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Handhelds Portables Hardware Technology

Palmtop Nirvana? 564

cakefool asks: "There seems to be a Slashdot article every day about a new palmtop/subnotebook/digitalwhoojerammy, and without fail people complain it doesn't have what they want. Let's do this the other way around - what do you need in a handheld computing device, seriously? I ummed and ahhed for ages before finally ordering a Psion 5mx, and it does everything I need it to, other than play Doom(1), and is a hell of a lot cheaper than the JVC micronotebook, and smaller than a budget laptop, with a much longer battery life than both." What features do you look for in a handheld/palmtop computing device?
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Palmtop Nirvana?

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  • Palm Zire 72 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Steev ( 5372 ) <steve@noSPAM.stevedinn.com> on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:02PM (#10135129) Homepage
    With a 1.2 MP camera, and the ability to play OGG Vorbis, the Palm Zire 72 and my 512 meg SD card will last me for a while. Especially with the new Wi-Fi SDIO cards coming out.
    • Most modern PDAs, and most old ones for that matter, can play Vorbis. For instance, there is PPC software for it here [adelphia.net]. Just FYI...
    • Re:Palm Zire 72 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by moberry ( 756963 )
      Kind of ironic.. I bought one on ebay about....45 seconds before i saw this article. I am a college student and the todo list is great for homework.The zire 71 is replacing my (very) worn Palm Vx. The zire plays sound with realOne player, has a "hidden" camera, and even plays movies somewhat. I look forward to receiving it. What drove me to it is relatively low price. i recommend it highly
    • Axim X30H (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tod_miller ( 792541 )
      Dell Axim X30 High is you can get one.

      624mhz, 64 internal. one 256mb SD card.

      Plays quake 1, quake 2 (finished quake 1 on the ferry, shareware... awaiting doom 3 port ;-)

      WiFi and bluetooth - handy for transferring photos from a camera phone.

      SD is compatible with my 3.2 mp Optio33LF (99 squids from amazon)

      I also have a 400mhz iPaq, which is sexy, and has lush chrome finished and a keyboard.

      It reads ebooks and does ogg. Want a reliable linux port and SWT port :-) :-) :-) :-)

      I guess is SWT runs on qt, an
  • Interface (Score:5, Interesting)

    by El_Ehmenopio ( 701830 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:03PM (#10135131)
    I've always wanted solar power on a pda. The battery requirements would be a little mroe forgiving. Oh, and the ability to firstpost!
    • Re:Interface (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AnyoneEB ( 574727 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:53PM (#10135356) Homepage
      I've always wanted solar power on a pda. The battery requirements would be a little mroe forgiving.
      That would be a problem because in my experience direct sunlight makes the screens of PDAs (grayscale and color) appear faded and difficult to read. I have a feeling that the indirect light the PDA recives on what little space is not covered by the screen or the user's hand would have almost no effect on the battery life and would waste weight and bulk better spent on... a better rechargeable battery?

      I'm not sure what problems you've had with battery life, but on a recent PDA with a rechargeable battery and a color screen, you don't have to worry about data loss because the color screen takes so much power compared to the RAM that when the screen won't turn on the RAM may last for as long as a few weeks.
  • Ok, I'm pretty easy to please I suppose. Here is my want-list for my personal 'computing device' 1. Small but high-resolution screen, big enough to work on an Office doc., widescreen to reduce scrolling (10-11", 1280x768ish) 2. Long Battery life, without a 20-cell monster battery -- 6-7 hours of steady office usage 3. 2 Spindles - Needs an integrated DVD player, I can't stand dongles or ouboard things to lug around 4. Connectivity, and lots of it. I would LOVE to have a universal-but-integrated power sup
    • I've wanted a small notebook for some time. My wishlist:

      1. No larger than 12", no heavier than 5.5 lbs.
      2. 1024x768ish resolution.
      3. Integrated 802.11g, ethernet, modem, USB, and DVD-Rom.
      4. A decent, 3D accelerated graphics card.
      5. Linux compatible for 99% of the hardware.

      Bonus points if it has a keyboard that has Insert/Delete/Pageup/Pagedown/Home/End in a reasonable place, a serial port, and a CF/SD reader.

      So far, I've found only one laptop that even comes close to what I want, and that's the Vaio
  • Not much (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I don't own one, but I'd buy a Palm III with a USB interface for 10 bucks if someone offered it to me. If I want a camera/mp3 player/etc I'd get a dedicated device.
    • Agreed, why someone doesnt have a super-cheap re-tooled for the on the cheap palm3 is beyond me.

      Instead some of the new models dont even have backlight (yet they are speedy and the new graphitti is amazing)

      To add to your USB interface idea would be to have a rechargeable battery. Best of all would be to use some compatible battery type with a mega-popular cellphone. Even if it requires a small ridge down the back of the phone i wouldnt mind having the ability to swap a spare Nokia battery to or from my pa
      • are you advicating they go souly on a cell phone type battery or have the ability to attach one to increase battery life?

        I think that would be a nifty invention, an adapter capable of using your cell phone battery to extend the life of the battery in the pda. You could attach it when needed and maybe keep one or two extra's around incase your phone or pda goes low.
  • I've held Nirvana in my hand before. The entire discography fit on one cdr, in fact!
    • "I've held Nirvana in my hand before. The entire discography fit on one cdr, in fact!"

