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On the Question of Handhelds: iPaq Best? 245

A reader writes "I've been wanting to get a Linux based handheld, and was trying to decide between an iPaq and a Yopy. This article about the Yopy has pretty well convinced me the iPaq is the way to go, but I'm hoping some /.ers might have some additional insight before I drop a bit of serious cash. I'm a poor student, and can't afford to make a mistake here."
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On the Question of Handhelds: iPaq Best?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Please tell me if a Ferrari is better than a Jaguar... I'm hoping some might have some additional insight before I drop a bit of serious cash. I'm a poor student, and can't afford to make a mistake here...
  • by Anonymous Coward ommand=GetResult&query=Newton*&categoryid=&ht=1&st =0&category2=3731&maxRecordsPerPage=100&SortProper ty=MetaEndSort
  • by Anonymous Coward

    When I need to do my organization and routine clicking to add numbers, the palm and iPaq perform about as well, and are both equally convenient at my palm.

    The iPaq may do simple addition and organization as well as the Palm (I haven't tried one, so I really can't say), but there's no way it's equally convenient in your Palm. The Palm PDAs sacrifice anything which doesn't directly support organization in favor of keeping the form factor small and light and the battery life long. The iPaq is good for less than a day on a single charge and is physically enormous compared to a Palm V.

    Yes, the iPaq does a lot more stuff than a Palm, but I don't need most of that stuff. I don't want to edit Word documents on a screen that small and without a real keyboard. I'm not interested in surfing the Internet on something too small to do serious browsing and too large to keep in my front pants pocket. The iPaq is too large and sucks too much battery power to fill the niche that my Palm V fills: indispensable, infinitely portable life organizer. It's too small to replace a laptop, and it's too enormous and expensive to be a good MP3 player, so I really don't get its appeal.

    One thing I do know. The first guy I know who bought an iPaq sold it to somebody else before he'd owned it six months.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    That apps bit is quite funny since if you flash your bios you lose out on all those WinCE apps that make up the majority of the apps that work well with the iPaq. Come on don't try to delude anyone that staroffice is going to run on an iPaq.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Take a look at I've been using a Psion Series 5mx for more than a year and it fits my needs very well. The Epoc OS is a very solid alternative, and the UI is excellent, IMHO. The Good: excellent battery life (2 weeks on 2 AAs), great software, infrared backup and synch, has a usable keyboard, sound recording, and it's not the same thing everybody else has. The Not so good: the keyboard is pretty small, this model is not color, the screen backlight is not very bright.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It looks like the dust problem may be a thing of the past. Dave's IPAQ [] just got a new IPAQ with a dust cover inside the pen sleeve. This is one of the biggest openings into the IPAQ and seems to be how most of the dust is entering into the unit. Check out Dave's page its a great resource.
  •'ll never receive it, and they won't bother to give you any information.

  • Uh, what are you talking about? The only time you need to sign an agreement is if you want to download the actual ROM image. Okay, also if you want source to the OS.

    What are you supposed to do with an emulator and no ROM? I realize you can get the OS from your Palm, but what if you don't have one?

    Everything else can be had for free. You can download Codewarrior for Windows -- okay, it's a "light" version. You can use gcc on either windows or linux. The emulator itself is freely downloadable, as is all official documentation.

    That's fantastic, hats off to Palm for providing all that. I was merely pointing out that MS is offering all that and more with less hassle. I am not attempting to fan the flames of an anti/pro-MS discussion.

  • I was going to pull out my Palm VIIx to reply to this, but why waste valuable battery life...

    Wireless connectivity and network access are two seperate things. Connecting to a network over a cellular link is painful at best.

    I don't know why I wasted my time posting on Slashdot again. I don't know why I am continuing to do so. I guess I'm a masochist. ;)

    I am not down on Palms. They are great. They are not, however, in the same category as a device like the iPaq. This is not to say one is "better" than the other, they're just different.

    Show me a Palm device that has a color screen, can play MP3s and videos, can connect to a corporate network, has wireless options, records voice memos, and has large storage solutions and I'll happily eat my words. Show me an iPaq that doesn't go thru batteries like a Nascar driver goes thru tires and I'll do the same.

    There is nothing wrong with difference. There is nothing wrong with your personal choice of PDA. Just be aware that different folks have different wants and needs when it comes to their portable computing platforms.

  • Much more useful than an iPAQ which seems to be very hardly supported under Linux.

    Erum, other than the fact that you can actually run linux on it you mean...?

    If it's using Linux to support Free Software, I'll remind you that buying an iPAQ will profit to Micro$oft (WinCE is ALWAYS preinstalled, evn if you plan to use Linux on it).

    This logic goes over my teeny little head. If you buy a Palm, are you not creating profit to Palm, Inc? MS has been a lot more open about WinCE than Palm has about their platform. You have to sign a friggen agreement to get a Palm emulator and development information!! MS will let anyone download full version of VB and VC++ for WinCE for free.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yopy has not been doing well in providing a system to its customers.

    At this point, yopy has only just recently been released, while ipaq is almost a year old (yopy promised that it would be ready last year at the beginning of the summer), even though their specs are almost identical.

    Ipaq has had the time necessary for the testing of a thousand eyes (for bugs), while yopy hasn't. Also, ipaq keeps getting better. Yopy is still trying to get off the ground.

    And that's making the assumption that all things are equal in terms of development. But they're not. The operating system for the yopy is an obscure distribution of Linux that they made mostly themselves, including a windowing system called W (which they didn't make). Forget using all of your own graphical programs - they won't work on W, only on X. Its almost as though they don't actually have Linux, only something that vaguely resembles Linux.

    The ipaq comes with Windows CE, which has the added benefit of actually working most of the time, and having LOTS of developers. You can even download free development kits for it in various programming languages, including C++ and Java.

    You can switch platforms, in which case you can use a more normal distro of Linux that actually has X. And recently, you can switch back (check here [] for info).

  • Palm certainly has the iPaq beat in terms of battery life and and size/weight/form-factor. I would question the handwriting recognition; I find scribble to be just as easy, and MS's transcriber has almost no learning curve at all (you just write normally on the screen).

    If all you want is a PDA, a Palm would probably be your best bet. If you want a small, mobile computer capable of multimedia, network access, large storage, normal web browsing etc., get an iPaq.

  • If you are really a poor student, then you shouldn't even be worrying about whether to get a Palm or an iPaq. You probably can't afford either one. If you are thinking about paying for it with a credit card that most college students get flooded with, don't do it. Your limited funds should go towards study and survival, not paying outrageous interest rates to satisfy a want, not a need. Most college bookstores sell cheap student planners, but all you really need is a small notebook and a pen/pencil which will cost you at most a buck each. With a small amount of discipline, those simple tools will suit you just fine.

    If you actually _need_ it as a part of a CS programming project, sign up for Palm's developer program, download their free development tools, and get a discounted (35-40 percent) model being offered to developers or a refurbished one [in both cases a PDA would cost you about $100 or less]. If you are able, release the finished product on the web. Buying an iPaq & running linux on it to satisfy some geeky want only depletes your bank account and supports Redmond.

  • The new color Palm m505 and the new color Sony clie (710C?) both use this same technology and are quite visible in sunlight.
  • ...saw the use for these things. In my opinion a pad of paper and a pencil cost much less, are faster to use, and are more reliable. Plus there's almost no chance of a pad of paper getting stolen. Unless you're going to do a lot of work on one of these and you are sure you will need it, don't get it!

    That's pretty much what people said about personal computers in the 1980's...before they had one. Trust me, once you get a PDA you won't know how you survived without one.
  • by Gray ( 5042 )
    I got one of the last Palm 3xe's.. Bigger display then an m105, same OS, same RAM, lower price..

    It looks like Palm is offering all manner of mail in rebates and such to get these things off the shelves so they can sell the new models.. I got mine for less then $200CDN..

    I'm not even sure how much an iPaq costs, and running linux in my poxket would be cool, but I'm still having trouble finding enough palmwarez to fill 8m..
  • I'm not sure - the screen is supposed to be sealed, but I some flaw allows dust to get in.

    The iPaq screen is reflective, which means you need light on the front of it (not the back) to see it. This makes it (as far as I know) the only color PDA that you can use outdoors in direct sunlight - the more light the better.

    But because the screen is lit from the front (actually by lights at the side of the screen), this makes the little specs of dust GLOW.

    It's annoying. But I'd rather put up with it than go through the trouble of sending mine back.
  • by TBone ( 5692 )

    So you use your Palm jsut as it came out of the box, with no additional software or hardware? I doubt it.

    And using Linux, for some people, is a matter of having something more useful for them, not a matter of showing off. I'm a UNIX admin. I'd much rather have a portable platform on which I can do some semblance of my normal work than have to deal with half-assed implementations of tools that kind of do what the real UNIX tools do.

