I already have a PalmV PDA with PalmOS 3.5. I never use it. I practically have absolutely no need for an organizer. Yet, I wanna buy a new one. That geek gene in me (that my mother unsuccessfully tried to kill over the years) what really wants is a “truly mobile PC” that just isn’t a laptop. So, for the last few days I was shopping around the Internet for a new PDA (preferably a PocketPC this time) that would fit the kind of thing I am looking for. I was… horrified to find out that what I need isn’t… invented yet.First of all, let me just say that there are a few interesting Linux-based PDAs (notably Zaurus) and Palm ones, but I want a PocketPC. They seem to have enough software and generally to look better than a stock PalmOS 5 (OS6 PDAs are not out yet). My husband already has a SONY Clie anyway, so I wouldn’t want a third Palm in the house. I am in the mood for something different.
PDAs started merely as organizers back in the ’90s. But they have come a long way into adding functionality and power over the years, while users have come to expect more and more out of them. I am no different, today I see PDAs as “mini-PCs” or as “ultra mobile phones” — depending on the actual needs.
After some soul searching on why I had this urge to get a PDA, I realized that what I really need is a mini-PC that is expandable and has good connectivity. I need a device that let’s me browse the web, listen to music, grab pictures and movies or play a game when I am laying down to San Francisco’s green parks on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Instead of carrying with me a wireless laptop, a Gameboy, an iPod, a digital camera and a camcorder, I need a device that does everything in one. Surely, there will be trade-offs: the screen resolution won’t be ideal to browse all sites on the web, the controls to play games will be questionable, the storage or sound quality won’t be as good as in a real mp3 player and the camera’s capabilities will be well-bellow compared to a real digital camcorder/camera. However, it will be good enough to carry out all these functions and to free me from having to carry with me all these individual devices I mentioned earlier.
A PDA would never truly replace the above devices, however it would be an invaluable companion to offer comparable functionality when in need or when you didn’t happen to get these devices with you. Some scenarios:
1. You wait in line on your dentist for too long. Use your PDA to play some games and relax before the Big Pain (TM) takes place.
2. You are on a bus. Its tire needs changing. Because of the unforseeable event you didn’t got your iPod with you, so use your PDA and its earphones to listen to some music.
3. You have an important meeting and you are lost in NY. Use your PDA to connect to maps.yahoo.com or use your GPS to try and find the address of the building that the meeting takes place.
4. You want to know the outcome of the NBA final game. Use your wireless PDA to connect to the net.
5. Linus Torvalds runs over with his BMW on your Mini Cooper. Use your camera to get shots of Linus and you, erm… I mean of the damage in your car.
6. Use your PDA’s camcorder to get video clips of that UFO hovering above your head…
That’s the real value of the “mini-PC” and that’s why it would eventually matter: a PDA would be good enough to carry over such functions.
So, I have some very specific “demands” before I actually go shopping:
All that for no more than $599 US.
I checked all the new PDA offerings from HP, Toshiba, Asus, Mitac and others but they always seem to miss some of the features found on others. For example the Toshiba Pocket PC e800/e805 Wi-Fi has a VGA screen, but it doesn’t have a Camera. And none seem to be able to offer a 3D graphics card (possibly Microsoft needs to port Direct3D & drivers first to the OS?) or have full expandability and networkability.
The day a trustworthy hardware manufacturer can offer me this kind of a PDA for that price, we will have a 3rd PDA in our house. And I am sure this time, I will be daily using it (especially with OSNews.com rendering even better on the IE/Netfront/Opera/etc mobile browsers by then).
I don’t believe that any hardware manufacturer today would be able to pull through such a device as described above for less than $1500, let alone to be able to pull it through altogether: possibly the world is not in such a technological stage yet.
I expect such PDAs to be common place in two years time, they might even be able to include phone capabilities as standard by then, who knows? What I know, is that the PDA and mobile computing market in general is not offering me today such a product. Do I really ask for too much? 😉
Update: The FlipstartPC might be something to look forward to (read our comment’s section about its pluses and minuses).
Don’t buy a new one. Use your old palm. I had a palm IIIx. Later I bought a Jornada 568 and a Zaurus 5500G. Soldl both and got again a palm (zire 71).
Pocket PC and (sorry Opie) is so overloaded. Palm Os maybe have no multitasking (not yet), but who needs that in a organizer.
I’ll buy a PDA once they have 20G Drives in them. Until then, I`ll stick with my Casio organiser cos thats all they really are.
That’s the thing though, I don’t need an organizer.
My life is simple, I don’t need to write down appointments or phone numbers.
What I really need though, is an ultra-light personal computer (no need for binary compatibility with Windows or other PC OS but with internet connectivity and multimedia features that work with built-in software
PDAs are close to offer these features, it just seems that they aren’t “there” yet.
What’s wrong with a Zaurus and a 256MB CF?
Does everything I ever need in a mobile, pocketable device.
Prior to Zaurus, I had Psion 3, and then 5. The Zaurus built quality is far superior to that of Psion, no wonder they pulled out of the market!
Although to be fair the Psion 5mx and 7, had far better build quality than prior models.
After some more soul searching, I guess, what I am really after, is kinda like a Macintosh with all the nice-looking integrated iApps, but think of all that on a PDA.
I am really after the PDA’s “just works” functionality –just like with macs– but with all the exotic hardware and software that work nicely together. That would be so cool (for those who ask, no, I don’t believe that MacOSX would scale down to fit on PDA hardware, but a well-crafted PocketPC with the above goals in mind would be more ideal).
You really ask for way too much. $599? That’s totally crazy. It would be great if such a device was available for $1000 oder $1500…
Well, I guess we will just need to fast-forward two-three years in the future.
Even for $1500, I don’t think that any hardware manufacturer *today* would be able to pull through such a device anyway. We are not at that point yet.
