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Daryl Watson
I have a very naive query:

I've been working on film-sets, often outdoors, where my job involves taking down notes on the shots filmed and varous takes etc. to be used by the editors. I'm on the move constantly, and use the small moments of time between set-ups to type the notes.

To solve the mobility problem (and legibility due to poor handwriting), I've been entering the data using a Psion series 5mx, with has served me well. It has:
- good battery life,
- screen visibility in daylight and night
- easy to use qwerty keyboard
- portablity (carried in a case work on the hip)
- no boot-up time once running
- hardy enough to withstand the dusty conditions of the Australian outdoors.

The screen however has faded and is causing eye-strain. A second problem is that I switched to a Mac powerPC G4 (running OS X 10.4.3), and the process of converting the psion files to excel is not as simple as it was on my pc (not that it was really that simple). I need to copy the files, convert them (where I lose the file formatting) then reformat the files. At the end of a long day the last thing you need is a drawn out process to get your files printed and finally wrap up.

I need to update to a newer handheld computer that has the same or similar attributes, but additionally, is simpler to use with the mac. Ideally if I could plug it in, open the file so that it appears on the Zaurus as it does on the Mac, and print it to .pdf that would be perfect.

The Zaurus series looks great, and if it has similar usability plus a few extras I'd be happy to pay the extra money.

I'm considering either the 860 or the 3200 models.

Could anyone tell me whether these models share the attributes described?
And whether these models go the extra distance - and would be able to simplify the problem of printing my documents through my mac at the end of the day (to both .pdf and my paper printer). Are there other benefits also?

Thanks alot for any advice on this matter!

Regards,
Daryl
adf
6000 is a "brick" has best visibility in daylight, slightly larger screen.
3200 is a clamshell has a usb port
860 is the basic clamshell..very nice, no usb
I think somone got printing going from pdaxrom. look for stuff on cups (common unix printing system) on zaurus.
Daryl Watson
thanks, I'm finding out a bit more scouring the web as well.

the usb support on the 3200 would be great, esp for dumping and tagging digital photographs from my camera, and reviewing them on the larger screen, as well as plugging directly into the mac.

also does anyone have a hancom sheet file they could send me? or a file from a similar spread-sheet program that can run on a zaurus? if i have an example i can try to open it on the mac and see how far I get - or is this just a crazy approach?

btw - i'm a total newbie to linux, so i might be missing some basic concepts (like i won't be able to open these files under mac osx)!




QUOTE(adf @ May 29 2006, 05:40 PM)
6000 is a "brick" has best visibility in daylight, slightly larger screen.
3200 is a clamshell has a usb port
860 is the basic clamshell..very nice, no usb
  I think somone got printing going from pdaxrom. look for stuff on cups (common unix printing system) on zaurus.
*
DaemonsGR
You sould also know that you can run OpenOffice on Zaurus.
btw I think for you 3200 is the best choice...

Tasos
Ferret-Simpson
I'm also poking you towards 3200. For anything dealing with Cameras, the 6gb Hard disk will be a blessing, and the USB host support will enable you to plug in an External Hard disk, too.
Ferret.
scheck.r
QUOTE
also does anyone have a hancom sheet file they could send me? or a file from a similar spread-sheet program that can run on a zaurus? if i have an example i can try to open it on the mac and see how far I get - or is this just a crazy approach?

btw - i'm a total newbie to linux, so i might be missing some basic concepts (like i won't be able to open these files under mac osx)!
Gnumeric is a spreadsheet application running on zaurus.
This software is free and is available for Linux and Windows(and also Mac OSX apparently see http://gnumeric.darwinports.com/), it can save files in Excel and openoffice format too. So I think you can expect Mac to open gnumeric files if they are saved the "right" way.
QUOTE
the usb support on the 3200 would be great, esp for dumping and tagging digital photographs from my camera, and reviewing them on the larger screen, as well as plugging directly into the mac.
On zaurus you can install gthumb and gphoto2, that way you can just plug in your digital camera in the USB port of the Z and you can then view directly your pictures on the Z without uploading them. See http://www.oesf.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=17161&st=15

I have read that the Z's keyboard is very good but not as good as on the Psion.

