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Handhelds Hardware

PDA Designed for the Great Outdoors 257

Paul Bawon writes "A company in UK called Node has developed the world's first consumer PDA designed for use specifically in outdoor environments. The device is fully waterproof to 3 meters, has a 8 hour battery life, built in DGPS receiver and 1 Gig of storage. Bluetooth and WiFi come as standard as does a touch screen and either a PocketPC or Linux operating system. I bumped into them at a tourism conference in Edinburgh where they were demo'ing the unit and I was impressed. It's smaller than a standard postcard."
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PDA Designed for the Great Outdoors

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  • Interesting... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by solive1 ( 799249 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:39AM (#10373401)
    It's a nice concept. It looks like it can handle being shaken up a bit on the trails and dropped without hurting much. Only things I wonder about are how sturdy it is internally and how scratch-resistant the screen is. By the way... first post.
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Paster Of Muppets ( 787158 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:47AM (#10373503)
      Regarding the screen, it may be scratch resistant, but it's also touch screen. If it's designed for outdoor environments, wouldn't stray branches/falling leaves/rain drops get rather annoying for some if these keep being regarded as user mevements?
      • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bhtooefr ( 649901 )
        Well, I know that I had a serial touchpad that required a ground, not just pressure. If something that was grounded touched it, it registered a touch. If it wasn't grounded, it didn't know about it. So no rubber-soled shoes ;-)

        People are grounded. Raindrops and falling leaves aren't. Unfortunately, stray branches (unless they are falling, in which case you've got more to worry about than it messing with your screen anyway) ARE grounded.
    • by newandyh-r ( 724533 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:08AM (#10373761)
      ... and how readable the screen is in various states of light - especially bright sunlight.
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by igrp ( 732252 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:18AM (#10373887)
      Only things I wonder about are how sturdy it is internally [...]

      That's a very good point.

      I enjoy hiking. A while ago, I was way out in the woods hiking with some friends of mine. A buddy of mine, had his Ericsson R310s phone [] with him. Now, this phone is ugly as hell. It's also not available here in the US (and seeing that it's a GSM 900/1800 phone, probably wouldn't work here either). But it's rugged. His phone was the only one that survived the trip.

      Most of our phones just died for no apparent reason (I assume it was due to the rain -- and it rains a lot in GB, believe me). After performing "cell phone CPR" on them (taking them apart, carefully cleaning them with alcohol, and letting sit in a warm room to dry), most of them eventually worked again though (which of course doesn't help if you're in a tight spot and need your phone to call for help).

      The point is, if you're outdoors and choose to rely on any electronic device (1) make sure that it works (test it; bring extra batteries; etc) and (2) always have a backup plan (if you have a GPS device, bring a map & compass anyway).
      Technology is very useful if you know what you're doing but you need be able to survive without it.

      • by Kaa ( 21510 )
        Most of our phones just died for no apparent reason (I assume it was due to the rain -- and it rains a lot in GB, believe me).

        You know, there is this interesting invention called a "plastic bag". It even comes in a weird variety called a "ziplock". I've heard they can be useful for keeping the electronics dry even when it's raining. :-)
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheStruuus ( 263229 )
      I have used these [] which have been around for a while (a repacked IPAQ).
      I'm not sure if >$1000 counts as consumer, but anyone can buy them. They have a touchscreen that is scratch resistant, but obviously not scratch-proof.
  • by blueZ3 ( 744446 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:39AM (#10373407) Homepage
    If it's that thin, it would be easy to bend.
  • no karma no whore (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:40AM (#10373411)
    from the site:
    Wireless networking
    400mhz xscale powered computing
    Colour screen 320 x 240 hi resolution
    Incredible low reflection screen
    Location aware technology
    Ultra long battery life - up to 6 hours
    Rubber easy grip design
    Changeable colours - choose from 265
    Easy clean screen and casing
    Robust durable casing maximising protection
    Changeable necklace strap, assists devise care
    Auto load software
    Hidden restart -button
    Water proof casing
    Simple charge options either dock or individual charge
    Expandable memory option
    Advertising and branding space on rear of devise
    Light weight casing design
    Lockable casing design
    Landscape screen
    Touch screen
    • 320 x 240 hi resolution

      How is this "hi resolution"? My mobile phone [] has almost got higher resolution.

