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Review of the Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 172

Posted by michael
from the user-feedback dept.
Gothmolly writes "After reading the story and comments on Slashdot, I went out and bought one from the Home Shopping Network. It's been a very fun and interesting jump into both the modern PDA (I owned the original Palm until this year) embedded Linux worlds. I've written a review about my experiences over the last few days with it. A lot of this information I found online, a lot is personal experience. HSN is now out of them, but they must still be available cheaply somewhere."
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Review of the Sharp Zaurus SL-5500

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  • Bah. (Score:5, Funny)

    by 0x7F (158643) <<slashdot> <at> <tpope.org>> on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:02PM (#5620213) Homepage
    Zaurus 5500 reviews are so 2002. Why, this highly reputable site [slashdot.org] posted their first review nearly a year ago! I think I'll start reading it instead of Slashdot.

    So long, suckers! ;-)
  • Good stuff! (Score:5, Funny)

    by djkitsch (576853) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:07PM (#5620242)
    I was gonna shell out for one of these for a little recreational..um...let's call it wireless network vulnerability testing...
  • Buying a 5500 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Black Cardinal (19996) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:08PM (#5620249) Homepage
    I missed the offer on HSN by a few hours, so I turned to Ebay. I managed to get one for a pretty good price ($220), but not as cheap as that HSN price.

    I'm impatiently waiting for mine to arrive on Monday, according to UPS...
    • The zaurus is NOT listed on the HSN site, however, if you call them at their 800 number, they can order for you (i just did!:)
      1-800-284-3900
      The product number is 694341, or they can look it up by keyword dont forget to get your 15% off if you're a new customer-coupons at deal news [dealcoupon.com]
  • Dear God (Score:1, Informative)

    Whatever you do, don't buy from HSN. They have no return policy, nor do they have a warranty.

    I learned this the hard way when I got my sexy new Palm V three years ago, don't repeat my mistake.
    • Re:Dear God (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:23PM (#5620320)

      Whatever you do, don't buy from HSN. They have no return policy, nor do they have a warranty.

      I know, I know. I tell myself the same thing every night before going to bed. Yet the very next day I always find myself frantically dailing those numbers when the happy-faced person on the TV warns me that they only have a limited supply left and they're going fast!

    • Ive seen some "good" buys on there a few times, but have never made an actual purchise. The prices seemed too good and I don't know anyone with good comments, and only 1 person that has shopped with them.
    • Dunno... my girlfriend is kinda an HSN junkie, and she assures me that their return policy is the shit, if you're willing to call up and holler at them for awhile.

      Not that I care, because I used her account to buy mine...

    • Re:Dear God (Score:5, Informative)

      by fliplap (113705) on Friday March 28, 2003 @10:38PM (#5620581) Homepage Journal
      This is such a troll, a complete troll. They might not have had one 3 years ago, but they have an impressive one now. They take returns and will refund shipping as well. In fact, when I got my Zaurus from them they included a return shipping label!

      Please research before you post 3 year old "facts"
  • by zackZ (649657) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:11PM (#5620262) Homepage
    Check it out at www.openzaurus.org! The GUI is much more slick than Sharp's.
    • Hurray! A slick GUI, in the style of Microsoft Windows XP(tm).

      Just look at the new icons [handhelds.org] compared to the old ones [handhelds.org].

      Check out the slick coloring- a cool translucent look for soothing, grey-on-grey symbols with gently blurred edges. They'll be especially good in bright conditions, when the LCD screens of a PDA will reflect back all the ambient light and remove all contrast.
    • I just got Zaurus from HSN couple days ago.
      Played for one day with factory ROM, experienced lots of freezes with WIFI cards.

      Then I flashed OpenZaurus 3.1rc3.1, and now 3.2.
      All the hangs are gone, most programs are much better, internal flash is writable. I added 256MB SD-MMC card and moved part of the system to /mnt/card and it works great. opie-mediaplayer2 is based on Xine and plays DIVX files nicely. OZ has SSH installed by default, nicer UI, separate power/backlight settings for AC and battery mode, ho
  • by Unregistered (584479) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:12PM (#5620264)
    This looks like the kinda site to get /.ed soon. Full article text. he didn't have any pics.

    Review of the Sharp Zaurus 5500
    Ed Schernau, ed at schernau.com

    No, there are no screenshots. I don't have a digital camera. It's all 1 giant page. I don't know if this works with OSX, and I don't care at the moment. It supposedly works with Linux, but I haven't tried it. This review is NOT exhaustive. All copyrights are owned by their owners, blah blah blah, I'm not trying to piss people off.

