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Device for Taking Travel Notes? 456

Posted by simoniker
from the no-computer-but-computer dept.
the Anonymous Wanderer writes "When I go in vacations, I like to take notes and upon return write a travel story for my friends. Until now I've been using a paper notebook, but found that I'm so busy when I come back that the notebook sits for weeks or months unopened. On the other hand, I have some 'dead' time during trips and I'd like to take the notes electronically (final editing could be done upon return). I don't want to carry a laptop or a PDA (too expensive, plus I want to be away from computers at least those 2 weeks per year). Any suggestions for a light, cheap, keyboard-equipped device? Like a travel clock + keyboard and more memory and USB? Thanks, the Anonymous Wanderer."
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Device for Taking Travel Notes?

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  • A different option (Score:5, Informative)

    by strictnein (318940) * <strictfoo-slashd ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:01PM (#9176439) Homepage Journal
    A calculator is always nice to have [ti.com]. And you can plug in a keyboard [ti.com]. And while you're out traveling, you can also [ti.com] be collecting data! [ti.com]
  • You know (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Neil Blender (555885)
    There are cheap pdas. And you can buy keyboards for them. I doubt you will find anything much better than a pda.
    • Re:You know (Score:3, Interesting)

      by chimpo13 (471212)
      That sounds like the best idea if you don't want paper. I looked into it too. Old PDA that runs off AA rechargebles and a fold-up keyboard.

      Although after screwing with it, I figure a paper notebook would be better. I like having something to screw around with. Easy to flip through, insert stuff into and something permanent. Electronic copies just aren't as neat as paper.

      When I type my travel reports, I'll be able to edit them down.
    • Re:You know (Score:3, Informative)

      with about 60 seconds of searching on eBay (check user BuyEssex) I was able to find a Sony Clie (monochrome) PDA for under $20 and a keyboard to go with for under $1.
    • Re:You know (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NanoGator (522640)
      "There are cheap pdas. And you can buy keyboards for them. I doubt you will find anything much better than a pda. "

      Get one with a voice recorder then use the keyboard on your pc. And before everybody comes by saying "Why not use a tape recorder?", think about what a PITA it'd be to scroll around an audio tape instead of clicking on a filename.wav with a time and date stamp that can be renamed to anything you like.
  • Tandy (Score:5, Informative)

    by speleo (61031) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:01PM (#9176457) Homepage
    You want a Tandy WP-2 or Radio Shack Model 100. Go here: http://www.8bit-micro.com/wp2wp3.htm
    • Poqet or Psion (Score:3, Informative)

      by tverbeek (457094)
      Another option is an old Poqet PC. It was a PC-XT in a package the size of a VHS cassette, and runs for days on a couple AAs. It's not as easy to type on as a "Model T" (as the TRS-80 100's are affectionately known), but it's smaller and has a 80x25 character screen. You can easily run the DOS text editor of your choice (or even WordPerfect 5.1) on it, and transfer files via serial or PCMCIA cards.

      I'd also suggesting looking at Psion's old PDAs (Series3, Siena, Revo), which were even smaller, had reaso

  • Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by VAXGeek (3443) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:02PM (#9176459) Homepage
    Here's the solution for your problem: just get a really expensive notebook (executive journal). This way, you'll have spent enough money to actually feel bad not using it, and you'll actually save money not buying a stupid electronic device just to jot down some words.
    • Re:Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NanoGator (522640) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:58PM (#9177092) Homepage Journal
      "and you'll actually save money not buying a stupid electronic device just to jot down some words. "

      I really hate when people get modded up for saying "do it the old fashioned way!" Not only is it not the nerd/geek way, but it's also a cheap shot at gaining a +5 Insightful.

      Never mind that PDA's are smaller than journals, that it's hard to organize what you've got since a journal is sorted only in chronological order, that there's value in having digital backups, and the other benefits of having tools such as voice recorder, no no no, the oversimplified pen and paper answer is the real solution to his problem.

      Why don't you use a little brain power to help this guy instead of trying to gain karma by making this guy's request sound non-sensical?
      • Re:Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

        by instarx (615765)
        I really hate when people get modded up for saying "do it the old fashioned way!"
        So sorry that everyone does not look at solving a problem the same way you do. Why don't we just get everyone to stop posting and then we can save time by simply reading what you have to say on the matter.

        Why don't you use a little brain power to help this guy...
        The original poster was looking for a possible solution to a problem. It may very well be that he has already found the best solution with paper and pen. In spi
  • Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jargoone (166102) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:02PM (#9176462)
    You want an electronic device, that has a keyboard, you can type on, but is not a laptop or a PDA? Is there a punchline here?