How about a Nokia 6600 or Ericsson P900?
The cameras are not great but they’re alright for quick snaps.
iApps: There are video players, picture browsers and there’s also a couple of mp3 players available if I really need them (I’ve got an iPod)
There are plenty of games (and emulators) available.
I have my street finder and metro map installed on my 6600 too – so useful!
There’s also a web browser (Opera – excellent). I even use Putty to connect to the odd server when necessary.
As i see it beyond the batterydrain from such a beast (cpu and 3d hw) i expect the price would be well above $1000 today, and not many people would be intrested because of that.
who knows, computers doesn’t seem to be apples thing really, even thought it works out better now (guess they are to expensive thought), however what does work for apple is itunes and the ipod, so who knows, put something like the old macos on the ipod and atleast you are closing to what you want, just add camera functionallity and better gfx ;D
Perhaps you could convine Mr Allen you let you review the new Vulcan Flipstart PC?
And then just keep it long enough for a veeeerrrryyyy thorough OS News hardware test. Perhaps see how it copes with seasonal variations in temperature and humidity?
The Zaurus SL-C860 runs with Debian Linux, and I would say it’s the best real pocket PC (original sense) you can get:
Let’s look at your list and compare:
*400 MHz Intel XScale CPU
* 128 MB (but faster) RAM
(+/-) 192 MB RAM, but 128MB are flash ram
* 1MP color still camera & 320×240 DV camcorder/web-camera (with recording capabilities)
(-) It doesn’t have a camera.
* Bluetooth and Infrared capabilities (to synchronize my… phone
(+/-) The SD slot doesn’t support SDIO, so you must find a CF-Card with Bluetooth AND Wifi and it must be compatible with Debian. I don’t think such a card is currently available. Infrared is available onboard.
* Good Wi-Fi support (this is an absolute must)
(+) You need a Wifi-CF-Card. They work great with Debian. (add $79)
* 8 MB ATi Radeon with hardware 3D capabilities (poor man’s gaming console)
(-) no 3D-acceleration
* 16bit sound (good quality speaker, earphone jack, built-in Microphone (Line-In?))
(+/-) 16-bit sound, speaker not too bad, earphone-jack, microphone not included, but you can use the earphone-jack as a microphone-jack.
* Jog Wheel (to scroll web pages!)
* Handwriting recognition, basic voice command/recognition, Voice-recorder capabilities
(+/-) You can use all the Debian packages, so you will find voice-recorder software and handwriting recognition, but the handwriting recognition will be very bad compared to a PocketPC or an old Newton 2000.
* Upgradable OS feature with good such support from manufacturer
(+/-) Yes, you can always upgrade Debian to the latest version, but there is no support from the Manufacturer.
* 1-2 built-in expansion slots (whatever’s best, might be an idea to include a real hard drive)
(+) SD- and CF-slot, but you will need the CF-slot for your WiFi-card.
* 2 USB ports (including support for USB key external drive)
(-) no. Its USB port is only used as a network port for connecting to a PC (via TCP/IP)
* 24bit color VGA 640×480 backlight TFT (or 320×320 in worst case)
(+/-) The Zaurus has definitively the best screen that’s currently available in ANY PDA. If you’ve ever seen it, you will understand. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have more than 64000 colors at 640*480.
* Good software/hardware Mp3/Ogg capabilities (poor man’s iPod)
(+) Yes, no problem using standard debian software. However, as those (X11-)applications are made for use with a mouse, you’ll probably need your pen to operate them.
* Reasonable battery life (I realize that all these features will drive battery life down)
(+) When you use Wifi, you’ll get about 3 hours, without Wifi up to 8 hours.
* Up to 300 grams and with size similar to today’s PocketPCs
(+) 4.25″ x 3.25″ x 0.8″, 250 grams
* Bags of software and some shareware apps/games pre-installed
(-) No, the unit comes with Qtopia, but because you want a “pocket workstation”, you will want to use Debian, which is not pre-installed.
* [If phone capabilities are doable, that’s good. If not, that’s ok too, for now]
(-) No, you cannot use it as a phone.
All that for no more than $599 US.
Zaurus+Wifi-CF-Card: $928 US and while it really has a lot of features, it’s not at all: “All that”. So maybe you understand why I called your $599 expectation absolutely crazy 😉
Thanks for the suggestion Frank, however personally I am really not after a Linux PDA. It doesn’t run software I want (especially 3D games ports from Windows’ DirectX in the suggest PDA I mentioned in the article), plus other options are not available either like voice commands, handwrite recognition and stuff. Plus it wouldn’t have web camera support for MSN or other IM messangers, or good video solutions.
If Sharp and others work hard on the PDA face of Linux, Linux PDAs might be an option in a few years from now (that is, for the kind of product I am looking for and described in the article). Until then, PocketPC or PalmOS 6 are the only viable solutions thus far.
That’s what I would require to get such a device.
If there’s one thing that I can’t stand about most current PDAs is the lack of a reasonable keyboard. The Sony UX50 seems to have one, and is generally heading in the right direction (even for you, Eugenia).
I think you’re right and Linux is no viable OS for PDAs, but nevertheless if you really want a “mobile PC that isn’t a laptop” no other OS comes near, because only with Linux you can use all the applications you also have on (Linux) laptops on the “mobile PC”. With Debian and the Zaurus, you have a really tiny (but very slow) PC that you can probably compare to an old Pentium 1 with Debian Linux.
A PocketPC or Palm will only be a PDA at the moment.
That said, I would never buy such a device myself 😀
Actually, that Flipstart PC (http://flipstartpc.com/) is very close to what I want (thanks for the link Dave). It runs Windows XP PRO so it runs most needed apps and it has a very decent resolution. The only thing that it doesn’t have though is a camcorder/webcamera, an extra USB slot, and a good battery life. Plus, it looks more like a very small laptop rather than a PDA (no touchscreen?) and it will probably going to be ridicoulously expensive.