    As seen here on Slashdot, the Sharp Zaurus 5500 recently went on sale at HSN due to the newer, Zaurus 5600 being released. Being a cheap geek, I purchased the 5500 model. First, I'd like to say that I was impressed with HSN - very good pricing, and a 15% off coupon for first time orders. Their website is easy to navigate and quick, and provided accurate package tracking. I paid 178USD for it, delivered.

    Here's what you get in the package:

    The Zaurus 5500
    battery (950 mAh)
    Getting started manual
    User manual
    CD of software and drivers
    AC adapter
    USB Sync cradle/charger - the cradle has a DC jack that you plug the AC adapter into - it does NOT use the USB port for charging power.

    Impressions
    The Zaurus looks very slick, a polished metal looking PDA. There's a translucent plastic flip-up lid over the touchscreen. The whole thing is about 1.5x the length of a deck of playing cards, and about as wide and thick. The stylus slides into a slot, there is an IR and SD port on 1 side of the unit, and a headphone jack and CF slot on the top of the unit. The bottom of the unit has the DC power jack and 'Sharp IO port', which is where it mates with its cradle.

    Hardware/OS
    The Z 5500 runs on the Intel StrongArm processor, running a version of Lineo - embedded Linux. It has a 2.4.6 kernel. Because of this, any Linux software compiled for ARM (like the whole Debian arm tree) will run. You get 64MB of memory, 1/2 of which is locked away by the Z, so you have 32MB to run in. This has not proved to be a problem, yet. It runs Qtopia, an embedded GUI system on a 320x240 color screen. Almost any linux-y thing you can think of, you can do. It has a shell, you can even make swapfiles to increase running memory (at the expense of storage of course). There are init scripts. Repeat after me: It's a miniaturized Linux box. Everything runs as root. It uses ext2fs for main storage, and minix and cramfs for its own purposes. You can type 'mount' to see what's what.

    Keyboard
    The keyboard is excellent. You hold the Zaurus in both hands and type with your thumbs. Clever use of 'Shift' and 'Function' keys give you nearly QWERTY layout. You can get about 1 letter every 3/4 of a second.

    Handwriting
    It also does handwriting recognition, in a certain area of the screen. You enable this by hitting a small icon on the screen, and scribble away. I've not spent much time with it, yet. It's fiddly, but not as bad as Palm's Grafiti.

    Backlight
    Good, but not great. The screen is lit from a flourescent light on the side, which can look weird if you hold the Z at an angle. Some parts of the screen are brighter than others.

    Sync
    The Z connects to its host via IP over USB. Syncing occurs completely over IP. This is slick, if you get a CF Ethernet card for it, you can (in theory) sync with your system anywhere in the world. My old Palm had a serial cable, so USB seemed like warp speed to me. Save yourself headache - set the Zaurus to NOT use DHCP, likewise your PC system. It defaults to 192.168.129.201, your PC defaults to 192.168.129.1. There's a GUI to configure all of this on the Z.

    GUI
    Very cool. Touch once to run an app, touch and hold to bring up properties. A combination of thumb and thumbnail will get everything done.

    I hooked it up and let it charge for a while, then loaded the software onto my PC. I have Windows2000 running on an ABit BP6 motherboard, with 2 USB 1.0 ports. This m
  • by jmt9581 (554192)
    Does everything really run as root? What's up with that?
    • I don't know much about these devices (yet), but I do remember reading about the changes from the 5500 to the 5600, and one of them is that it's no longer necessary to run everything as root. The 5600 looks pretty sweet...

      Cheers,
      Jeremy
    • Re:Root? (Score:4, Informative)

      by rusty0101 (565565) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:22PM (#5620308) Homepage Journal
      Yes, everything runs as root. No need for a root kit, etc.

      There is an app for th Z that gives you a login screen, I have not tested it, so I do not know if it provides user-id with different privledges than root.

      This is functionally a single user multi-tasking device. It happens to run a multi-user capable OS, however that does not require that that feature be used.

      Does this create potential problems? Sure. However the system files can not be removed by the user, though certain configuration files can. Even so, if you really care, you can reset the platform to it's original (or last flash rom) state by completely draining the battery. Make regular backups to cf memory.

      -Rusty
      • "There is an app for th Z that gives you a login screen, I have not tested it, so I do not know if it provides user-id with different privledges than root."