      You think that's a horrible joke, the radio station where I lived at the time of Kurt Cobain's death played two Nirvana songs in a row all weekend long to "mourn" his death. They called it the "Nirvana Double-Shot Weekend."

  • I love my (Score:3, Informative)

    by AVryhof ( 142320 ) <avryhof@gaw[ ]com ['ab.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:06PM (#10135144) Homepage
    Sharp Velo 500, but it would be better with a PCMCIA Slot or some other sort of WiFi. IrDA is a joke, and the 115k serial connector is just another wire I don't need.
  • Easy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sabinm ( 447146 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:06PM (#10135145) Homepage Journal
    Modularization. I don't care what other peoples' palmtops can do. I want modules. Bluetooth. Storage. WiFi. TriCorder. I want the modules small and hard to break. I want them easy to install. I don't want to wait for drivers. I want open specs and the ability to hack.

    Any takers?
    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Trejkaz ( 615352 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:47PM (#10135328) Homepage

      I like the idea of external modules. Why build a camera into a PDA, when you can build Bluetooth into the PDA, and Bluetooth into a camera? The two will then be able to talk. Why build a phone into a PDA, when again, you could just talk remotely? And of course, we're already seeing the beginnings of this. Phone to PDA is pretty common, Bluetooth GPS systems are starting to emerge. How long for Bluetooth storage, I wonder?

      The only thing which doesn't really fit into this ideal is the wifi, due to the bandwidth difference between the two. Who knows, maybe there will be a Bluetooth2 one day which fixes this relatively minor issue.

      • Re:Easy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @04:36AM (#10136601)
        The devices are merged because people don't want to carry around 18 things when one will suffice. Cameras are in phones because people don't want to carry cameras and phones around, if they just want to take small shots and pass them to friends. The same goes for PDA functionality. You can have a camera, phone and PDA in one pocket, instead of 3.

        As for the bluetooth comment, if you think it's competing with wifi, you've misunderstood bluetooth's purpose. It's low-cost, low-power, low-bandwidth. That's why it's so good, as you can integrate it into a device for pennies, whereas wifi costs tens of dollars. It's never ever competed with wifi (do you see any bluetooth network routers around?), as that's not what it does. The only similarities are they're both wireless. Bluetooth's low-bandwidth means it's ideal for control IO, not actual data streaming (even though it can handle streaming voice fine).

  • Subnotebooks? Where? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:07PM (#10135152)
    You know, here, in the US, the subnotebooks never really took off as far as I can tell. I see mostly medium-sized to desktop replacement size notebooks. The only time I've seen a subnotebook was at those chain stores. Are there any Slashdotter's in the US who use or have seen a good number of subnotebooks? Are there Slashdotters from other countries who believe subnotebooks are much more prevalent than they appear to be here?
    • Probably because we are cheap.... To get the goodies in a sub-notebook we would have to spend more. Isn't that against the law at FRY's or BestBuy -- the love BIG and CHEAP.

      That said, Fry's does sell both the Sony and Fujitsu subbies...but they certainly don't have the selection you see overseas like in Japan. Wow, there is some killer gear over there... Check out www.dynamism.com, they retro-fit alot of the Japan only models with English OS's.

    • Im in the US and I have an IBM T41 desktop replacement (company bought) and my personal notebook is the larger of teh two small Fujitsu notebooks. I like my T41 better.

      In a handheld I want:
      *Bluetooth
      *A "proper" (readable color) screen, with the ability to drive an external monitor to at least 1024x768 (1280x1024 preferred) for presentations (w/o the notebook)
      *A compact flash slot (specifically CF so I have wide storage choices like microdrives)
      *And finally I want sick power efficency (so I can eit
    • That seems to be the case with most US electronics. The old addage of "bigger is better" seems to be thoroughly ingrained into the American psyche (SUVs, anyone?)

      This isn't trolling, but a serious observation made by me (a Brit who lived in LA for 6/7 months or so).

      In the UK, subnotebooks are very popular. I'm not sure why, but they've really caught on with the public over here. They're incredibly convenient (most are smaller/lighter than a hardback book, and 1ghz+ fast), and now boast features that re

  • all in one. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by binarybum ( 468664 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:08PM (#10135154) Homepage

    screen big enough with high enough res to watch video

    processor that can playback smooth divx at decent framerate

    GPS

    bluetooth

    acts as cellphone with bluetooth headset

    wi-fi

    rugged, can take a beating including static from my pant

    SDIO

    • Re:all in one. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ThisNukes4u ( 752508 ) <tcoppi@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:17PM (#10135191) Homepage
      Good, but add to that list: waterproof. I have lost soo many devices to accidential spills. And I love kyaiking and offroading in wet weather, so if it was waterproof I could take my mini-computer along too.
      • Are you going to whip your pda out while kayaking to check whether the whitewater is down the left fork or the right fork up ahead?

        Stick a non waterproof device in a waterproof container, with some extra air so it floats, and enjoy the damned river. Look - it's not heavier, isn't uglier and bulkier - and still serves the same purpose!
      • You want a PDA to bring kayaking? What happened to "roughing it?"