Nevertheless, this FlipStart PC is the closest thing found today to the product I described in the article.
I feel almost exactly the same as Eugenia on this one. I’ve only just got my first mobile phone, and now I have a nice digital camera as well. So that’s two things to carry around. Now, I would dearly love to have a wi-fi device, so I can get the net wherever I am. I was thinking of buying a laptop to replace my PC; but a laptop is too big to carry everywhere, and obviously too big for your pocket! I would accept something smaller if, indeed it was usable for all those things mentioned.
It’s too easy to make mistakes with all this technology: if I bought a laptop now, I might regret it later because this “dream” PDA might exist soon. If I buy a smart camera phone now, I won’t be happy because the camera quality is too poor to replace a “real” digital camera. And truly portable 3D gaming power simply doesn’t exist yet.
Damn it, I was born one decade too soon 😉
More info on the FlipstartPC:
It does look good.
My Palm M105 is nice, but it lacks the speed, RAM and features I’d like. And after running across the PocketDOS emulator for Windows CE website a few days ago, my quest for a new PDA is in earnest. (You can run DOS and DOS programsgames on a Windows CE device with PocketDOS.)
I started looking for a PDA that had a built-in camera awhile ago. The new Sony CLIÉ PEG-TJ27 would be nice for about $200, but it runs Palm OS 5.2, so no PocketDOS.
I found a nice bundle on DELL’s website that includes the Axium X3, a digital camera, an Atari game card and a leather case for about $300 after discounts and tax. It probably serves my requirements, except the Axium X3i is tempting, having more RAM and built-in Wi-fi for $100 more. But a coworker says that the DellIndia phone support he’s gotten for his Axium was dubious after he discovered the Wi-fi component was not working in the new unit (he finally got a replacement that worked).
I can’t wait until these things are released
I’ll buy a hand held organzie when it’s also a:
digital camera (*1.3mpixel or higher)
digital camcorder (680k pixel)
has upgradable harddrives to 40-60gb
Hand Held Game Console, or able to play emulators + roms of came consoles.
AND…. has a decent battery life– like that of a modern cell phone (like 2-3 days of use before a recharge.)
Give me all that into one device & i’ll never buy another hand held anything again.
@Eugenia: http://www.oqo.com/hardware/video/ is pretty much what you want, I think. Although it will certainly cost more than $599.
No camera/camcorder/webcamera, overall lower specs than the FlipstartPC.
Still though, a worthy product to consider if its price is right.
No 3D either, it seems.
But you would be looking at a device that last about a hour, the most 2, on a single charge. In addition to that, the price would be too high to justify buying an all-in-one device as stated above.
– 400 MHz Intel XScale CPU
– 128 MB (but faster) RAM
Both are possible but very expensive. Especially with so much RAM. If I had a PDA, especially a PocketPC, I would much rather have 16-32MB; using a MMC/SD/MS for data storage. Now, just say I’m stuck on a bus (or a train, or whatever), I just reach into my wallet, get out the appropriate card (i.e. music, or a collection of Java games, etc.) and occupy my time.
– 1MP color still camera & 320×240 DV camcorder/web-camera (with recording capabilities)
Since it is done on mobile phones (especially Japan), I have no reason to believe this isn’t possible. However, remember, it would be expensive. Worser still, with 128mb of RAM – how much footage do you plan to get?
Bluetooth and Infrared capabilities (to synchronize my… phone
Infrared is either dead, or in its last stages of dead. Bluetooth is mostly hype. But either way, both can be incorporated into a PDA without taking too much space or power; but as for Bluetooth, it would be expensive.
Good built-in Wi-Fi support (this is an absolute must)
Can be done, but don’t expect small sizes and long battery life. Or flip it around, don’t expect reliable reception at hotspots.
8 MB ATi Radeon with hardware 3D capabilities (poor man’s gaming console)
NVIDIA, and I believe, ATI either plans to introduce 3D cards for devices such as PDA, or already have them. Either way, don’t expect too many 3D games actually taking advantage of the 3D card, especially with the processor and storage limitation.
16bit sound (good quality speaker, earphone jack, built-in Microphone (Line-In?))
Can be done within a small contrain of size (as proven by flash-based MP3 players).
Jog Wheel (to scroll web pages!)
Say goodbye to screenspace, or hello to longer, and quite possibly, larger PDAs. But technically possible.
Handwriting recognition, basic voice command/recognition, Voice-recorder capabilities
Even Zaurus have relatively good handwriting recog. Don’t expect however anytime soon where it would be perfect (especially if you and nobody else can read your handwriting). Personally, I hope soon there would be handwriting support for scripts other than the Latin, Chinese, Korean and (3) Japanese scripts in PDAs.
I however much prefer a thumbpad like on Treo, some models of Clie, Zaurus, etc, as well as a 5-way navigation button. Makes using a PDA much faster and easier (especially with current itterations of Pocket PC).
Upgradable OS feature with good such support from manufacturer
Possible, but not such a good idea. While I don’t mind running OS 4.x on my Palm Vx, I doubt I can take advantage of any of its features. Sure, I would prefer to have each PDA designed for the OS it is running.
1-2 built-in expansion slots (whatever’s best, might be an idea to include a real hard drive)
Most PDAs have this. However, don’t expect hard disks in PDAs (unless you’re gamed for a PDA that goes off within a couple of hours).
2 USB ports (including support for USB key external drive)
Maybe one USB port would be nice (i.e. thumbdrives), but 2? Why would anyone need 2 USB ports on a PDA? Besides, most USB controllers are rather big (in comparison with other PDA components) and most USB devices require the USB port to supply power (in other words, it would drain the battery faster).