    Christ, buy a Palm IIIe and a keyboard from eBay. Way less than $50. If that's too expensive, stick with your notebook and buy a scanner.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:06PM (#9176531)
      the reason you're confused is that he has more requirements: he wants to get away from computers for the whole time.

      so, be thinking more along the lines of a clay tablet he can chisel, but it's also a sundial.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by dr_dank (472072) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:14PM (#9176643) Homepage Journal
      This guy strikes me as someone who would walk into a deli and say:

      "I'll have a BLT, hold the bacon and lettuce, and don't DARE give me a tomato sandwich!"
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Atzanteol (99067) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:23PM (#9176732) Homepage
        Hmm.. You're not going to believe this, but just today I ordered a BLT for lunch. The question I get? "Do you want lettuce and tomato on that?" I jokingly said 'No' (thinking it was a joke) and he served me Bacon, Cheese and mayo on bread. :-)

        I now return you to your regularly scheduled doldrums...
        • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

          by magarity (164372)
          I once ordered a hot ham and cheeze and was asked if I wanted cheeze on it. I pointed out that would make it just a hot ham. The worker told me so many people get mad about the cheeze that they didn't ask for when ordering a "hot ham and cheeze" by name that she now asks everyone even though she agreed it was a pretty stupid question.
          • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

            by l810c (551591) *
            I hate this routine every time I order Dominoes:

            (me)I'll have a small Pepperoni pizza
            (them)Medium
            (me)HUH?
            (them)We don't have small, only medium and large
            (me)How can you have a medium without a small, medium means your mid-size pizza
            (them)HUH?
            (me)Never mind, just give me the smallest pizza you have
            (them)medium
            (me)whatever

            • When I worked at Starbucks we had Tall, Grande, and Venti drinks. There used to be a Short, but after the Venti was added the Short had to be removed. People kept ordering "Medium," most of whom couldn't understand that they cannot order a medium in a 4 size index. Of course, with our smallest drink labeled a Tall the customers had constant questions when we would relay their order to other people, and we had to double-check with everyone who ordered a Tall that they wanted the smallest drink we served.
    • I can appreciate the desire to ditch all computing power and just stick to a basic word processor. As soon as I get on a train with my palm I start playing solitare. The escape from computers that I used to get from being on the train is lost. It's even worse if you throw GPS, email, SMS, or other high tech distraction into the mix. This guy wants to find a digital notebook that won't detract from his travels the way a laptop/pda would. I totally understand.
    • by CarrionBird (589738) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:33PM (#9176843) Journal
      All he needs is a P-P-Powerbook! Infinite battery life too!
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

      by AchilleTalon (540925)
      Does it count if we suggest a pencil with some blue and red LEDs? And a piece of paper?

      Or, maybe pencil and paper, then use you digital camera to picture it and recycle the paper.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MoonBuggy (611105)
      For fuck's sake guys, we're supposed to be helping him. I know exactly what he means - paper is impractical due to the lack of editing, copying, sorting etc capability. A PDA is not great to type on since you can't do anything long on a touchscreen and folding keyboards (generally) suck. A laptop is too heavy, too expensive and absolute overkill for this task. He thought that maybe a community of geeks would know something that had the advantages of digital without the problems mentioned in the devices abov
  • oh no! (Score:3, Funny)

    by davidmcn (606752) <dmcnelis&gmail,com> on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:02PM (#9176463) Homepage
    This sounds like one of those people that sends the annonying 10 page email out to a list of their 50 closest friends detailing all the event on their vacation! Save us! Someone please! :)
  • Alphasmart! (Score:5, Informative)

    by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd.harrelsonfamily@org> on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:02PM (#9176465) Homepage
    Try here: Alphasmart [alphasmart.com]. They even have many models which will work off of AA batteries.
    • by nova20 (524082)
      They even have many models which will work off of AA batteries.

      I *have* to get my mind out of the gutter.

      /nova20

    • My wife is a novelist, and has used her Alphasmart for years. She loves it. It's lightweight and easy to type on.
  • by erick99 (743982) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:02PM (#9176466)
    You may want to consider using a cell phone that opens up into a keyboard. (The Nokia 6800 is a nice choice). This would allow you to send text messages to your email address. Some of these keyboard cell phones are really cool.The Nokia 6800 [nokia.com] opens into a QWERTY keyboard and works quite nicely. I've used it and was surprised at how fast I could enter text.

    Happy Trails!