        I've got it. Hire some Sherpas. Have them lug your microwave, curling iron, hair dryer, refrigerator, and your PDA to your next stop.
    • Re:all in one. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by soft_guy ( 534437 )
      I agree with all the above things. In addition, it should also have:
      Decent handwriting recognition - similar to the Newton 2100 (still my fav handheld ever).
      Fast response time.
      Excellent battery life
      Excellent synchronization capabilities with MacOS X, Linux, and Windows. Should be able to sync with multiple machines without screwing up my address book and calendar.
      Navigation software that uses the GPS well.
      Lots of third party software.
      Good free development tools that I can use under MacOS X.
      Sho
  • ...and my favorite is my Blackberry 7230.

    It *brings* me my e-mail, lets me respond from practically anywhere, carries my contacts, calendar and notes, is very lightweight, and plays a good game of Texas Hold'em. And I can usually go a few days without a recharge.

    And being a phone doesn't hurt either.
  • by lewko ( 195646 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:10PM (#10135165) Homepage
    All I usually want are features that invariably get released in the next model a week after I just bought one.
  • Newton (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:12PM (#10135169)
    I want a Newton running on modern hardware.
  • Need & Want (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oculus Habent ( 562837 ) * <oculus.habentNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:14PM (#10135179) Journal
    What I need was handily covered by my Handspring Visor Deluxe. With regular syncing, it did everything I needed from a PDA.

    I would like a no-moving parts (or rarely moving parts, e.g. the iPod hard drive) portable that is:

    • no bigger than my Visor Deluxe
    • can user a rechargeable lithium polymer battery or AAA
    • offers wi-fi, bluetooth, or GPRS connectivity as options - this shouldn't be standard... it should be an inexpensive (less than $50) add-on.
    • High-res 5" screen. I don't need color - grayscale, perhaps, but color is extra.
    Modularity would be a huge benefit, but could be hard on sales. Big modular item for me: screen. I want to be able to choose between a grayscale and color screen, and replace it when I break it.
  • my requirements (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JonKatzIsAnIdiot ( 303978 ) <a4261_2000@noSpAm.yahoo.com> on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:16PM (#10135183)
    1. Big, bright screen. Half-VGA at least.
    2. Built-in Wi-Fi. Don't care about Bluetooth.
    3. Ability to display all types of document formats. PDF, HTML, CHM, and all the rest I forgot. Ability to view in portrait and landscape mode.No document conversion. Document conversion is a pain. Are you LISTENING Palm?
    4. NOT a phone. If I wanted to pay per month for the priviledge of using the device I bought, I would buy a phone.
    5. Lots of developers churning out neat programs that can download and play with.
    6. Tangentially related, I want to be able to right-click on a file and say "Send to handheld", and have it appear there.
    7. I don't care about viewing movies on a handheld. I makes no sense to view movies on a screen a couple of square inches.
    8. CHEAP I'm talking $200 CDN max.

    Well, I can dream, can't I?
    • 2. Built-in Wi-Fi. Don't care about Bluetooth.

      I'm mostly in agreement with you on everything except this one. I'm the opposite in that I want built in Bluetooth and don't care so much about Wi-Fi. Bluetooth lets my phone and PDA work as a single device which is important to me but not really practical with Wi-Fi. (not to mention more power draining) I'm sure that's mostly due to you having different needs than me, but I think having the choice of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (or both or neither) is the best thi
    • Re:my requirements (Score:2, Informative)

      by peu ( 163472 )
      Clie TH55 does it all except for the price, I own one and is close to perfection, shame on sony for they ridiculous decision of droping the US market...

      built in wifi
      bundled with documents to go, it opens native office documents.
      built in 640*480 camera
      built in voice recorder
      The Clie Organizer is the best integrated PIM of the entire palm arena.
      Is not a phone, but if someone develops the app, it could be used as a voip phone
      Integrated flash player, pdf viewer etc.
      Memory Stick pro
      price around $320 new
      battery
  • two words (Score:4, Funny)

    by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:16PM (#10135186)
    beer tap
  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:18PM (#10135197)
    I am the happy owner of a palm tungsten t3. The only things I would change about it is that I would like some sort of mini keyboard, ala the Sharp Zaurus (not sure how on the T3 form factor tho), better battery life and perhaps slightly better resolution. (though it isn't bad as is) I like the digital ink sketchpad, though I'd like it to have better resolution. Bluetooth is essential as far as I'm concerned and a voice recorder is handy. Otherwise the T3 is about exactly what I want. The Sharp Zaurus would be damn good too if it were so expensive and the software was better.

    No, the problem I have with most PDAs is the software on the computer side of things. I use Mozilla/Thunderbird for my email but syncing to anything but Outlook/Notes is a painful exercise if it is possible at all. (Yes I've used the Palm sync in Mozilla and it is barely adequate at best, and no I'm not switching email apps as Outlook/Evolution/Eudora/Pine/whatever don't fit my needs) Even when you can sync to a third party app, forget syncing applications besides an address book and maybe calendar. Sunbird still doesn't support any mobile devices and isn't likely to anytime soon. None of the address book applications can talk to each other in any meaningful way. Would it really be so hard to sync to Palm Desktop AND Thunderbird at the same time? And forget trying to keep my palm and phone syncronized along with my address book, (Mobile Master does an ok job but not perfect) I've tried every application out there to do this (Oxygen, Mobile Master, etc) and none of them are more than band-aid fixes.