        OpenZaurus supports this out of the box.
    • It's considered ok since it's not connected to the net much. It's still a bad idea, especially if someone starts selling cell modems for it (or do such already exist). It does make the syste a lot easier to use for the average user, though. I think a system like apple has would be better, though.
      • Re:Root? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Minna Kirai (624281)
        It is a very bad idea, because those devices are advertised [sharpmobile.com] as using frequent, wireless network access.

        This is especially bad because the default root password is "". And changing the root password breaks the default sync software!

        If you bring a Zaurus running the OEM software into a location offering 802.11b wireless, you can easily be rooted by any script kiddy who recognizes your PDA.

        Zauruses are so obscure that this risk is low, today, but it's still a major design problem. Hopefully, the 5600 vers
    • The SL-5500 runs as root, but the newer SL-5600 [sharpusa.com] runs as a normal user.
  • Did it as well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by FatRatBastard (7583) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:17PM (#5620287) Homepage
    I jumped on the HSN deal as well and incredibly short review: I like it. I'm not much of a PDA person (had a palm, played with it for a week, just sold it on eBay) but its worth its weight in gold for its wireless ability (with appropriate CF wireless adapter). My GF *always* grabs my iBook when she's at my place, now I can go back to surfing on the couch. Its also easier to carry to the local coffee shop (that has free access) so I can grab a cuppa tea and flame idiots on Plastic.

    For me, for $160 (+$80 for the wireless card) it's been $$$ well spent.
    • Oh, one niggly thing that does suck, the IMAP feature on the Mail app reads everything in my entire account (on my server), not just the mail files. As far as I can tell there's no way to subscribe/unsubscribe to all of the non-mail files that it tries to download. Anyone know how to get around this?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      My GF *always* grabs my iBook when she's at my place...

      Man, sucks to be you. My GF always grabs a certain something of mine that's way more fun when she's at my place!

  • by Speare (84249) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:22PM (#5620312) Homepage Journal

    I also grabbed a Zaurus 5500 from the HSN special. Guess those paid-u-tainment slash-vertisements work.

    First thing I did was to look for the terminal package. One version came on the CDs, so I installed that.

    Second thing I did was to find the OpenZaurus installer (now 3.1-rc3.1), but after finding with several problematic .ipk's from the Zaurus Software Index, I went back to the stock Sharp ROM image. Can you imagine holding the C and D chicklet keys on one side, and poking a recessed reset button on the other? All with the DC power plug attached? I had to do this operation a few times in my experiments, and I can safely say they chose a combination quite apt at avoiding the accidental re-flash.

    I still haven't gotten the USB networking worked out. It apparently needs the usbdnet module, which is not in the Red Hat stock kernels (latest errata nor the last beta). I prefer to stick to my distro's official kernels, rather than rebuilding a kernel just so I can ssh to a pda. Maybe eventually.

    I noticed that if I install a new ipk file, it restarts Qtopia, which loses the icons for any other already-running tasks. (ps aux) still shows the tasks, they just have no gui anymore.

    I noticed that if I click an app button to switch away from the terminal, some key cruft like ~3 or ~4 appears in the terminal. Also, if the unit gets suspended (low power, power off button, etc.), then whatever console app was running gets sent to the background and I have to (fg 1) when I return. This screws up some console programs which don't have a convenient "redraw all" key for when you return. (Example app: frotz.)

    I noticed that the text editor opens to what looks like an empty note which is ready for typing, but no, it's in a no-document state and you must tap for a "New" text document before starting.

    I figured out how to retrain the handwriting, but not sure how often I'll use it. The real keyboard, virtual keyboard and pickboard are quite enough for text entry, thanks. Weird that you can tap the Fn key prefix then tap the desired key for a function, but you have to HOLD a shift key while tapping a letter. Supporting tap-shift-tap-letter would probably been nicer given the form factor.

    I would never have purchased this kind of device anywhere near its original price-- it's a toy to me, not a tool. But it's worth the money I put into it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Here's how I do it: hold C&D with your fingers, and put the stylus in your mouth and poke the reset button. Then gently put everything down.

      Agree about the shift-letter thing .. sometimes I'm typing with one hand.

      Hunt down the "tapboard" ipkg for an IBM-ATOMIK style onscreen keyboard that's organized so common letters are clustored together. Much faster once you are used to it.

