer. But now I’m digging over SynCE http://synce.sourceforge.net and I’m feeling it’s coming the day I can synchronize the Jornada with my Ximian Evolution – anyway, time to update my CVS tree (Bottom line: if you, like me, have a CE device and a Linux computer, go help David Eriksson and his team. SynCE is a great piece of software and needs only to be more known.) 2003-02-08 7:02 pm I own an old Palm Professional, a Handspring Prism, an iPAQ 3870, and a Zaurus. I think the Palm Professional is still the most useful PDA out of the bunch, and I think the Zaurus is the most fun PDA that I own. The Palm Professional has better graffiti recognition than the Prism, it is fast, the batteries last a very long time, and information is easily accessible. It only has 1M of memory, but has served its purpose well. The Prism is color (and even has better color than early iPAQ machines, but its pixels are HUGE so the quality of the display is not very good in my opinion. Also, it eats batteries up fairly quickly. Graffiti recognition is a bit disappointing as well. The Zaurus (running QTopia) is great if you buy The Kompany’s zaurus software. It is not as easy to access information as it is on the Palm Professional, but it is much more powerful. Opie is another choice of environment to run on the Zaurus. It is not as polished in some ways, but it is a lot of fun to work with and it looks very nice. PocketPC. What can I say. I have used my a total of twice. I find it slow, sterile, and boring. It is a palm device with Windows on it. To me, it offers neither functionality nor enjoyment, and is the worst of all the PDAs I own. 2003-02-08 7:16 pm I’m glad to see the Psion owners out there speaking up… IMO Psion simply made the best PDAs ever. Yes, they had keyboards, but that’s the best way to enter data. The newton, and only the newton, had something close to a workable HWR system. They’re really amazing little machines. A 33mhz processor which seemingly runs rings around the PocketPC and their 200mhz processor. Battery life measured in weeks, not hours. Built in software that sent me running from a PocketPC after a few weeks. Nobody did/does it better. 2003-02-08 8:18 pm Like the other Psion users here I’ve found mine to be quite great, and actually just replaced my Series 5 this week as the backlight had died. I replaced it with a Psion 5mx. Release 5 of the EPOC system and newer (presumably) as found on the larger Series 7/Netbook, the 5mx and probably Revo actually has a pretty good range of applications and a workable if dated Java virtual machine. One of these applications is indeed an MP3 player . It’s unfortunate that there is no headphone socket though I don’t think Psion envisiaged that when these machines were released/updated in 1997/1999 respectively. I quite agree with the sentiment regarding EPOC expressed so far, it’s most capable on its limited resources and does anything I’d need it to in the capacity of a PDA and more than a few other things besides. The included applications I feel similarly about. If you don’t like EPOC however, there are workable ARM Linux ports you can ‘dual boot’ that even include X windows, and will install to a CF card. No idea what that runs like, but I can’t wait for the 128M CF card to arrive . 2003-02-08 8:33 pm I really enjoy the Palm OS. I have a Handspring Visor Neo, which I find incredibly useful. I would have preferred a Sony Clie model but the lack of out of the box Mac compatibility turned me off – which is unfortunate because I find the Clie models attractive, small and well priced. The very reason I like the Palm OS is that simply doesn’t work like a computer. It’s expandable without complications. I use the organizer functions – DateBook+ and Address mostly – and AvantGo, Wordsmith, SimCity and Bejeweled. AvantGo is great – I take light rail to and from work and it’s perfect for light reading. I’m in account service – my PDA is indispensable for work. I’m getting tired of carrying around both a mobile phone and PDA though. Socially, the cell phone is sufficient – I transfer contacts and reminders via IR to the phone from the PDA and I can leave the PDA at home. But for work, I need to carry both with me. Mobile phones are getting better, but generally poor and inconsistent interfaces, small screen sizes and lack of expandibility make a PDA neccessary. I think the Handspring Treo has potential, but it’s unfortunately quite unattractive. I haven’t seen a well priced PDA and phone combination that I like yet. I’m hoping Apple makes an iPhone. Rob 2003-02-08 11:57 pm Eugenia: >As for the other reader who said that the URL doesn’t work >well on the comment’s form because our code adds a mailto:, >I can’t do anything about it because the only way to predict >that something is an email address and not a URL, is to parse >and see if there is an @ there. But most readers don’t enter >the @ sign, because of fear of spam, so writting any code to >distinguish URLs from emails, won’t work anyway, so I leave >it as is. Well, the string “http://…” includes a colon, and I have yet to see an email address including a colon… ;P However, I don’t know anything about PHP either, so it might not be possible after all! BR//Karl 2003-02-09 12:01 am The Newton OS 2.1 is the best PDA OS hands down. The perfect combination of power, consistency, and ease of use. Not to mention the best Handwriting Recognition system available. I don’t use a Palm OS or Linux PDA because you can’t get real, full-screen HWR. On both of them, you’re stuck with character recognition, which blows. Call me crazy, but I don’t want to have to invest a lot of effort into training myself into being able to achieve a passable WPM using these CR schemes. Even then, I still wouldn’t be able to achieve the same WPM that I can get with the Newton OS HWR, which is 40-50 WPM. Some people can do that with Graffiti yes, but that is after a lot of training. I was getting 40 WPM after 3 months of getting my Newton 2100. At least the PocketPC has CalliGrapher! Not perfect, but better than the options available on PalmOS and Linux. PocketPC admittedly provides a lot of power- you can run a lot of Unix apps on it, ported by Rainer (who is the bomb), but you still get stuck with Microsoft’s braindead UI. If we’re talking about simplicity, I’d definately say go with the Palm OS. Simplest thing out there. If all I wanted was an address book and shopping list, I’d go with a Palm OS device any day. And this is what a lot of people want. I may be in the minority, but I want a full computer in my PDA, but with an interface that is makes more sense on such a screen. And yes, on my Newton and my Jornada 720 (which i use for developing Dynapad http://dynapad.swiki.net ), I can SSH/telnet and program on the device. I’ve run into way too many ignorant and immature Leenuxks d00dz that freak out and say “i bet your WinCE or Newton can’t SSH in to your box and admin!!! AND VNC!! HAHA!” And I say yup, I can. I can do VNC on both of them. Hell, I can even run X11 apps remotely (and locally) on the Jornada 720, all under WinCE. Developing Perl/Tk apps? No problem. The new Zaurus, with it’s Handheld PC (ala Jornada 720) form factor, complete with keyboard would make Linux on the PDA worth using. There wouldn’t be quite the need for the HWR. Considering that it folds back, I personall will still probably wait it out until then. 2003-02-09 12:08 am …please note that the SonyEricsson P800, as well as several other new mobile phones, use the Symbian operating system (check out http://www.symbian.com/ for more information), which is the successor of the Psion OS. While I am no expert on the “user experience” of old Psion devices, maybe it could be worthwhile to check them out if you’re a Psion user looking for a new toy? 2003-02-09 2:44 am PalmOS does the job very well, the PocketPC looks and feel like it’s desktop counterpart… “Bloated” To be a PDA OS really complicates even the most simple things like closing an application. Also being M$ the ones making the OS for the PPC is a burden for the platform, look how many word processors exist in the Palm field compared to the PPC, no body wants to compete with M$. I’m not saying that the PPC is useless or uncontrolable, simply that makes things innecesarily complex, of course one can learn how to use it, but making things more complicated does not have any advantage. Also in the recent past PPC units were as expensive as cheaper laptops, the fact that a PPC was having many megahertz and multimedia capabilities made some people think of the PPC as a mini computer, after some time the people who bought the PPC thinking on a mini computer discovered that it was no substitute for a laptop, and that they were using only the PIM functionality like they had done with a Palm, but with a more complicated system, batery hungry and expensive. Many people went back to PalmOS, now Palm and Sony have incorporated many of the features of the PPC into the highest models of their respective product ranges but still keep the medium-lower range simple and cheap, but at he same time with some fancy features like color screens and mp3 capabilities. Also Palm have an advantage that PPC still lacks, a really vast array of software both commercial and freeware with many high quality titles. 2003-02-09 5:37 am I’m using an Zaurus SL-B500 (will be released as a Zaurus SL-5600 in the states). I use it for the following purposes: 1. Synching my home desktop and my work laptops. 2. Writing mail on the train (the keyboard makes it easy). 3. Maintaing contacts, between my various installations of Outlook and my phone. 