    • Contradictions here (Score:3, Informative)

      by Khali ( 526578 )

      Colour screen 320 x 240 hi resolution

      Not exactly my definition of high resolution. I think that recent handhelds have typical 320 x 320 resolution, don't they?

      Ultra long battery life - up to 6 hours

      Doesn't the news item advertise 8 hours?

      Changeable colours - choose from 265

      Frankly, do we need that many colours to pick from? I think not. Some marketing droid must have thought that a big number here would impress the customer.

      (Note that I couldn't read the article yet, as the site is obviously

      • > Changeable colours - choose from 265

        Frankly, do we need that many colours to pick from? I think not. Some marketing droid must have thought that a big number here would impress the customer.

        Of course marketing came up with that, and the "Collect them all" slogan as well.

      • by feargal ( 99776 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:23AM (#10373947) Homepage
        Ultra long battery life - up to 6 hours Doesn't the news item advertise 8 hours?
        That was two hours ago...
        Frankly, do we need that many colours to pick from? I think not. Some marketing droid must have thought that a big number here would impress the customer.
        It would appear they are not interested in marketing this directly, but through other companies. On the site they highlight the large recessed area on the back suitable for a sponsor's logo, and I couldn't find any price information either (site slow, maybe it *is* there). In that context. 265 colours makes perfect sense.
    • Forget Blue Tooth, an outdoor device requires GPS.
    • Sounds like its perfect for using full Windows XP.

      Wireless networking - someone across the street 0wnz you.

      400mhz xscale powered computing - I'm sure I bought a 3.20ghz machine?

      Incredible low reflection screen - playing doom 3, 16.7million shades of black.

      Ultra long battery life - up to 6 hours - flat battery = reboot automatically :) time saving measure.

      Rubber easy grip design - for smashing it against a wall when it crashes - AGAIN!

      Changeable colours - choose from 265 - see, told you Windows g
  • Sounds like being an outdoors PDA, it wouldn't really need the WiFi, but I guess it would be useful when your at home. Sounds a little like they were just cranking up the price a bit on that one. But none the less, this is one sweet PDA. Think of going hiking with some buddies, and even if your seperated, if you've all got bluetooth, you can still stay in communication. Deffinitely a must have for and outdoor geek.
    • by inkdesign ( 7389 )
      If you were separated from your hiking partners, I wouldn't rely on Bluetooth anything to stay in touch. Just not enough range to be practical at all for that kind of use.
    • by Morgahastu ( 522162 ) <bshel@@@WEEZERro ... my fave bands n> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:15AM (#10373854) Journal
      It's not only for the outdoors. The site explains it's also designed for indoor attractions. It's targetted for the tourism industry.

      For example: You go to Yosemite National Park in the USA and you can borrow one of these when you enter and it has all sorts of information on the park and landmarks placed on the map for you to go see (including washrooms an d gift shops!)

      Or you go to a large museum and you borrow one to get a map of all the attractions and maybe some accompanying text/voice info on whatever exhibit you're nearest to.

      Oh and back to my point: The wireless would be to remain on the network at an indoor location or possibly in some outdoor areas.
      • by haroldK ( 96625 )
        Or you go to a large museum and you borrow one to get a map of all the attractions and maybe some accompanying text/voice info on whatever exhibit you're nearest to.

        Actually, when the Smithsonian was touring in '97 (may have been '96 or '98), they had Newtons to do this job. It was a pretty neat way of getting people through with more info than was on the placcards without having to have tour guides. There was both audio and text.
    • by Scutter ( 18425 )
      it wouldn't really need the WiFi

      But if it *didn't* have WiFi, you'd see /. complaints that it was lacking. Personally, I'd rather have it over-featured than under.
    • "Think of going hiking with some buddies, and even if your seperated, if you've all got bluetooth, you can still stay in communication."

      If you are within BlueTooth(TM) distance, wouldn't you also be within shouting distance? Or are we assuming deaf hikers here? Of course most small device BlueTooth(TM) range is around 30 feet or so, so they should be able to see one another as well. Unless they are blind as well as deaf. In which case I'm not sure how they will use the UI.