      Hunt down the embedded Konsole package with the wrap/ no wrap toggler, that's the best.

      Also, buy a copy of tkcCard, which is
    • Okay, I have a palm m105, but I'm making sure this (or something like it, with wireless networking) will be something I'll buy sometime soon.

      At any rate, I consider a PDA to be an essential part of my life. I'm an inherently disorganized person, and I needed an organizer (but didn't have one of any kind) long before I bought my palm last October. For years I've been trying to make my computer run reminder programs to tell me when important events were happening, but have always lamented that I didn't have
    • Like you I bought the HSN special and I'm similarly hesitent to deviate from the Red Hat kernels. I went to this [zaurus.com] page and got the source RPM made by someone at Red Hat. Best of all, it doesn't try to patch your kernel source!

      Spreading the knowledge: Problems? e-mail me.
    • I bought one of these too, and an inexpensive Ambicom wireless CF card. I'm writing this reply on the Zaurus right now. I had to flash to OpenZaurus 3.2 to get the features I want, but the thing is great. I will say that if a personal organizer is what you want, I'd stick with a Palm (I had a Palm V until I ran over it, and then had a Handspring Visor). I actually prefer graffiti to the handwriting recog. on the Sharp (although you can d/l graffitti). The built in keyboard is pretty good though. Konqu
  • by zackZ (649657) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:23PM (#5620316) Homepage
    http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=5902 and follow up on http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=6184
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:23PM (#5620318)
    But does it run linux?
  • by rusty0101 (565565) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:31PM (#5620361) Homepage Journal
    In my own opinion, CF memory has two handy features that make it a reasonable purchase.

    First of all, my Z runs with a wifi card in the CF slot most of the time. However I have several situations where that is of little or no use. My low-power cf card does not support Kismet, so I can not use it to scan for open nets. For the most part I do not need the additional battery drain either.

    When I do not need the wifi card, I have found that having a couple of hours of music on a 128M cf memory card can help while away longer bus rides, without affecting how much application space is available on my SD card.

    Also I have several CF interfaces for my computers, being able to read/write the CF to transfer stuff when I don't want to use a wifi card is also handy.

    As noted in the article sd/mmc cards cost more and tend to have lower capacity than CF cards.

    As a last note, there are bluetooth interfaces built to run in sd/mmc slots, which may be of interest to people using blutooth enabled network, phone, printer, or even headset devices. In that case the memory expansion opportunity would be the CF slot.

    Then again, that's just my opnion. You will have to make up your own mind.

    -Rusty
    • Lots of people have digital cameras with CF storage, which means that the CF slot is, for me, a frequent swap with other people's cards, to get copies of pictures. I actually usually have a wifi card slightly out of the CF slot (to save power when I'm not actually using the network). I think the CF slot works best for swapping things around, whereas the SD card is my more serious storage. On the SD vs MMC front, I'd get MMC if I didn't already have one, because SD requires a close-source driver, which means
  • OpenZaurus (Score:5, Informative)

    by jaaron (551839) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:31PM (#5620363) Homepage
    If you have a Zaurus, at some point you really should check out OpenZaurus [sourceforge.net], which is a complete replacement ROM. If you have a CompactFlash card, then making the switch is very easy and if you don't like it, it's also trivial to switch back to Sharp's ROM. So my suggestion is to try it out early before you get too comfortable and spend a lot of time setting up the PDA just the way you like it.
    • Re:OpenZaurus (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zeinfeld (263942)
      If you have a CompactFlash card, then making the switch is very easy and if you don't like it, it's also trivial to switch back to Sharp's ROM. So my suggestion is to try it out early before you get too comfortable and spend a lot of time setting up the PDA just the way you like it.

      Err perhaps someone could explain to me what is better about openZaurus, I mean apart from knowing that nobody made any money out of writing the code why am i meant to think this a good thing?

      Does it have a better version of

      • Re:OpenZaurus (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jaaron (551839) on Friday March 28, 2003 @10:22PM (#5620536) Homepage
        Err perhaps someone could explain to me what is better about openZaurus,

        Let me put it this way: About two weeks ago I tried out the very latest ROM. I found the ROM itself was stable, but nothing installed properly on it and I ended up going back to Sharp's ROM because there were apps I simply had to have running. Final impression: OZ is really nice and I only plan on staying on a Sharp ROM until I find that OZ can run these other 3rd party apps (which should be now since the new release is out). I was extremely disappointed to find I couldn't use OZ right away, but I've been anxiously awaiting this latest release so I can move over to OZ permanently.