24bit color VGA 640×480 backlight TFT (or 320×320 in worst case)
Possible. But I would think that the resolution is a overkill (unless you plan to increase the size of the PDA screen).
Good software/hardware Mp3/Ogg capabilities (poor man’s iPod)
Quite possible indeed, on any PDA (the big problem is that the output audio is normally crappy).
Reasonable battery life (I realize that all these features will drive battery life down)
Hopefully, reasonable for you mean 1-2 hours. However, there is strives in fuel cell technology that probably would reach the market in a year or two.
Up to 300 grams and with size similar to today’s PocketPCs
Except for the USB ports; all of these can be incorporated in a PDA (thankfully, you didn’t request for GPS.
Bags of software and some shareware apps/games pre-installed
Why? If you want a certain specific application, download/buy it yourself. Adding software that most potential customers won’t use is not only a waste on the limited storage, but would also drive up support costs.
[If phone capabilities are doable, that’s good. If not, that’s ok too, for now]
For all the features you’ve mention, especially the screen, the jog dial, camcorder, etc. it seems a big waste if there isn’t GPRS (and hopefully WiMAX) support. And after that, it is only a few steps away from offering GSM support (not too familiar with CDMA).
I got a HPQ TC1000. Without keyboart it weighs about 1.3 kg, so I always have it with me. It has plenty of connectivity (WLAN, USB2, Compact Flash, Modem, Network), and it runs for 5 hours. It is also very rugged (I already had a very spectacular bicycle accident with the thing in my backpack).
The new version TC1100 looks almost identical, but it comes with a centrino CPU so it is quite a bit faster than the transmeta CPU of my machine and it runs for 7 hours.
It is much larger than what you wished for, but you get a real PC running windows XP that you can even use for development. At work I just plug in an external 17″ TFT and an external keyboard and I got everything I need (Visual Studio and all that).
the flipstart does have a camera/webcam, just mounted on the outside so i don’t know how useful that would be
I have a MessagePad 2000 for sale… for the right price! Complete with extra Flash RAM, a keyboard, and a carrying case! It’s the best PDA you’ll buy for US$599!
For what Eugenia is asking… most of the functions are already provided by most PDAs… including my Newton! You can play games, do your usual note-taking, take pictures, listen to music, and even connect to the ‘Net. The price she’s asking for… is probably a bit stupid! But hey… she can have three quarters of her wishlist by buying my Newton off me at the price she’s offering!
I like that little ol’ machine. Best Palm ever…
For years I have been dreaming of a small portable device to do mobile field recording and audio editing,the smaller the better.But after several wild goose chases I have concluded that nothing exists at the present time to do this type of work.the laptops have such crappy sound chips in them compared to a desktop pc ,there’s no comparison,plus even a laptop can be cubersome in some circumstances.I ended up with an IBM Thinkpad running Windows98 SE and BeOS but this is definitely not the answer.
BeOS would be great on something like this if everything worked properly but sadly ,it don’t and Windows… well everything works ok but it’s a slow Klunky platform for media work and enen though I may have to use 5 different apps under BeOS to get the same job done as one will do in Windoze, BeOS is quicker and more real-time.Which brings us up to the present day,While that FlipStart looks damn interesting,I doubt there’s a snowball’s chance in hell it would run BeOS,and even if it did it would be somehow crippled,stuff just wouldn’t work,and WinXP is a far cry from my media creation platform of choice.Which leaves us with Palm whom have the technology of BeOS in their back pocket,to build what I would like,and if they would build something on the level of the FlipStart with BeOS technology,and decent quality sound recording capabilities,now there’s where I would put my money. And Actually if it would play the games I can on R5 that would be plenty enough games for me But I’m sure Palm would see no demand for this,so I’ll sit here and dream on.Who knows maybe someday M$ will “inovate”a real-time media OS and run it on the FlipStart.
I’ve been the proud owner of an SL-5500 for about a year now, and I love this thing.
Like Eugina, I don’t *need* an organiser, but really need a super portable computer. What sold me on the SL5500 is that it is just that. The built in keyboard is a treat to use (and I have big fingers!). I’ve gotten better at typing on it with time, and now I am fast enough to keep up in meetings and stuff.
It can read word files (and Excel and PPT), and can save in various formats, incl RTF. Plus, there are hundreds of free programs online you can download and install. The package management system of the Zaurus is great — it just works.
The colour screen is quite good and bright too. The contrast is not the best I’ve seen, but by all means nothing to complain about.
I’ve upgraded my Zaurus with a 16MB CF card, and a 32MB SD card. With the built in memory, I am running so many programs and storing so much data that it’s not funny… and I still have plenty of space left!
Connectivity wise, it has built in IR, and the CF slot can accept more hardware. It has also a speaker/mic slot.
Apart from the keyboard, there are 3 other input means, including a character recogniser (like Grafitti). The kicker is that you can teach it how *YOU* write letters, and given that I owned a PalmOS previously (and gotten good at Graffiti), I taught it graffiti, with some personal modifications.
Whenever I go to a lecture or a meeting or whatever, I just flip open the Zaurus and I am up and running. I highly recommend the Zaurus to anyone out there.
I believe your number one priority is the ability to play video games and your idea of using flash RAM is because you are stuck in a mind set of current PDAs. Plus even if said device was in production, how many consumers would use it to the full extent of what it could be used for?
Also, a super device like this isn’t even around in the larger device market. What is a well known laptop that can do all this and size doesn’t matter?