    Erick

  • Here's a suggestion (Score:5, Informative)

    by metlin (258108) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:03PM (#9176483) Journal
    If too expensive is the reason you do not want to carry a laptop or a PDA, then I strongly suggest you get one of those el-cheapo Palm Vx's off eBay for like $20 or something.

    You can also get a foldable portable palm keyboard [foxpop.co.uk] for less than $5.

    It's really portable and quite comfortable to type in too [seapug.com].

    I always carry these around when I go wandering -- they are good companions in the wilderness (read books, take notes etc) and you can read them in the dark too (they come with a back-lit display).

    Besides, using them does not make you feel like you are using a computer-ish device, just think of them as nothing more than advanced note-taking tools with alarm clocks and games :)

    And oh, if you are the type who hikes/climbs mountains etc., you could hook up a GPS to your Palm to look up directions using something like Cetus GPS [cetusgps.dk] - that way you have a GPS tool, alarm clock and a note-taking tool all bundled into one.
  • Depending on your travel, if your laptop gets full of sand or falls into the water, or you fall off a bike and break your $600 PDA, you definitely want to have a notebook and pen handy.

    Or, wait. Just skip the electronic gadgets all together and bring a 2 oz notebook and pen.
  • Why Not A PDA? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by datastalker (775227) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:03PM (#9176489) Homepage
    Travel Clock + KeyBoard + Memory + USB = PDA If you're worried about cost, a Zaurus SL-5000D or SL-5500 [ebay.com] can be gotten on eBay for a reasonable price. Of course, if you're not concerned about price, then the Treo 600 [handspring.com] would do what you need, and comes with a (albeit poor) camera.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Your notebook and pen will likely never fail you, won't break if you drop it, will cost little to replace if someone steals it, and you're more likely to actually use it on your trip.

    But this is slashdot, so let's discuss electronic toys we can add to our debts. We like paying for things after they've become landfil.

  • ...and the device you described is called a PDA.

    I personally prefer a device called a "digital camera" for my travel note-taking, but it has the same problem, I never seem to get around to dealing with the output.

    -JDF
  • no PDAs? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mikeee (137160) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:04PM (#9176497)
    Not sure why you're ruling those out. An obsolete Palmpilot (say, a Vx) with an external keyboard will fit the bill nicely, down to being a decent alarmclock, too.
  • Eh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jdbarillari (590703) <joseph+slashdot@barillari.org> on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:04PM (#9176501) Homepage
    I don't want to carry a laptop or a PDA (too expensive, plus I want to be away from computers at least those 2 weeks per year). Any suggestions for a light, cheap, keyboard-equipped device? Like a travel clock + keyboard and more memory and USB?

    This almost sounds like a troll -- "I don't want to carry a PDA, but I want a device with a keyboard and USB. A travel clock with a keyboard? What universe are you from?

    Anyway, I recommend getting a cheap early-model Palm Pilot (circa $100 or so, especially if you get 'em used) and a keyboard. I used the Palm m500 and a Logitech keyboard (about $75, less used, I assume) to write a travelogue on a trip this summer. The battery life on the plam impressive, and if you lose it, you're only out less than $200. Or much, much less if you buy used.

    One caveat: the accuracy on those tiny keyboards sucks. Expect to spend some time cleaning up yuor speling on your home pc.

  • by Serapth (643581)
    Like a travel clock + keyboard and more memory and USB?

    Looks like a duck, talks like a duck, quacks like a duck... hey, its a duck

    Hate to tell you, but you are looking for a pda, pure and simple. My recomendation is to look on ebay for a first or second generation Windows CE devices ( the kinda with a keyboard ), or the origional Zaruas. You should be able to pick one up used for 100$.
    • by srussell (39342)

      My recomendation is to look on ebay for a first or second generation Windows CE devices

      A first or second generation PalmOS device with a keyboard would be better for travel. The PalmOS devices could run literally for months without a recharge and some took AAA batteries, which are easily replaced while on the road. WinCE devices -- especially the first and second generation devices -- were notorious battery hogs, and that's bad news when you're on vacation.

      Having a built-in keyboard, rather than a f

  • a phone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by riffenator (197038)
    like a sidekick
  • Sony U70 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by konfoo (677366) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:05PM (#9176511)
    http://www.dynamism.com/u70/

    Seems like just the ticket - but it may empty out your wallet considerably. I've used the U101 a lot when travelling for everything to photo editing, dv editing, notes, watching movies on 10 hour plane flights, or wifi net connectivity -- but the U70 (although the 800x600 screen seems too small for my liking) seems more flexible / portable.
  • by All Names Have Been (629775) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:05PM (#9176517)
    I recommend this device [xu.edu]. Small, relatively lightweight, not a PDA or notebook, and is called Stallman. What more could an aspiring Slashdot geek want?

    It is, however, missing your travel clock and USB connectivity requirements.
  • by zerosignal (222614) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:06PM (#9176523) Homepage Journal
    You say you don't want a PDA, but it sounds like that's exactly what you need. You can get a basic Palm and a mini keyboard for under $100.
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:06PM (#9176524) Homepage Journal
    Any suggestions for a light, cheap, keyboard-equipped device? Like a travel clock + keyboard and more memory and USB? Thanks, the Anonymous Wanderer.

    A camcorder may not have a keyboard, and may not be easy to take notes on - but believe me, there's nothing like audio+video to make a memorable/enjoyable memoir of your trip.

    I never thought of a camcorder (usually $300+) as a worthwhile investment, but my recent experiences changed that view - my parents're visiting and they've got a camcorder along (Sony, about $500.00, I think).

    Nothing beats a camcorder to take audio/visual notes including a running commentary. It's even fun to plug it back in to the computer and edit it and relive the memorable portions of the trip later. Give it a try.

  • Calculscribe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rodgling (165255) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:06PM (#9176525)
    Try the calcuscribe [calcuscribe.com]. Light, small, fullsize keyboard and runs for months off three AA batteries. Oh yeah, and it connects via the keyboard port so it works with everything.

    On the downside, they're staggeringly overpriced ($240) for a keyboard + flash memory + LCD screen.
  • If you want to turn your notes into an electronic format, then you WILL need to use a computing device. SURPRISE!!! You're just being lazy if you don't translate what you've written down on paper to a word processing program on a computer to store and potentially print out later.

    It just appears to me that you're being a whiny little bitch for 2 reasons:
    1) if you use paper, then you're bitching about how you need to spend extra time on transferring it to a computer
    2) if you use a laptop or PDA, then you
  • by xintegerx (557455) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:07PM (#9176544) Homepage
    If the notebook is so boring after the trip that you don't even want to subject your own mind to reading it, why the hell do you think anybody else would care?

    Sorry, I am just being very straightforward.
  • Psion! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WegianWarrior (649800) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:07PM (#9176545) Journal

    I'm seriously in love with my trusty old Psion Series 5 for writing stuff on - I mean, the odd short note is fine to do on the Palm M130 I got, but nothing can beat the Psion for datainput. True, it has only a serial conector, but then, nothing is perfect. A Psion 5MX or a Revo might be just what you need.

  • How will the note taking device being electronic solve the problem that you don't have time to write up the story when you get back? Won't it just be a more expensive way of not writing the story for a while after your return?

    My advice would be to just stay with the pad and pen. You will save the money on the device and batteries with out loosing any functionality as I see it.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:07PM (#9176548) Homepage Journal
    I have the Visor with the collapsible keyboard and I used to take that with me for my travel writing and although it worked ok it kept crashing like crazy. I bought a Psion 5 on eBay and it ROCKS! Comes with a keyboard ( a little small but usable ) built in voice recorder. Notably it takes a standard CF card and I shoved a 40 something meg card into it. It comes with reasonable versions of Word, thesaurus, spell checker, etc and it works great. I even have an Ethernet adaptor for it.

    You can see see the eBay Psion 5 [ebay.com] stuff here. Runs on two AA batteries. I wouldn't have thought to get one but I got the recommendation from Robert Young Pelton author of the World's Most Dangerous Places [amazon.com]. If it's good enough for him....
  • alphasmart (Score:3, Informative)

    by srobillard (236231) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:07PM (#9176551)
    Check out a thing called the alphasmart.

    http://www.alphasmart.com/

    it has all the features you are looking for.
  • PDA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:07PM (#9176552) Homepage Journal
    Dude... ok, call me an ASS, but this is EXACTALLY the point of a PDA.

    As for expensive, what exactally IS your budget? Sure there ARE $500 PDA's, but there are also $50 PDA's. You can't justify your avoidance on cost and I personally think the "I like to get away from computers...." arguement is rediculous. If you were a bus driver, this would be equivilent to saying you want to go on vacation, without being subject to a car/bus/whatever-can-be-driven.

    Hell, if its notess you want, get a $10 mini-cassette recorder, and just talk into it. It will be much easier to deal with then pen and paper anyway.
  • by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:08PM (#9176556) Journal
    I don't want to carry a laptop or a PDA (too expensive, plus I want to be away from computers at least those 2 weeks per year). Any suggestions for a light, cheap, keyboard-equipped device? Like a travel clock + keyboard and more memory and USB?