      I'd recommend that said blind/dea

    • While the node explorer is cool... the Garmin Rino 130 is a much more useful device:
      • 12-channel, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver
      • Transmit power: 1 watt on high power (for GMRS channels), .5 watt for low power (FRS channels)
      • Transmit distance: up to 2 miles using FRS, up to 5 miles with GMRS
      • 14 FRS channels, 8 GMRS channels, and 8 GMRS repeater channels
      • 38 sub-audible squelch codes per transmission channel for semi-private radio communications
      • Electronic compass displays accurate heading while standing still
      • Bar
  • Oh yeah? (Score:2, Insightful)

    "It's smaller than a standard postcard."
    /me sets mode +rant
    No it's not. Two of the three dimensions are smaller than a postcard, but so are the flag pole I have in my back yard. Comparisons like that are useless.
    /me sets mode -rant
  • Nice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by L3on ( 610722 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:42AM (#10373437) Journal
    A very nice product, although 8 hour battery life is somewhat lacking for a GPS. Garmin has a similar product: but it's not as beefy. I still don't understand why you need to check your email and appointments out on the trail...
    • Re:Nice (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) *
      I still don't understand why you need to check your email and appointments out on the trail...

      Depends on what you are doing on the trail... How about geocaching (logging, cache page loading, etc)? How about photo blogging from the tail so that people can track your progress with only a small delay? How about tracking/sending information about the trail/terrain conditions live?

      I could go on.

      A PDA with a network connection doesn't necessitate email.
    • Re:Nice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ediron2 ( 246908 ) * on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @02:07PM (#10375796) Journal
      A very nice product, although 8 hour battery life is somewhat lacking for a GPS. Garmin has a similar product: but it's not as beefy
      Now, from Garmin's specs for the iQue3200:
      PowerSource: Lithium-ion battery

      Battery Life: Approximately 2 weeks standby time or approximately 16 days if used an average of 30 minutes per day with backlight off. Battery life will vary depending upon backlight level, temperature, and individual use patterns.

      So... the garmin runs for 8 hours, too.

      If *ever* there was a slashdot storyline that profoundly demonstrated how stupid the slashmob mentality is, this is it. The mob has grumbled about

      • The poor battery life (when, in fact, 8 *hours* of gadget-use is about the norm for brief-use devices like pdas and gps and the talk-time ratings for cell phones)
      • taking devices camping
      • the poor ruggedization of other devices
      • of how this is less valuable than outdoor skills
      • military use
      • outdoor screen readability of other devices
      • Wireless internet while camping
      • how people need to disconnect when they go camping
      • it'll only be useful to wilderness guides who, lacking any outdoor skills, will need this to show peeps where they are on a map (ow, my sides hurt)
      • The need for portable rechargability
      • Windows XP prospects
      • That it is available in too many colors
      • raindrops/branches vs. touchscreens
      • The poor range of bluetooth increasing the risk you could 'lose' your hiking companions (oh... migod! Bluetooth? How about just *shouting*?!)
      • Doesn't need wifi
      • Other devices are similar enough that this one is useless (WTF? Since when has anything been governed by a one-size-fits-all market?)
      There are a thousand interesting things to note on this product, and a few were well-addressed in the above context (interesting uses in military, museum, and ruggedized-portable-gadget markets; programmability of this one is an improvement over the Garmin Rino; outdoor screen readability needs attention on a lot of devices: how does this one do?; etc). But that sort of intelligent commentary is just *gone* in the noise. What scares me is that the noise is mod-4 or higher.
  • Applications? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by samtihen ( 798412 )
    Wow. I think that is pretty cool. It is obviously a bit bigger than what you would expect from a PDA, but it might have interesting applications for forest rangers or nautical police.
  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:42AM (#10373443)
    ... a built-in swiss army knife.
  • first Consumer PDA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:42AM (#10373444)
    because ruggedised PDAs have been around for ages - example is the Panasonic [] toughbook which they target at industrial and 'law enforcement' customers (ie, has to be rugged enough to be used to subdue violent suspects).