4. Looking at pictures from my digicam. I just snap shots and then place the SD memory card into my Zaurus. A lot easier to look at than in my small LCD on my camera (Panasonice DMC-FZ1). 5. Writing papers and memos, when sitting in coffee shops or on the train. I used to have a Pocket PC, but I handed it off to my brother because I really did not working with the stylus. The Zaurus ‘s keyboard makes typing real easy (for a PDA), and when I do use the stylus, Sharp’s Japanese has always been one of the best on the market. The Zaurus community in Japan and worldwide has a good library of software and now that Sharp has released the SL-B500 and SL-C700, Japanese commercial software manufacturers are starting to release apps for the SL Zaurus. Definitely not a desktop or laptop replacement, but a very handy tool that allows me to carry my work around. And when I don’t use it for work, it is still a handy PIM. Now, if it only had a built in camera, like the new CLIE’s. 2003-02-09 6:19 pm The author of the article(?)/commentary completely misses the point in this one: a) the builtin PIM apps on PalmOS were, I believe, intentionally simplistic, hence the myriad of 3rd party tools replacing or extending them, e.g. Datebk4 b) graffiti was designed to work with very LOW resource requirements, i.e. a 512k machine with a 16MHz processor. Also wtf about how the author learned how to draw an x, how anal can he be? Anyways this will apparently be a moot point soon… IMHO the best stylus input method is offered by Paragraph’s Calligrapher. (connected character recognition!) c) autocompletion is annoying as on every machine I’ve ever used that supported that “feature” almost universally NEVER supply the correct word anyways d) really wants a tiny relational database rather than a contact manager for multiple category assignments. article continues with miscellaneous tripe about the ever so useful(?) builtin wince(and I do) apps. (which brings up another point, there aren’t too many 3rd party PIM apps for wince, which is unfortunate, as I do not consider wince’s builtins to have any real superiority to PalmOS’.) owned: Palm, HPC, PocketPC, Agenda, Helio, Newton(MP2100), eBookman favorite(s): Newton MP2100, Palm(s) (I always end up back at the Palm myself as I don’t expect or intend to use my PDA as a video playback machine or portable game machine. And yes, Virginia battery life is still very short on PocketPCs, even my Clie lasts at least twice as long as any PocketPC I’ve used. And we won’t even go into the build quality levels between machines supporting either OS. In fact, I usually end up back with my original trusty upgraded IIIx, which still does the job for me just as well as any of the more recent and “advanced”(bloated) PDAs. Hopefully PalmOS6 devices will get the balance close to perfection between battery life, power, and simplicity.) 2003-02-09 6:27 pm Correcting myself… I owned a Palm IIIc The period I used the Palm IIIc Gee, I owned a Palm IIIe, not a IIIc! IIIc is probably the suckiest PDA Palm ever made, but the IIIe is a cool thing. 2003-02-09 8:32 pm And boy that was one hell of a pain to install software for!!!! I was using NT4.0 at the time and believe me the installation and removing of service packs never stopped!!! Then along came my Nokia 6210, and I could infra-red use it as a modem and surf the internet, the browser was lame, the company I was testing it for, their Website didn’t work. Then we got hold of the Ipaq’s and was almost blown away. Until we got the Symbol which had: Durable Shock/Drop proof casing, GPRS, WiFi. Infra-red, with a Bar code reader, back-it screen. then I was blown away by PocketPC, it was brill for the job. I’ve also seen a psion, way back when they were bigger than bricks!(likeThoseOldMobilePhones!). Keep then, they might be worth money, remember those original Car Mobile Phones, I saw one go for £4000. 2003-02-10 3:48 am I just started writing a 10th anniversary comparison of the 3 pocket computers I have owned, starting with my old Sharp PC-E500 (more a calculator than a PDA), a Casio Cassiopeia A11 (Win CE 1.0) in the middle and now a Sharp Zaurus SL-5500. I like keyboards on my pocket comps as I do a fair amount of writing on the move. I found that the Zaurus keyboard is quite usable, perhaps more so than the bigger Casio (although I miss the numeric keys). With other 3 hours of train rides everyday I needed something portable. However the walking part of my daily journey makes lugging around the work laptop an unpleasant experience (plus it suffered damage from being bumped around on my back). The Zaurus suits me perfectly as I work (and play) alot on Unix and Linux systems. I don’t use the PIM functions that much, but do like having a shell interface and the ability to install a wide range of free software. I have even started teaching myself Python after installing the tutorial and language on the system. Even my wife likes