Author Topic: Zaurus as general PDA  (Read 3433 times)

Tl47

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Zaurus as general PDA
« on: June 24, 2004, 12:31:34 am »
Well, I have given my Z (SL5500) to my brother... so I have no Zaurus anymore. Had it for about 1.5 years previously, loved web-surfing with it. I now have a Tungsten C (gift from brother)...

Here are some thoughts about the Z, as a general/mass-market PDA (in case I want to go back to the Z... here are some things I would try):
Complaint: No commercial content, e.g. ebooks
Possible answer: Get MS Reader format ebooks and convert to OpieReader-compatible format.
This would resolve most complains about ebooks: you can get all the latest and greatest best-sellers this way. You can even get specialised ebooks (e.g. medical, dictionaries, etc.) in MS Reader format and use it this way.

Complaint: Lack of specialised commercial content, e.g. medical resources (e.g. www.skyscape.com)
Possible answer: A lot of free available resources, such as Merck (www.merck.com), which you can convert using Plucker. (The whole Merck 17th Ed. is 100MB) Or www.pathguy.com, or the likes.
Unfortunately, it is true that this is not the best answer, and unfortunately, the commercial content (e.g. from skyscape) is of higher quality. But it can do. Medical dictionaries are also possible.

PDFs can also be made on the desktop, and qpdf or equivalent can be used on the Z.

Complaint: Lack of good PIM.
Possible answer: Frankly, the built-in PIM is *adequate*. Not great, not fantastic, but adequate. It gets the job done. I used it, together with tkcDateBook in the past. The tkc apps are *okay* only, as well. One possible answer I have never tried: use an X-based ROM (e.g. pdaXrom) and install some good X-based PIM (forgot which ones were mentioned in some threads... someone can help here!)

Complaint: Lack of good Office apps.
Possible answer: Many appears to think the Office apps are okay. I found them to be abhorrent! All formatting are lost, worse... if you load the RTF, modify it in Word and save as RTF... all kinds of new/weird formatting appears. You better save it as Word format and reimport in HancomWord. Then, it works better. I even purchased HancomOffice for Linux thinking it would help, but nada... both are pieces of junk in my opinion.
AbiWord on pdaXrom is a possible answer: at least, you have a desktop equivalent that supports exactly the same features --- no formatting lost from Z to desktop.
Perhaps, one possibility is to get BasiliskII (mac emu) working, especially on pdaXrom (don't think Basilisk exists on that yet), and then run MacWord 5.1 or WP3.5? The old MsOffice6 or ClarisWorks that work on MacOS7.x should also run in there...

Complaint: Lack of synchronisation with desktop.
Possible answer: Wifi/FTP whatever you want to backup. If you are using pdaXrom with desktop apps, you can just FTP over the files and use them on the desktop, or with minimal conversion. This is a "flatter" and simpler synchronisation actually, and can work very well. Scripts might already be available or can be written to do automatic sync/scheduled syncs. There is guaranteed no ActiveSync problems, or sudden, unknown errors that stop you from syncing anymore.

Complaint: Lack of synch with Outlook...
Possible answer: well there... just don't use Outlook!  Frankly, if you are so stuck to MS, just get a PocketPC! In the end, there is no way out: e.g. if you have a precondition that you must use Windows Mobile as your OS, you can never get a Z for that, or if you could, you should just get a real PocketPC, e.g. Ipaqs. You can choose Thunderbird, or Firebird with pdaXrom, and use the same on desktop. Probably can help in the sync.

Well, those are just my thoughts. I think the Z can become quite usable. What do others think?

zxerx

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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2004, 02:17:55 am »
You make a lot of very valid points. It's a good thing I don't want a general PDA, but rather I want a linux box in my pocket   For this there is no equal to the C series Z.
[span style=\'font-size:7pt;line-height:100%\']Zaurus SL-C760 :: pdaXrom 1.0.5 :: Toshiba 512Mb SD :: Hagiwara 256Mb 10Mbit/s SD :: PQI 256Mb 40x CF :: Socket Low Power 10Mb/s Ethernet CF :: Seano WiFi CF :: Xircom 56k Modem CF[/span]

clofland

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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2004, 12:38:44 pm »
Hmm, I tend to disagree on PIM/Sync. I sync my 760 with Outlook daily. I find that it works WAY better than the default PIM/Sync that came with my Palm 505. Now, the "Beyond Contacts" package that I tested from DataViz was better yet, but it was not free.