    The industrial ones are very expensive as the customers can afford to buy them.. is this the difference between them and this new Consumer model?
  • Field charger? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geek_3.3 ( 768699 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:42AM (#10373445)
    A portable field charger that doesn't require external battery source (solar, hand crank, whatever) would have been nice. That, or some sort of long lasting methanol fuel cell. I mean, if you're really gonna use this thing in the great outdoors doing forestry surveys or something, I would imagine that having an alternative charging source would have been nice to have. '6 hours ain't a whole day of battery life in my book...'
    • I can't find anything about it, but for the life of me I seem to recall some device putting a solar panel behind the LCD screen. This device seems like a great application for that.

      But good point on 6 hours not being much. I would see myself using this thing to hold topo maps with waypoints and taking notes on a multi-day hike. But after the first day I'll have to find one of those trees with the 120V outlet..

    • Re:Field charger? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plopez ( 54068 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:51AM (#10373553) Journal
      In relation to that, how does it perform at low temperatures? Low temps kill batteries which is why for 4 years my company has looked at hand held field units and for 4 years the answer was 'not yet'.
      • Re:Field charger? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        In journalism school, they taught us to stick the camera battery in our armpits during the winter time to warm it up for use. Another option is those "hot shots" chemical hand warmers.
    • Re:Field charger? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BridgeGarth ( 653575 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:54AM (#10373587)
      The item's site seems to state that it is designed as an aid for visitors. ie. it seems to me it is designed as a kind of electronic, position aware, guidebook for tourist sites. Not a device geared towards hiking, etc. The 6 hour battery life would therefore seem quite adequate.
    • What if you... turned it off?? *gasp*

      An 8 hour battery doesn't lose charge in 8 hours when it's not under load.

    • Solar Cells are easy (Score:3, Informative)

      by cgenman ( 325138 )
      Not to be too hacky, but it is trivial to add a good solar cell to most electronics, especially if they are built for a charger. This one looks like it uses a fairly standard power plug, which means it's probably 2.0 or 1.9 center positive. Anyone with a unit could tell you to required voltage, but I would guess 12v as it has an internal hdd. All that's left to do is find a good 12v solar cell [], find a plug [] of the right size, chop off the end bits of the two and attach them together, and double-check that
    • Re:Field charger? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:54AM (#10374340) Homepage
      I modified a motorola freeplay cellphone charger to charge my Sharp Zaurus while in the Wild. it works great, and coupled with a roll-up solar panel I have on the top of my pack I can charge it or the AA batteries I have for my GPS and LED flashlights.

      I find that if I disable the backlight and do all my journal entries and photographs in the daytime the zaurus can easily go 2 days without needing a battery top-off. My magellan Gold gps on the other hand eat's batteries like there is no tommorow.

      A backpacker that is clever enough can make what he/she needs for computing in the wild easily. and certianly light enough.

      as for durability, the zaurus is quite durable if you are sane with it. I do not need to have it out in my hand while mountian climbing or most situations. Ususally it only comes out of the pack when we set up camp or if I really need to write something or empty a CF card from the camera (I have a pair of 1gig SD cards for holding photos from a week vacation.) at a lunch break or stop.

      and at the price diference I can keep a case of new SL-5600's to replace broken ones for the price of one of these.

  • Slashdotting (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jon Langridge ( 705050 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:43AM (#10373450)
    Site seems to be under the influence of, well, us. Here's google's HTML version (cached) of the Node Explorer product info sheet: f+nodeexplore&hl=en
  • Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spin2cool ( 651536 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:44AM (#10373466)

    Or do people ususally go the the great outdoors to get away from this kind of stuff.

    Schedules, appointments, who cares! My favorite part of backpacking is not knowing or caring what time it is!

    • I took my GPS with me on a recent trip to Yosemite and Mt Whitney. My main reason for using it was to check my altitude when climbing. However I found that it was constantly having trouble locking onto satellites when I was near any cliffs, peaks or in a canyon. Depending solely on a GPS unit to navigate in the mountains is foolish. Plus GPS units become unusable in very cold weather as the screens grind to a halt and alkaline batteries die. Even keeping in my jacket couldn't keep it warm enough.