    What I want is for these applications (particularly address books and calendars) to be able to speak to one another. There is no reason I shouldn't be able to sync to 5 different address books, palm desktop, nokia phone editor and my cell phone at the same time.
    • That last comment frustrates me the most about the Mozilla distribution - they don't take advantage of the system it's residing on at all.

      Thunderbird on Windows and Mac do not use the supplied address book software - less important on windows but when insignificant software like the AIM client on the mac does, perhaps it's time to "Get with the program" and use what every other app does.

      Firefox doesn't share bookmarks with the rest of the system - another very annoying "feature". Being able to test on mul
    • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @01:14AM (#10135809) Homepage Journal
      Would it really be so hard to sync to Palm Desktop AND Thunderbird at the same time?

      Yes, in fact, it is. Three-way synchronization is exceedingly difficult to manage and get right. It's much better to simply have a single host-side database to synchronize against, and simply have each application use it for their data storage. Having three different calendar applications each with their own unique databases and ways to correlate their records with the records on the other PIMs and then trying to synchronize the three is often disasterous.

      If all of the synchronizations are two-way, for N applications you need to run through N! synchronizations. And with each application having its own data format, and then having to correlate each record with its matching record (IF it's present) in the other application -- well, we're talking about quite a lot of complexity.

      A simple two-way synchronization is difficult enough -- just take a look at how many existing conduits regularily get things wrong (it doesn't help that most calendars also have different mechanisms for handling repeating entries, but don't get me started on THAT subject...).

      If anyone is interested in writing some decent Mozilla PalmOS sync code, go and take a look at the jSyncManager [jsyncmanager.org]. It's an Open Source, pure Java PalmOS data synchronization solution which, as it has its own protocol stacks, runs on any Java-enabled platform, and has its own Java-based jConduit plug-in specification. A Mozilla jConduit set could run the same on Windows, MacOS, Linux, OS/2, and every other Mozilla supported environment with little (or no) code modification.

      (We do have an outstanding RFE to add Mozilla sync facilities, but we don't have the developer resources to do this. The project has two developers who regularily work on the code base, and most of our time is spent working on the jSyncManager itself. So if there are any Open Source Java developers out there who want to tackle this problem, let me know -- we'd love to have you aboard).

      Brad BARCLAY
      Lead Developer & Project Administrator,
      The jSyncManager Project

  • 8x4x1 form factor.
    20+ hours battery life.
    640x240 screen. (b/w screen, 16 shades of grey)
    Mostly full qwerty keyboard (yes, chicklet sized).
    Compact Flash slot (seperate from pcmcia).
    Pcmcia.
    Runs on 2 AAs.
    256 Megs ram or better.
    133mhz or better. (low cpu power to save power)
    Runs linux.

    Nuff said. Note that since it would be a 3 volt system 5 volt pcmcia cards would drain it pretty quick. That's ok really as most of the time when I'm using a modem or NIC I'd be plugged into power anyway.

    That's all I really wa
  • by Phat_Tony ( 661117 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:28PM (#10135241)
    Mod me off topic, but I don't want a palmtop.

    They're inconvenient. I want a wristwatch with:
    A cell phone
    A fast two-way data connection
    A computer with at least 1GB of storage
    A GPS
    Altimeter, Thermometer, barometer

    Being a watch, the interface would be verbal from me to the watch, and a high-resolution screen built into (and superimposed inside the lenses of) a pair of glasses for the interface from the watch to me.

    ie, "Watch- what time is my appointment with Bill?"
    "Where do I turn to get to the nearest Wendy's, and how far is it?"
    "Read me the headlines from Slashdot," etc.

    Thus, I will be waiting for several (many?) years.
    • And if you want to see anything useful, that watch is going to be slightly larger that a gideon's bible.

      Personally, I've done the PDA thing and even though I held off for quite a long time being a skeptic of "gadgetitis", I gave in and bought one and frankly, I'm back to square one - maybe I just don't have as many appointments as other people, or I'm just better organized or something, but I rarely find it more than an extra to be reminded of my appointments since I'm normally aware they're coming.

      Other
    • Who do you think are you, Dick Tracy? :P

      Oh, and you forgot the standard Bond remote detonator and high-power laser.
    • Due to my physical disabilities, I can't hold handheld correctly. I would need a table or someone to hold it for me. A watch is perfect. However, today's PDA watches are too thick, big, and heavy for me.

      Somehow, Phat Tony's watch sounds like Knight Rider with KITT. Heh. "KITT, read me the headlines from Slashdot!"

      However, I wouldn't want a voice activated watch since I have a speech impediment. Buttons are fine. Not sure how a pen to access the screen would work due to lack of space.
  • I've been using my new Asus A716 mostly to stream news over my home wireless connection. That and play NetHack. I use it every day and it doesn't look like I'll be dumping it any time soon (unlike my poor old TRGpro) -- so these few functions appear to be more than enough.
  • by aardwolf204 ( 630780 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:29PM (#10135248)
    Treo 650, but with Windows Mobile edition and GPS if thats not pushing it. Yes, I know, this is /., bring on the mods, but seriously this is what I would love.