The calendar actually understands my recurring appointments, while Palm always barfed and messed up my appointments in Outlook. With the Palm I had to be careful what I did with my calendar entries in Outlook so as not to make a mess on my Palm. With the Z and the Sharp PIM's, I do whatever I want, and they all sync.

The email sync to Outlook works great too, I can sync huge amounts of email, AND open word and excel attachments from them. I can make replies (and the keyboard is great for that) and when I sync, it puts them in the outbox on Outlook and away they go! This is impressive since I am using an exchange server at work. My Palm couldn't do that.

I find the Z, out of the box (once converted to English, Cacko ROM did that) was a better PIM and better sync to Outlook than my Palm 505 was.

Now, I do agree that some better PIM/Sync software does exist for Palm than for the Z, but out of the box, the Z has proven MUCH better for me. Better, in fact than the Chapura software I bought for my Palm.

As for Word/Excel, I guess I keep my documents too simple. I find it works, but I can understand the frustration. I just like that I can keep my doc's in native Word and Excel format. With DataViz Documetns to Go I had to "convert" them to the Palm and back. A real pain, and the results varied. Now I know the new Documents to Go has "native format" support now, but, again, that costs money, and "native format" support for word and excel files came out of the box with my Z.

I got a good deal on a GPS attachment for my Palm and so my Palm 505 is now a dedicated GPS unit.
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Zuber

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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2004, 02:47:45 pm »
I tend to agree with Clofland,

I have owned/do own lots of "PDAs" including PPCs (HP Jornada 420, iPaq), Symbian (Nokia 9210), Psion (GeoFox actually), Palm (TT) and of course the Zaurus units.

The biggest draw for me on the Zaurus has been the hardware. Software has room for improvement, no point pretending otherwise but :

Focusing on the Clamshell models,

I find the Outlook sync. is on par with other units. Some pros, some cons but generally good.

Word could be better, but native support is useful. RTF save is not there now, which is one way of fixing the problem I guess. Shame.
Looking forward to final release of Textmaker. Or if Abiword could be done, but doubt it on QT.

Sheet is very good in my opinion. Don't know about latest models of Pocket PC, but I think it is actually a good spreadsheet program in its own right.
I found there was some sort of problem with cacko rom and sheet that made it load files very slowly. I know older PPC could not even handle more than one sheet. DataViz on Palm was better, but not installed at present, so can't remember if it could handle multiple sheets. I find better hardware of clamshell models is the big winner here.

Not a big reader of ebooks, so I assume it is a problem.

PDF viewer is great. Better than ones I have seen on other devices imho. But perhaps they have progressed also. Only thing I would really like, is something that did thumbnails and bookmarks as well.

email is also better than others (imho) except it lacks a simple option to download only headers. Other than that I can't knock it.

Desktop sync. is ok if you have XP Pro or 2000 as you can use offline files and sync. any files or directorys you want. But that is cheating in a way, since it is not the zaurus that is providing it but windows.

I do like the palm one button does all approach.
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padishah_emperor

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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2004, 03:15:50 pm »
I agree with a lot of the sentiments here, but the way I see it is, if you want a PDA, buy a PDA. The Zaurus is not a PDA nor does it aspire to be one. I'm sure Zuber will agree that Sharp do not call the Zaurus a PDA nor is it recommended for novice users who want a simple PIM.  That is the appeal of the Z, the fact it is more than the average handheld. I'm running pdaXrom at the moment, I have a Linux laptop in the palm of my hand! It's so good, when I showed it to a friend he got so jealous, he had to go home. (Now he too is saving for one). My bro too is saving like mad for a C series, it's a computer, not an organiser!

 
Left Linux and Linux PDAs... sorry, got boring.  Switched to Mac.

Guest

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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2004, 04:04:59 pm »
Do you have any good link for ready-to be pluckerised medical content ? I'd be interested in a medical dictionnary and an antibiotic guide (I really miss the Sanford Guide !), but other ebooks are fine too.

Try this article if you want to get the Merck Manual on your Z.

Zuber

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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2004, 04:12:18 pm »
Quote
a computer, not an organiser!