        If you want to know all the specifics about why OZ is better, you should check out their site [sourceforge.net]. However, the biggest reason I would suggest OZ is because it's actively being developed. Sharp has only offered bug fixes for it's ROM. OZ is steadily getting better, which means you'll see improvements and new features. So as far as I'm concerned, Sharp's ROM is a dead end while OZ is quite alive.
        • If you want to know all the specifics about why OZ is better, you should check out their site [sourceforge.net].

          Err, what makes you think I didn't. The site did not state one single benefit of openZaurus over the original install.

          As for the 'stability' you state, I have never had a single stability problem with my Zaurus, the 802.11b card does not work but the system is 'stable'. So more stability but apps not running is not my definition of improvement.

      • Re:OpenZaurus (Score:4, Informative)

        by Minna Kirai (624281) on Friday March 28, 2003 @11:59PM (#5620894)
        Err perhaps someone could explain to me what is better about openZaurus

        For one thing, it can have reliable TCP/IP. It may depend on the specific networking hardware (USB to Linux, or WinXP, or a CF ethernet or 802.11b card) you're trying to use, but the Sharp-supplied ROMs often simply give up on transmitting after 100kB or so (and then won't re-initialize until after a reboot).

        Other kinds of hardware compatibilty and stability were also improved in OpenZaurus (although the recent release-candiates introduced several random bugs, hopefully the 3.2 release has fixed them)

        The major design change with OpenZaurus is that the main filesystem is stored in Flash memory, rather than just RAM like on the original ROMs (or on a Palm). This means that if your system crashes (or loses power), files like your addressbook and network card settings are preserved.

        (The normal Sharp ROMs only write to flash during the special "reflashing" process to upgrade the ROM, but OpenZaurus can modify it at any time. This could possibly create a risk of hardware failure, as flash memory has limited reusability)

        a better jpg viewer that might allow me to see large pictures direct off my digital camera in full screen mode

        The viewer can scale and rotate. However, it's decompression algorithm might not be efficient enough to unpack a full 1600x1200 JPG without exhausting your system RAM. (There are commerical viewers which can definately cope)

        The problem I have with my zaurus is that is does not work with my wireless card.

        OpenZaurus is known to work pretty well with this. Of course, the Sharp ROMs often handled it decently too (although they split the network configuration across several applets, making you go through more steps to set it up)
        • "limited reusability" - this kind of scares me. What exactly does that mean?
          • It means the flash memory hardware will eventually die. The usual number heard is one million [amd.com] writes, or more.

            That should last years- and in a few years, CompactFlash cards will be cheap anyway, so who cares? (As long as it's not built into your PDA- but a PDA will be obselete in 4 years as well)

            Note that most flash chips contain a little software for "wear leveling" to ensure that those million writes don't happen at all the same place, burning a tiny "hole" in the media while the rest is left unused.
      • I was first hestant to install the OpenZaurus ROM on mine, having had it for only a few days. I took the plunge finally and the difference is quite astonishing, in my opinion.

        One thing I noticed right off is that the GUI feels much faster and smoother than the stock Sharp ROM. The 'Patience' solitaire game has a card-flipping graphical cutesie and with the OZ ROM, it's definitely smoother.

        Another change is that OpenSSH is pre-installed; a nice addition. I guess the main benefit is active development of t
      • Err perhaps someone could explain to me what is better about openZaurus, I mean apart from knowing that nobody made any money out of writing the code why am i meant to think this a good thing?

        For the same reason millions of people erase Windows from their machines and install Linux: the open source version works better.

        Does it have a better version of mastermind? a better jpg viewer that might allow me to see large pictures direct off my digital camera in full screen mode

        I believe all Zaurus distribu

  • Some useful links (Score:5, Informative)

    by WotanKhan (150429) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:35PM (#5620376) Homepage
    I got in on the HSN deal and picked up a couple Zaurii? for me and a buddy. I'm absolutely thrilled with it. Currently working my way through this excellent guide [linuxdevices.com] (key tip: pipe is shift-enter).

    Some more useful links:
    Zaurus DevNet forums [zaurus.com]
    The Zaurus Notebook (tips and tricks) [zaurus.com]
    Zaurus Loves Linux [loveslinux.com]

    Now what I really want, is a portable device to connect the usb cable from the phone described in this article [slashdot.org] to the Zaurus dataport.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:36PM (#5620380)
    Sometime while I'm in Japan for the next year I'm going to buy an SL-C700.