    Pocket outlook would be great for the exchange server my company uses

    Terminal Services would be great for administrating my company's exchange server

    Pocket Internet explorer is great for those spur of the moment wikipedia lookups, not to mention slashdot and company.

    Pocket Streets would be great if the device had GPS, and even better if I can plot a waypoint when GeoCaching

    Windows Media player would be great for MP3s on the SD card, however I think there is a winamp port which would be even cooler but to save memory I'm sure WMP would work just fine.

    AIM, Yahoo, ICQ, etc...

    Oh yeah, and a phone, that would rock.

    Pocket word and excel arent that important, if I recieve an attached document I'm probably not going to edit it on a 2" screen but its nice that its there.

    Sure, I've got an eTrex for GPS / GeoCaching, and an iPod for music, and a cellphone for calls, and a pocket pc for email, web, and term svc when needed, but put all those in my pockets, including th cables to link ipaq to phone, and gps to ipaq, not to mention the spiffy white earbuds that are always tangled, and I've completely run out of pocket space.

    Basically, what I want to do is have all my toys with me but not need a scott-e-vest (OT: Live long and prosper scotty:)

    Now if my company was using open-xchange and I needed VNC not terminal services and any imap client would work fine then forget the MS platform and just give me a Treo 650 with GPS.

    PS: My next toy is going to be a Treo 650 anyway, I'll live just fine an imap client and cross my fingers using VNC on a 144kbps sprint pcs data connection. Hows the battery life treo users?

    • I'm using a Treo 600 on Verizon. Yeah, as a .Net developer I hated giving up my iPaq.

      palmVNC works great at 150kbs. Certainly not what you could call "fast" but combined with UltraVNC on the server side you can scale the resolution (again, server-side) and it's usable.
      http://palmvnc2.free.fr/ [palmvnc2.free.fr]

      VeriChat does AIM, Y!, MSN, and ICQ. Works great and by using SMS you appear always online. The phone vibrates (or plays a sound) when you get an IM, even if you aren't in VeriChat, or even if it's turned off.
      http: [pdaapps.com]
  • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:29PM (#10135250) Homepage
    The major failing in most PDA's or palmtops is that there's very little you can usefull do with them. Everybody carries cell phones because cell phones are obviously useful. They are compact, simple (well, not so much anymore), and they are VERY useful.

    I used to carry around a PDA. I used it to keep track of phone numbers and my calendar. I now have a cell phone which is ideal for the first task, and is passably useful for the second. So why would I carry around another device?

    Name me one thing that I can do with a PDA I cannot do with a simple cell phone that makes it worth carrying around. Surf the web? Well it's not really that easy to do it effectively on either device. Watch videos? The displays suck for that, they don't have enough memory, and frankly I can't imagine needing this "on the go".

    PDA's are the bad middle ground. They are not as compact as cellphone and they are not as useful as full size laptop. Until somebody comes up with a good reason for people to lug around yet another device, there's not much left to say about it.
    • What someone needs to produce is a cell-phone with a PDA sized display, Memory Card slot, and a keyboard(/mouse?) port, which you can plug in a small portable keyboard.

      Then I can use it for note taking, web surfing, music, playing games, etc.
    • Couldn't agree more, sterno. I worked for 3 years at a WindowsCE/Linux shop writing drivers for SA1110 and Cotulla chips (mostly) in PDAs. My impression of them all is that they're pretty much useless. Even when working correctly. ;^)

      They all sort of struck me as PHB toys. You know, if you're a wink-and-a-gun suit guy you have to have one, to show the other guy you were....well....you know...out there, on the cutting edge, yada yada yada.

      As for me, after spending 3 years around these devices, never

    • Two applications make my Clie totally worthwhile: PAdict [sourceforge.net] and MegaWiki [geocities.com]. PAdict is a Japanese-English dictionary and MegaWiki lets you take notes in a wiki-like fashion.

      Apps like these are great because they're simple and get the job done. You're right, though, stuff like watching videos on this thing, or even looking at photographs, just ain't worth it. Features like that are just novelties. They wear out quick.

      Maybe the problem is too many companies figured they could make these things beefier and add
    • Phones suck at input and display. PDAs suck too, but not as badly. Different devices are good at different things. I personally have:
      a phone (small, interface poor, low power)
      palm (slightly larger, interface ok, lowish power)
      Laptop (Large, interface good, medium power)
      desktop (Huge, interface great, high power).

      I don't see myself changing this general configuration any time soon, althouth I may change the individual devices.
    • I've mentioned this before, but I can carry around more than my weight in medical references on my PDA. I have also read dozens of novels on it, jotted down quick notes (the difference between using a pen and paper and using my PDA is that I've always been able to find said notes later), and played simple games when I was bored and already read all of the books I had loaded.

      I can take it out of my pocket, instantly turn it on, read a chapter of a book/look up a drug or dosage/check my shopping list, insta

    • No, you are WRONG! Cellphones are useless to me, so they must be useless to EVERYONE. There is no point in carrying with you a phone, when you can use a pay phone or ask to use the phone in the place you visit. There is no reason to send SMS when you can use e-mail. There is no reason to play games, because PSP and Gameboy are better at it. There is no reason to wirelessly connect to the Net via GPRS because you should use WiFi on your notebook.