the Zaurus, or at least the scrabble game! 2003-02-10 11:58 am I started with a Palm Pilot v.1, because they were affordable in NZ Moved up to the ver. 2 Palm, for the extra memory, and (I think) some OS updates that the ver. 1 can’t do Sold that for a Psion 5, when I moved to England, because it was/is a far more capable OS and PIM, and then soon after upgraded to a 5mx Decided to try a HandSpring Visor, because the s/w for the Psion was severely lacking, and using the Psion for a diary was a lot like using an 18-wheeler truck to drive to work The Handspring was rubbish, in the end, so I decided to move to the smaller Psion Revo. This was fantastic for a couple of years, but then: The Sharp Zaurus 5500 came out, with a REAL OS on it (c.f. Psion’s highly purpose-built version, Palm’s hugely cut-down version, and WinCE’s hugely inappropriate one) so I bought and used it for around 9 months, but ended up barely using it as much as I could’ve because the apps. and the OS were a bit too rough, and I realised it was effectively a full computer in a small package, not a diary I’ve now bought the Palm Tungsten T, where OS 5 seems to now have 80%-90% of the capabilites you’d need to use it day-to-day, though the PIM is still severely lacking cf. Psion and the Zaurus. My current opinions are: Palm now makes the most appropriate hardware for a proper PDA/Diary: size is great, built usefully and easy-to-use Psion still makes the BEST PIM software on a PDA, bar none; it’s easy-to-use, has all the features + extras, and has no silly built-in limitations (e.g. some can’t do < year 1970 properly…) The Zaurus can almost replace your laptop! But that’s not what I need a diary/PDA to do: that’s why I have a laptop, and the very portable and small ones are out there. The battery life on it was pretty terrible, too, making the diary-replacement job difficult. TrollTech basically ported Qt to a FB and ARM, which probably makes it #1 for development, though I think the PC/Unix way of doing things doesn’t translate so well to a PDA/Diary — look at the Newton, where it’s UI is basically a paper scribble pad that tries to stay organised (NB: Installing OpenZaurus has made some radical improvements which I’m keeping an eye on). WinCE/Pocket PC? Well… I almost bought a Compaq IPAQ, but every time I’ve played with a friend’s one, I couldn’t stand the way everything was arranged: it felt too alien, though I must say the PIM in the more recent versions seems to be fairly useful… though they’re still so slow! 2003-02-10 4:21 pm Palm devices are terribly overpriced for what you get – slow processors, small memorys. For a decent spec Palm (that’s still dog slow), you pay big money. I’ve got a VTech Helio, with 2M Flash, 16M RAM and an 80Mhz MIPS R3000 processor – and it cost £50 brand new. Bargain (and it does pretty much the same as a Palm). I’ve also got a Zaurus SL5500 – a fantastic plaything, and not nearly as dodgy in the software department as folks make out. Ok, it’s more of a laptop replacement than a true PDA (I’ve got a a 1Gig IBM Microdrive in mine and a Pocketop IrDA keyboard to make things swing a little easier). It’s nice to have all your fave desktop apps available when your on the train. Use MPlayer to watch DivX’s, play MP3’s or Ogg’s – I think I’m right in saying it’s the only PDA you can actually install GCC on and do development on the move! And at the current £230 (UK) pricetag, it makes all the PocketPC and Palm crowd seem ridiculously priced! (ok, adding the Pocketop and the hard drive adds a fair chunk to price, but even so…….) Psion had the best ever form factor with their Series 5 PDA’s though – the clamshell with the really trick extending keyboard was an example of engineering genius. 2003-02-10 5:44 pm I agree with Eugenia, give me a pen and paper anyday. The highest tech part of my daily regalia is a Fisher Telescoping Space Pen (really, it’s an amazing pen…fits in my pants pocket without lancing…umm…sensitive areas). I personally don’t have enough personal numbers to warrant the gadgetry. I can print the phone numbers out into a mini book that fits in my wallet, and then I can update once a month, or whenever I wash it :-). Anything else would be in my cell phone anyway. The PDAs are just perfect for particular 3rd party vertical applications, as was mentioned here. I wrote an application for an HP-48GX calculator used to document growth and work statistics in a greenhouse. Amazing little machine, cheap, durable, good storage space for the job. Today, I’d rewrite it for one of those $100 Palm Pilots, make it easier to use. Everyone has different ways of working, so to each its own. I think the guy using the computer on the train is a very good scenario. I have a Newton, amazing machine. I mostly use it as a book reader (it’s a pretty good book read, and there’s lots of books for it).