      It is
    • If that's your favorite part, you can enjoy your favorite part of backpacking by simply hiding all your clocks, gadgets, and computers and hanging out in your house. You'll save money on gear and travel time, and you won't have to hang your food in midair to prevent the animals from eating it.

      It's cheaper, and those of us who backpack for reasons besides an inability to think of another way to get away from clocks will have less crowded trails to deal with.

      People who backpack to "get away" baffle me-- I
    • The only real use I can see for something like this (besides military, and they're working on their own solutions there) is for wilderness guides and such. They'll need some way to keep the batteries up on long hauls, but on a hike it would be cool to be able to show people where they were on a map and so on, and eight hours of life is plenty.
    • Or do people ususally go the the great outdoors to get away from this kind of stuff

      It's just you. Most people avoid actual contact with the great outdoors, but still want the aura of ruggedness and independence that comes with it. The same people who love SUV's will love SUPDA's.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ok! Whose been playing Tetris on the gps unit again?!

    Some things shouldn't be combined together, especially if you have to depend on it.
  • 8 Hours = Useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:46AM (#10373483) Homepage Journal
    Sorry guys, I have to go plug my PDA/GPS into my tent.

    A PDA with 8 hours of battery life is useless. A GPS with 8 hours of battery life is dangerous.


    • by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:17AM (#10373873)
      Alright, on /. it's normal to say things are useless just because you don't need them (any PDA story a year ago, for example). This thing is usesless to me because I don't go outide, you insensitive clod!

      Not everyone goes outside for weeks. Unless you would be using it nonstop for those 8 hours, it would last a few days. My PDA has an official battery life of about 12 hours but I charge it once a week. Besides, if you're planning on using it for 8+ hours straight, why not just stay home?
  • Waterproof? (Score:4, Funny)

    by MogwaiJeeper ( 777972 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:46AM (#10373487)
    Slashdot in the shower! Geocaching in a lake!! PORN IN THE BATHTUB!!!
  • In outdoors (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    PDA designed for use specifically in outdoor environments

    That's a funny way of saying outside - anyone want to turn on the babble fish translator from earlier today to read what I am actually saying.
    Technically correct, I guess, since you go inside the door to go in doors; therefore you would go in to the out door to go outside (or is it out the in door). Thus you are never out of anything but inside of something be it indoors or inoutdoors.
  • by shumacher ( 199043 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:46AM (#10373497)
    Finally! Geeks don't have to go offline to take a shower!!! Future -cons will smell better! I'll never miss another slashdot frist prost!

    Waterproof and WiFi... Geek dreams...
  • by dexter riley ( 556126 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:47AM (#10373502)
    Yes, but is it bear-proof? []
  • The whole product assumes that geeks even go outside, and I'm not sure that it happens. ;)
  • by lukewarmfusion ( 726141 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:49AM (#10373522) Homepage Journal
    I was invited to go camping with some friends of my wife's. They go several times a year to this same place. When I got there, I discovered that almost everyone in the campsite had an RV and a boat (it was near a lake). Since I grew up where camping meant chopping up a dead tree to make fire in order to boil water so it was clean, the notion that this was even called "camping" bothered me. That's not the point (which makes everyone wonder why I posted it in the first place).

    The campsite advertised wireless Internet access.

    To me, electronics and wilderness are almost always mutually exclusive. Other than GPS and maybe a cell phone, I can't imagine the need to be connected. It would be like taking my laptop to the Bahamas so I could read Slashdot. Sorry, but a vacation isn't a vacation if you're still doing work.
    • Those kinds of campgrounds are called "Very drafty living rooms".

      I never understood the desire to duplicate your home on a patch of dirt. This is usually accompanied by alcohol. Why not just stay and home and get drunk, cook steaks and watch TV? I think the fun is to see how LITTLE you can go on.
    • Since I grew up where camping meant chopping up a dead tree to make fire in order to boil water so it was clean, the notion that this was even called "camping" bothered me.