      QED. Cellphones are useless.
  • by Chess_the_cat ( 653159 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:34PM (#10135262) Homepage
    There seems to be a Slashdot article everyday about a new palmtop/subnotebook/digitalwhoojerammy.

    Yeah and they're all ads for handtops.com from CaptainJam. Check out his profile [slashdot.org]. He's had three handtop submissions accepted in the last two weeks. The Captain has authored all the articles on the main page of handtops.com as well. It's clear to me that handtops.com belongs to the recently registered (UID 802805 and his first post came the day after his first submission.) CaptainJam of Slashdot.org and that his submissions are a way to drive traffic to his new site. Come clean CaptainJam.

  • by tktk ( 540564 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:34PM (#10135266)
    All I ever wanted was real handwriting recognition in a Palm PDA. Pull out the 1/2 to 1 megapixel camera, pull out chips that decode mp3 files and put in some dedicated handwriting recognition chips. In fact, remove everything, start over from scratch, and put handwriting recognition in first.

    I'd be happy just getting the electronic equivalent of a notepad and pencil so long as the handwriting recognition's good, and it could sync to computer. In a pretty quick period of time, they'd probably be dirt cheap and I could have a few to use at home and work.

    Yes, I could just use a notepad and pencil. But I've seen what happens with prolonged use. My dad's done that for years. And now he's got loose collection of paper and business cards, 3 inches thick, sitting in his breast pocket everyday. Every morning, he transfers this block of paper from yesterdays shirt into today's shirt. He's found stuff in that block that info over 6 years old and completely useless.

    I guess really just want digital paper and I'll have to wait 10+ years for it.

  • I've had a Palm III, a Vandspring Visor Deluxe, and currently a Sony Clie with 320x320 screen, (Greyscale) and Lithium Ion battery
  • by sjbrown ( 9382 )
    - under $250 CDN
    - syncs with Linux
    - 80 character width
    - source code / text editor
  • with my Treo 600. I've never been more productive while on-the-go in my life prior to this. The few things I feel are missing (noteably built-in Bluetooth, and hopefully somewhat better data battery life) ought to be addressed in the updated Treo Ace/650 coming out soon.

    You can get a GPS module for it which some people rave about, say it's very nice. The only other thing missing is wi-fi, which I admit would be nice for higher speed transmission and surfing in hotspots. And a higher res (320x320) scre

    1. Fits in pocket
    2. 320x240 or better color screen, transflective
    3. fits in pocket (Palm V size--Clies, smartphones and most PocketPCs are too big)
    4. Expansion: 2 SD slots, or in any case some way to get GPS plus memory to put maps in, not one or the other.
    5. 20hr battery life
    6. Sync with Windows and MacOS
    7. Fits in pocket
    8. NO CAMERA (see items 1, 3, 7)
    9. $250
  • I'd like to see something that has no problem with being dropped. Even just as sturdy as an old gameboy would be nice, without adding a few grand onto the price.
  • It's my Palm Zire 72. What it has: bluetooth, decent screen, built in camera, mp3 player, SDIO, takes notes, takes voice memos, runs Java, great contact app, great todo app, great calendar app, small enough for pocket.

    To make it perfectly ideal: 802.11g, runs linux, slightly larger screen, at least 3x the resolution (from 320x320 to 480x640), built-in microdrive of at least 2GB size, software to act as network storage over wireless, a slightly better camera (2Mpixels), speech recognition, thumbprint secur

  • Here's my list:

    color display

    sound

    a USB host port

    linux (or some other open environment where I can write my own drivers/apps for any external USB device I want to attach)

    cheap :) (~$200 is cool)

    They can keep all the other non-standard connectors/ports. There's no point in having a 200+mhz computer and depend on some company to build whatever the device I want that uses whatever propietary connector the PDA has.

    Alas, the only options I've seen that come close to this are from indian companies,

    • Reasonably cheap;
    • Reasonably small. The PalmOne Tungsten series are pretty much ideal, though, which is what I own anyway. And it has to look good, but that's a given.
    • Syncs to Linux;
    • Java support out of the box, in a profile which doesn't suck. I'm talking to you, Palm! MIDP 2.0 is NOT OKAY! Personal Profile MINIMUM!
    • Wi-Fi built-in, and with the software for tracking down the local networks;
    • Web browser and Jabber clients both built-in. I should't need to install this stuff separately. Install ever
  • For years I held off buying a PDA, since I wanted a device that converged phone, internet, pda and network "syncability".

    That device is almost here with the Treo 600. Just got mine a week ago from Verizon. I can actually browse the web with a decent browser. I've downloaded an SSH client, and can now manage my servers remotely. I've downloaded an RSS reader, so I can read Slashdot stories (and browse the comments too), access my daily blog diet.

    I was in New York city over the weekend, and could easily b

  • Well, I suppose it's an excuse to ask if anyone has a solution for a fading display on a Clie? Or to word it in terms of the official topic, a very good PDA should have a display that remains highly readable after several years, and the Sony is not doing so hot in that category, and I really wish there was something to be done.