No have to disagree

It's a computer AND an organisor.

If you add KO/KA Pi (a little leeway required here till KA is finished) I'd say you have a Very Good organisor.

But I will agree, it is not really for the novice. A little more polish in a couple of areas, and I would say it is good enough for the novice, just overkill.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2004, 04:15:11 pm by Zuber »
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dh

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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2004, 05:54:50 pm »
Well, I use my 860 basically as a laptop replacement and it is working out very well.
Currently I use KO/Pi as my aganda organiser and the default address book in the Cacko ROM.

StageOne is great for taking notes at meetings and for keeping track of thoughts. Word processing and spreadsheets are taken care of with Textmaker and Hancom Sheet. We have a pretty good viewer for PDF files although I would love for someone to make a Zaurus version of Repligo as an alternative.

There are not too many hotspots in my area so I don't use my Z for email too much yet. Still using the default email app when I do.

I also use my Z to read every day. I convert MS Reader books to Mobipocket format and read them with JustReader which is a great program, better than most commercial ebook readers IMO.

As you can see, I very much agree with the post above, the Zaurus is both computer and organiser for me as well. I'm also a total Linux novice and have no problems doing the things I want to do. (Learnnig is a big part of the fun as well   )
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amrein

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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2004, 07:52:50 pm »
I hope that no one here will call a mobile device with kontact outlook or evolution a PDA because they are good.

My 2 cents.

Tl47

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Zaurus as general PDA
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2004, 08:57:29 am »
Quote
StageOne is great for taking notes at meetings and for keeping track of thoughts. Word processing and spreadsheets are taken care of with Textmaker and Hancom Sheet. We have a pretty good viewer for PDF files although I would love for someone to make a Zaurus version of Repligo as an alternative.
OMG! I thought you mistook Hancomword for Textmaker... but I googled and found that they were beta-ing Textmaker for Z! Is it true? Have you used it? How is it?

All those other Z-ers who care at all to use the Z for wordprocessing... go sign up for the beta! Details here: Softmaker forum

Hope they get a decent return for their effort to port it to the Z. Now, I wish I still had my Z! That might not be that difficult . BTW, do you know which Z's are supported? Is SL5500 in that list?

Tl47

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Zaurus as general PDA
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2004, 09:11:31 am »
Quote
Do you have any good link for ready-to be pluckerised medical content ? I'd be interested in a medical dictionnary and an antibiotic guide (I really miss the Sanford Guide !), but other ebooks are fine too.

Try this article if you want to get the Merck Manual on your Z.
Just a hint: I believe all MS Reader ebooks can be converted to HTML and then reconverted for other use. IANAL so I don't know the legality of it, but the tools to do so are freely available. It does NOT allow you to break or illegally use anything, so you still need to buy the books, i.e. they are NOT free, and worse, buying too many of them makes ebook sellers think there are so many MS Reader users.

This means that you can buy Medical Dictionary and Antibiotic guides in MS Reader format (if available) and then have it on your Z. Try Ebooks.com and search under medicine. Note that I have not tried doing this since I no longer have a Z! I have only tried converting some free MSReader books (MS was giving 3 books a week sometime last year) into HTML for educational purposes/interests. So, I know the tools worked, and you can use plucker from the HTML files generated.

Alternatively, if you want some "free speech" resource, try Google.

Hope that helps. Would be nice if you report back success/failure, so I might even think of switching back to the Z myself!

P.S. To others: yes, the Z especially the C series is a kick-*** machine/laptop-replacement/killer, etc... but as some have noted, there is no need to limit it to do only certain things, but not *simpler* things like PIM. If it can have a fantastic browser, if it can even host Apache/mySQL, why not expect it to run good PIM software? I want to TOTAL laptop replacement, not one for programming/toy with, and then have to keep a Palm or PPC around just for PIM software (and/or medical references, etc.)!

dh

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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2004, 09:41:36 am »
Quote
OMG! I thought you mistook Hancomword for Textmaker... but I googled and found that they were beta-ing Textmaker for Z! Is it true? Have you used it? How is it?
The current beta version of Textmaker is pretty good. It actually already works better on my 860 than my Pocket PC version ever did. There are obviously a few things that need to be improved but so far so good.

I've been using Textmaker for a while and find it to be the best alternative to MS Word. As well as the PPC version, we also have the Windows version on my daughter's desktop. This came free with the PPC one and is much faster and more refined than the word processor in OpenOffice dot Org.

I hope that they decide to port over a version of their spreadsheet, Planmaker as well. While Hancom Sheet is better than Hancom Word, I'd still like to get a real spreadsheet to use.

The other app I want to get is Repligo from Cerience. This a fantastic document reader, runs rings round Acrabat. I've asked them if they are going to do it and they feel the market is too small.
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zxerx

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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2004, 10:02:10 am »
Quote
P.S. To others: yes, the Z especially the C series is a kick-*** machine/laptop-replacement/killer, etc... but as some have noted, there is no need to limit it to do only certain things, but not *simpler* things like PIM. If it can have a fantastic browser, if it can even host Apache/mySQL, why not expect it to run good PIM software? I want to TOTAL laptop replacement, not one for programming/toy with, and then have to keep a Palm or PPC around just for PIM software (and/or medical references, etc.)!
I couldn't agree more. My primary reason for getting a Z was to have a linux box in my pocket. pdaXrom has really opened up the potential of this machine wil the ability to run X. As far as using the Z as a PIM/PDA, when KO/PI hit the scene it really made a big difference - I'd tried using the standard Calandar software several times, but couldn't get the hang of using it regularly. I've just switched back to pdaXrom from CackoQT, but did use qpdf and freenoteqt on a daily basis - in three months I have used freenoteqt to take over 300 pages of lecture notes which are now beautifully printed and bound - I couldn't do that on my Palm.

However, I still carry my old Palm with me everywhere I go. It makes the perfect timepiece (with the ClockPop extension) as I can quickly whip it out of my pocket, flip open the cover, push one button and there's the time. Getting the Z out of my pocket to find out the time is a bit overkill for me. There's also two programs I use daily on the Palm which I havn't found a replacement for on the Z - MaTireLire (simple finance tracker) and MathUPro (Programmable RPN calculator). I'm going to give Grisbi a try for the accounting, but it's not perfect and is a bit "feature rich" for my needs. If I can get x48 re-arranged so it fits into 640x480 then I may just put the Palm to rest.

I can see a time in the not too distant future when the Zaurus will be  able to provide the best of both worlds, and I think it's pretty clear from the activity on this board alone, that there are plenty of people working towards such a goal.
[span style=\'font-size:7pt;line-height:100%\']Zaurus SL-C760 :: pdaXrom 1.0.5 :: Toshiba 512Mb SD :: Hagiwara 256Mb 10Mbit/s SD :: PQI 256Mb 40x CF :: Socket Low Power 10Mb/s Ethernet CF :: Seano WiFi CF :: Xircom 56k Modem CF[/span]

zautrix

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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2004, 11:46:25 am »
Quote
if it can even host Apache/mySQL, why not expect it to run good PIM software? I want to TOTAL laptop replacement, not one for programming/toy with, and then have to keep a Palm or PPC around just for PIM software

That is the point:
If you want to run good PIM software on your PDA, you have to buy a Zaurus.

I agree with you, before I tuned KOrganizer/Embedded ( now known as KO/Pi) for use on the Zaurus, I would never have bought a Zaurus for PIM management.
Now, that KO/Pi is finished and has syncing available with Linux/Windows I would buy only a Zaurus for PIM management. And to have the same Calendar (KO/Pi) and addressbook (KA/Pi) running on Windows, Linux and my organizer is really great.
I admit, there is an application missing which manages SMS and the syncing with my mobile phone.
But in some weeks, when KA/Pi is finished, I will start on that.

Have fun with the great PIM software of your new PDA *lol* ... oops .... sorry!

z.

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« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2004, 12:47:26 pm »
Quote from: zxerx,Jun 26 2004, 02:02 PM
Quote from: Tl47,Jun 26 2004, 11:11 PM
However, I still carry my old Palm with me everywhere I go. It makes the perfect timepiece (with the ClockPop extension) as I can quickly whip it out of my pocket, flip open the cover, push one button and there's the time. Getting the Z out of my pocket to find out the time is a bit overkill for me.
I have to ask the question...haven't you ever considered just buying a watch?