Development and support is better on the newer devices e.g C3200.

I think PDF printing is not yet as easy as on Desktop, see http://www.oesf.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=19136&st=30

Note that all I am talking about is refering to PdaXrom and not the default SharpROM
desertrat
QUOTE(Daryl Watson @ May 29 2006, 05:18 AM)
To solve the mobility problem (and legibility due to poor handwriting), I've been entering the data using a Psion series 5mx, with has served me well. It has:

Damn good machines those Psions, sadly mine suffered from the same fate as yours - the display kind of faded away (all of a sudden, not gradually). IMO you're not going to be able to find anything as stable and as useable as the Psion. But a Zaurus comes close smile.gif

QUOTE
- good battery life,

I don't think there's anything in the market that'll match the Psion's battery life. My C3100 gives me about 7-8 hours (if I don't use any peripherals - ie wireless or usb ethernet).

QUOTE
- screen visibility in daylight and night

Here, any modern device will beat the Psion hands down. The Z's display is easily visible indoors and I use the lowest brightness setting. Outdoors in strong daylight you'll probably have to crank it up to full brightness.

QUOTE
- easy to use qwerty keyboard

Again, short of a fullsize notebook, nothing matches the Psion's keyboard. However the Z's keyboard is not bad, reminds me a bit of HP calculator keys. But it's going to be thumbs operation only.

QUOTE
- portablity (carried in a case work on the hip)

The Zs are smaller and slightly lighter than the Psions so no problem there.

QUOTE
- no boot-up time once running

It depends on what you're running. Using the standard Sharp rom, you can expect practically instant on. For me, using pdaXrom, and with a fair number of apps running (kopi, kapi, firefox, sylpheed, dillo, mysql, apache etc) it takes 5-10 second.

QUOTE
- hardy enough to withstand the dusty conditions of the Australian outdoors.

No idea about that smile.gif

QUOTE
A second problem is that I switched to a Mac powerPC G4 (running OS X 10.4.3), and the process of converting the psion files to excel is not as simple as it was on my pc (not that it was really that simple). I need to copy the files, convert them (where I lose the file formatting) then reformat the files. At the end of a long day the last thing you need is a drawn out process to get your files printed and finally wrap up.

For spreadsheets you can run Gnumeric on the Z. If Gnumeric runs on OSX then you're all set, there's no need to fiddle with file conversion etc (that's the beauty of the Z, you can run exactly the same apps as you do on your desktop - if you're using a Linux desktop that is smile.gif). Otherwise Gnumeric saves in a fair number of file formats so there should be one that you can use on the Mac. For wordprocessing you can use Abiword and the suituation is very similar.

QUOTE
I need to update to a newer handheld computer that has the same or similar attributes, but additionally, is simpler to use with the mac. Ideally if I could plug it in, open the file so that it appears on the Zaurus as it does on the Mac, and print it to .pdf that would be perfect.

You can "print to pdf" directly on the Z itself smile.gif
http://www.oesf.org/forums/index.php?showt...ndpost&p=126760

Or you can print via the network.

QUOTE
Are there other benefits also?

The main benefit for me is that I essentially have a computer that can run full desktop applications and that it fits in my pocket.

-- cheers
iamasmith
Personally, I would say that if your camera supports the kind of menu driven uploading to USB on the go type devices that mine does (Canon IXUS 750) I would say that an iPod is a simpler storage medium with higher capacity, just spend a few more $$$ on the USB converter that lets you plug in the Camera.

If you choose to go this route then the document issue (spreadsheet etc.) is possibly best handled with a combination of OpenOffice on a Zaurus and NeoOffice on the Mac if you don't want to buy MS Office. NeoOffice is based upon OpenOffice but is Coacoa based and free.

-Andy
Daryl Watson
Wow, thanks everyone for the great advice.

So I'm leaning closer to the 3200, and see that I have several options to solve my needs,
but when compared to other models the psion still stacks up remarkably well!