    However, the truth is that the color and photo and movie capabilities and all that fancy stuff has never been particularly useful for me. Same with the sound capability, though this
  • I've gone through a few palmtops. The main need I have out of one is the ability to type notes on it, my Phenom hp/c has been perfect for that, as it has near full sized keys. Unfortunately, when the battery dies, I lose all of the internal memory. That means I can't even use the ethernet card anymore until I synch up with a serial port to restore the driver. Then I have to restore a backup. I don't ever want to get another palmtop that doesn't keep its memory when the battery dies. I'd like to turn i
  • 1. Bright, clear, high resolution screen. 800x600 would be nice, so that PDAs could render text more smoothly.
    2. 1G of flash memory at least
    3. At least 8 hours of battery life at 100% processor utilization.
    4. Tablet behind the screen, mouse pointer, touchless pointer positioning, REAL writeability, like on Tablet PC. Working character recognition.
    5. Seamless interoperability with Windows AND Mac.
  • I want a PDA that looks exactly like a Palm Tungsten T2, but has the full-size screen like a T3. (To say the same thing another way, I want a Palm Tungsten T3 with buttons and 5-way navigator exactly like a T2. But I want more battery life than the T3 currently gets.) The PDA screen should be visible in bright light (a "transflective" screen like the T2 and T3 already have).

    To go along with the PDA, I want a cell phone with Bluetooth. The cell phone will be clipped in a holster on my belt, just like my
  • It should:

    - Have a 5x7 or larger screen
    - Be less than 0.5" thick
    - Recognize all handwriting perfectly
    - without needing a "cursor"
    - Have a chronologica/subject-based interface
    - store data automatically, rather than in "files"

    In short, it should be a thinner Newton 2100.
  • What's my DREAM PDA?

    Well, it's about the size of Palm's M500 series, but instead of a board with all those chips soldered on, it would be a screen with ONE chip on the back of it with all the integrated components. The 'functional' part would then be molded (not placed) inside a sealed plastic casing (not an openable shell). Interface should be low-end wireless like bluetooth, and the charging adapter (which ONLY charges, as data interface is wireless) would be in a deep hole in the case with a rubber plug
  • - small size (Zaurus isn't pocket sized; if I have to use something that big, I'll just use a laptop)
    - takes CF cards up to (say) 512Mb
    - builtin 802.11x, maybe Bluetooth
    - runs Debian (I want to be easily able to download languages/tools to do my own stuff, not be stuck with a set of tools that one vendor decides is a good fit for my needs. It also has to have a decent OS under it, so I can e.g. create scripts to download data overnight and read it on the train a la SiteScooper)
    - Excel compatibility + PDF r
  • I want a pocket sized device, but with a full-sized keyboard.
    It should have addresses and appointments, and text messaging.

    Oh, and a spreadsheet program, word processing, with full e-mail, and attachment support. But I don't want something that runs a variation on Windows, bleh.

    Don't forget the obvious calculator mode. With hex conversion, trig, business calculation and graphing.

    And for the subway ride, maybe some games, with full joystick support, 1280x1024 color graphics and hardware accelerated 3D
  • I wrote down a list of this stuff just the other day after seeing the proliferation of \. articles in the topic :) I currently own a Sony Clie NV80 which is good but a bit expensive for what it is. Having said that, I'm kicking myself for not getting the top model when I bought it now (the one with the laptop form factor) because it's very handy.

    There's two categories I'd consider. The semi-PC would need to have:
    - option for a full-size usb keyboard
    - something unixish or Beish
    - wireless networking
    - non wir
  • Pocket PC based devices, IMHO, currently have the best development toolchain in the .NET sdk and Visual Studio. Being able to compile libraries for you PC and running the same code on your PDA without modification is hard to deny. Developers and their commitment to creating software give platforms vitality and is a key to success, Linux being a recent example. People like choices, developers provide those choices. For this reason i expect Palm's days are numbered, at least running PalmOS.
  • Or rather, something in the shape of a PADD but that would act like a modern Newton:
    • 5"x7" (or slightly larger) screen, with at least 640x480 resolution (color optional, but needs to be readable in all lighting conditions)
    • really thin and light: no more than 3/8" thick, and 1/2 lb., and with only a thin bezel around the screen
    • good handwriting recognition and personal information management
    • syncs with Linux and Mac OS (i.e., Sunbird and iCal, etc.)
    • flexible storage: several flash slots (PCMCIA, CF, or SD
  • My portable gadgets just keep multiplying with no end in sight, and none of them are multipurpose enough to do even close to everything. In no particular order there's:

    PocketPC- It's a relatively big and clunky Dell Axim X5. Good but overpowered for calendar, phone book (except it only syncs with Outlook, grr.), ebooks and quicken (actually SPB Finance, a great app). Good for heavier processing tasks like street maps with Mapopolis (unfortunately no GPS so not as useful as it could be) and small videos (wi
  • it needs (Score:3, Funny)

    by austad ( 22163 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:56AM (#10135729) Homepage
    It needs to be observant and smart. It should know what I'm thinking and make it's best effort to help me. It needs to be intuitive, buttons should be very pronounced and easy to press. It needs to have some slots to plug things in.