Every laptop produced today is capable of doing everything you want to do but sans camera. The oqo is the best device I see for this (if you want a camera get a web cam) and your idea of not wanting linux or palm is ridiculous. Why would you not want “another palm in the house” ? You shouldn’t limit your current crop based on software when your demands are all hardware. What if your desired product comes out but with a palm os? Tapwave I think has a great product for mobile gaming as well as organizing but it lacks way too many features to be considers for your idea though it does have some impressive things for gaming and the two expansion slots would work for 802.11b and a camera plus they have a great assortment of games ready. However, it is palm based. http://www.tapwave.com
Personally I’ll keep my current set up. PowerBook, isight, airport, minidv camera and powershot camera. but just going around town casually as I believe you are referring to. iPod with voice recorder and a t616.
i also have a palm which i never use.
Frankly, i am not so sure about the entire mobile computing thing for the masses at least. I see the use for the road warrior, sales rep, real estate person but not so much for the consumer.
I drive most places (public transportation is a joke in the suburbs) and i don’t have much down time when i am out anyway. It might be more useful while i am in the city (NY city) so as to find places to eat or directions but i don’t leave my home to sit on a corner somewhere and surf the web.
Mobile computing from my view point has to become a lot more useful. Streaming audio to my car (three companies in america own most of the radio stations here and they just suck) is the only thing i’d use for now.
most people don’t need mobile computing yet..that is the real problem.
One of these:
Probably bigger than you’d want and wouldn’t have WiFi but it was 5 years ago!
What you really might want to do is wait a year and give Sony-Ericsson a call. The P900 is already fairly close and I expect the next gen will have pretty much everything you want. All the technology is here already, it’s just putting it all in one box and getting it to work (it’ll probably have 3G thrown in as well).
Of course Nokia et all are also on the case.
My perfect device would be the treo 600 with the following modifications:
1) wifi/bluetooth built in.
2) flipdown keypad to reveal more screen.
3) 320×320 when closed, 320×480+ when open.. or whatever they can fit.
4) built in 40gb+ hdd (think ipod size drive in there
5) higher mp camera built in (this is not a deal breaker, but wouldnt hurt)
6) regular headphone jack instead of weird phone jack
7) Palm OS 6
8) it would be nice if the radio modules could be swapped out, so the main unit could be taken from carrier to carrier, etc.
9) 12+ hours battery life.
Eventually I would like a device that can also hold payment details such as credit card replacements, and maybe a clip on the back for cash – but i recognize that as impractical. I will always have at least two things.
Anyway, I think the treo could replace the ipod pretty easily if it had the hdd in there and a headphone port. just duplicate the interface as a palm app, with the 5 way rocker controlling it.
This is VERY doable for less than 1000$, except maybe the battery life and swapable radios. The form factor may change a little bit on the treo, but I am ok with a bit of added depth and such.
The real issue is that most people dont want gigantic unified things. They want a small cell phone, and an ipod, and a camera.. They dont want big thing they carry everywhere. I really dont know why.
FlipStart looks and sounds great! But, one thing that I don’t want is Windows.. I prefer different OS something that is lighter and faster something like BSD, Linux or even some better desktop OS (like QNX? BeOS?)..
I use my Sharp Zaurus 5500 for everything play games like Doom Quake
Here is index of some Sharp Zaurus Application
Lets see I can monitor my J2EE app servers, my meeting , docs, play MP3 and run movie clips. It is wireless so browse internet , get maps to city with TMobile wireless.
I have a franklin ebookman:)
Yes and no… Surely there is a lot to do with marketing with the gadget obsessed folks out there… but I have always liked portable electronic gadgets, long before they actually existed (I love science fiction, which is why I got into computers in the first place). Some of us just like gadgets!
The Tapwave product looks very cool. Just lacks a little bit of other stuff in it…
I’m interested in small computers to replace my home computer. Not as a portable. Meaning, I am sick of these huge, hot, noisey machines. The current smaller and quieter things (itx) are underpowered for my uses, so I’m still waiting. My home uses need Windows XP. My portable needs require no OS like Windows XP.
If I’m going to run Windows XP, it’s for the express purpose of running Sonar, Reason, Sound Forge, Painter, Photoshop, etc and working with my digital audio hardware and Wacom tablet. Not to carry it around. Windows XP is a tool for media functions for me, not a convenience device. A portable computer wouldn’t make sense having an OS like that. I would rather have a specialized device than a “tries to be everything” computer with a “tries to be everything” OS.
In fact, I’d rather have dedicated devices for all my media work than the “everything” computers, in general 😉
But i doubt its affordability…1500+ is my bet…
I am here on the same wave with Eugenia. No need for organiser. As for cell phone, I have “old” Nokia 6310i, my brother has Erickson T610, but still – unless I can completly use it as a PC, but ulatra portable. I looked into several PocketPCs, T-mobile MDA, but it still lacks something:
1) I wonder Eugenia did not mention keyboard suppor? That touch screen is nice, but hardly usable for anythin more than having nice toy in your pocket 🙂
2) I don’t need another limiting app here or there. I want DB, scripting environment (eg Rebol/View) and exposed API, so I can make my own organisers, callers, etc. I think that some companies are starting to understand it, at least in regards to corporate sphere.
As for Windows vs. Linux, I don’t care so much, if I get good browser, mailer, scripting, and some kind of office apps.
lol, sorry but this guy is dreaming!
Psion Revo and Psion 5mx was what you need. Unfortunately, Psion was killed by Microsoft WinCE and PockePC’s and stopped Psion PDAs in 2001
> For what Eugenia is asking… most of the functions are already provided by most PDAs…
No, they are not, read the whole article, no pda has all these features,
My Sony UX50 is close to your requirements.
WiFi – Bluetooth – Check
Camera – Still & Movies – Check
MP3 Player – Check
128MB RAM – 16MB + 30MB (Plus 16MB Backup space) Plus Memory Stick (upto 2GB) – So kinda in the ball park.
400MHz CPU – Cool – NOT – at least not on the UX. CPU clock speed is becoming less & less of a performance gage. For a PDA superfast clock eats your batteries. The UX can run 30fps video no problem. All my games & apps perform very well!