I have a couple of other concerns about the 3200.

One attribute I forgot to add is that the psion never crashes (maybe once in all the time I used it) and I've never lost data on the machine.

I've been looking at the forums, and maybe it's because people generally post with a problem, but it appears as though zaurus is a machine prone to all kinds of hiccups!

Is the Zaurus reliable? Does it crash often? Has anyone suddenly lost data on these machines due to mulfunction? (I don't see myself altering the set-up too much once I have it working).

Secondly, when I used the psion I had to open and close the case frequently, this stressed the ribbon, but I had little choice. So when I came across a site that suggested opening the zaurus 3200 very carefully, it made me wonder: how fragile is the neck of this model? Do you think it can withstand being open and closed frequently? Is it strong or is it prone to breakage?

Thanks for the input!

Regards,
Daryl
adf
re reliability: The general run of posters on this forum seem to be people who like to play with their Zaurii (?). I'd take the posts with a grain of salt. On the ohter hand some systems, like cacko and pdaxrom beta 1.1 are very stable (I'd talk about OZ stability but have't used it much lately-- I just don't have enough info). Some testing release stuff(labelled as such) tends to get.... interesting at inopportune moments.
Cacko is made for stability and backwards compatablilty
pdaXrom labels a "stable" branch (currently beta 1.1
OZ... is usuall some sort of beta so far.. but getting to be pretty good betas. Coredump smooths these out in "hentges" releases, as far as I know.

Stability will depend a lot on your choices. The hardware is good, there are good stable kernels available...

My 3100 seems strong enough at the neck. I don't snap it open like a star trek communicator, or swat bugs with it, but treated like a piece of complex electronics, it does just fine
nilch
Coming from a end-user (and not primariliy a hacker or PDA geek), I can vouch for the stability of the Zaurus provided you are not switchhing ROM's and installing beta or bleeding edge experimental software.

I am using the C1000 and its been stable as a rock. Only once in a while (like once in 3-4 months) do I have to hard-reboot the whole thing.
I should mention that the Cacko ROM is a stable Sharp like ROM with additional features. Then there is PDAXROM, Sharp ROM, OZ ROM, Hentges ROM etc etc. So try initially to find which one best fits your needs and then stick to it.

At least whatever be the grouse against the Zaurus (like lack of software, un-polished apps,) etc, lack of stability is certainly not one of them.

As for data loss, it is not problem at all, since even in the case of an accidental hard reboot, ther is no data loss. This is because of the NAND RAM. And if you use external SD/CF cards for storage, then you are even more safe (unless the SD card crashes) - look up details on SD card compatibility and problems before you buy.
The most damage I have had on my Zaurus after 2 years of regular usage is scrapped paint on the hinge. But then again, thankfully I haven't dropped my Zaurus on hard floors or dunked them into water wink.gif
Daryl Watson
So I guess the next question is where to buy?

I've heard excellent reports from PriceJapan, especially for their speed of shipping, but my only concern then is resetting the 3200 to english mode.

I've checked out Meanie's site that looks really helpful, but being a little bit plebian (but I can follow instructions!) maybe I should dig around and find a model converted to english, although this may be more expensive option.

Getting closer...any thoughts?

p.s. I live in Australia.

Regards,
Daryl
Cresho
go to my zaurusthemes. on the news page, there is a link that restores your pda to something that can get you started. it will not disapoint since its already configured with tons of stuff. Then you can choose where you want to go. just remember that if you are going to be reflashing back and fourth, if you restore the zaurus rom without going into the nand screen, it will whipe clean your internal drive.
Ferret-Simpson
On an unrelated note, sorry, You might want to look at his themes too when you get the thing. I am really digging UMICONS on a 5600/SHARP. Only bug, is that like any theme, it doesn;t like my landscape. |sighs|

You'd probably be best flashing over to PDAXROM. It's a very stable system, and is better designed for use as a mini desktop, since to be fair, It's just a minature Desktop OS, as opposed to an OS customised for PDA's.