    This space for rent. Call 1-800-STEAK4U

  • Well, one thing you can do is see if you can get a decent return policy, and then try it out.

    That's what I did. Because I wasn't sure if I would use it, I bought the cheapest palm (edging out the Visor by about $30).

    Now, I use it constantly. It is in no way analogous to just paper, though I found it a great way to take notes in class. I carry it, and extra batteries, everywhere I go. My only complaint is that my initial thriftiness left me with a mere IIIe and now I can't justify an upgrade. *sigh*
  • I think part of the reason slashdotters are a little bit leery of the Ipaq and are reflexively supportive of Palm is the instinctive (and laudable) mistrust of Microsoft products.

    And Windows for Pocket PC defintely gives ground to Palm's OS in a few usability areas.

    But Compaq really put some work into the Ipaq, even making up for some of Microsoft's omissions.

    An example? The 'Q' button on the Ipaq. Push it, and up pops a menu with all of your running tasks, which you can switch to, or quit out of. This is both an extremely easy way to navigate the OS, and a way around one of the biggest problems with WinCE(or whatever they are calling it now): Microsoft assumes you never need to quit a program, so after you open a few, other PocketPCs run out of memory and slow to a crawl.

    The main reason I bought the Ipaq over a palm, though, was the memory, not the color screen and fancy-pants multimedia capabilities, or the ability to play Quake [](which it does fine, [] contrary to speculation here. To me, 64 megs is just enough to store large amounts of writing, my daily downloads of a dozen newspapers, magazines and news sites, my email and contacts, and a few ebooks.

    And, of course, the numbers don't lie, and Compaq, with their greater committment to innovation, and basically superior product, is going to eat Palm's lunch [].

  • Once the pad of paper fills up, it sits at home and you can't access it. Plus, there is a lot of bulk after a while.

    You can write for years and years and never fill up your Palm Pilot. I know; I have.

    I used to have tons of those little notebooks that I jotted ideas down in. So I never had the one I needed when it came time to look something up. Now it's all in the Palm, and it all gets backed up regularly too.

    I'll never go back!

  • I'm waiting to see one in person so I can tell if I like the screen or not.

    I also wish they had built in MP3. I'd have ordered one the day they came out if they'd done that. Maybe they'll come out with a CF MP3 card, or an SD one.

    Jon Acheson
  • You can't press more than one button at a time. This makes gaming nearly impossible.
    Well certain games. Hasn't bothered me too much, because most get around this by using the stylus and buttons (Like the NES emulator PocketNES).

    The speaker "clicks" as the little amplifier turns on whenever it needs to make a sound; This is probably a WinCE thing, so hopefully the linux driver folks will make it configurable.
    This was fixed in the latest ROM for the device when running WinCE.

    Dust inside the screen. Seems to happen to everyone - it happened to me, I'm just living with it.
    Same here, it's not too much of a deal. Compaq has done a few things to reduce this.

    Weird expansion capabilities. You can add a Smart Media or Compact Flash slot, but the sleeve you need to get to do so makes the iPaq quite a bit bigger, and you can only have one sleeve at a time.
    This has it's advantages and disadvantages. I can use PCMCIA cards, but when I don't need to, I can slim down the device.

  • The iPaq usually gets 12 hours of runtime per full charge. Since it's rechargable, I just drop it in the cradle at night along with my cell phone. Who cares if a Palm with 2 AAA batteries gets 20 hours of run time. I'm never going to use my iPaq more then 12 hours a day. Plus for trips, I can easially just bring the PCMCIA sleeve to add a second battery.
  • Wait! You can have the best of both worlds-

    Looks like a palm, but you don't have to learn grafitti, and it's less than $5!
  • I love my Agenda ( []) it's 100% pure linux, no it don't have the flashy mpeg player like the ipaq, or the ability to carry around 9000hours of mp3's or whatever... but as a linux PDA it does the job and does it well. (it is also significantly cheaper than the ipaq)

    If you want flashy, and be able to watch your divix films on your palm, get an ipaq.

    otherwise spend the same money and buy 2 agenda vr3's
  • I'd love to see MS fail (due to competition or _fair_ justicial action against them) and I'd also like, in theory, to see Linux succeed. My problem is simply that I think Linux and Open Source/Free software is way way over-sold. Yes, Linux and some of these others packages do their jobs pretty well. But just because they do their jobs pretty well does not mean that, therefore, the Open Source model is fully capable of competing with propreitary software en masse. Frankly, I see a lot of problems both empirically and theoretically in Free/Open development in general. Not to mention the fact that there is very little that, in my opinion that really suggests that it's capable of scaling the kinds of development hurdles that even MS has managed to scale.

    You add all these issues to the mix and I think Linux is, at best, a long shot.
  • I'll be that smug in 10+ years when it's basically where it is now.
  • So why not put linux where it isn't seen. Nobody has to know that linux is running your embedded device, or your web-station, or set top box. The windows of the non-pc future does not look like windows (except for obvious branding). There wont be the win32 look and feel because it will function differently. I guess my thesis is that operating systems of the future will branch out into areas that are not so demanding of the user (like the pc is). These new areas will eventually crowd out pc in terms of market share, revenue, and development resources. Why would you want a proprietary operating system on a $50-$100 hardware device? It doesn't make sense. If the future doesn't contain a *majority* of $50-100 devices that run commodity/Free operating systems I will be very surprised.
    No matter which way computing goes, software still needs to be developed, maintained, and supported. While it is true that, all things being equal, consumers and hardware developers would prefer a free alternative, consumers will stick with commercially developed OSs, APIs, and applications because there simply will not be equal free alternatives, by and large. Your problem is that you confuse and associate all of MS's issues with commercial and proprietary software, in general. Just because it is proprietary does not mean that it needs to be expensive or buggy. Alternatively, just because it is Open/Free does not mean all problems magically go away.

    Palm is fighting a losing battle. And needs to get rid of the PalmOS and make the PalmAPI that runs on linux, windriver, qnx, whatever, and sell it CHEAP. And DONT get rid of your hardware business.
    I disagree with you completely. First, what little Palm has "lost", it has lost not to "free", "open", or "commodity" pricing, it has lost to flashy and _more_ expensive devices and software. Second, Palm alone is still outselling WinCE and Linux devices (though these are practically insignificant) combined in terms of units--Ipaq has only outsold in terms of revenue in the short term. When you combine this with Sony and Handspring, their combined revenue is probably much higher--hardly an indictment of PalmOS. Incidentally, PalmOS is cheap, part of the reason why Palm's revenue looks less than stellar lately, and also part of the reason why Sony, Handspring, and others have chosen Palm over the other, supposed, competition. The applications (HotSync Manager, PalmOS, conduits, etc), OS, and API is going for about 2 dollars a unit, hardly the 20 dollars you imply. In addition, a good part of Palm's "problems" have nothing to do with the competition and more to do with the fact that the economy crapped out on them and their inventories were too high.

    Furthermore, speaking as a present PalmOS developer (not that I'm wedded to PalmOS in any sense), it is clear to me that both the WinCE devices and especially the Linux devices are ill-concieved. What practical applications are there that most users can actually use that they can do better with WinCE and/or Linux? Why use it? Palm's has had a very clear vision, PalmOS is not limited because they're lazy, it's limited by design. The Ipaq buyers seem primarily motived by novelty and coolness than by real functionality. Just because they're selling well today, does not mean they'll continue to sell well, or make any headway in the work place.

    A yopi with linux running a PalmAPI Shell? Jesus christ that sounds attractive. I fucking want one. I'll fscking pay $25 extra for that palm software too. Fucking bring it on baby! It's certainly better than the $70 MS tax on ipaq, is more functional (PalmAPI interoperating with other linux apps), and has more developer interest.
    Haha, are you kidding me? Why on earth would you want this? More developer interest? Not mine, not my companies, not that of others. PalmOS has thousands of developers out there, very few of them have flocked to Linux.

    s linux a long shot? Fuck I dont know. You seem skeptical without much analytical thought, kind of gut reaction. At least I argue my case. You give predictions and opinions based on a few seconds of thought. Skepticism aint bad, but it's a two-way street, and require analitical thinking to flesh out a possible scenerio framework backed up by meaningful figures. I'm not asking for a dissertation, just something that more approaches the skeptic's ideal.
    No, I simply did not have the time or the energy to bring forth all the arguments and evidence in a clear and coherant manner. However, I'll throw a couple of them out right now. First, despite Linux's limited success, Open Source has hardly demonstrated that it's capable of matching multi-million dollar development efforts. Linux has had the benefit of riding in the shadow of Windows, various Unixes, and many other OSes. Linux has had the benefit of being able to copy features, design, code, and other things. It's much much harder to be first, to truely innovate. When you actually have to do it from scratch, it requires a lot more work to get it right. Second, Linux is limited in scope, it's just a kernel and that kernel has attracted the lions share of Open/Free developer mindshare.