    All the features of the SL-5600 with a nice big screen and full keyboard.

    I know Dynamism wants $700 for theirs, but if you can get it for less, there are guides online that have reverse engineered their localization process. I don't know what their markup is but I've seen it put at around $200 (!!)
  • by (startx) (37027)
    I just bought mine at the same time, for the same reason, and I'm in the process of writing a review I was going to post to /., damn you! oh well, guess I can find better things to do...
  • i m wating for the sharp that i saw in the linuxworld expo in NY. It was kinda slick, but too bad it is only available in Japan right now.
  • Does anyone know of a good source for these devices in the UK? They seem very expensive over here! (dabs.com @ £233 / $368 US).

  • I got one too (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:50PM (#5620427)
    I was in the market for a laptop so I could read email, surf, and SSH from anywhere (including when on the shitter). Wanted WiFi as well.

    But then the HSN special came up, and DAMN I had to try it out.

    It's a very cool device which is perfect for my needs but a little lacking as a general purpose PDA. However it has a LOT of potential.

    Hint: don't bother with OpenZaurus unless you like to experiment. It breaks everything. Stick with the stock ROM if you want to use PIM functions. I had problems with Opera, Konqurer, TheKompany's apps, and pretty much anything that didn't come with OZ. Too bad, because the base components of OZ are much better than the stock ROM (for instance it actually shows how much battery you have left as %-age).

    I set up wireless, set it up to do backups with rsync+SSH, and to NFS mount my MP3 directory. I have it running through my privoxy proxy, filtering out ads and cookies... Sweeeeeeeeet!

    Hint: to set up your WCF12 card (if you have one of those), set up syslog to log somewhere, run syslog, and plug in your card. You'll see the necessary parameters to set up the card in the logs.

    Another hint: DON'T EVER REBOOT FROM THE GUI .. about 1/10 of the time it will lock up and you have to hard reset (clears the memory!). Do the following:

    1) quit Qtopia
    2) while it's counting down, hit '/'
    3) hit 'a' at the menu to get a console login
    4) log in
    5) type "telinit 6"

    Be sure to back up often anyway, since your stuff is stored in a ramdisk.

    Anyway this is LOTS of fun for linux geeks, I haven't had this much fun since I installed OS X (UNIX COMMAND LINE.. ON A MAC??? AND NOW ON A PDA??? *spurt*). In fact I often think to myself.. whoa...what if APPLE made one of these bad boys with Mac OS X and apps that "just work" .. that would rock.

    Unfortunately it doesn't work with OS X / iSync but you can at least set up USB networking with this driver [lucid-cake.net]. Tell Apple you'd like them to support the zaurus, since many Zaurus geeks are probably also OS X geeks!

    Anyway, these things are super-fun .. give 'em a couple more years to improve (software, processor speed, battery life) and they will positively ROCK. Hopefully now that more folks are using them there will be more software. I'm personally looking out for an RSS newsreader and a simple outliner (like OmniOutliner on the mac). Also an SFTP graphical client would be cool.
    • If you switch the battery change switch off and on, you'll reboot without clearing the ramdisk, which may or may not be sufficient. Didn't figure this out until I'd hard reset (with the button inside the compartment) several times.

      There's something really weird about seeing a machine fscking a ramdisk.
    • 1) quit Qtopia
      2) while it's counting down, hit '/'
      3) hit 'a' at the menu to get a console login
      4) log in
      5) type "telinit 6"

      And it's just that easy! :)
    • I bought my Zaurus in August, and Sharp and Trolltech were both saying something along the lines of "OS X Sync Real Soon Now". Well, it's 9 months later and there's still nothing. The Trolltech site says that there's a version of Qtopia Desktop for OS X, but there's no place to actually download it. I like my Zaurus, mostly, but not being able to sync it with my Mac is really annoying.
    • There is a bug where if you reset the Zaurus twice in a row without suspending it in between, it will crash and require a total reset.
      Perhaps this was the cause of your 10% of failed reboots?
      Once I head about this I've been sure to follow it and haven't had a reboot trast everything yet (knock on wood).
  • by AirLace (86148) on Friday March 28, 2003 @09:53PM (#5620439)
    I've had my Zaurus 5500 for about a year now, but only recently switched to the OpenZaurus firmware. It's faster and more polished than the firmware that comes with the Zaurus, with the advantage of being constantly updated and running better Free Software equivalents like Konqueror Embedded. It's just a matter of copying the ROM images to CF and rebooting the Zaurus to flash the ROM; I'd recommend it to any Zaurus owner, including the author of the article.
  • Anyone know where to find one cheap now? also, how much will the 5600 be?
  • What is he talking about? I bought my first Palm, 6 or 7 years ago, because of Graffiti and I'm yet to see such a reliable text recognition system on any other device. Admittedly it does take 30 minutes or so to learn and a reviewer too lazy to include a picture of the device being reviewed might not have the attention span for that.
    • I think the reason that there wasn't a picture is because he wanted to avoid getting slashdotted. Even so, function over fashion, hombre.
  • I love my new $180 HSN zaurus! I love all of the remote admin tasks that I can use the zaurus for. Right now I'm addicted to playing doom (prboom) on it with full midi sound trak! I also get a kick out of runnig the doom server for other players to game on. :)
  • Zaurus 5600 (Score:3, Informative)

    by YahoKa (577942) on Friday March 28, 2003 @10:19PM (#5620530)
    FYA, your modern PDA is outdated ... out-dated [sharp-usa.com].
  • If I were to get another PDA, I've had and sold 3, I would get a Zaurus without a second thought. I think it's the best looking PDA on the market, plus it runs my favorite OS ;) .
    Alas, for the time being I must be confined to writing an imitation Linux shell for my Ti-89... =\ O well.. hopefully I'm getting paid soon... =)
  • I also bought the SL-5500 on HSN. I am also very happy.

    My one complaint is that I can't hookup the SL-5500 to my cell phone, a Samsung SPH-N400. My cell phone has no way to connect to a regular serial port, but it does have a USB cable to connect to a USB host. The host computer can than use the cell phone as a modem to connect to the Internet using Sprint PCS's Vision network. The only way I have thought of to connect the phone to the PDA would be to use this CF USB Host adaptor [ratocsystems.com] to give the Zaurus a
  • I lucked out, and ordered mine a few hours earlier than the article came out on slashdot. (www.slickdeals.net - probably giving a good secret away.) I actually had 2 hours to research it before deciding to buy it.

    Mostly I bought this since besides my old Palm III that I use for a remote control at home, I am PDA-less. The crowd at our M$ shop at work are all getting PocketPC's. So far I've been able to prove it's worthiness except to those with the brand-spanking-new ones. But for the price, I have the
  • by Sir Network (183139) on Friday March 28, 2003 @10:58PM (#5620640) Journal
    I mean, read the review:
    -Portable web server
    -Wireless networking capable
    -SSH
    -Able to connect by USB or LAN

    This will be a tool at the disposal of every al Qaeda foot soldier and Iraqi intelligence officer.
    Sharp must be stopped and sanctioned for this negligence.
    My God... think of the children, man!
    Good thing I have Homeland Security on speed dial.

  • I've put off getting a PDA for ages, usually what I like costs way more than I want to pay. Now I'm going to get all these little pieces of paper together and enter phone nums, email addrs, snailmail addrs, etc. into this baby. It's pretty cool, though the battery certainly has too short a life to play games on it. I've looked around and batteries are ~50$US. I figure I'll get one next month. Big project will be finding a way to connect it to my Garmin ETrex :-)
  • by prostoalex (308614) on Friday March 28, 2003 @11:21PM (#5620725) Homepage Journal
    I used to own a Sharp Zaurus, but then sold mine used and got a Dell Axim. Here're some impressions:

    What's wrong with Sharp Zaurus [epinions.com] - mainly battery life, applications crashing when dealing with lartge documents, inconvenient thumb keyboard.

    What's good and bad about Dell Axim [epinions.com] - mainly problems with battery reporting, problems with ActiveSync and infamous battery reporting bug.

  • I wonder how many Zaurii HSN sold that day, everyone and their uncle seems to have acquired one.