      I own an RV....a travel trailer, to be exact. I also don't consider it to be camping, and I really dislike when people call it that. Watching sattelite tv while I eat microwave popcorn is hardly camping. I don't know what it is...but I enjoy it. But its definitely not camping.
    • RV's are nice. You COULD call this camping, but I's tenting and reduced technology for me. However, I do always bring my PDA, cell phone, digital camera and camcorder, I do, however leave my TV at home usually unless you count the crappy B&W TV built into my flashlight. Would I by a dish just for camping? Oh HELL no. I tend to use camping as a way of reducing my hotel cost. I can camp for 20 a night and the best I could do on average for a room is 50 a night and thats if it's 20 miles a
  • by potus98 ( 741836 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:50AM (#10373531) Journal

    What is this "outdoors" of which you speak? Does it look like my screensaver?

  • Cluster and GPS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by diginux ( 816293 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:51AM (#10373550) Homepage
    I wonder if it would be possible to cluster 3 units together using the bluetooth or WiFi, then using the GPS on each one to use the differential algorithms to triangulate the position like more expensive professional GPS products do.
    • I wonder if it would be possible to cluster 3 units together using the bluetooth or WiFi, then using the GPS on each one to use the differential algorithms to triangulate the position like more expensive professional GPS products do.

      Um.....that's NOT how to more expensive units do it. They use WAAS []. Getting three low-resolution positions and sharing them is hardly going to make for an overall more accutate position. Some math guy please do corret me if I'm wrong, but that should serve to make your calc
  • Screen? (Score:3, Informative)

    by OpenGLFan ( 56206 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:53AM (#10373577) Homepage
    In my senior projects class, one group designed data acquisition systems for power line techs, etc. using PDAs. Their main obstacle turned out to be screen visibility, not ruggedness. I know my laptop screen is hard to see in bright sunlight even with the brightness turned all the way up. Anybody know how to address this problem? Polarized sunglasses?
    • Most laptop screens today are not reflective at all. Sony (and I imagine others) have put small prisms or lightpipes about the screen to transfer ambient light behind backlit displays on some of their digital imaging products. Cell phones and GPS often use transflective displays. Same goes for color Game Boy systems. The backing of the lcd panel is somewhat reflective, so they're visible in sunlight.

      When it's all said and done with, a simple monochrome reflective display is going to look best.
    • Yes, a transreflective LCD, such as what is on this Garmin GPS60CS []. The brighter the sunlight, the brighter the screen. It really works well. From now on, I'll never buy a device made for outdoor use that has a regular LCD.
    • LCDs are polarized. If your polarized sunglasses don't have the same orientation as your LCD, you won't be able to see it.
  • Look at the site!! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The PDA has been designed as part of solution targeting tourist attractions (including the outdoors) and NOT as a product that will be sold to the public.
  • Garmin Rino GPS/FRS/GMRS devices can transfer GPS data over the FRS channels to other similar radios. They built in some games. Games that require running about in the real world to solve some challenge on the screen of the device.

    I see this supporting the same sort of thing, in a more open platform. Imagine linking over wifi to play a game of GPSpong or something.
  • by StalinsNotDead ( 764374 ) <umbaga@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:57AM (#10373627) Journal
    The military might be interested in these rugged PDA's.
  • by spoonyfork ( 23307 ) <spoonyfork&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @10:58AM (#10373634) Journal
    Why is battery life so short everywhere I look? I don't get it. They ran moon orbiters on less juice than a coffee maker. Why can't we get batteries that last more than an afternoon? GRRR! I hate batteries.
    • ...because folks expect 1Ghz processors and full colour screens, and smaller and smaller packages. Something gives: battery life.

      Give me a Palm Pilot anyday.

      • Give me a Palm Pilot anyday.

        Here, here. I still get 2+ weeks per charge on my PalmV purchased back in 1999. Granted it doesn't have wireless networking or GPS but still... even my mobile phone can go 3 days of "always on".

        The electronics item I love the most is my Seiko kinetic watch []. 4+ years and I haven't had to change the battery.. because there is no battery!

  • by Morpeth ( 577066 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:00AM (#10373662)
    The one criticism I'd have, not so much of the product itself, but people becoming enamored or worse, dependent on it -- is these kind of things are no replacement for good outdoor skills.

    I'm an avid hiker/backpacker, and have run into 'yuppie' types who have their PDAs, GPSs, cell phones etc., with them on their trips; and consider themselves 'experienced' hikers. Problem is they couldn't navigate their way out of a paper bag with a map and compass, let alone tell me what 'mean declination' means.