    What happens when you need to _truely_ match the world of windows? Not just a kernel, installers, applications, help menus, full featured GUIs, etc. How many bright talented open source developers do you know that are willing to work on these less inspiring projects? What's more, maybe a great many idealistic young developers are just working to prove that Linux can "do it",...what happens when Linux has done it. Are they really willing to go that extra mile, to make sure that hundreds of millions more lines of code get written with reasonable quality, to really match the users experience in windows?

    Even if all those developers are willing and able to write all that other code, who is going to organize it? To place resources where they need to be placed, rather than in the more exciting or popular projects. Who is going to assign themselves the task of debugging and reviewing code? While you may argue that Linux does this, it also benefits from its limited scope, limited size, modularity, great mindshare, and the fact that it's derived from previous work--it's not the same thing.

    Even if people are _willing_, they still need to work. Someone like myself, even though I might have the skills to contribute to Linux, and the desire to develop certain pet projects, I lack the time to really commit to something as large scale as Linux. Working a couple hours here and there is NOT at all the same thing as working full time at it, without interruption. If I had to develop code for work like that, I would't be nearly as productive. Most of the truely productive Linux, and other open source developers, are also those that work few hours, if at all. This represents a very small part of the population.

    In summary, my concerns are: will, desire, size, focus, and organization. All of them are very daunting tasks in and of themselves.

  • No, I don't think it's a zero-sum game. You asserted that PalmOS should be scrapped because it's outdated, or something to that effect. I am simply asserting that the reasons for PalmOS's design are still largely valid today and thus it should not be scrapped. Namely, lack of input devices and _necessarily_ small screens. The only thing that has really changed is better battery life and cheaper memory, but these don't really matter that much given the limitations [Though it would make developing Palm applications a bit easier, not having to worry so much about the use of global variables and such, it's still overall a pleasure to design for.] What's more, I think there is still another year or so before memory and battery technologies improve to a point where making drastic updates to PalmOS would make sense.

    You may argue that Palm could have and should have emulated the approach of IPAQ, while still maintaining the status quo with their bread and butter PalmOS / PDA. I simply do not believe it is this simple, despite whatever vestiges of 3com may remain in Palm. First, their is something to be said for mindshare. Does Palm really want to confuse customers and pirate their existing customers? It's one thing to make those moves for the future, but making a brash move for flashy applications, is hardly a win-win move. Especially when you consider that Palm must fight the considerable resources of the likes of MS. MS would love nothing better than a feature war, where everything can be neatly captured on a X by X matrix. Also consider that they'd risk splintering their considerable developer community. I'm not speaking so much of all the random shareware/free developers online, but corporate, military and industrial application developers. Plus they'd have to start playing a near-commodity hardware pricing game, not a good game to play. Lastly, I think IPAQ success is sort of flukish--few people really predicted this one would take off--and those that have have been predicting each WinCE device would--despite all their failures. It's basically a different market, in my opinion. A new one, one in which people are willing to spend a considerably more money on a device that they really can't (or rather, aren't going to) DO anything more with.
  • I was suggesting for palm to make PalmOS an application on top of linux.
    Why? From a cost/benefit point of view, why use Linux?
  • If you know anything about business, business decisions aren't made solely on cost benefit analysis. The best businessmen work from intuition and a keen, personalized intimacy with the details of their situation.
    Actually, yes, I do. I went to business school, watched my parents startup and run many hi-tech corporations successfully and I have an entreprenuerial leaning myself. While I do agree that not everything can or should be quantified or formally analyzed [many things clearly should not be] that does not mean that some kind of cost/benefit is no longer important. Everything the company does has a cost of some sort, you either recieve a benefit or you do not. It may be hard to measure, it may come in the form of good will from customers, or what have you, but it's still there, at least in the mind of the business person. If you can't at least verbalize and support your view of the cost and the benefit, then you probably should not be persuing a major change.

    Aside from that, cost-benefit is important, and the strategic implications of the move to linux are based on long-term profitability; the thrust being that more marketshare ubiquitous use can only happen when the price is low enough relative to the commodity hardware in question.
    What magic price might this be? Less than 3 dollars? Consumers drop more for a cup of coffee these days, do you really think this is going to dissuade them? I don't think so, not that much, especially when no other alternatives exist. [Sorry, but I don't believe those Linux handhelds will ever reach the mass market] Furthermore, you are presuming that Linux has near zero cost, this is demonstratively untrue. Linux as is, in all its current forms, is both il-equipped and needing of many changes to support PalmOS like performance, compatibility, etc. I would venture to say that it would cost as much as Linux itself. Given the fact that the community has not yet done it, I see no reason to believe that they will do it in the near future. Thus, it will come out of Palm's pockets. Whether those costs come in the development of Linux or PalmOS is irrelevant, it still costs money. That money must come from somewhere.

    Of course I am not the CEO of palm and am not intimately familiar with the details of their operations, so a cost benefit analysis from _me_ would be utterly worthless. Likewise with yourself, but I wont stop you from trying.
    First, this is exactly what _you_ are saying. You are second guessing Palm's management, not to mention the Sony's, Handspring's, TRG's, and others. If that's the argument you're going to make, then at least be consistent. Second, some decisions are plainly stupid, one need not necessarily be an insider to know that. For instance, of Palm were to spend 500m dollars convert to MS-DOS, most sufficiently educated and reasonable people would agree that is stupid. Likewise, when Palm embarks on a program where they cannot name a significant and true benefit, then I say it is stupid, especially when they clearly do not understand the overall environment.

    Now that I have some time, I'll name (or re-iterate) a couple flaws with the conversion to Linux.

    1) The most it could possibly save is 2 or 3 dollars per device.

    2) It would require significant investment, almost certainly more than adding the few desired features into PalmOS.

    3) Linux offers very little to handheld devices.

    4) PalmOS is very much up to the tasks that are demanded of it, all the monies that funded its development are sunk. Meaning that it's impossible to recover them. Converting to Linux, on the other hand, would certainly cost money. Are you really going to tell me that adding those few demanded features to the EXISTING PalmOS would cost more than practically starting from scratch with Linux? Or do you really believe that the community is going to do this for Palm? Please.

    5) Linux is MUCH MUCH more demanding of the CPU and memory, many of those are a result of its feature set (e.g., multithreading). This means that despite whatever devices commodity status, it will probably cost more than a competing PalmOS device.

    6) Palm would have a very difficult time building in Linux without getting suckered into the GPL. This is bad for a couple reasons. First, the bulk of their work could be adopted by the competition for free. Meaning that, not only could the competition avoid paying the PalmOS licensing fees, but that control could certainly drift away from Palm Inc. What happens when some vendor, say Sony, decides they want to add a new feature in. Sure, that may go GPL, but then you eventually end up with competiting alternatives, hardly desirable to developers. Furthermore, that would make Palm into much more of a hardware company than it really is. If the market truely goes commodity, that is hardly a desirable market for Palm. The only way they could compete is with larger economies of scale.

    7) Palm could license and acquire other OSes, if they really wanted, which are far less restrictive and would be ultimately cheaper to adapt.

    So, again, I ask you, what are the benefits and how much is it going to cost, even off the hip?
  • Hrm, well, Mr Businessman stud, show me your accomplishments. 98% of business school graduates couldn't sell themselves out of a paper bag.
    That may well be true, but you certainly implied that I knew nothing about business. I just responded in kind. Anyways, my primary focus lately has been developing software, but give me a couple years... ;)

    I glanced over your message and its pomposity was striking. Why bother fighting me? I am irrelevant.
    Because I can. Because I wanted to. Because I had the time. Why bother replying to me?

    I come up with a back-of-the-napkin idea that I thought was pretty cool, and you go ahead and deconstruct it into utter meaninglessness.
    You can dream all you want, but if you want to sell it to others or convince people like myself that the management of Palm is composed of idiots, then you should expect a little vigorous debate. My intention was not to strike you down for your lack of credentials, but rather to engage you in reasoned debate.

    I've said it earlier and I'll say it again. The idea of having a palm application running on top of a linux handheld would be very cool. I would want one.
    It may be cool, to people you and I, but that does not mean that 99% of the population would have any use for it. Since you have so little appreciation for PalmOS, why bother with Palm at all, when you have the likes of Agenda and such out there?