    Here's a little word to the wise if you're looking for 802.11b access. Do NOT buy a Linksys WCF12 card if you're planning on using the Sharp ROM. It doesn't work out of the box and requires a LOT of trial and error to get functioning. Save yourself a headache and get one that's listed in /etc/pcmcia/wlan-ng.conf

    I wish I'd done that, would've saved me a couple hours of vi on that little tiny keyboard.
  • A few reviewers have said they like the word game. It does not have the same letter values or frequency distribution as the "proprietary" cross word game, there are no blanks, you can't pass, it doesn't use OSPD3 and I don't see how to substitute your own word list. The other really annoying feature is the fact that relatively few different starting racks come up. The lack of randomness is pretty lame. ...and it is relatively easy to beat. You can add words by telling it to accept them as they come up,
    • Heh, I haven't even gotten to the word game yet! Guess Kismet and quake was more of a priority. I'll have to try it.
    • it doesn't use OSPD3

      That's a bonus; OSPD sucks big time. The game was designed for a normal concise dictionary of normal word usage. The OSPD allows hundreds of words that are not in common usage and are not even English, making a mockery of the letter distributions and scores; it's just a marketing gimmick.

      TWW

    • has anyone gotten a gameboy emulator running on this thing? comments?
  • Also, today I realized that while using this on the work wireless network (no URL monitoring)... I can use my Zaurus to browse Monster.com without it being displayed on my monitor as people walked by.
    Instead I must have looked like I was worried about imminent tasks and appointments!

    And now to the porno sites....
  • by bsa3 (200)
    Call 'em up on the phone -- (800) 284 3100. Give them the item number (694341) and you can order. They've got thousands, but for some reason it's not on the web site right now. Unfortunately, the 15% off coupon is web-only, but you can use 594321 to get $15 off.
  • The zaurus is NOT listed on the HSN site, however, if you call them at their 800 number, they can order for you (i just did!:)
    1-800-284-3900
    The product number is 694341, or they can look it up by keyword
    dont forget to get your 15% off if you're a new customer-coupons at: deal news [dealcoupon.com]
  • Wah! (Score:3, Funny)

    by MousePotato (124958) on Saturday March 29, 2003 @12:45AM (#5621055) Homepage Journal
    I'm not buying one of these (or any pda for that matter) until it is smart enough to tell me that the stylus is more than three feet from it and is danger of being lost.
  • One cool thing I liked about the Zaurus was that the 'graffiti' mode also provided word completion, something which Palm's overlooked.
  • I just stumbled upon this page with some alternatives to the SL-5500:

    That's the first I've heard of OpenPDA. Anyone know if their claim is true that the Sharp Zaurus uses their software?

  • Internet Access

    I'm behind a NAT firewall, here's what I did to surf the Web on the Zaurus (it comes with Opera)

    adjust the registry on my Win2000 box to enable IP routing
    adjust the IPTables rules on my firewall to permit 192.168.129.0/24 outbound
    added a static route to the 192.168.129.0/24 network via my Windows2000 computer's Ethernet network IP address

    ssh into the Zaurus
    route add -net 0.0.0.0/0 gw 192.168.129.1
    adjust /etc/resolv.conf to use a nameserver of your choice

    Try surfing on the Zaurus. Don't ta

    • Ok, this url (http://www.wown.info/j_helmig/w2kprout.htm) shows how to enable routing. I *think* it is working (I see the blinkenlights in the taskbar), but I don't think packets are coming back from the nat/router...
    • Set the key:

      HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Serv ic es\Tcpip\Parameters\IPEnableRouter
      to "1" and reboot. Now you are a router.

      • Yes, I did that.

        I kept the zaurus on 192.168.129.x network, and added the route. Other machines on my lan could talk to the zaurus and vice versa, however, the zaurus could not get out. Packets for the internet would correctly travel over 192.168.129.1, to 192.168.0.2 (w2k nic) to the router, but nothing would come back, even after adding static routes to my router and setting the netmask to 255.255.0.0.

        So then I put the Zaurus on the same 192.168.0.x net...the USB connection was 192.168.0.10 and the Z
  • I wouldn't like to be without my Zaurus today. I decided to ditch the Sharp ROM and install openzaurus [sf.net]. It make a cool little PDA and added to a WiFi card open some intresting possibilities. Apart from the normal war walking/driving (if so look at kismet) I've used it to map out the range of my WiFI access point.

    The reasoning behind this is that I want to setup a WLAN across the village I live in so that we then might be able to get some broandband. Now instead of having to lug a laptop round and hold it I
  • I might be willing to give up my Treo.
  • But mine crashes all the time... I lose data left and right.

    I was backing up a bunch. realized I had too many files, deleted them, was going to back up, and did a terminal based restart. BAM.. required a reset.. all data gone, no backups.

    crap.. and I was having fun... :(
  • This quote is worth repreating:

    On reboot, it went through a traditional fsck routine, and rose like Lazarus.

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