    After college, I worked at an independent bookstore for a bit, including the map department -- once had a hunter looking a topo map, point at the contour lines, and say 'they sure have a lot of roads there'. And to think the man owned a gun...

    I do think there's some place for this kind of thing, but it's no replacement for knowledge, esp when you break it or the batteries die or you find yourself needing to think quickly without assistance.

    But I'm also something of a purist, I backpack to 'get away from it all' including the digital realm, I really don't want this kind of gadget interfering with my experience. And please people be considerate of others - don't yammer on loudly for 15 min on your damn cell phone when others are trying to enjoy a little peace and enjoy what nature is offering. Thanks.

  • by GreyPoopon ( 411036 ) <gpoopon@ g m a> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:00AM (#10373665)
    ...has a 8 hour battery life...

    Not nearly enough. I can't think of any outdoor trek that lasted only 8 hours. Maybe the intent is to only turn the device on when you actually need it, but you can bet that anything in cold weather is going to bleed that 8 hours down to something much less. Any serious outdoor-ready device needs to have several days of battery life, especially if the customer would like to use the built-in GPS to do something as novel as finding their way back to civilization after getting themselves hopelessly lost.

    • This thing is not intended to be bought and used as a GPS/PDA by consumers when they go wandering all over the place and getting lost.

      It's intended to be used as an interactive tour guide at historical sites, outdoor museums and the like - popping up information about what happened 200 years ago where you're standing now and that sort of thing.

      It's clearly designed to be bought by institutions.

  • Linux on PDAs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:03AM (#10373696) Homepage
    Linux on a PDA is one of the few things that mistifies me. Having had and used a Zaurus for a very long time I am frankly shocked by how good the interface is, especially when you consider that it's taken a long time for the desktop version to aquire half as much polish.

    It's vastly easier to navigate through than the PocketPC version, and more flexible than the Palm version - possibly because it was designed as one entity (in qtopia) than being a bunch of disparate parts like desktop Linux.

    Anyway, it's a great choice, with the new PIM apps finally rounding out the package - mplayer, kismet, nethack... what else do you need on a pda? :o)

    (Incidently with this model you should be able to install kismet with GPS support so that it automatically logs the location of wireless networks as you war{travel} - much easier than having another unit plugged into the serial port!)
  • Seems like PDA are really coming into their own for outdoor use. It seems like regular Palm Pilot PDA's hold up well outside anyway, I regularly use mine back country skiing and so do many guides and avalanche forecasters, see http:\\
  • I'm sorry, but this is a lot of hype for a device with nothing but renders on the website. Is this thing made by Infinium Labs too?
  • Well stadium use would be great. Could use the wifi access to track your fantasy football teams, and with the GPS/bluetooth integration, you could pay the beer guy and have him locate you (come on, section, row, seat info is so dated). As a bonus, since it is waterproof it should be protected from most stadium served beers, especially the likes of Coors, Bud, if they are serving Guinness, or some oatmeal stout, you may want to buy the extended warranty.

  • by blakespot ( 213991 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:13AM (#10373808) Homepage
    Ever heard of Pen Computing magazine []?? Even the earliest copies I've got on my shelf, dating back to 1997, have several rugged, vertical-market PDA's per issue that can withstand "the great outdoors."

    Nothing to see here folks, move along...


  • DGPS? Are you sure? (Score:2, Informative)

    by SpyPlane ( 733043 )
    "built in DGPS receiver"

    Doubt it.

    DGPS != GPS

    DGPS stands for Differential GPS and comes in a variety of flavors, all of which use corrections from some trusted source to eliminate the inherit errors in GPS (such as ionospheric errors).

    I checked the site to actually confirm that it has DGPS, but I couldn't find any evidence. Most commercial DGPS services cost in the thousands of dollars a year (OmniSTAR, StarFire) and would be totally overkill for a simple handheld PDA intended for recreational activ

  • If I'm out on a remote trail, my cell phone doesn't work, much less wi-fi. Guess it'll have to cache information until you can sync up with a network connection back at the base camp?

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer