Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

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Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby Iain » Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:07 pm

Hi,

My wife's Psion Revo has recently gone to the great PDA home in the sky and we are looking for a replacement. As she likes both a keyboard and Linux I was thinking of one of the Zaurus range. Does anybody have any experience with them? If so what are they like, would you recommend them?

Also I gather that they didn't synchronise with Linux. Is this still the case?

Thanks,

Iain
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RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby Nigel » Wed Jul 13, 2005 3:20 pm

I've recently aquired a second-hand SL-5500, and am still exploring it. First impressions are good - it seems to do everything any other PDA does with the added attraction that you can install a terminal app and there you are with a bash prompt !
The keyboard is useful, especially when combined with the on-screen keyboard & handwriting recognition (not as intuitive as the Palm, but you soon get used to it), although if you're coming from a Psion it would be a bit small - you might want to be looking at one of the newer clamshell models.

I think there are ways of syncing to Linux, but it depends on what version of the ROM you have. I'm still looking into that. I spotted some posts on various bulletin boards when looking for info on how big an SD card I can use with it, but forgot to bookmark them. When (if) I find them again I'll post links here.
Looking at the files on my XP box after synching to that, all the important stuff (address book, calender etc) seems to be held as XML, so it should be possible to do something with it.

I've just got a Linksys CF Wireless LAN card, and it's a novel experience to browse the LXF forums from a PDA whilst at the bottom of the garden - I'm most impressed :)

My next target is to get a large SD card and install ssh & gcc on it so I can really start playing - mind you, I think the keyboard/other input is a bit slow for really serious coding sessions.

I've had a Psion series 3a (used for many years) and a Palm 3C (gave it to the wife after a year - she doesn't really use it either). So far the Zaurus seems to be as user-friendly as the Palm, not quite as good as the Psion for typing on, and far more expandable and connectable than either of them.

Would I recommend it ? I haven't had it long enough to say yet. It's still in the "new toy" stage.
Why not do like I've done & get a second-hand one - have a play, and if you don't like it you should get most of your money back when you sell it again on ebay.
Hope this helps,

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RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby M-Saunders » Wed Jul 13, 2005 3:46 pm

Nigel, what's the battery life like on your Zaurus?

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Re: RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby Nigel » Wed Jul 13, 2005 4:02 pm

M-Saunders wrote:Nigel, what's the battery life like on your Zaurus?

M


It seems OK... it runs for several days of PDA-type activity and still shows a full charge, but then seems to jump to "low" all of a sudden. Not sure how long it lasts on "low" as I normally charge it ASAP then - mind you, I've only had it about 2 weeks so far. The Wireless CF card seems to drain it faster (no surprise there !)

One thing I have noticed - sometimes when it's on low when I switch it on, after using it for a few minutes the battery indicator reads full again. Maybe it's in that in-between state.
Am I right in thinking that the battery monitor only reads Full or Low ?

Do you know of a proper battery monitor app for the Zaurus ? Something like the one on the Psion 3A would be great - that told you when you last put new batteries in and how many hours & minutes use you had got from both the current and the previous set of batteries (I used to get 40 hours use from a pair of Duracells)
Hope this helps,

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RE: Re: RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby M-Saunders » Wed Jul 13, 2005 4:28 pm

Ah. Fraid I can't answer your questions though as I don't own a Zaurus -- just curious about 'em!

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RE: Re: RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby Nigel » Wed Jul 13, 2005 8:57 pm

Iain - I found at least one of the pages I mentioned earlier :

http://www.oesf.org/index.php?title=Syn ... rp_IO_Port

Seems like it used to work with older versions of the Zaurus, but not the modern ones. Mine has the Sharp 3.1 ROM in it, so it won't work with that unfortunately.
Hope this helps,

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RE: Re: RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby Iain » Mon Jul 25, 2005 2:33 pm

Nigel,

We took your advice and got one from Ebay....my poor wife is getting frustrated whilst I test all of the functions and apps out (just to make sure they work propoerly before she takes over ofcourse!). It seems to be pretty good, but I suspect she will miss the keyboard on the Psion.

The wireless card really does go through the battery quickly - and ours also just does 'Good' and 'Low'. I haven't found a battery app yet, but I agree it would be a useful thing to have.

Thanks again,

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RE: Re: RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby Nigel » Mon Jul 25, 2005 3:19 pm

Hi Iain,

hope it works out OK. I'm still happy with my Zaurus - it looks like it will become a permanent fixture.
I'm finding that I tend to use the on-screen keyboard more than the physical one or the handwriting recognition at the moment.

Of course, what I really want is the machine that Psion were showing at the Linux Expo last autumn. It was basically a Psion series 7 running Linux - about a 10 inch colour screen, solid-state and instant-on (like the Zaurus), claimed 8 hour battery life and weight of about a kilo. Small enough to be easily portable but big enough to type on properly.
They were making noises about it appearing this year if there was sufficient interest - I put my name down on their mailing list, but so far have heard zilch from them and nothing has appeared on their website.

In the meantime, I've finally ordered a 512Mb SDRAM card for the Z, so will be installing gcc, ssh etc real soon now.

Any other Zaurus users out there ???

All the best,


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RE: Re: RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby ukshred » Mon Aug 08, 2005 1:18 pm

I've had a Zaurus SL5500 for some time its pretty good, battery life is ok, but if you let a pda go flat, you will lose all data on it, so my advice is make backups onto CF / SD cards.

Btw. heres a great source of software for the zaurus.

http://www.elsix.org
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RE: Re: RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Wed Aug 17, 2005 8:28 pm

http://killefiz.de/zaurus/

Has lots of apps, games, replacement roms, and a decent battery life monitor, IIRC.

I had an SL5500, nice unit, the wife uses it now (was given an orange PDA/phone for work, no sense using 2 PDAs), managed to synch with evolution or the QT package on Linux Suse 9.2/9.3
Miultisync works well with it, just need to be careful with your IP addresses, (there are some that will not work correctly)
Also has the best ever software implementation of scrabble(even if it is just a demo)- the UBIsoft windows version is vitually unplayable.
best of luck:)
The sig between the asterisks is so cool that only REALLY COOL people can even see it!

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RE: Re: RE: Sharp Zaurus PDAs - any good?

Postby Iain » Fri Aug 26, 2005 11:13 am

Thanks for these - I don't see the Zaurus much these days as my wife is always doing something on it. I'll have to prise it off her to get some of these apps, or show her how to install them herself.

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