    If you want to be away from computers, use pen and paper to take your notes, like all those guys wearing flannel shirts at your local Starbucks. If a device has USB, keyboard and memory, it's a computer according to the classic definition [webopedia.com] with embedded software - just as any PDA, but more limited. So... why not to use the PDA anyway?
  • Pick one (Score:5, Informative)

    by GrouchoMarx (153170) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:08PM (#9176560) Homepage
    You want to be away from a computer, but you want an electronic way to take notes? Does Not Compute.

    Honestly, get yourself a Palm [palmone.com] and the Palm UT Keyboard or even the wireless IR keyboard they sell. OK, so it's electronic. It's still the most convenient you'll find, and has a ton of other features as well. Like reading ebooks on the plane on the way to your vacation, then taking notes while on the vacation, then playing games on the way back from your vacation. It works out quite nicely. :-)

    These guys [infosyncworld.com] can give you great advice on which model you want to get. They've reviewed just about every handheld in existence.

    Disclaimer: I am one of "those guys". :-)
  • If you don't have time to do anything with your paper notebook after you get back, why do you think you'll have time to do the "final editing" with digital data?
    I think a re-evaluation of your schedule after vacations is more justified than a new equipment purpose.
  • Bwah (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What you describe is a PDA or notebook, or some bastard version of the same.

    Is this "I am bored so lets ask /. stupid questions"?

    That said if you really want to get away from computers for your vacation, get a dictation recorder (not sure on proper english term). You know the devices people used to use to dictate letters etc for their secretaries to write up. Digital storage versions existed last time I checked. Take voice notes, then transcribe later. Maybe you could even hook it up with some speech reco
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:10PM (#9176583)
    I take a regular film camera with slide film, since I have a kodak slide projector with a top mounted slide charger (with cable remote!).

    No one ever shows up for my slide shows, however.

    Do other people bother to look at your digital travel photos and/or videos?

  • Voice- faster notes (Score:4, Informative)

    by snoochyboochy (593098) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:10PM (#9176587)
    On our recent honeymoon in NZ I used a USB MP3 player with a mic to record short notes. Worked great, got lots of ambient sounds to go with the pics, plus now I'll always know how dorky I sound in person....
  • outsource (Score:2, Funny)

    by lordrhett (226154)
    Just use a little microcassette recorder and outsource the transcription to India.
  • Tape recorder? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JonMartin (123209) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:11PM (#9176599) Homepage
    Or the digital equivalent. Something small that you can carry in a pocket. Pull it out whenever you want to take some notes. You can do improv stuff or record a more organized daily summary. And you can grab sounds from the environment. Nothing connects people more than the sound of voices (particularly if the voice is of a friend or relative). Instead of describing the ocean with words, just record "I'm at the ocean. Listen." When you get back to a computer all you have to do is encode it and put it on the web. You can probably do that at Internet cafes while you travel.
  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:11PM (#9176600) Homepage
    Why not get a tape recorder and use voice recognition software?

    I remember seeing the olypus digital recorder comming bundled with software and connecting wires.

  • I used to have a PocketPC, and I've also been collecting ideas for stories I've been wanting to write. During my 15 minute walk home, I used to always be inspired with new ideas. I started taking my PocketPC with me and using the voice recorder function to record my notes. (I didn't wanna stop and tap tap tap.) When I found some time, I'd go one by one down the audio files and set the filename to something meaningful for the note.

    I just wanted to suggest this to you because you may see a good workflow
  • Why write notes? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sean80 (567340) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:13PM (#9176626)
    Why write notes when you can hear yourself talking! Maybe I'm missing the point of the question, but wouldn't it be easier to buy one of those cool digital voice-recorders, and later write the notes from that, when you get home? I understand you can even get ones that will download content onto a PC at the end of the day.

    Been meaning to buy one for myself for ages. Especially in the traffic in the morning, when I have a bright idea, hell of a lot easier to speak it than write it down.

  • by JMZero (449047)
    Your cheapest, easiest solution is likely a used Palm with a fold-out keyboard. This shouldn't end up costing more than $50 or $60. The fact that so many people want to be rid of their "obsolete" Palms ends up subsidizing your cost.