    If Palm's move to Linux means that it now appeals to the 1% of the population called geeks, while raising their price by 50% (memory, CPU, etc), for instance, [assume for a minute that it's otherwise the same to the end-user], how does this help them? Consider also that many geeks may choose Agenda et. al instead, and that many have no use for a PDA at all. The actual people that would buy as a result would be small, while many more (average users) may be be discouraged because of price. Even if the price were exactly the same (meaning none of the existing buyers would be discouraged), consider it financially. It would require a relatively large cash outlay (say 10m dollars, excluding marketing costs), given a relatively small group of buyers and profit margin, it's hardly worth it. I would be very suprised if Palm could sell enough additional sales to make that expenditure as profitable one. Even if it were, ask yourself if this would offer a greater return than targeting the rest of the population with WinCE-like features.

    You could rewrite it from scratch in a few weeks/month. PalmOS is a very very simple application, there is nothing complex at all about it.
    Maybe not to write a quick hack, but to make it as stable as Palm, as easy to develop for, as small of a memory footprint, and to do it in a cost effective manner, that is non-trivial. Some complex issues are: database and memory management (they're intertwined in Palm), synchronization, power management, boot-time, sleep-mode, event handling, custom UI (designed to minimize user-interaction), grafitti, LCD control, etc. These ideas may seem easy, but even mimicking them is much harder than you think, never mind writing them from scratch. I'd be extremely suprised if Agenda and others even approximate this in its totality.

    And I think it bears repeating. The amount of money saved per device is irrelevant if your goal is to sell 2x as many devices, however remote that may possibly be. I'm
    Fine, then explain in a coherant fashion how Palm saves that money? How does spending money converting to Linux save them any money whatsoever? Palm has already has a pretty fine OS, for all intents and purposes it is FREE now, whereas converting to Linux today would COST them more money.

    I'm not passing myself off as Palm upper management, although you so arrogantly presume to have that kind of expertise.
    Where do I proclaim myself an expert in the minutia of running Palm Inc? I speak from general experience with manufacturing, developing software, and financial experience, not to mention development (and deployment) experience on PalmOS, these allow me to be reasonably sure that moving to Linux would be a stupid move, without being terribly familiar with Palm's operations [though I did actually hear Palm's founders/developers speak at Penn Engineering's entreprenuership class recently]. Some problems are simply so fundamental and so simple as not to require real expert knowledge.

    Enough said, bye.

  • "I also wish they had built in MP3. I'd have ordered one the day they came out if they'd done that."

    I've heard that the 33mhz Dragonball they use is not quite powerful enough. In the case of Sony's new Clie, there's an additional chip onboard for decoding.

    -Jesse Chang
  • Don't run Linux because Linux is cool. On a handheld, you want the most stable and mature software *for your tasks* that is available - which will almost certainly be Palm or Psion. WinCE is useless, and Linux isn't very big on small-footprint task management and scheduling software.

    I have a Handspring Visor, and the fact is, it's a much better handheld than a Unix machine would be. I have brightly colored to-do list management, I have appointments and alarms, and the interface is designed to be driven from a couple of buttons and a stylus, not a mouse and a keyboard. It works better.
  • Personally, I own a Visor. After spending 3 weeks playing with it, going "This is so cool!", I put it on the shelf and haven't touched it since. I discovered that I didn't really need it, I just taken in by its coolness.

    I did the same thing with my Palm III, but I've lugged a sucession of laptops and two handhelds around with me constantly. I'm not sure what the difference was, but I don't *think* it was the input... I think it was the interface.

    Simple, easy, and maddeningly unextendable. The inability to drop to a prompt and/or do real spreadsheet/text work drove me nuts. Any OS that has no real provision for a text file is not hacker friendly.

    Eventaully I cracked the screen and shed no tears. The leather case for it (that is/was my wallet) now holds a penguin mint tin full of caffene pills, antacids and ibuprofen. Ready for a late night or SF convention at a moments notice!


  • I love my Agenda, but...

    It's very slow. On my Palm I can Graffiti as fast as I like, and it keeps up with me. On the Agenda, I'm constantly waiting for the handwriting recognition to catch up. The Agenda is also noticably slower at firing up applications.

    Depressingly, I need the Outlook sync tools that didn't ship with it. We're forced to use Outlook at work, and since one of my main uses for a PDA is as a daytimer, I need to keep my Outlook calendar and my PDA synched.

    I don't know what can be done about the speed. The Outlook sync will be there (if I weren't busy trying to get a job on the other side of the Atlantic I'd be working on it myself), and when it is it will be usable (for my purposes - I know other people are already using it productively as an Atari 800 emulator!).

  • It's cheaper for Compaq to pay Microsoft than to have to produce another version of the iPAQ without wince. Sure, they could make a Linux version. Would you like to pay $30 more for it?
  • IIRC The stylus silo has a hole in it for some reason

    That's for the ink to drain away... Well, maybe it's to prevent vacuum/compression resistance when removing/inserting the stylus.
  • What sort of applications are available that use the extra resolution? I was intreagued by this on both the 330 and the new Sony Clie.

    And yup, Handera is a silly name - remind me of Thundercats :o)

  • I, for one, would love to see any evidence of this community on Windows. However, every time I've gone looking for a Windows app, it's been (at best) shareware. With one exception, every time I've gone looking for a Linux app, it's been open source. Oh, and the Windows guys have only once offered source. Not exactly what I would call an open source community on Windows.
  • Used to think like that until I dropped my leather bound notebook in a mudpuddle in Spring. 4 years of contact information ruined. Gone. Went out and bought a Palm Pro the next day (this was 1997). Last month I gave the Pro to my GF and bought a IIIxe for $200cdn. Hands down, get the palm, yeah, no fancy features you don't use anyhow. It's $200cdn. 8meg. Works great.

    And most importantly it backs up in a few seconds.

  • I got one for my wife (mine hasn't shown up yet), and I have to say that they did a fantastic job designing this little beast. It doesn't have color, but then, I didn't want color on my PDA. I just wanted the higher resolution. The 2 card slots, jog dial, and other stuff is just a bonus.

    You can read the marketing hype at Handera's website []. [Note: Handera used to be TRG, but changed their name for some silly reason] Or you can read this excellent review at MemoWare [].

    The only thing I disagree with them on is the use of serial instead of USB. I can understand their desire to make it compatible with all of the palm III add-ons, but still.

    As for linux support...I have no idea.

    for what it's worth,

  • I love the Ipaq. It's a sexy little device, and for some extra dough, you can get a wireless modem (CDPD). You throw an ICA client on there, and you suddenly have access to any app on your Citrix server. I
  • There is a lot of talk about Linux handlhelds. However, I have yet to come accross an article which explain if they support synchronisation with the desktop.

    And if they do support synchronisation, what protocol do they use. A good choice (instead of developping a different protocol per device) whould be to use SyncML (

    The major problem I found running a Linux desktop is to synchronise my Visor with it. I've tried different synchonisation tools for Linux and they all suck (especially malsynf for AvantGo, it always retrieves everything instead of only the stuff that changed like the Windows conduit). So now I rely on Windows running in VMWare to actually sync my Palm.

    Unless I have good synchronisation with my Linux desktop, there is no way I'm gonna switch to a Linux handheld.
  • For all those wondering why you'd buy a PDA if you were a poor student: To keep tabs on your student loan payment schedual!

    Or maybe he meant "poor" as in "bad" ... in which case, he'll be using it for 'reference' during exams. ;)
  • While you can back up a PDA, it's much easier to lose information. I've been wary of PDAs since I dropped a "personal organizer" (one of those PDA precursors from the late 80s / early 90s) on a hardwood floor and lost all the contact info I'd ever had.

  • I owned a Palm for about a year. Then, one day I was with some friends and managed to fall on my side, with my Palm in my pocket. The thing shattered. I didn't really have enough money to get a new one, so I didn't bother to replace it.

    The next month or so was crazy; I couldn't remember assignments, appointments, or phone numbers very well. But after that month, I found myself able to keep it all straight in my head. It was at that moment I came to this conclusion: The Palm resulted in a decreased memory ability! It was at that point I realized that breaking my Palm was quite a blessing in disguise. I'm frankly glad to be rid of it.

    So if your reasoning for getting a PDA is to help remember appointments and the like, I'd actually recommend against it, but instead focus on ways to try to better remember things without any assistance. Yes, it takes some time to get used to it, but in the end I think it's highly beneficial.
  • I think there is flakiness in the synchronization software. My own iPAQ (still running WinCE 3.0, as I assume yours is) got into a state where it would synchronize, but not completely. There was always one item left to synchronize after every sync was completed.

    I called Compaq and they told me to brainwipe the unit and restore from backup. That did it.