    It definitely should weigh under 115 pounds. Also, brunette would be nice.
  • water proof, sturdy case (ie. metal not plastic, Mg-Al alloy?), bluetooth builtin (i don't want to carry a cable to sync my pda), WiFi or a not proprietary expansion slot so I could buy one (eg. pcmcia), USB plug, J2ME so I can hack my own apps if needed (never actually used J2ME but J2SDK and I think thats what it is for... could be wrong), perferrably black-and-white to reduce cost, back light screen (indigo style for example), none of those goofy rice sized key boards, when I plug it into the USB I want
  • by mantera ( 685223 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @01:46AM (#10135958)

    PDAs are Personal Digital Assistants. They're not meant to be personal video players, there are dedicated devices that'll do that, so keep your video-on-the-go wishes, which are anyway far from useful, away from PDAs and let a PDA be what it is!
    Here's what I'd like to see in a PDA, and I am a person who depends on them - for my schedule, tasklist, to note down my ideas on them (it is clear from reading the wishes so far that people have no idea or use for a PDA, so please, shut up and let us speak).
    1. Data reliability so data is never lost. 2. Hardware reliability and durabiltity so it never crashes and dropping it from a reasonable height does not cause damage. 3. A fast and forgiving data entry interface for those notes. 4. instantly responsive. 5. System and data search capability that'd find the data i need in an instant. 6. Long battery life, I mean long battery life.
  • Since you asked - (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crucini ( 98210 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:02AM (#10136030)
    Everybody else wants a glitzier, shinier toy. This is where Linux users and Windows users are sometimes very similar - often valuing "features" over utility. My wish is completely different - I want a reliable and programmable tool.
    1. Form factor of Motorola clamshell pagers. They look cool and the keyboard is usable. And they are small enough to fall below the annoyance threshold.
    2. Rugged, waterproof case meeting MIL-STD-810E. Most walkie-talkies meet this spec, and increasingly ham handhelds are meeting it. This means you don't have to baby the unit - if it falls into mud or water or onto concrete, it will be OK.
    3. Black. Not translucent, not fruity-colored, and definitely not silver-painted plastic. Painted plastic is an utter abomination - the coolest thing about plastic is its integral color, which lets it age gracefully - little nicks and bangs don't expose a contrasting color.
    4. Long battery life, common alkaline batteries. That implies: no movies, no hi-res graphics, no color. Probably no mp3 playback. It's more important for the device to be dependable and hassle-free than to be a fragile showcase of hi-tech. An easy way to hook up external cheap batteries for extra power, like a box with 4 D cells.
    5. A flat, waterproof connector for all external connections, as seen in the Motorola HT's. Since the connector is composed of flush brass dots, it never wears out. The mating connector should be available in an oversized 'cartridge' version that could house cool peripherals, as well as a low-profile version.
    6. Easy to program from Linux. I don't want a science project. I should be able to open the package and have it running my own code in 15 minutes.
    7. Very open architecture, both in hardware and in software. It should encourage a vibrant scene of free software and strange peripherals.
    8. An OS/Shell cleverly designed for technical, keyboard, palmtop users. Not a stylus-based GUI, nor a Unix CLI, but a system with very short keyboard commands. Possibly Forth-based.
    9. In addition to the Linux-hosted C/C++ programming environment, it should have a programming environment that's very accessible from the unit itself. It should be easy to modify and automate the behavior of built-in apps without using a PC. Again, maybe Forth.
    10. SSH client - that's obvious, right?
    11. 802.11 would be really nice, if it can be reconciled with low power consumption.
    12. A thumbwheel. It works well on the Blackberry.
    13. Tactile bumps on some keys so you can type without looking.

    I can dream, can't I?
  • by oGMo ( 379 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:05AM (#10136050)

    No really. If you need a PDA, and you're a Linux geek like me, get one of these [dynamism.com].

    Yes, the default half-translated rom sucks. It'll at least let you boot the system and see the beautiful 640x480 screen though. An amazing sight to behold at over 200dpi. After you're done drooling, go get pdaXrom [pdaxrom.org], follow the instructions, and get yourself a real desktop. Here's what mine looks like [mephle.org], using ROX as the desktop manager (with a nice .hack//SIGN wallpaper I found someplace). You have a number of choices, but I use (prepackaged) gvim as my editor, and sylpheed for mail (pretty much the same as my actual desktop!). You can use FireFox and Thunderbird for web/email if you really want (check the screenshots [pdaxrom.org] for more drooling material). I use the little Dillo browser personally, because it's ultra fast, but the choice is yours.

    No, it doesn't have builtin wifi. It does have a CF slot so you can stick your own card in there, and doing so hasn't annoyed me yet. The biggest benefit (besides the amazing screen, keyboard, ability to use X, and general design) is the battery lasts quite awhile. I charged it last Friday (before PAX [penny-arcade.com]... where were you?), and it's only just down to 50% with "regular use". (On my old 5500, I'd have to charge it every day or so with the same use, and that's without wifi.)

    This makes a killer PDA. It does most things a small Linux laptop would, and it fits in your pocket. If that's what you need, this delivers.

    • That is a pretty nice PDA, but one issues comes to mind immediately...

      Backlit color screens are very hard on the eyes, and, in addition, they are completely unreadable in even indirect sunlight. Even though it seems nicer to have a color screen, from experience, I know it's much better to go with a B&W LCD that doesn't need a backlight (such as the Psion Revo, or the 5mx to a slightly lesser extent).

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov

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