    Just hide all of the other icons on the menu. Ooh, and get a sticker that says "NoteTaker 2000" to put over the Palm logo. That way you won't have a PDA with you.
  • a PDA is not to expensive you can find them for 100 bucks. Your not going to get away from a computer... if you having a keyboard plugged into any type of device that is a computer. You can use the pda for nothing but typing if you want to be away from the computer. Also install nothing else on it and you will be unlikely to use it for anything but typing. It would offer you the best solution of typing editting (if you want) and portability if you plug a keyboard into it. This is part of what PDA where made
  • Because it's built into my phone, I've always got a usable keyboard with me and a hierarchical note management utility (myList). As well as a decent voice recorder, wordprocesor and the rest.

  • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:14PM (#9176637) Journal
    Why does it have to be written? It sounds like since you were writing it down on pen and paper you had todo lots of transposing already.

    Why not invest in an mp3 recorder and use it to keep an audio journal of your vacation.

    Then when you come home you can just sit down and listen to the entries and use them to write your story.

    Firstly, mp3 recorders and the memory they use are cheap.
    Secondly, it's alot smaller and lighter than a pen / notebook.
    Thirdly, if your've near the right facilites you could even upload your log entries to a server just in case you use lose the thing.

    You could even setup a webpage so your friends and family to co surf to your site and listen to your log entries.
  • Seriously... use a pen and paper if you want to make travel notes. If you want to get away from the world, also get away from anything technology rated.

    All right fine, buy a Nokia Communicator!
  • My Experiences... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bobej1977 (580278) * <rejamison@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:15PM (#9176648) Homepage Journal
    I had a similar dilemma, where I used to carry pen and paper around to make notes or write down observations. Innevitably, these notes all end up in a box in my closet which I'm sure I'll lug around until the end of time without ever seriously going through. Upon buying a PDA, I realized that electronic notes are just as bad, in that, I still needed to weed through them, and they lacked the visceral context that a pen & paper provides (small spills, crumpled pages, shaky writing) which I found I enjoyed quite as much as the text. I then tried using my cellphone, which got back some of the context (noisy bar, excited voice, 3am) but put me deeper into the transcribing hole.

    In the end, I'm back to pen and paper and decided that if it isn't important enough that I'm not willing to transcribe it, then off it goes to the 'black hole of ideas' box. Maybe when I die, someone will edit and publish it. More likely, it will mislead a future team of archealogists into thinking we were all a bunch of crazy bastards.

    I'd try the phone thing though, if you're traveling locally. Get familiar with a sound editor and you can give your audience something a little cooler than text.

  • Got iPod? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hondo77 (324058) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:15PM (#9176649) Homepage
    If you're taking along an iPod (and I have no idea if you are or not), how about getting an iTalk [griffintechnology.com] to go with it and dictate your notes?
  • Er... what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alaren (682568) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:16PM (#9176653)

    When I go in vacations, I like to take notes [...] Until now I've been using a paper notebook, but found that I'm so busy when I come back that the notebook sits for weeks or months unopened. On the other hand, I have some 'dead' time during trips and I'd like to take the notes electronically

    Okay, up to this point I was sure someone was fishing for a Tablet PC recommendation. But then I read this part...

    I don't want to carry a laptop or a PDA (too expensive, plus I want to be away from computers at least those 2 weeks per year).

    Now I'm tempted to wonder if this is really a serious question. At this very moment on eBay [ebay.com] there are several nearly-done auctions for PDAs under $25. A quick Google (the noun has been verbed, isn't that horrible?) revealed gadgets like this [calculatorsinc.com] but the calculators are just as expensive, if not more expensive, than PDAs. So which is more important--the cost or the ability to say "this isn't a computer, it's a fancy notetaking device?"

    Seriously, I can totally understand the desire to get away from computers for a few weeks (being a techno-junkie I can never do it, but I understand the desire at least). But if you want to get away from technology so badly, you're also going to have to forfeit the conveniences technology affords you--like taking notes electronically.

    I'd say, stick with the paper notebook or get yourself a cheap, outmoded PDA.

  • How about this? [pocketmail.com]. Available in the US, CA, AU and EU. Compose your travel-log and email it home. Hold it up to any phone headset and automagically connect to the PocketMail service.

    If I ever get around to a cross-NA bicycle tour I would consider subscribing to this service.

    PS: I have no affiliation with PocketMail nor have I tried it.

  • by black6host (469985)
    Try taking a peek at a calcuscribe [calcuscribe.com]. Might be what you're looking for...
  • They don't make them any more, but they're great. Find an old one on E-Bay. Great keyboard, runs for over a month on a pair of AA batteries, about twice as big as a palm.It can take CF cards for storing things. No USB, but the sync software works over serial or infra-red, or you can get a CF USB adapter.
  • Those old radio shack model 100 computers were great for taking notes, are practically free on ebay, and run off of ordinary batteries so you never have to worry about charging or voltage differences.