Hmmmm. . . need to see if PDAX is out for 5500. . . .
raduga
QUOTE(Daryl Watson @ May 28 2006, 09:18 PM)
- good battery life,
- screen visibility in daylight and night
- easy to use qwerty keyboard
- portablity (carried in a case work on the hip)
- no boot-up time once running
- hardy enough to withstand the dusty conditions of the Australian outdoors.


in comparison to the 5mx, a Zaurus has -
- 2-8hr battery life ( 2hr with wifi and backlight at max, 8hr if HD is spun down, and
backlight is minimal) and needs a proprietary Li Poly battery pack

- Screen is useable (but faint) outdoors in cloudy weather, or with indirect light;
unuseable in direct sunlight. Indoors its much, much brighter and clearer
than the psion

- Keyboard is very useable, but small (5mx is the best handheld keyboard
I've ever seen - you won't find one comparable anywhere)

- Smaller, but weighs about the same

- takes some time to boot; but hardly any battery drain when just suspended
so you can just put it to sleep most of the time when not needed

- (IMO) it feels a bit chunkier, and more fragile. My 5mx seemed well-nigh
indestructable; OTOH, the 5mx case cracked, but the Zaurus' is intact.

Despite these caveats, the Zaurus is a more than worthy successor.
You'll notice the screen is *far* better, if a little smaller; overall everything works faster.
I miss the stylus, keyboard, and AA batteries (all of them unique to the Psion, afaik)
bluedevils
raduga brings up a very good point. There are battery packs (even the psp packs work) that will extend the battery life.

For those moments where you can type your notes on a table, you can use a usb keyboard (and mouse though I never tried).

BTW I purchased mine from streamlinecpus.com. They are more expensive, but the no hassle customer service is great.
Daryl Watson
So the conclusions thus far:

- good battery life.

well the battery life isn't great but I'm not using zaurus constantly, probably two hours a day without a charger maximum so I can deal with that. If need be I can add a battery pack later but that is an additional cost.

- screen visibility in daylight and night

This seems to be more of a problem. I'd read regarding the sunlight issue, that the Screen Protector for Sharp Zaurus SL-C3200 help reduced this problem.

Any second opinions on this?

It seems to make sense. If it is tinted then I should be able to see the screen in direct light. If things were really bad I could always get a weather writer ( http://www.wetwritesolutions.com/weatherwriter.htm ) and tint the cover so I could get shade from the sun! Or wait and find a shady spot.

- easy to use qwerty keyboard

Yep, the Psion keyboard is great.

Attached is a pic comparing the size of a Psion Series 5 with a Sharp ZQ-2700. The ZQ-2700 has similar dimensions to the Zaurus 3200 (124mm x 87mm x 25mm when main body is closed) but is much thinner.

It's the closest example I have to compare with a Zaurus 3200 so - using these models I compared:
- thumb typing speeds (nearly equal)
- touch typing (psion surpassed sharp)
- typing while standing up and resting the device on the inside of a binder (psion surpassed sharp)

I think however that I could get up to speed with practice. I also expect that the Zaurus 3200 keypad is better than the zQ-2700 so the comparison isn't really fair. The usb idea is good and maybe I could rig up a system to combine the two into mobile unit if necessary, although I'm aware of the potential extra battery drain that might cause. Is that what's called a hardware mod?

- portablity (carried in a case work on the hip)

Zaurus wins purely based on size alone.

- no boot-up time once running

From sleep mode the Zaurus sounds like it's smooth and staable in this regard.

- hardy enough to withstand the dusty conditions of the Australian outdoors.

I don't think any technology really likes the dust or rain, and unless is specifically deigned for this purpose, it's unrealistic to expect it to excel in these conditions. As far as I'm aware there a device that combines the features of the Zaurus with a rugged waterproff-casing and dust-proof-casing.

Regarding the ROM I guess I'll start with the Sharp ROM and the Hancom software, and move from there. Is the procedure of changing ROMs a long process or really simple?

Thanks again for the great advice!

Daryl
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