    I suspect you may have something sour in your desktop sync folder. If you can stand to do so, move all that stuff to one side, and resync to a clean directory. To be extra-bold, brainwipe your unit after backing it up so you're starting clean. See if that fixes things.

    If it still craps out down to the flash monitor level, you have a bad unit. Otherwise you get to start the bloody detail work of gradually reintroducing your various pieces of user data until it craps out again. Blow the offending data into oblivion.
  • If you want a portable desktop that you can hack and have stuff easily portable from existing desktop code, you want to take a look at the IPAQ or Agenda. I've got an agenda, and it's cool as technology in and of itself (remote display and Apache on an organizer, how cool it that?). It has a consumer IR feature, which alone justifies buying the hardware. But cool is really all it is; it wasn't designed to be usable. Buttons are located in weird places, it is very slow, and some UI design decisions are absolutely attrocious. Agenda can't really decide whether they are targeting the non technical-user who is largely interested in PIM or the linux geek who wants a cool and snazzy portable linux box.

    If you want a mission-critical, easy-to-use organizer where UI (both hardware-wise and software-wise) is not an afterthought, the only solution is palm. The palm has had a lot of mac influence in the UI, and MacOS has had a far better track record on user interface issues than microsoft or the linux community. Also, PalmOS by design is far more responsive interface-wise than linux is. PalmOS gives special priority to handling UI events which is something that linux simply just doesn't do. If anyone thinks this explanation is BS, then why is my 8-16mhz palm far more responsive than my 66mhz Agenda? While PalmOS doesn't really multi-task, for what most people use it for (dates, phone numbers, etc) multi-tasking is a non-issue. The design of the palm is well thought out; it was modelled after a block of wood a guy carried around in his pocket for a month. The other PDA's (both Linux and Wince) were modelled after that clunky thing sitting on your desk. The question of which design decision makes more sense I leave up to you.
  • Real hackers' handwriting is worse than doctors'. Notepad and pencil storage only works well if you can read what you wrote a month later. In a university environment where you're always 10 feet from a terminal, it really doesn't matter, though. Just keep everything on your UNIX box.
  • The truth is we are a business organization and we do care about the money.

    Wow. That is the most candid letter I can ever remember seeing. The polar opposite of the usual marketing BS.



  • I can't stand people who sit in classes/meetings/conferences taking notes while typing away noisily on a keyboard.

    Well, it depends on the keyboard. Some keyboards make a noisy "clack" and others are very quiet.

    A dozen years or so ago, long before Palm, the smallest and lightest laptop-ish thing you could get was a TRS-80 Model 100 []. It had 24 or 32 kilobytes of memory (24KB, not 24MB), a display that was 8 lines of 40 characters each, and a decent keyboard. That keyboard was noisy, but there was a well-known hack: you would pop the key caps off, put a little tiny rubber band around the post for the key, and put the key cap back on. (You could get the tiny rubber bands from any orthodontist.) With a spongy rubber bumper under every key, the keyboard became very quiet for note-taking.

    (By the way, I heard that the Model 100 was very popular for news reporters. 24KB is enough to write up a news story, the built-in text editor was adequate, and they could use the optional acoustic coupler with the built-in 300 baud modem to send in the news story from any phone booth.)

    I don't think any of the portable Palm keyboards I have seen make a really loud "clack" sound when you type. If you are a gentle typist, you shouldn't make too much noise.


  • Show me a Palm device that has a color screen, can play MP3s and videos, can connect to a corporate network, has wireless options, records voice memos, and has large storage solutions and I'll happily eat my words.

    Sony Clie' []. Eat up ;-) (actually I'm not sure it records voice memos, but it should do everything else). Alternatively you can get a Handspring Visor Deluxe to do all those things but not at once.

  • You might have better luck with one of the new portable cd players coming out that also play mp3 cd(r/rw)s. True the display probably sucks more, but then OTOH the sound is probably better and you can cram way more onto a cdr(w) than you can for even the largest CF/SD card, for a vanishingly small fraction of the price.

    I just saw one of these beasts at Radio Shack the other day, damn if I can recall the name of it or how much it was though. (And if there are always the laptop-hd-in-pretty-case things (c.f. thinkgeek) too.)

    Of course the ideal would be a mobile phone with better sound chips, blazing fast wireless ethernet, and your own personal WAPish-interface streaming MP3 server... ;-) "Yeah, all 120 gigs of mp3s are available through my phone..."

    News for geeks in Austin: []
  • I wonder how possiable it would be to create a "mini"-wine for CE... WinCE in theorgy should be less complex than Win32, and the Wine project has made it along way with the Win32 side...
  • I see lots of comments where people basically recommend their own pet technology, ranging from various flavors of the Palm platform to old-fashioned non-electronic note-taking. This is all kind of missing the point. Just saying "I use this! It works for me!" doesn't say anything except that you like the product's strengths and have learned to live with its weaknesses. I'm sure there are still WorkSlate [] users out there with the same attitude.

    Instead of just praising your favorite toy, let's talk about the basic issues here. Which are:

    -- Does it really make sense to put Linux on handhelds? Is it better than handheld OSs (PalmOS, Epoc) and if so, why?

    -- Does it make sense to develop a handheld hardware platform specifically to run Linux? And if you're going to give the religious argument (I won't pay a license fee to M$, even if it costs me money!) consider that economics is a bigger issue to most people. Your pet technology is irrelevent if nobody uses it.

    -- Why are we so dependent on X-Windows? It would seem to make sense to develop a new terminal server for modern platforms. But everybody insists that it's too hard to port X apps to new technologies, such as W. Why?

    -- For that matter, why does the X server model persist years after the demise of the dedicated platform it was designed for []? Why is nobody looking at approaches that simply dispense with the terminal server, such as Qt Palmtop []?


  • How dare you criticize Linux on Slashdot!

    Linux is the ideal solution for all needs and in all situations.
  • No one's mentioned the most important reason to favor Linux over PalmOS, which is of course, nethack.
  • Plus there's almost no chance of a pad of paper getting stolen.

    Interestingly enough, each of my first two years of university I had my clipboard and paper pad stolen, once from right under my seat (!) and another time in the library when I stood up to walk to the stacks -- about 10 feet away.

    In 1999 I bought a Vadem Clio and started taking notes with it. It hasn't been stolen. My only theory is that while people were stealing my paper for cheating purposes before, they're not stealing my PDA because it would be a much worse offense to steal such an expensive item...

  • Insightful indeed, but if money is such a consideration, why the hell wouldn't Agenda [] top your list? It costs way less than the Yopy or IPaq, and has a very active and geeky community: [] (Agenda slashsite)

    subscribe to the mailing lists [] (between the user and developer lists there's 100 or more messages a day)

    Agenda help page [] outstanding reference and starting point
  • sure it has the "palm" attachment []. It definitely makes any PDA more accessible and will make you more productive.
  • Don't believe his lies. He is the one. Kill Him.
  • it really depends what you need the device for. you have two major perspectives, first being "use" and the second from a "developer" perspective. as a PDA developer (Palm, VTech, others) it becomes aware of the low level restrictions on what you have from a development perspective.. from a users point of view.. it all depends on what you want it for.

    while i dont want to start a PPC vs PalmOS argument here, you may want to think about the following:

    - shrunken down mobile PC
    - games (interactive), work processing, data processing etc
    - battery life, size, expandability

    - PIM, quick reference data
    - simple games, KISS principles.
    - battery life, size, expandability

    loads of other issues too.. but, if you want to play doom type games (CPU intensive) - choose a PPC device.. if you want to mess with work processing, data processing, pretty much do things mobile that you can on your desktop, choose PPC.. if you want a device that you can just bring up information quickly, get a phone number fast, write a simple note.. choose Palm.

    its never a question of "which one is best", as it always depends on what you want the device for. consider this question before you make a decision.

  • Yeah - I'm still using mine too. I haven't seen anything yet that would tempt me to trade it in.

    It performs all the appointment/phone book/notetaking duties that a PDA is required to do, has great battery life, a somewhat small but higher resolution screen than Palm devices, a KEYBOARD, a usable serial port (I'm an embedded systems programmer, and like having a full-function dumb terminal to communicate with my test equipment without having to carry a laptop around), and a full size PCMCIA port.

    Plus, with the ability to run DOS shareware, I've got my choice of thousands of shareware games (old, but still fun to play) which make long boring meetings a lot more bearable.

    It's also fairly indestructible. Over the three+ years I've owned it, mine has taken several dives from waist height onto concrete, with only slight case scratches to show for it.

    Some of the newer HP CE devices looked nice - faster processors, color screens, etc., but none of them has proven to be actually as useful as my HP200LX.

    I'd love to have the exact same device, (Hey! HP -- Are you listening?) with maybe a little sexier case (a bit thinner would be nice), a faster processor, and the ability to run Linux. A backlight would be a plus, but I wouldn't want to give up much battery life for it.

    Until I see such a device, I'll likely hang onto my trusty old 200LX.

  • In my experience (testing many different types of handheld PDAs for my company) the iPaq falls short in one key area: battery life. If I charge mine up on Friday afternoon, so that it's at full charge, and leave it all weekend (not using it at all), by Monday the battery is dead. And since it's a built-in rechargable battery (not AAA batteries)... if I'm on the road and don't have my charging cradle... I'm out of luck.
    Of all the handheld devices, my favorite is the Handspring Visor (pretty much any flaver of Visor, although the Visor Edge also has a built-in rechargable battery. At least it lasts longer than 48 hours). The Springboard module gives the Visor far more expandablility than any other device on the market.
    The cost is also a factor: Visors are less expensive than iPaqs. Since it runs the Palm OS, there is a tremendous library of apps that will run on it (both freeware and buyware).
    I've also heard (unconfirmed) stories that iPaqs have the highest dealer return rate of any handheld.
    Just my 2 cents worth.
  • I'm a poor student

    Dears, have you got your answer so far? Don't just ask the question, how about contribute to the society by giving us a detail comparison on the following Linux PDAs for us?

    4P DAT500 rugged handheld []
    Agenda VR3 []
    HNT Exilien 00101/00201 Handheld PC and HNT Exilien 00102 Multimedia PDA []
    MiTAC CAT []
    Yopy []
    SK Telecom IMT2000 WebPhone []
    VTech Helio []

    My boss told me to do so but I am just a poor employee and can't afford to make a mistake here. Thanks.
    /. / &nbsp&nbsp |\/| |\/| |\/| / Run, Bill!
  • As always, YMMV.

    There can be no "one size fits all" PDA for everyone. For some people, the additional functionality of the iPaq is worth the added cost, size and battery drain. For someone like me, whose primary purpose is to always have his address book and calendar with him (and I mean always), the smaller form factor of a Palm V/Vx is the most important feature.

    Do I wish my Palm V was faster? Sure, sometimes. Am I willing to give up the 3-4 weeks of battery life on a charge and the supremely portable form factor? Not on your life. I might be willing to sacrifice battery life down to a day or two for a bright color screen, but that'd be it. No increase in size, please.

    The only thing that really disappoints me about Palm is that they can't settle on a charging/docking cradle or serial connector. The first cradle worked with everything except the Palm V family. Now the M100s and M500s each have their own new cradle style.

    Note to Palm: Quit screwing with the cradles. Pick a style and stop.

  • I'm just a caveman. I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the honking horns of your traffic make me want to get out of my BMW.. and run off into the hills, or wherever.. Sometimes when I get a message on my fax machine, I wonder: "Did little demons get inside and type it?" I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know - you should take a little trip through your local K-Mart to find a cheap PDA if you need one that bad. Do you want it for the "wow factor" or just to brag about how l33t you are now that you have a PDA.

  • "Daddy only sends me 500 bucks a month for my allowance" vs. "My intestines are bleeding from eating ramen, the only food I've eaten in the last 3 years"

  • You couldn't fit the information you can fit in a pocket PC into your pocket though. I have to many phone numbers to fit them into my mobile, so instead I've got them all with me when I have my iPaq. I often have to have a lot of technical documents with me. A lot of these documents are a lot easier to have in my hand while I'm trying to integrate them into whatever I'm doing. I have enough paper information lying all over my desk that sometimes it's just easier to search by document on my PocketPC. Add E-books, it's always good to have something to do with me for times I'm waiting for a train/bus, etc. A lot of the pad and paper work I do is code related, so it's a lot easier to have a diagram / pseudo-code on a memchip then on a pad of paper, so that I can alter and change it later. I now only do quick scribblings that I know will not be needed again, less trees wasted. And I've got my MP3s to listen to on the way home thrown into the bargain :)
  • by /dev/niall ( 1043 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @06:32AM (#141796)
    Absolutely agree with the above post. I have an iPaq, dust bunnies and all. I would never give it up. ;)

    That being said, they have supposedly fixed the dust problem by adding screen gaskets. I don't have one of these newer models so I can't comment.

    The single button problem does make gaming impossible. Can't even play a decent game of Doom; Quake is a chore also. Folks are working on gamepad controllers to get around this problem.

    Speaker click is very irritating, but the excellent sound when using the device with headphones (which is how I normally listen to music and movies) more than makes up for it.

    The worst thing is size. A naked iPaq is a thing of beauty. Sure, it's bigger than a Palm (not by that much) - but hell, look at all it can do! A naked iPaq is a very good thing.
    As soon as you slip an expansion jacket on it, forget about it, it's a brick. There are after-market modifications [] you can make to the sleeves (or pay someone else to) to slim them down. I'm working on mine right now.

    Palms are great, and if all your mobile needs are met by one, fantastic. I for one love the expansion possibilities and features of my iPaq, whether it be running WinCE or Linux.

  • I still use my upgraded MP2000 every day and get quite a kick out of explaining to people just how cool it really is. It is not pocket-sized, but the monster screen size makes up for this. It is a shame that this box was killed because it really was the ultimate student PDA (you could actually _write_ your class notes during class and then go back over the recognition later.)
  • by RAruler ( 11862 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:30AM (#141798) Homepage
    IIRC The stylus silo has a hole in it for some reason, theres lots of ways for dust to get inside any device, but this is a particular nasty flaw. The monochrome version of the IPaq has this fixed, but for some reason they haven't fixed the colour version.

  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @06:27AM (#141799) Journal
    Get a palm if you want an organizer. Get an iPaq if you want a computer.

    The issue is nicely focused here. As a full-fledged development machine, the iPaq sucks. For most full-scale application work, the iPaq sucks. So do most desktops for that matter.

    iPaq is more of a computer than a Palm, of course. But the question then is whether you need a computer at your palm.

    So, its like this. When I need to do my organization and routine clicking to add numbers, the palm and iPaq perform about as well, and are both equally convenient at my palm. When I need to use a computer, the iPaq performs better than the palm, but both perform equally poorly. I would far prefer to use a computer, and don't usually need it at my palm.

    In this sense, iPaq seems like too much and not enough.
  • by lamour ( 49437 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @07:13AM (#141800) Homepage
    It is. The screen is wonderful. in the small font you can get 80 chars in landscape mode. The backlight is nicer than the one on the palm...and having the graffiti area backlit is truly wonderful if you're trying to scrawl in the dark. I also actually found the jog dial and "escape" button to be fairly useful for one-handed navigation. I think it's a really nice PDA.

    The box that the handera is packaged in claims that it has MP3 support. I'd guess it would have to be a CF card, but there is no further info in the box to tell me where I can order any of the accessories they claim to support on the box (they claimed a couple other things on the box that I was skeptical of as well).

    Other "useful" info:

    the CD is Windows only...and some of the Handera licenced software on the CD can only be loaded on a PC. This is a real bite, since one of the vendors even has a Mac and a Linux version of their software. No info was included on how to transfer the license to a version that I could use. (I refuse to load Windows on a box just so I can load an app onto my PDA)

    I had to download the latest Palm Desktop software for my Mac to sync anything to it. (note that there was no indication in the included materials of how to do this or even that this would work, even though they claim Mac support on the box.) I was also able to use Pilot Link under Linux on my Vaio. I had to use the serial port limited playing I couldn't get it to sync over IR. I'm sure I had something set up wrong on my laptop though. After reading through the Inrared-HOWTO and doing some google searches, I just gave up and plugged in the Viao dongle thing with the serial port on it, and synced with that without problems.

    There's a wonderful review at MemoWare [] that you should definitely read if you're thinking about buying one. I couldn't sift through all the marketing BS at handera's website to figure out what it could and couldn't do. After reading the PDA newsgroups and this review, I was convinced that my money would not be wasted buying one. After getting one, I am convinced that it was worth the money. (second one is on order)


  • by pogle ( 71293 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:26AM (#141801) Homepage
    I've just purchased a Handspring Visor Platinum a couple months ago (and *then* they drop the price down to $250) and it works great. It runs PalmOS 3.5 out of the box, which is what you will find most apps developed for. There is a lot of software and development options, including open source stuff. Is it really that critical that you have Linux on there? I dont know the price tag of the iPaq, but frankly I would seriously consider some of the PalmOS hardware as well. Its really quite nice. I've just started to develop on it, and its not any harder than elsewhere, except code bloat can become a problem if you dont watch it.

    I dont have hands on experience with the new Palm M500 and 505, but my boss at work has a 505 (which is color with PalmOS 4.0 native i believe) and loves it to death. The Platinum [] and M505 [] both have 33mHz Dragonball processors and 8 megs of RAM, plus expansion room. Especially for the Visors, with the Springboard expansions. Reference to Handspring [] for their information and savings offers. I really like them so far.

    Just my 0.2 cents.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @06:41AM (#141802) Homepage Journal
    I've got a Palm as well, purchased before the assorted Linux handhelds hit the market.

    Backing and synching it up is very nice. Just drop it in the cradle and hit the button. Various gnome apps have conduits to palm apps, so your calendar and address card list get moved over to useful apps. Your memos also get copied over and can be edited in your favorite editor. I also have my palm set to back up so if the batteries die I don't lose everything.

    On the down sides, there have been times when I've wanted to program in Perl or Java. If you want to do an OS upgrade, you now need Windows to do it (Used to be you could do it from Linux, but that doesn't work for the latest one.)

    I'm also a bit pissed off at Palm for charging me for the last OS upgrade. I wouldn't be except that the upgrade was necessary for the correct working of the device. Until I installed the latest OS upgrade, alarms wouldn't sound until I powered the palm on, and it was losing about 20 minutes a day on the system clock. The last OS upgrade fixed all that.

    These days you can get a Palm III for about $100. The environment is open and easy to write programs for. For what the palm does, it does it very well. The IPAQ and other type devices have that nerdly "Cool" factor going for them, though. That may end up being the deciding factor for a lot of readers.

  • They have the Palm VII's now at 200 bucks! I am thinking about getting one of those. Be interesting if you can hack the wireless to work with other services....And since it's a Palm III style device, there are plenty of accessories.

    Also, the Agenda people seem like they are heading in the right direction. Someone brought up a good point about the iPaq (not good enough, to me, to not buy one) in that you still pay a M$ tax on the device even when planning on loading Linux. If you wanted to look at a pure zealot's handheld, I think the Agenda would be better. I know there's no color, yet, but it runs Linux, you can flash new kernel's to it as well as software. Only thing that I never have seen about agenda is if it sync's with either evolution or some other Linux PIM app. I see that they have sync software for Linux, but they don't say what it syncs with. Be nice if you could use the same palm support with the agenda since if you can use the same software to transfer it, it would work with every Linux pim that already works with Palm.

  • by robbway ( 200983 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @06:38AM (#141804) Journal
    Don't pay more than $650 for a 3670. That is the retail price at Compaq []. That means: no Ebay, no MySimon, no Bizrate, nothing. If you do manage to scarf up less than retail, go for it.

    The joystick and buttons are crap. Not only are they useless for games (see earlier post), they aren't very robust feeling.

    Compaq has sealed up the hole in the stylus silo in later models 3650 and all 3670s. They will fix any dusty screen problems by warranty for free regardless of how long you've had it.


  • by nowt ( 230214 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @06:43AM (#141805)
    To resolve these complaints, install the familiar linux distribution :-)

    Then you can:

    1. Use a Gravis Stinger gamepad and play xmame/snes games
    2. Hear no clicking (although you can hear a mp3 or icecast/shoutcast stream with Scream)
    3. Dust still a problem but Compaq willing to fix if you're willing to part with it - pay for shipping only.
    4. Sleeve does make it bigger..and far more powerful! With pcmcia sleeve, I walk around the house on the internet, using dillo or Konq/e to surf the net while listening to tunes (see 2). Plus my nfs share to my linux box gives me mucho space ;)
    5. Need more software? Write your own quickly with python and gtk :-)
    6. Bill may not appreciate it but you will!

    And at the end of the day, it's now a full-fledged computer. I can ssh into my ipaq from work while it sits at home, upgrade it with new ipkgs (think debian .deb files) and remote control it with vnc. Someone recently got apache+php going on it so you can serve up some pages if you like. Also lirc support now coming so I can taunt my wife by changing tv channels with ipaq. The linux environment opens it up and allows it to behave (and be viewed) very differently!

  • by nowt ( 230214 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @06:47AM (#141806)
    Regarding gamepads, see

    Scroll down to Gravis Stinger and/or SpaceOrb 360 and salt to taste. I use both on my ipaq.

  • by Max Entropy ( 239730 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @07:06AM (#141807) Homepage
    ...then I can think of better ways you can spend your money.
  • by Lemur catta ( 459575 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:53AM (#141808) Homepage
    You shouldn't be asking which PDA to get withough stating why you need it, and more importantly, why you need a Linux PDA.

    Personally, I can only see a few reasons why you as a student would need one:

    1. To keep track of classes, assignements, etc. A PalmOS gadget will do this for you better and cheaper.
    2. To support Linux. But remember, you're still buying WinCE with the iPaq.
    3. To develop Linux apps for palmtops. This would be a valid reason to own a Linux PDA, if you're that serious about development. But if you were that serious, you wouldn't be asking /., would you?
    4. To be l33t. If the price of an iPaq or Yopy is worth the l33tness you will feel, go for it.

    Personally, I own a Visor. After spending 3 weeks playing with it, going "This is so cool!", I put it on the shelf and haven't touched it since. I discovered that I didn't really need it, I just taken in by its coolness. If you truly need a PDA, then you probably already know what your specific needs in a PDA are, and you should act accordingly. If you're like I was, and just want it for the geek factor, you'll be wasting your money no matter what you buy.

  • by THotze ( 5028 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:52AM (#141809) Homepage
    I seriously considered an iPaq but ended up getting a palm, and (half a school year later) I'm happy I made that choice. iPaq's are nice devices, color screen, etc.... but think: what are you going to be doing that requires color? Furhtermore, what are you going to be doing that REQUIRES Linux? Palm's are easy to write apps for in Linux or any other OS, and they're much cheaper (= more money for that upgrade you've wanted). I got a Palm m100 handheld for $150 and a keyboard for $100. I found that even writing fast enough to give me a cramp wasn't fast enough for handwriting recognition, it's due to the limited space available on a screen. If you're going to be taking notes (like I do with my Palm), you'll NEED a keyboard. The Palm one works perfectly. Seriously, when you consider that Palm's have a perfectly good notepad-ish application for typing, and a spreadsheet app can be purchased for ~$30, you've got a computer that's every bit as good at taking notes as a iPaq for I'm not going to be changing the way I take notes (or at least I'm not planning on it), and my Palm's put up with nearly a year of abuse with no signs of wear. I'm finishing my freshman year of HS now, and I'm planning to use my Palm all the way through University. It's that good. Tim
  • by SteveX ( 5640 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:20AM (#141810) Homepage
    It has it's problems, but the iPaq is one of those devices that seems to inspire a little bit of fanaticism in it's owners.. Check out Brighthand [] or PDA Buzz [] and look in the forums - you'll see lots of complaints about the iPaq, but nobody seems to want to give theirs up. Some common complaints:
    • You can't press more than one button at a time. This makes gaming nearly impossible.
    • The speaker "clicks" as the little amplifier turns on whenever it needs to make a sound; This is probably a WinCE thing, so hopefully the linux driver folks will make it configurable.
    • Dust inside the screen. Seems to happen to everyone - it happened to me, I'm just living with it.
    • Weird expansion capabilities. You can add a Smart Media or Compact Flash slot, but the sleeve you need to get to do so makes the iPaq quite a bit bigger, and you can only have one sleeve at a time.
    I'd recommend it.. but maybe it's safer to buy it from somewhere like Radio Shack that will let you return it if you decide you really don't like it. - Steve
  • by TBone ( 5692 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:41AM (#141811) Homepage

    Much more useful than an iPAQ which seems to be very hardly supported under Linux

    Much not very informed opinion, since Compaq, until recently, maintained the "hh" reference port of Linux for the iPaq, and more recently changed the reference port to one of the community ports (Freedom?) since they were a little farther along. Everything in the iPaq is supported under Linux. The sound is supported, the handwriting recognition is supported. There are ports of things like Perl and Python, and it all runs under X.

    You're talking about communication tools for the Palm on Linux. Big freaking deal. We're talking about running Linux on the iPaq. Natively. Who needs comm tools to transfer software downloaded from who-knows-where when you can fire up the TCP stack and telnet to your main box where your cross-compiler is to FTP up new programs?

    Compaq supports Linux to the extent that they will replace your iPaq if you turn it into a brik while trying to flash the Linux update onto it. They, of course, would rather you didn't do this, but the option is there. And there are just as many apps for Linux as there are for Palm.

    This space for rent. Call 1-800-STEAK4U

  • by TBone ( 5692 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @08:21AM (#141812) Homepage

    Yes, someone ported Linux to the Palm.

    However, Compaq ported Linux to the iPaq. This is the corporate support that everyone complains about there not being for such-and-such hardware everywhere. Compaq has essentially not only "released the drivers", but the source code for the drivers, and the optimized OS to go with the drivers.