    Also, I know you said you didnt want the expense of a PDA, but you can also pick up an old Palm (say III-series vintage) and snap-on keyboard. Again, the older palms ran off of regular buy-anywhere AAA batteries so are good to travel with.

  • How about a spiral notebook? Cheap, light,compact, interoperable with most anything, and is complies with open standards.
    Both kinds, 8.5x11 and legal.
  • by ArcticCelt (660351) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:26PM (#9176771)
    I have the perfect device for you my friend:

    Cheap, not really a computer and with a keyboard! It's called a P-P-P PowerBook [stevens.edu]

    Where do you want me to ship it?
  • by Phoenix-kun (458418) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:30PM (#9176798) Homepage
    In addition to keeping your notes, make sure your digital camera (if you have one) is set to the correct time and take lots of pictures. Even the photos you don't use will give you the date and time of the highlights of your visit. This lets you enjoy the sights without being a slave to your watch.
  • One word . . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Goronguer (223202) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:31PM (#9176813)
    Typewriter.

    Seriously. Get an old mechanical typewriter. They have relatively small ones that come in their own briefcase-like case. I'm sure you can pick one up dirt-cheap at a thrift shop or antique store.

    You'll feel really hip and literary typing up your travel notes on an actual typewriter. Then when you get back home, scan your typewritten pages into your computer with through an OCR program, clean it up a bit, and you're good to go.
  • Nokia Digital Pen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:33PM (#9176839)
    The Nokia Digital Pen [nokia.com] could be the answer to your prayers.

    It can store up 100 A5 pages...

    I haven't tried it myself, but I would love to.
  • by Not_Wiggins (686627) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:38PM (#9176892) Journal
    Why not get a voice-recorder that supports voice-to-text conversion?

    Nothing simpler than just speaking your notes into a tiny electronic device, then have a speech-to-text converter "type" it into your favorite word processing program.

    I use one from Olympus that has really good record time/battery life.
  • Couple of ideas... (Score:3, Informative)

    by rusty0101 (565565) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:39PM (#9176897) Homepage Journal
    I have, and have used, a Tandy 200. Connect via serial port, dump the data. This, as well as the Tandy 100, plus the WP-1, and other varients are really primarily text entry devices today, though they have the ability to be somewhat more. (I know the Tandy's come with a rudimentary spreadsheet, as well as a database. Not sure on the WP-1)

    The biggest problem is going to be cost. For what they do, they are very expensive for the casual user. If you are a reporter, or freelance writer who can get a lot of use out of one of these, I would say go for it.

    Folding keyboards for Palm and PockPC devices are reasonably comfortable for most people to enter text with. I am not fond of the thumbpads for entering text, but if you are comfortable text messaging on a cell phone, or with a Blackberry, you might want to take a look at a Zaurus 5500, which has been comming down in price.

    If you prefer to "write" there are notepad data entry devices for the various PDA's as well.

    Further on the "write" path is the data pen that keeps track of the movement of the pen and then downloads it via a USB port. I do not know how much memory they have, and would suspect that they are designed around taking notes at a meeting, vs. keeping track of the two week trip to Tibet.

    If you don't mind a piece of electronics, but want to stay away from a computer/pda, you might want to look into a small typewriter. Type your notes, then when you get home scan them, OCR the scanned text, and post the results.

    You may also find that whatever hotel you stay at as you are visiting have typewriters available for guests. This may not be handy when riding on the train and the muse strikes you, but you could use such to transcribe whatever notes you have taken into something you can scan.

    For that matter, you could just do as you are, with the itterative step of scanning in your current notes, posting them as images, then manually typing the notes and decide if you want to have both the original scan and the text, or one or the other.

    Another variation on that if you happen to have a cammera with a macro lens, or even a cell phone with a built in camera, would be to take photos of your notes that you can post along with whatever photos you take of the area. This would be also handy for keeping track of what you are photographing. This would work also with a film camera, but you would have the additionall wait involved in getting it developed and scanned in. Though some camera shops will allow you to get the pictures on disk or CD instead of or in addition to the prints.

    Lastly you can also find digital voice recorders that you can dump the recorded audio to a computer at a later time. Memory costs dropping have really improved the amount of time you can record on these with. You might also contemplate the same with a DV camera.