320×480 Landscape screen – Its not VGA but its 2x better than any Pocket PC. It works very well for web surfing.
So the UX is close.
The new Zaurus SL6000 looks to fit your bill exactly – Supposedly available in March. Probably in the $800USD range
The FlipStart & OQO look good, both by the EOY but, both will be in the $1500USD + range. I don’t know about you but squeezing Windows Bloatware to a small tablet isn’t my idea of a portable solution.
I’d put my money on the Zaurus! I love my UX but it ain’t perfect, but its close.
Here is what your looking for with a pretty picture and links
to the homepage.
DON’T believe anybody who think they know the best PDA for you. You are the only one to know that.
I too (like most people here) have that geek gene. For years I jumped between various PDA, unsuccesfully. Until I really sat down, and wrote exactly what *I* need most on a portable machine, and what is secondary that I’m willing to sacrifice.
I realized that what I nneded wasn’t a PDA, nor a Laptop, but a Sub-Notebook. Namely, after few search, the Psion NetBook (and now the NetBook Pro). Many people will say it’s a crappy deal. Maybe for them. But for me, it’s que quintessential of what *I* needed. And I never used so much a portable computer in my entire life.
Bottom line : be sure to know what YOU want, not what other people think it’s best.
What you want is nowhere near reality, but that’s not to say it will not eventually exist. I do not believe that it will appear for 3 to 5 years though, and I hope that it shakes out along a slightly different line…
I currently use a Treo 300 – a capable hybrid of mobile phone and PDA, but not at all what you are asking for. At heart, it’s a relatively affordable pocket CPU with wireless modem and proprietary VoIP application (My definition of a SmartPhone – it describes Sprint’s CDMA devices pretty well)
The Treo 600 comes closer to the goal, with it’s SDIO card support and built-in camera, but still falls short. I expect the next Treo to add bluetooth, wifi, and an improved camera. If it does, I will definitely upgrade (although I am close to breaking down and getting a 600 anyway…)
Looking out beyond the immediate next generation, what I would ideally look for is a SmartPhone that tries to be your “mobile hub” (ala Apple’s digital hub strategy for the Mac) I want to be able to use my iPod as a disk drive. The SmartPhone would read and store data from it including being able to modify the iPod’s playlists. It should connect via Firewire or USB2 because bluetooth is far too slow. Not just music, but general applications, documents, databases and games could be stored on the iPod (or similiar pocket-sized, self-powered drive) The key is to make the interconnections via general existing standards – not to create yet another specialized connector.
By establishing this “system” of interconnected portable devices, you are more likely to be all things to all people. You simply expand by buying the appropriate device. It’s conceivable that you would store your “always” data on the SmartPhone, your “sometimes” data on the iPod, and your “rarely” data at home on a larger system that you synchronize with (or access from the mobile via remote access protocols like SSH, VNC, and Web Services)
If it is designed to access data in all three ways (local, connected and remote) it can evolve over time and become capable of 3D games (but it will take awhile…)
Have you thought about getting one of Sony’s U series PCs, they are about the size of the flipstart, the U1 and U3 use crusoe chips and the U101 has a celeron, they all run win XP and there are several companies that import them to the US and Europe with warranties, you’d still have a Japanese keyboard, but it does what you’re looking for and you wouldn’t have to wait for a flipstart. Also, you can pick one up on Ebay in your price range.
I’ve been through more PDAs than I care to count. I ended up settling on the Sony U101. It runs your desktop OS of choice, and it is built for desktop or standing use (the grips on the sides and the positioning of the mouse control and buttons were done so that subway travellers in Japan could use the U101 while standing).
PDAs always have a frustration factor because you are usually stuck running WinCE or other pocket-os that won’t run apps you need it to (plus the display size is useless if you want to read a PDF manual for example).
I’ve installed WinXP and Linux on my U101 and both work like a charm (although there are a few minor issues under Linux).
The other bonus is that when I go on vacation I take my DVCam and U101. I have a stock 30Gb external USB2 drive, and DV Editing software loaded on the U101. I get no dropped frames, the U101’s USB2 port powers the portable drive, and it beats lugging a laptop and a lot of cables around.
As for battery life, the battery is about the size of a paperback but 1/4″ thick. You can also go for the larger battery which is a little thicker. I recently took a flight from LAX to Heathrow and had no problems playing 3 divx encoded movies on it without swapping the large battery out.
The U101 has the first version of the Pentium M low-power chipset. I believe Sony custom-ordered it for the U101 before the M was officially branded as such by Intel.
I really am in love with my Palm V. I’m a student and I use DueYesterday, which is really a great way to keep track of assignments (it’s a 4.0Student clone with more features). I live in New York and so I use Vindigo, a subscription (read: pay) service that gives you maps, restaurant listings/reviews, movie listings, weather, etc. I use AvantGo to get NYTimes, Salon.com, BBCNews and a few other sites for commute-time reading. I have BugMe which is great for reminders. MetrO gives me full subway maps and subway directions. TinyBook Reader lets me read e-books from manybooks.net and Project Gutenberg. And, for good measure I have an excellent Solitaire game and DopeWars, for times when I just need to twiddle my thumbs.
What I’m trying to say is, I fit all this functionality into 8MB of space. The Palm V is thin, sleek, has excellent battery life, and is fast. Any Pocket PCs and all these “ultra-light PCs” are just bells and whistles, IMO. The truth is, if you want to have PC functionality on the go, get an Apple Powerbook. And if you can’t afford that, get a used IBM Thinkpad X series or something. No sense in trying to fit PC functionality into the stylus-and-screen interface for PDAs.
Essentially I could have the same functionality I have in my palm if I carried a subway map, NYC map, Zagat’s guide, and assignment book with me at all times. But instead, I can just carry my Palm around, which is smaller and better organized than all those things. So that’s what I do.
In my opinion, the Newton MessagePad 2100 is still the best PDA ever designed. There’s still a large and active communitiy built up around it. Drivers have been written to support WaveLan PCMCIA cards and libraries to replace the connection utilities that Apple provided. I think only the Tablet PC’s handwritting recongination has even come close to that of the Newtons. Somebody even ported a SNES emulator
It’s a little bit underpowered when compared to other modern PDA’s, but remember the 2100 was last manufactured in 1998. I still use mine to check email on wireless networks when I don’t have my laptop with me.
There’s a mailing list where most of the community can be found.
I just want to get online without using my anytime minutes on my cell phone, and without paying an exorbatant fee. The phone seems capable of some slow web browsing.
Oh and whoever said a 400 ARM is comparable to a PI, what in the world gives you this idea?
A friend of mine has a system about the size of the one posted above. It has a 129MHz MIPS, and it runs for about 10 hours on one battery. It’s very nice, it records video live and has a nice video camera attached. He bought it used for $400. It has a fully keyboard that is usable (no rubber keys). It’s very nice. Obviously it was a well built technology as it was not popular.
People buy suck crap, I hate being a niche market. I wanna pay for quality desktop equipment with full support. That means drivers!
I feel very related to the writer. I have been looking for such a device quite some time but haven’t found a suitable one either.
About the amount of processing power and memory size: why runs apps on the pda itself? Since IPv6 is comming up and WiFi stations popping up everywhere, why still have the need to carry your applications with you instead of connecting to your desktop computer over the internet? Connection speeds are getting highed, latency lower and costs are decreasing so why not use a technoligy like GPRS?
I want to see a portable device made specifically for serious writers.
Laptops mostly don’t cut it because most of them are too heavy, too general purpose, or have horrible keyboards/tiny keyboards because so much space is wasted by the touchpad. And frankly, an OS like Windows is overkill and rather cumbersome when all I want is a glorified portable typewriter (why do I need to wait a good half minute AT LEAST for XP/OS X to boot if I just want to do some writing?)
PDAs don’t cut it either. The lack of keyboard on most of them (or keyboards that require a magnifying glass to see the keys) makes them useless to me, and then there’s the tiny displays.
This hypothetical device would ideally use the laptop form factor, but be a fair bit lighter than most laptops and with the low hardware requirements for what it would be doing (a 100Mhz CPU can handle word processing just fine), I don’t see any reason for it to be over 2lbs. It would need a good keyboard – in other words, not a typical laptop keyboard and not one of those horribly mushy-feeling “quiet” keyboard (I want good tactile feedback from my keyboard, not to feel like I’m typing on a sponge).
It would, of course, also need a good word processor/text editor app. I’m inclined to lean towards text editor because I’ve found they’re typically a lot more flexible/powerful when it comes to the actual maniuplation of text (as opposed to making it look “pretty”). For the most part, writers don’t need something as heavy as Word – at least, speaking from the perspective of someone who spent 3 years writing online content primarily in EditPlus (and later Pe in BeOS). Well thought-out keyboard shortcuts are a must as well. Personally, I’d be happy with something like JOE.
Make it light, with good battery life and a decent display, at a decent price (I don’t think $200-300 is unreasonably low, considering that something grossly underpowered even by PDA standards would be fast enough for this kind of work). On top of that, a device like the one I’m describing should also be instant-on or as close as possible. If those criteria were met, I bet it would be snatched up by journalists and other professional writers, along with students who just want to type up that essay in his/her favourite coffee shop without having to shell out for a full-fledged laptop.
The annoying thing is that laptops like this were being made at one point (I remember my dad having one that closely fit my description back in the days when modem == acoustic cups you put over the mouth/earpiece of the phone). My current stopgap solution is an old Thinkpad 560x that runs BeOS, but that’s still not quite ideal.
imo 640*480 for even a 4″ screen is ridiculous, thats way more dpi than my desktop monitor, half vga should be plenty. but pocketpc should seriously scale up resolution. and palmos devices should finally ALL have “virtual graffiti” standardized.
palmos6 is a disappointment to be honest.
still no true filesystem for ram, that’s ridiculous.
the interface changes seem minimal at most, and they added “more fields” to the adress-app. the launcher app would need severe changes. multitasking is finally here, ok.
also i don’t think their strategy of keeping os5 and os6 active in parallel is not good.
my dremdevice would be similar to yours, but i’m not _that_ extreme.
blech, i of course i meant “also i don’t think their strategy of keeping os5 and os6 active in parallel is good.”
and, wouldn’t this article also fit well into http://www.newmobilecomputing.com?
It’s quite a long thread, but I don’t think it’s been mentioned – the Psion Netbook Pro comes close to your specifications:
400Mhz XScale, 128MB RAM.
800×600@16bpp screen (touch screen) with excellent display
No camaera (but you could put a USB one on)
Bluetooth with a CF/PCMCIA card
Wi-Fi with same
16 bit sound, with headphone socket and built in microphone
WinCE runs a version of IE 6
CF/PCMCIA/Memory stick expansion/storage
1 USB port
Claims 8 hours battery life
MS Media player for MP3s, etc
RDesktop client if you want to use a “real” machine remotely.
It’s sub A4 size, and weighs around 1KG.
The price is around $1500.
1. Built in GPS
2. Built in cell phone
3. WiFi capability (not partial to bluetooth)
4. 640×480 color screen
5. Ability to play audio (mp3, ogg)
5. Mouse pointer – like the little eraser heads on laptops
6. USB port for uploading music, backing up config, installing apps
7. No hard drive but large amount of built in memory- I don’t want moving parts in my handheld
8. Ability to play basic games- no 3D rendering needed, would be difficult to FPS games on a screen that small
9. Scroll wheel- for music and web browsing
10. IR port for connectivity yo other compatible handhelds
Probably never happen, but that’s what I would find useful.
I love my Newton (messagepad) 2100
The only thing I do not like about it is:
(1) Lack of bluetooth support(althought that is being fixed)
(2) Lack of supportig phones for GPRS connection
(3) Lack of ability to send SMS message via a phone
(4) Lack of actual unicode font (I cannot type in greek)
Last time I checked the device supported only a few (ancient) nokia phones — Hopefully things will be fixed till the,. Until then I use it at home and I take good care of it cause I love it!
My iPaq 3870 – it is an OK PDA. Use it for note taking – PIM functions backup and emulation gaming (and other kinds of gaming due to the D-Pad) – also easy for voice memos and going online with GPRS phone. – I would not buy one again though given current specs. – I want a phone PDA
My p800 – IT ROCKS! The best phone/PDA I’ve ever bought. Now what I want on top of it is:
(1) Built in keyboard & D-Pad (like treo)
(2) 2MP camera with flash for still and video (like NZ90 clie)
(3) More built in memory
(4) More applications
(5) Better battery life (for when I play games and listen to music)
(6) FM stereo tuner
(7) not necessary but want it: TV tuner.
As for the UX 50 series.
I like it as well and I would buy one but I want:
(1) built in quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE phone (maybe UMTS too?)
(2) 2MP camera with flash for still and video like NZ90
(3) FM Tuner
(4) PalmOS Cobalt
(5) Not necessary but I REALLY want it: TV tuner.
So…. are my likings in a PDA plausible?
I really wish for a new-age newton to come out
If the Psion Series7/Netbook were fitted with a hard drive it would do as a great base unit – the importance of a good keyboard cant be overestimated, but less than 1 gig of nonvolatile memory is stupid in todays world.
That’s where the current PDAs miss out – no room to back up all your documents to them.
I remember writng JLG about the time Be sold out to Palm , describing a very similar device ,Nicholas,and in his response implied that things like this would be in the future providing Palm aquired the BeOS technology.But it’s been awhile and still no real sign of them.
i’ve found the ique pretty darn cool and useful.
it meets quite a few of the requirements (gps built in!)
I have a 256 Mb ultra-fast Compact flash that I use as HD on my Psion Netbook, and it’s *WAY* enough to store all my word documents, my sheets, and all of my hobby OPL projects.
And if I ever need more, I’ll just grab a 1+ Gig Compact flash and replace it.
Tho, even if I love my Netbook, I’m starting to look on the new Netbook Pro … if only the price wasn’t that high … 🙁
Take a look at http://www.synosphere.com … a dockable solution for Palm and Pocket PC, just perfect for professional users like me if properly executed. Can’t wait for availability, although I’m sure to be disappointed on release
but there’s something to be said about just not doing anything. Just relaxing, and not trying to fill ever minute of your day up with gaming, news, etc… You don’t need to know the nba scores right away, right? You can wait for them. I understand that everyone’s time is a little cramped sometimes, but it can sometimes feel less cramped if you don’t try to fill every waking moment up with things to do.
Anyways, good luck finding something, such a device would indeed be cool.
THIS O2 XDA has alomst everything you wanted. A handphone/pda hybrid.
Specifications for model O2 XDA II
Special Features: GSM 900/ 1800 /1900MHz GPRS mobile phone, 65,000 brilliant full-colour touchscreen, MMS, SMS, internet surfing, voice dialing, Bluetooth connectivity, built-in removable digital camera, audio and video playback capability to listen to MP3.
Operating System: Windows Mobile 2003
Memory: 128MB RAM, 64MB ROM
Memory: Expansion SD card/MMC/SDIO
Processor: Intel XScale 400MHz processor
Dimensions: 70mm x 130mm x 19mm
Display: 240×320 pixels, 65,536 colours
Screen: Transflective TFT colour display
Battery: Rechargable exchangeable 1200 mAh Lithium Ion battery
Interface: Bluetooth, USB and IrDA
Standard Applications: Microsoft Mobile 2003, Microsoft Reader, MMS Composer, MSN Messenger, Phone application, Photo Contacts, Pictures, Pocket Excel, Pocket MSN, Pocket Word, SIM Manager, SIM Tool Kit, Terminal Services Client, Wireless Modem, xBackup, xmail from O2, Games, Album, Calculator, Calendar, ClearVue PDF, ClearVue Presentation, File Explorer.
PRICE : $850
The Psion 7 or Netbook with Linux preinstalled would be the best machine without question for those that want to write.
I regret selling my 7 when Psion dropped out of the market, a decision I will never understand, as their machines were the tops.
I doubt this fits the bill (pricewise) but this thing is supposed to be a truly portable PC (when it comes out).
Most fully-fledged PC’s don’t have all these options.
And boo to those idiots who say “All Palm and Pocket PCs are just the same as my Casio”.
People with no knowledge of what they are talking about shouldn’t post.
.. is an implant. To plug into the infosfere. She won’t suffer low resolutions, heavy laptops. The speakers will be plugged directly in her mind. She won’t even feel that. She’ll just feel the sound. More real than any sound she had ever heard. She won’t play games. She’ll live them. And camera, reality .. what’s that ?! The future has different feelings to add ..
5. Linus Torvalds runs over with his BMW on your Mini Cooper. Use your camera to get shots of Linus and you, erm… I mean of the damage in your car.
Ha ha ha ha ..
Seems we are all on the same boat ..
and btw. Linus is not a guy .. he’s an idea …
In my opinion this need for a mobile PC is an exaggeration. We really do not need to work everywhere, we can stay a little bit of time away from computers.
From a personal perspective I would like to have a small and
cheap device for reading documents/books everywhere (like in a bus). I don’t care for any other advanced feature, only for the ability to read html/ps/pdf files without straining my eyes too much. Any suggestions?