    See above - I'm a UNIX admin, and would rather have UNIX tools available, since that's what I do for a living. Not only that, but Compaq is gettting right up there with IBM in corporate supprot for Linux, and I feel that if I am going to spend the money, then I want to spend it on a company that supports the things I use. Besides, the iPaq has all the other features I wanted, too (Color, sound, PCMCIA expandability). The Linux thing is just a bonus.

    This space for rent. Call 1-800-STEAK4U

  • by Vapula ( 14703 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:23AM (#141813)
    I also hesitated about a PDA... then opted for a Palm...

    You can find Palm tools (jpilot) under Linux, Palm Dev Tools (for free), Palm Emulator (to test your dev)...

    Much more useful than an iPAQ which seems to be very hardly supported under Linux.

    If it's using Linux to support Free Software, I'll remind you that buying an iPAQ will profit to Micro$oft (WinCE is ALWAYS preinstalled, evn if you plan to use Linux on it).

    (I do own a Palm. Support for it under Linux is great... never unpacked the CD-ROM they give with it... and there are many apps for Palm, of all kind)
  • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:25AM (#141814) Homepage
    As the former webmaster of, I have to tell you to get an iPAQ. It's not at all clear that the G.Mate people understand how open source should work; not true for the Compaq CRL people led by Jim Gettys (insert impeccable credentials here). The iPAQ doesn't require that you have a CF sleeve if you don't need one. Yeah, it's got some design problems. But all-around, it's just so nice that you gotta have one.
  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:55AM (#141815)
    Part of the reason the Palm is so good is precisely because it is a "calculator". It doesn't have to waste precious energy trying to power a colour display, or a fast CPU, or the large amounts of memory that the iPaq has. Less electronics also means the thing is smaller and lighter than an iPaq which means I can put it in my jeans pocket.

    Despite being less powerful, I have yet to run out of memory on the thing, even though I have quite a few useful apps on it such as BigClock, AvantGo, DiddleBug and a dozen or so ebooks.

    Personally, I'd like an iPaq to fiddle with but I don't see why I should splash out a large amount of money for one when I already have a PDA which does its job so well.

  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @07:29AM (#141816)
    Which will have longevity

    You have just stumbled upon what is perhaps the most useless question you can possibly ask when buying computer technology.

    iPaq, Palm, Yopy, whatever... In a year and a half, you will want something better, and will be able to buy something better with the change you find in your sofa.

  • This isn't directly related to the article, but it is a key question I think must be answered. What prevents you, exactly, from releasing OpenSource programs for Windows CE? (or Windows for that matter?)

    I do it all the time. There is a fairly strong Windows OpenSource community, and we get nothing but disrespect from our OSOS-using bretheren. If you want to preach the benefits of Open Source to the masses, you can't afford to be a platform bigot.

    -- russ
  • by BillyGoatThree ( 324006 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:30AM (#141818)
    "I'm a poor student, and can't afford to make a mistake here."

    It's perfect! All slashdotters believe you must own a PDA, even if you are a "poor student". They'll make suggestions til the cows come home, never once asking "why not just buy a notepad and a pencil".

    Very good troll.
  • by The-Forge ( 84105 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:28AM (#141819)
    I wouldn't get either. I am currently looking at getting a HandEra 330 []. It runs PalmOS and has both a CF and SD sockets on the top. (It supports a 1GB Micro Drive, hmm...1GB on a Palm) Yes, it is only gray, but I don't like having to change or charge batteries every day. Gray Palms runs for about 1 month on 2AAAs. The HandEra take 4AAAs and weighs about .2 ounces more than a IIIx. There is a option comming out this summer for a Li Ion battery. It also has the same dimensions and connectors as a III series so you have a ready supply of cheap accessories.
  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:22AM (#141820)
    I think the iPaq is a neat device but it certainly isn't as good as a Palm device as an organizer

    I have a Palm Vx and it kills the likes of the iPaq as personal organiser. It's lighter, smaller, has a much longer battery life, is much cheaper, handwriting recognition is good and the organiser apps are great. All these add up to a more convenient accessible device.

  • by j2brown ( 149380 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:33AM (#141821)
    I've recently found my Agenda to be very usable after all the work that's gone on. You can get a pretty good deal with the developer model as well. See [] for the mostly finished site. See [] for the developer deal, and see [] for more information about the community supporting it.
  • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @07:08AM (#141822) Homepage Journal
    I have two Palms and my next handheld will also probably be Palm OS based (Visor, Handera, Sony, etc.) I'm sticking with this for a few reasons:

    1. Battery life. Not having a color display, 16mb ROM, 32mb RAM, 200+mhz CPU, etc. means that the batteries last a lot longer in the Palm.

    2. Application choices and size. Palm apps tend to be very compact because, unlike WinCE, the Palm OS is only as complicated as it needs to be and no more so. If the apps are small, you don't need 32MB of RAM to store them. Palm apps are widely available and have been developed for years.

    3. Price. While I can easily afford a $600 handheld, it's more than I want to spend. If my $150 Palm breaks, I replace it and throw the old one away. If a $600 iPaq breaks, I'm going to have to get it fixed and be without it while it is being serviced.

    4. Basic functionality. The Palm does what I need. I can use it for note-taking. I can store addresses and phone numbers in it. I can use it for an alarm clock, calculator, or handheld game machine (I like chess, go, Othello, and other board games). While I could play action games on the iPaq, I have a real computer for that.

    Neither the Palm nor the iPaq devices will substitute for a laptop or desktop computer. You can develop apps on them (with great pain). You can, in a pinch, use them for e-mail. But they just aren't real PCs. When people are demanding 14" and larger screens in laptops, it's pretty clear that the 3" screen in a handheld is no substitute.

    In closing, decide if you need a handheld. Figure out what you will use it for. If you are like most people, the Palm devices will suit your needs fine. And you probably won't need color, either.

  • Fortunately for the developer community, Young Hoon Kim, a G.Mate programmer, ported X to the YOPY and made it available "unofficially." Finally, giving up trying to hold back water, G.Mate agreed an X environment would become the new base installation for the YOPY, dumping W Windows. In addition, a 2.4.x kernel would be made available, largely based on the work done by the group.

    I submitted Young Hoon Kim's interview [] to /. last time. He's doing a good job to steer G.Mate getting back on right track. The problems with YOPY is that they don't know what makes a Linux handheld different. The following paragraph gave you an answer.

    This shift in direction demonstrates (again) that introducing an incompatible technology without strong justification just won't work. Particularly amongst open/free programmers, no one is willing to invest in your new technology unless its worth their time. While W may be faster than X on a 206-MHz machine, is it worth the loss of compatibility? Empirically, NO!

    See that NO? The key is to have an open platform PDA. G.Mate didn't see it before. That's the reason why it worth our time waiting, regardless of the fact that it's coming late.

    If you want a consumer product, go for iPaq. It's there and it's good; but open source developers probably won't be interested in writing for CE.

    Of course, unless your intention is to hack this iPaq like in Embedded Debian [] project; but then again, you've to pay for a preinstalled Windows CE.
    /. / &nbsp&nbsp |\/| |\/| |\/| / Run, Bill!
  • First: don't do palm, unless you want flawless scheduling, calendaring, contact listing, memo writing and a host of quick apps. Palm has vastly inferior processor speeds, very low upgradability and an OS that, while quick, lacks any real power to go beyond the 64k Personal Organizer level of functionality. In short, if you want neat, programmable, full colour, true internet & wireless networking -- in essence, a real computer in your pocket -- don't go palm.

    Second -- don't go iPaq if you plan on using your organizer mostly indoors. The screen is just awful, though it excels outside. Me, I went Casio for the screen -- true 64k colour plane, beautifully backlit, and slightly larger than the iPaq -- but I can't see shit outside during the day. I have to duck under awnings when on the street, but luckily, i'm almost never on the street. Casio has great upgradability -- slip on an adapter and a wavelan card, you've got a wireless network. Slip in a compact flash modem, you're on the 'net from a hotel room. Connect to your cell over IR, and you're netted again. Memory, cameras, hard disks, all sorts of stuff is in the compact flash form factor, and unlike the iPaq you don't need a seperate sleeve to have the functionality -- there's a little door that hides your card when it's not plugged into the wall.

    Of course, Casio was just my choice, and a lot of people will lead you to the iPaq for its slightly faster processor (hint: it doesn't really casio E-100, their first colour unit, does mp3 and mpeg well enough, and it's only 133 MHz). But I think the great screen, and the ability to push more than one button at once (the Compaq won't let you do this...kills gaming in MameCE) outweigh the slight advantage of the StrongARM.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire