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Handhelds Hardware

Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 Today? 163

Posted by timothy
from the mine-still-works-well dept.
TheAdmin writes "A few years ago the first Linux-based Zaurus, the SL-5500, was released for some $600 by Sharp. Today, it only costs $140 in some places online. This article at TuxTops reviews the 5500 from the point of view of trying to figure out how this model fares against today's PDAs and if it's still a good purchase after all these years, especially at this low price. And so I bought one recently because I needed a full-fledged pocket Linux at my workplace where I work as an admin. I just added a $30 Linksys WCF12 WiFi card (works out of the box after upgrading the SL-5500 ROM to version 3.10) which I use with SSH and by utilizing Zaurus' thumb-board. Works great and it's much more portable than a laptop, especially when all you need is some email and SSH on the go."
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Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 Today?

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  • by bigwavejas (678602) * on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:01PM (#13160499) Journal
    I can't decide if the Sharp Zaurus is the 3rd or the "4rth" one.
  • by papaia (652949) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:02PM (#13160512)
    Unlike the more popular x86 platforms, this has never been the object of upgrades ;( I would love to hear about what new stuff could be done, to revive my basement-forgotten Zaurusl. Last QT-based upgrade I had done totally killed it, in regards to functionality ...
    • Openzaurus has released version 3.5.3 which imho is one of the best so far. I have my 5500 setup to boot from my 512MB SD card to make it easy to store the OS and any additional applications that I may download plus it makes an easy backup. The feed for Openzaurus has grown (and still is) quite a bit and seeing how it is Debian based, alot of ARM packages from the Debian feed will install on it without to many problems as well. The support on the mailing list is great and I haven't had to many problems w
    • by Adam9 (93947) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:02PM (#13160945) Journal
      I just got my SL-5500 a week or two ago and I've had a lot of fun with it. I flashed it with OpenZaurus and bought a SD card and a Linksys CF Wifi card (WCF12) for it. I wanted to put the newest packages on it, but the package manager refused to install to my SD card. After some research, I stumbled upon the Hentges ROM [hentges.net]. After installing that, I tried out CardFS [hentges.net]. CardFS is a default install containing a lot of very useful programs. It's designed for people with extra storage space on their CF/SD card. It made everything much simpler. Check out the screenshots [hentges.net] for it.

      Some of the things I've done with it recently:
      - Connected to my desktop via VNC
      - Used GAIM at work while all of our machines were down because we were moving offices
      - Used it to ssh to my machine to monitor my X10 logs while outside of the house to see the range of the X10 motion sensors
    • Check out www.zaurususergroup.org. I haven't checked out the 5500 part since I upgraded to a 6000, but I'm sure they're up to all sorts of crazy stuff.
  • Feels like yesterday (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Jeet81 (613099)
    I remember when Sharp released their Zaurus it was not available in the US and I wanted it real bad and it did cost around $500. But then I opted for phone/PDA and have been happily living life ever since.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Wow, could this post be a little less insightful? But I guess it's fitting, considering how badly Slashdot has been sucking for the last few days.
  • by DanielNS84 (847393) <[DanielNS84] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:05PM (#13160536) Homepage
    How great and modular these systems are...I've done "Linux mods" on everything I could from X-Boxen to PDA's and they always turn out for the better. I have to wonder why, besides the obvious pressure from microsoft to be "standard", more companies haven't switched to linux for mobile and embedded systems. I mean besides the obvious legal juggernaut SCO leaning over their shoulders. ;)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      He used the term 'boxen' !!! Kill him! Killl Him!!!!
    • Hmm... Linux on moble. Linux in the server env. Linux on the desktop. ... I sence a theme...

      It's *still* all about the $100's. :(

      Give it five more years and a horrible longhorn release. We'll see what happens. Since IBM has all but said "Linux is ready; use it"...
  • Remote ssh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:06PM (#13160543)
    Frankly, for remote ssh and email, this does not seem like the best choice. The windows mobile, symbian or even palm-based platforms are definitely just as able (even more so) when it comes to that, while delivering much more bang for your buck. Ofcourse, then you don't get the geek cred for running linux, but, if that is your prime motivator for purchasing decisions, odds are you're throwing a lot of good money down the drain.
    • The windows mobile, symbian or even palm-based platforms are definitely just as able (even more so) when it comes to that, while delivering much more bang for your buck. Ofcourse, then you don't get the geek cred for running linux, but, if that is your prime motivator for purchasing decisions, odds are you're throwing a lot of good money down the drain. Yes, because I love spending 100's of dollars in CALs on all of the machines that I have to buy....
    • usb host. this means any keyboard, and many other usb devices. the battery life is great on them, the built in keyboard is pretty good too.

      the screen (at least on sl-6000) is much nicer than ive seen on pocketpc/wince/palm devices. the device itself is pretty sturdy too.

      unlike any palm app, you can use keys, and even ssh-agent (on bash, but it works nicely) (this might be possible with putty on a windows handheld, never tried)

      i got mine just to use as an ssh terminal. ive found it does so much now that i
  • If its SSH you vant (Score:5, Informative)

    by putko (753330) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:08PM (#13160556) Homepage Journal
    May I suggest you get it from the source? [openbsd.org]
  • Then and now (Score:3, Informative)

    by znaps (470170) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:10PM (#13160577)
    The 5500 wasn't a great PDA back then, so now it certainly isn't even a good PDA.

    But it always was a great little mini linux box, and now is very good value at $140. Pity about the battery life though.

    • Dittoed.

      I've found the crappy little calendar on my phone is actually more convenient, since I'm not the type who actually carries a PDA around with me all day.

      On the other hand, with a CF ethernet, modem, and wifi card, it's turned out to be pretty handy for network troubleshooting, ssh, etc.

    • Pity about the battery life though.

      A couple of thoughts on that. Depending on what I am doing, I can usually get through a day...The legs are a little shorter than my T|E, but not much. The battery life appears to be about the same as the first-gen Tungsten series, as long as you aren't using the wireless card.

      I have a USB sync cable from which I can draw power from my laptop. In addition, the PSP uses the same battery as the Zaurus. Pelican makes a Power Brick [barnesandnoble.com] which works perfectly with the Zaurus, an

      • That's the thing - I wouldn't want to use the Zaurus as a PDA - it simply isn't good enough in that department. It's a great portable network device, but I recall only getting about 45 minutes of battery life when I was playing around with SSH, Kismet and the like.
        • I recall only getting about 45 minutes of battery life when I was playing around with SSH, Kismet and the like.

          It depends on the wireless card you use, some are more power-hungry than others. I get a couple of hours out of my Ambicom card, but I have heard reports that other cards are less power-conservative.

          The Sony PSP uses the same battery as the Zaurus, so the accessories work. Pelican makes a device called a Power Brick, which holds nearly two charges and works great with the Zaurus.

  • SL-5500 sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shotgunefx (239460) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:11PM (#13160580) Journal
    I've had one for years and barely have touched it. So cool, so close, but it's flaws are enough to not make it useful at all to me.

    No speaker. That sucks. The one guy I found them who sold them took my money and never shipped. (Should have just build my own)

    Horrendous battery life.

    Want to attach something serial? Bend over for a zcable or don't type.

    It would crash every couple of days requiring a reinstall of everything.

    The one time I could have used it, (on a cruise with wireless), turns out the ship's internet needed some java crap to set up the ip access. I had called ahead to the company providing service to the ship to see what I'd need and they told me everything would work. Just need an 802 card.

    It has a great form factor though.

    Better battery life and integrated wifi and it would have been much more handy.
    • Re:SL-5500 sucks (Score:2, Interesting)

      by braeburn (837058)
      Agreed - I just sold mine on eBay. It rated highly on the hackability scale, but pretty low on the usability scale.

      For one thing, trying to install one of the open-source linux distros on it was like trying to install linux on a PC circa 1998 - ultimately frustrating.

      Basic installation was easy, but after that you had to tweak, and tweak, and tweak. Neither of the two main distros (GPE and OPIE) come with a web browser in the default installation, so you must install them separately. OPIE had a version of
    • I've had one for years and barely have touched it.

      Me too. But that all changed when I got an SL-C860. The clamshell form factor (and that stunning screen) makes all the difference. While the SL-5500 was an interesting hackable toy, the SL-C860 is a joy to use and a really useful bit of kit, particularly for doing remote support (a bluetooth CF card and a mobile phone make it an indispensable item for me).

    • Re:SL-5500 sucks (Score:2, Interesting)

      by E8086 (698978)
      Interesting experiences, did you get it new or used? I've had no problems with mine.
      no speaker- it has a headphone/mic combo jack
      battery- the manual claims 10hrs, I get 2-2.5hrs with wireless card and have never been away from the docking station long enough to fully drain it with the non-media player apps. The display is clearily visable with the light on setting 2 of 5, saves power.
      serial- mine has a USB docking station, do you have the SL-5500D the earlier Developer model?
      crashing- never happened to me,
      • " Interesting experiences, did you get it new or used? I've had no problems with mine."
        New.

        "serial- mine has a USB docking station, do you have the SL-5500D the earlier Developer model?"
        I dont' have the "D" model. I mean hooking up something serial like an OBDII logger or something. (One of the few uses I could think of for it.) I refuse to spend $60 on any f'ing cable.

        "no speaker- it has a headphone/mic combo jack"
        I know you can use headphones, but why? One more thing to carry.

        The display is great. Mayb
    • Re:SL-5500 sucks (Score:2, Informative)

      by torpor (458)
      Want to attach something serial? Bend over for a zcable or don't type.


      i've got an IR keyboard from Taurus that works pretty well with my aging sl5500. in fact, i'd say its one of my favourite keyboards ..

      i've had the sl5500 for a few years now too, and i have to say its a wonderful thing to have a webserver in my bookshelf ...
    • Re:SL-5500 sucks (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Trogre (513942)

      No speaker. That sucks.
      Horrendous battery life.
      It would crash every couple of days ...


      That, my friend is where the SL-5600 comes in.

      IMO it's everything the SL-5500 should have been, what with the inbuilt microphone, faster processor, more memory, better HWR, etc.

    • Re:SL-5500 sucks (Score:3, Interesting)

      by demachina (71715)
      USB Host controller is the biggest thing missing IMHO. If you had that it would be a lot more interesting. Pretty sure the USB support is client only. Is there a CF or SD USB Host which would be nice but still sucks versus a built in USB host?

      Integrated wifi is #2. The plugin wifi cards suck all the power all the time.

      My opinion of most PDA's and cell phones trying to be PDA's, the screens are just to small to browse the web and aren't even very good for email.

      Add on to this wifi isn't reliably avail
      • USB Host controller is the biggest thing missing IMHO.
        AND
        Integrated wifi is #2.

        I have a Zaurus 6000 which has both of these features and for me neither one is a real killer. Remeber for USB host to be useful you still need drivers for the specific device you are connecting. That's not a problem for USB hard drives and keyboards but a lot of other devices don't have driver support. The built in WiFi is very handy but the range sucks just like most laptops with built in WiFi.

        Don't get me wrong, my Za
        • Problem with the 6000 is that its expensive enough I'd just as soon have a laptop with a bigger screen and keyboard. I guess if you are a serious road warrior or running around an office doing admin work maybe the small form is worth it.

          My use for the USB is it would have made it interesting to embed in little projects that need I/O, at that point it would be torn apart and not even a PDA, just a cheap SBC with handy display and keyboard for diag work. Guess I'm not really typical :)
          • My use for the USB is it would have made it interesting to embed in little projects that need I/O, at that point it would be torn apart and not even a PDA, just a cheap SBC with handy display and keyboard for diag work.

            Makes sense. For around $100 you'd be in the same general ballpark as a Soekris board.
    • Re:SL-5500 sucks (Score:3, Informative)

      by arodland (127775)
      If you found a guy to sell you a speaker for your 5500, you got ripped off badly. The thing has an internal speaker; it's just that Sharp's kernel doesn't support it as anything more than a beeper. The kernel in OpenZaurus exposes it as a 22KHz DSP device, and xmms will automaticallly switch between the headphones and the builtin speaker, the same as on any other PDA.

      The battery isn't great, but it's not that bad either.

      Serial, worthwhile.

      Crashes? You're doing something very wrong. Yeah, it'll crash now
      • Well if it does, it's news to me and the development community at the time anyway. Always was listed as a piezo buzzer IIRC.

        The battery is pretty bad if it's something you want to take with you and use a lot, which is the point. I guess I could charge it every few hour, but for my purposes, that defeats the point.

        I wasn't doing anything wrong. Perhaps newer roms are better. I only had apache, ssl, perl and a find tool. Oh yeah, GL DOOM. I also played an MP3 on it once. All told, I probably used it for 10
  • Yeah, I paid about that much for a Zaurus, and it was dead after 3 or 4 months. I'm still pissed. On the other hand, it was fun while it worked.
  • I almost clicked on "Add to Cart" until I read the part about adding a WiFi card and getting a mere 30 minutes of battery life.. UGH! I mean shit, thats gotta be the coolest pda there is.. and it sucks all because of that pretty much.. its definitely not Sharp's fault.. unless they can develop a new battery haha.. i would moreso like to start seeing linux developers to lean more towards the portability issues.. it seems like aiming to get your OS to work on something portable, would be the FIRST thing to ac
  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sootman (158191) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:16PM (#13160625) Homepage Journal
    The most honest line (and a funny one, too) I've ever read in a Linux review: "[The OS on the Zaurus] is not all that stable. I had 2-3 full crashes in the last few days. Some of them could possibly be solved if you SSH to your Zaurus and kill/restart QPE, but I don't see the average businessman [doing] anything of the like." The image of an exec SSHing to his handheld is priceless. (Although, if an associate had the same Zaurus with a Terminal app, I guess it could happen... :-) )
  • Just Sold Mine (Score:5, Informative)

    by rmjohnso (891555) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:20PM (#13160643)
    I actually just sold my Zaurus SL-5500 on eBay. I sold it with my Linksys WCF11 wireless card. I got about $125 for the combination, which is what I set the minimum to on eBay. I got rid of mine for a few reasons:

    1. The battery life with the wireless card was horrible, and that was when the battery was new.

    2. To have anything new, you had to use OpenZaurus. Not that OZ is bad, but it means that Sharp basically stopped updating anything for it. Trolltech was supposedly going to release an updated QT ROM for the 5500, but I never saw it materialize.

    3. Back to the battery, it was a bit old, so it had a harder time holding a charge.

    4. Getting it setup to communicate to the PC under Windows or Linux always seemed to a lot harder than it should have been. I always got it working, but it always took a while.

    5. This was the big reason. I just stopped using it because of the other 4 reasons and because I almost always have my work laptop with me. I can pop my laptop out of suspend, fire up Outlook, and I have my Calendar, Address Book, e-mail, etc. just as fast. Yes, I would prefer to carry the Zaurus over the laptop, but since I always have the laptop for other work reasons, why do I need a PDA?
    • Its funny you should say this. I think my Zaurus is really cool, but not very usable. Sync was a huge problem, so I could carry around this neat little Linux gadget but couldn't do anything real with it other than a little email and surf the web. In all seriousness, I found it great for reading CNN.com while taking a crap, but that's about it. I'd love to see this thing revived without Qtopia and with X, and a real sync solution to stuff like Yahoo Calendar.

      For the record, I still own my Z. Waiting f

    • Trolltech was supposedly going to release an updated QT ROM for the 5500, but I never saw it materialize.

      You just didn't wait long enough. http://www.qtopia.net/modules/users/downloads.php [qtopia.net]

    • We used the Socket low power CF WiFi cards and got pretty good battery life with a SL5000D and a bunch of C700s that had the fantastic 640x480 crystal clear screen.

      Similar to this, cant remeber the exact model...:
      http://www.expansys.com/product.asp?code=108979&pa rtner=register [expansys.com]

      They are sold rebadged under another brand too (symbol i think).
  • But if it is good then the last thing you should have done is post on /. because if there are were a few in stock anywhere they'll have gone by now.
  • Does anyone know where Sharp tells their customer's about the GNU General Public License? Bash and Linux are licensed under this particular license. I've researched this question quite a bit and still haven't figured it out where.
  • was this [elsix.org]: it was just cool to use the (then hot) PDA with an old fashioned WWII morse key to key things in it :-)

    Good thing it was a company gift...
  • Boot time (Score:3, Informative)

    by David Horn (772985) <david@noSPAm.pocketgamer.org> on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:26PM (#13160695) Homepage
    "Zaurus v3.10 boots in about 65 seconds, which is a bit slower than the OpenZaurus/Opie ROM variant which loads in about 50-55 seconds."

    On the other hand, the Pocket PC OS boots from scratch in under six seconds.
    • No it doesn't. It's just in suspend mode.

      Hit the little reset button [usually at the bottom]. Mu iPaq takes ~30 seconds to fully boot.

      Tom
    • On the other hand, the Pocket PC OS boots from scratch in under six seconds.

      By that logic, I could claim that my Newton boots in less than TWO seconds.

      So there. :P

  • zaurus (Score:5, Informative)

    by mikers (137971) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:28PM (#13160713)
    They are okay... I think it is a nice little PDA, and pretty cheap right now. Also big user group behind it who is pretty hardcore into linux.

    Pros:
    - CF and SD card simultaneously
    - Nice screen
    - Nice keyboard hiding feature
    - Even if the display crashes, you can still SSH into it! And then just restart the display driver
    - The linux behind the framebuffer is rock solid (uptimes of > 2 months).
    - Very hackable

    Cons:
    - Only some CF cards work, and only SD memory cards work (not wifi SD for example). Limited support for CF chipsets (depends on manufacturer).
    - Battery life tends to be a little on the low side
    - Wifi card really sucks the battery dry
    - Thumb keyboard is really slow for doing CLI (and painful after a few lines).
    - Heavy changes in software base (like structure) right now, so the developers are breaking things almost as fast as old problems are fixed. *should* stabilize soon.
    - IR PDA keyboards (like targus) kindof suck on it, I bought one but find it frustrating to type on... Press two keys are the same time and only one shows up on the zaurus, but always a surprise which one!

    Wishlist:
    - Longer battery
    - Built in bluetooth (for external keyboard)
    • You still have the onscreen keyboard wich does have decent handwriting recognition.

      I haven't had a problem with any CF memory cards. Wifi, well what do you expect on Linux, get one with a well supported chipset like a prism and you are golden. I got a pretec (Prism 2.5) card that included a PCMCIA adapter. Works beautifully.
  • Seriously, any of the old Palm 4.x devices are still a "Good Investment". Unfortunatly I bought a Sony one, GREAT battery life, lousy software support (I had to ditch it since I couldn't actually get ahold of a copy of Palm Desktop that worked with it!)

    Also the entire "loses everything in memory upon losing battery power" thing bit me in the butt numerious times (especially without the afore mentioned sync software).

    If someone released a good 320x240 Greyscale PDA running a Palm4.x type OS that used Flas
  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:30PM (#13160731) Homepage

    I use it as a GPS and a music player in my car [livejournal.com], and it works as a SIP phone [livejournal.com] (though the choice of codecs is limited by a slow CPU, and apparently some people have problems with making it work).

    And, of course, it's a regular PDA with addressbook/calendar/todo/notes, web browser (konqueror), ssh, etc.

  • by sholden (12227) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:35PM (#13160767) Homepage
    I wrote some VoIP with pretty pictures stuff for the Zaurus (and the Ipod) last year. I think we used an SL-6500 though.

    It's a PDA but I left it plugged in at my office - and sshed to it from home and used X11 forwarding to do GUI development on it from home (it was a python GUI but the libraries were sufficiently different to mean running it on the linux desktop machine wasn't close enough).

    It seemed like a good idea at the time...

    I even compiled some stuff on it, when I couldn't be bothered jumping through the hoops required to cross compile a python library. Compiling on the little Zaurus while you use your P4 desktop to read email is a strange allocation of resources.

  • zerg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:39PM (#13160788) Homepage
    For the people posting, "zOMG, 5500 is horrible", what PDA w/ WiFi + SSH would you recommend instead?
    • Re:zerg (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fiddlesticks (457600)
      nokia 770 [nokia.com] (ships sept-dec 2005)

      wifi, bluetooth, gnome, linux

      'The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet's software is upgradeable and currently runs on the Linux-based Internet Tablet 2005 software edition.'
      • 1) Not available now

        2) $350 price tag
        • by Erwos (553607)
          $350 is _dirt cheap_ for what's being offered. It slaughters the Zaurus in basically every way, except for not having a keyboard. I do admit that's something of a shortcoming, but the 770 isn't targetting the PDA market. As a portable Linux machine, it's kick-ass.

          -Erwos
          • It slaughters the Zaurus in basically every way, except for not having a keyboard.


            There are several different Zaurus devices, the 5500 being only one of them - and 4 years old to boot. The Zaurus isn't a PDA either, it's marketed as a "Personal Mobile Tool"

      • It looks like the Nokia 770 doesn't have a keyboard.
    • by n6mod (17734)
      If *all* you want is a WiFi SSH client, hack a ZipIt [elinux.org]. (mine's still on the way)

      -Z
    • Re:zerg (Score:2, Interesting)

      by E8086 (698978)
      my post was "the Zaurus 5500 is great"
      Get a plain low power 802.11b wireless card, no memory or bluetooth, just wireless. Fancy extra stuff uses too much power and the extra cheap ones use too much power. I got an AmbiCom WL1100C-CF from BestBuy for $45 that gets 2-2.5hrs of wireless depending on signal strength. It's the same with cell phones, lower signal results in the device having to use more power to boost its signal.
    • Re:zerg (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ChefJoe (808832)
      I've had very good luck with my Sony Clie TJ-37. It did what Palm never did and brough wifi to the mainstream ($ rather than $$$) Palm OS devices. It's worked fine, after that one RMA. 802.11b, speaker, nice screen, a camera, if only it didn't use memory stick media it'd be perfect... well, if they still made them. http://www.bargainpda.com/default.asp?newsID=1933 [bargainpda.com]
    • Depending on whether or not you want a hard drive.

      We've been playing with them here at $BigDefenseCorp for a few months and they are very powerful, stable, and easy to work with.

    • If you carry a phone too, get a Treo 650. Good PDA, good phone. Put pssh on it and even PalmVNC for those other machines. I haven't installed the WiFi firmware yet, but I will soon. In the meantime I'm using Verizon's data plan. $0.07/K isn't bad when you're using ssh.
  • The good and the bad (Score:3, Informative)

    by ChaseTec (447725) <chase@osdev.org> on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:51PM (#13160863) Homepage
    I got one of these a month ago from http://www.geeks.com [geeks.com] from $140. I wanted wireless access so I also bought a Sandisk 802.11b + 128meg CF card because it was so cheap. Since I researched ahead of time I knew that sharp has basically stopped supporting these things or providing update so my new cheap wifi card was only going to work if I replaced Sharp's software with OpenZaurus [openzaurus.org]. OpenZaurus is a little ruff around the edges. If you've messed with Gentoo or ever done a Roll Your Own Distro then OpenZaurus should be a walk in the park but it's not for average Joe consumer.