    Just some ideas, others will have more.
  • by nyc_paladin (534862) on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:07PM (#9177198)
    Why not get digital voice recorder or a MP3 Player that can record voice memos? Then transfer the recordings using dragon natural speak to convert it to a word document? If you already have an MP3 player see if it will allow you to record voice memos. Sounds easy to me and keeps your hands free during your trips.
  • by sabNetwork (416076) on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:07PM (#9177203)
    I believe the Logitech io Digital Pen [logitech.com] is the only device that satisfies your requirements. I can't give you a recommendation because I haven't tried it myself. Epinions has a couple reviews [epinions.com] as does ZDNet [zdnet.co.uk]

    It's about $160, plus the price of a compatible journal.
  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:30PM (#9177411)
    Go for the high-cost, and highly satisfying option of a sexy personal secretary. One who can take care of all typing needs, as well as any other needs you may have while travelling (or not).

    Trust me on this.
  • Depending on Size (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jameth (664111) on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:30PM (#9177414)
    I have to plug the AlphaSmart 3000 here. I have one, and it is great. The only downside is that it isn't collapsible, so it's about 12x8 inches. If all you want to do is type, it will do that, as it has a keyboard. It holds a good amount of text (a bit over 80 pages at 80 chars wide).

    The real advantage is that it gets at least 500 hours on three AA batteries. For me, that is a lifesaver, because I absolutely hate charging things and have a tendency to forget to do so (particularly while travelling).

    Also handy, It can output over USB or a printer cable, and can send to any computer because it can emulate a USB keyboard and just type really frickin' fast.

    I expect you want something smaller than that, as it is close to laptop size. It costs about 300 dollars, which is unfortunate.

    Unfortunately, Motorola is refusing to release the specs on the chip, so you can't program your own applets for it. It's only ever good as a word-processor and a primitive calculator, but that's all many people need.

    Also unfortunately, the company which makes them doesn't seem to want to make a smaller one, although it can't be too difficult. I've looking inside there: it has almost nothing in it. If they would make one with a smaller screen and a stowaway keyboard, I would be in heaven.
  • by Mr. Protocol (73424) on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:34PM (#9177439)
    The Newton eMate, (very) dead technology from Apple, is available for cheap on eBay. It's very rugged, having been designed for kids. It has a built-in keyboard and no disk drive (FLASH RAM instead). It runs for hours and hours on a charge. The LCD display is shock-mounted and highly readable in direct sunlight. It doesn't wash out, it just gets easier to read. There's a backlight too. And it's very light.

    It's fun to use one of these on a long plane flight. After two hours, everyone else is either changing batteries or folding their laptops. After four hours, the battery-changers are folding up, and you're the only one still typing.

    It doesn't have USB. Its only interface is serial. But the Palm Desktop software for the Mac, which is Claris Works in disguise, will export documents from the eMate either as ASCII text, or to Word.
  • cheap? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zogger (617870) on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:43PM (#9177526) Homepage Journal
    What you want doesn't seem to exist. if you only want to drop a few dollars on something practical, especially for camping and for reading and writing, I'd suggest rethinking the notebook and pen, and for around 10-15$ you can get a headlight/flashlight thing that you slip on your head, they have LED bulbs, run for days on some AAA or AA batteries. Chinamart has several models on the rack, easy to find there or most other department store. I have two of them, great for working and keeping your hands free, comfortable enough to sit down and read books (or write in a journal) with if there's no other lighting available.

    Really, the next best option is just get an real old cheap used laptop, like some old 50$ pentium one or something. Transfer every days notes to a floppy and snail-mail it to yourself with a postcard, daily, then you have a backup if the laptop borks on you. Just make sure it has a decent battery. Don't think of it as a computer, just call it a portable keyboard equipped electronic typewriter for taking notes that's a lot cheaper than the other one you looked at.

    But I still like the headlamp/ dead trees storage combo as the cheapest and best. The headlamp will satisfy geek gadget urges and it actually is quite practical, and the dead trees notebook is cheap and effective.
  • Palm software (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:47PM (#9177578)
    If you take the palm with keyboard route as a lot of people are suggesting, I recommend SiEd [benroe.com] for text editing, it saves files as normal text files on the memory card.
    If you carry around a cellphone, you can then upload the files with VFSFTP [ninelocks.com]. When I went to events before I got my laptop, I used this setup to update my webpage with live information. I could also upload photos as such.
    Ah, one more handy program, Mocha Telnet [mochasoft.dk], it has SSH-2 support. I used it to ssh in to make thumbnails of the photos I'd uploaded.

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