    I was happy to find that the OpenZaurus email app has support for IMAPS and SMTPS w/AUTH. I've about given up reading/writing word, excel, and powerpoint files because even though the Original Sharp ROMs have application to do this you can't really get them to work under OpenZaurus. But how much spreadsheet work would you do on a 320x240 device? OpenZaurus does have lots of software, it's got ipkg which you can think of as a mini-clone of apt-get or yum.

    As other have said, battery life could be better(especially with the wifi card). But other then that it's cool that there are SD and CF slots. SDIO is not supported but I've got a 1gig SD card working fine. Other have complained about having to use headphones for sound, personally I don't have a problems with that.

    Favorite thing done with my Zaurus so far; Walking around every corner of my apartment and scanning all the wireless networks so see what the best channel would be for my network. I've also managed to cut down alot on post-it notes.

    And don't forget http://slashdot.org/palm [slashdot.org]
    • The piezo speaker can work in general for sound, but it needs application support and about the only one was a port of XMMS. It doesn't really work withthe latest versions of OZ though.
  • I got mine over 2 years ago with the $170 deal posted here. [slashdot.org]

    At first it was mostly for WiFi scanning and SSH, like others had mentioned. Worked great at DefCon for checking my e-mail without having to worry about a laptop. Most games I found were either not good, or just poorly controllable because of the design.

    It then became an overpriced USB key, since I bought a 256MB SD card for it. But being able to SCP and SSH to it is still a neat concept.

    And now all I really use it for is a password manager.
  • I'd like to find a SL-5600, but they've all seemed to have disappeared off the face of the Earth.

    What pda is popular now that either runs Linux natively, or through a port??
    • well, it's still not available, but it seems to be one heck of a Linux PDA. 800x480 16bit screen, dual wireless - that's wifi and bluetooth builtin. Oh, and it is supposed to be 802.g, not 802.b, as 110% of the others PDAs that have some kind of wireless access.

      I wish it had a snappier CPU (200MHz ARM9) and more memory (64MB RAM). Also, CompactFlash support would be great, but it will sport RS-MMC, for compability with current Symbian Nokia phones. Or so I'm told.

      A good review here: http://jkontherun.bl [blogs.com]

  • works out of the box after upgrading the SL-5500 ROM to version 3.10

    Not to be pedantic, but that's not what "works out of the box" means.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Linux hype has claimed another vicitim. It's really unfortunate because now how many companies are going to ship a handheld with Linux?

    The awful truth is.. Linux isn't perfect or the best for everything. The simple truth is the time wasn't ready. The software development needed atleast 2 more years for it to truely be a competitor to the Microsoft PocketPC. The true believers and rabid zealots would never believe Linux isn't ready. They had to pressure and push out an immature product that seriously st
  • the UI sucks (Score:3, Informative)

    by cahiha (873942) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:21PM (#13161067)
    The hardware was pretty decent at the time. The new disk-based Zaurus handhelds are great (if heavy). The functionality is also nice, as are the open file formats and the Linux underpinnings.

    But the problem with all of them is that the user interface on the Zaurus sucks badly. Like PocketPC, it tries to adapt desktop metaphors to handhelds, and that just doesn't work well.

    As far as I'm concerned, the only PDAs with acceptable UIs at this point are Palm and Symbian. And since Palm will soon be Linux-based, I won't have to choose anymore between a good UI and a good operating system. For now, I choose a usable UI, which means I continue to use my Zire.
    • Any idea when the Palm will be linux based? I thought they've been saying this for a while. The Tungsten C (which I own) is pretty out of date. I have apps on it like ssh, but (for instance) things are being ported left and right to the pocketpc platform that are not w/ palm anymore . As an example gnugo doesn't seem to exist on palm but a recent version has been ported..

  • by Storm (2856) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:34PM (#13161169) Homepage
    I've owned or used PDAs for years (Palm III, V, M500, Tungsten), and bought the Zaurus for $140 from a friend who never used it. (My Tungsten had a high-pitched whine that made it nearly unusable, and Palm was useless in resolving it.) It was the best hardware purchase I have ever made in its class. I not only have the functionality of all of the palms I ever owned, but the added capabilities like real games, mp3s, watching movies, and especially being able to get online (I'm actually posting this from my 5500 sitting in a Paneras) give me new levels of functionality I never dreamed of with the palm.

    I also do security for a living, and used the Z for wireless sniffing, vpn, and so forth. Best of all, since its Linux-based, there is an existing infrastructure of free/opensource software, much of which can be adapted to run on the Zaurus, and an excellent support community.

    I'm thinking of buying a secondone in case anything happens to this one.

    If you have the chance to get one and are even remotely interested in Linux, jump on it...
  • by abes (82351)
    I recently also purchased one. I'm still trying to decide whether it was a good idea, or if I should try ebaying it. It's true, it is cheap. However, you need to count in the fact that you *really* need to get an SD card ($60), and possibly an CF card ($20) if you want to put any other apps on it. At least the instructions I read, said you could only update the ROMs with a CF card, but you want the SD card, because the WIFI card ($35) you will want to put into it will also want to go in the CF slot.

    The big
  • With all the complaints about the 5500 in this discussion I have to ask has anyone found any decent alternatives. Specifically I would love to know if there's anything with 802.11 and a decent web browser (maybe even one that could run java apps). Really I'm just thinking about something that would let me check gmail in the morning while I eat my fruit loops.
  • I've had a 5600 for a year and a half. Its not a great PDA (poor PIM apps), but it is an extremely useful little computer.

    Using Excel, Word, Acrobat, Powerpoint, mplayer, korganizer are cool initially but all get old really fast on a little screen and thumb-board.

    But Kismet, Opera, an OTP password generator, ssh, wake-on-lan are very useful tools to have in your pocket.

    My biggest gripe with the little box is that it could have been a decent mp3 player (it supports ogg and wma too with plugins). But t

  • There is a third party external battery pack available http://store.yahoo.com/semsons-inc/batexwitusb.ht m l [yahoo.com]. It works with the Zaurus when loaded with NIMH rechargables (I was advised in a FAQ, NOT to use alkalines). On the plus side it extends the battery life considerably. On the down side it's $20 with shipping, and four NIMH batteries w. charger were an additional $10. Also, attaching an external battery pack to a PDA is the definition of a 'kludge'.
  • My SL-5000d has worked well since the beta release. Doing some of the more "advanced" hacks like installing compat libs and updating large portions of the QT would often times bork the install forcing a flash. However, since the flash is just a set of files on a CF card you can keep 4-5 different images on a disk with a little shell script to swap the files around for quick re-purposing.

    I had an image for Kismet sniffing, an image for E-Book reading and the stock Sharp image on a CF for quick swapping be
  • usb foldup pda (Score:2, Interesting)

    by paxmark1 (636441)
    What I want is a pda and a fold up usb keyboard to take minutes of meetings with. No mp3. wireless nice, but not needed. Just give me good battery life and a one year warranty.

    Just cannot find it.

    peace, mark
  • That's great, but is there any cell phone module for it? (preferably GSM)
    My aging Handspring Visor gives signs that it needs replacement. However, I've been extremely happy with its GSM cell phone module (a.k.a. "Treo before Treo").

    I wonder if there's any cell phone module that can be bought to use with the Zaurus. Of course, the software must be compatible.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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