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RE: OT: PDA Recommendations? (long)

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Gary,
I bought the Dell Axim X3i and am very happy with it. It is a pocket PC 2003
with loads of software and Wi-Fi. Inasmuch as almost everything in my home
is tied by Wi-Fi (two laptops and my office machine) the Dell Axim connects
to my Broadband (DSL) with great results. You don't want to leave your Wi-Fi
connected all the time as it draws battery power, but I was able to buy a
new battery for the Axim off E-bay that will give me over 9 hours of
full-time activity but the new battery is twice the power of the old battery
and also twice the thickness. The Axim no longer fit the leather case (flip
type) well and I found a Belkin leather zip case on E-bay for $7.00 ($40.00
if I bought it new). It was new - the owner never used it. I prefer the flip
case, but there are a lot of choices.

The Axim is a 400 MHz X-Scale processor with 128Mb (64 Mb RAM and 64 Mb ROM)
- Speed is excellent but I did upgrade some software. Calligraphy is the
preferred pen recognition program for the PPC 2003 and recognition is
excellent. I also don't like the dinky pen and have both the standard stylus
and something more substantial that I found for a couple of bucks at Staples
on closeout. You won't believe how much this makes a difference.

Visit http://www.aximsite.com for the latest on Axim's and Accessories (Dell
is okay but pretty much out of the picture except for the extended warranty
and replacement if dropped). The extended warranty is worth the price as
these are pretty fragile devices. Music is excellent when played on the
Axim, but I don't really listen to it all that much. Buy a screen protector
- the latest ones are about $10.00 and fit like a second skin - much better
than they made a few years ago. 

Colors are beautiful and blinding bright. Be careful when turning it on at
night - it defaults to a low light level but if you turn it up you can use
it for a flashlight. 

It synchs well with Outlook and has MS Office for Pocket PC. Surfing the net
is fun but you might want to look at waiting a month or more for the next
upgrade to WinCE 2003 that will rotate the screen to layout view. There are
couple of aftermarket programs that work well, but I find that use mostly
the scheduler and to-do list. I substituted MS Outlooks to-do list with
Phatware software's PhatNotes (the same people who make Calligrapher
recognition software. 


There are some hybrid phone/PDA's coming out that you might want to look at.
I bought the full Axim 3Xi for $349.00 and at the time this was a great
price. I think it still is pretty good but there are some giveaway deals.

Don't pass up on great accessory prices including GPA add-on available on
E-bay. Good selections and low prices.

 Dennis


Dennis S. Wish, PE


California Professional Engineer

Structural Engineering Consultant

dennis.wish(--nospam--at)verizon.net

http://www.structuralist.net

 


-----Original Message-----
From: Charley Hamilton [mailto:chamilto(--nospam--at)uci.edu] 
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2004 9:29 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: OT: PDA Recommendations? (long)

Gary -

I've been using an iPAQ 5555 for several months now, and I'm very
happy with it.  You can buy an expansion keyboard (75% size) for it,
and several types of expansion chassis (CF, PCMCIA) which allow
you to do a variety of things such as: add extra memory, add straight
ethernet connectivity, or connect your device to a full-size VGA/XGA
monitor -- each using the appropriate plug-in cards (above-and beyond the 
expansion chassis).  It has built-in bluetooth and 802.11b networking.
I've used the latter a couple of times, but the former only once.

Drawbacks:

- It can be a power hog.  I go about 1-2 days without
   recharge, assuming I don't use too many expansions (cards, keyboard).

- It's expensive.  I paid about $500 for mine (after taxes), and
   the keyboard is another $50, the expansion chassis anoth $99, etc.

- It's *not* a laptop and never will be.  There are lots of micro-laptops
   that are slightly larger than a PPC (and significantly more costly),
   but will run all stadard software.  This is a consideration if you
   have limited tolerance for learning new and different software, and
   discovering incompatabilities (usually at the worst time).

- The touch screens can wear out quickly if you're not careful, and
   this is considered normal wear-and-tear, not covered by warranty.
   I recommend getting a "complete replacement plan" from your PDA
   dealer, whatever make/model you buy.  I havent had to use mine (yet),
   but I know people who have.

- PDAs, like laptops, are delicate.  Mine survived a recent 25-30 mph
   bike crash (a bit better than I did, in fact), but it was in a soft
   (unpadded) case, had the compactFlash expansion chassis (which has
   an integral lexan screen protector), and was in my backpack at the
   time.   However, I know someone who dropped his PDA (either a Zire
   or a Handspring, I forget which) on a carpeeted floor and it failed
   irreversibly.

It comes with PocketWord and PocketExcel, but both are *awful*.
You lose alomst all desired functionality when you go to the
"Pocket" version (e.g. solvers & plotting in PocketExcel, most
text formatting in PocketWord).  They're really dreck.  And there
seems to be no official MS Powerpoint equivalent.

I recommend buying the Office-equivalents from a company called
Softmaker.  They have TextMaker (Word) and a final-release candidate
of PlanMaker (Excel) for the PocketPC.  There is also a PowerPoint
lookalike called Pocket Slides, which I have used to prepare and
modify presentations.  If you're not doing anything fancy,
PocketSlides is great.  If you are, you can switch back-and-forth
between Powerpoint and PocketSlides fairly readily.

There are also a variety of AutoCAD-compatibles for the PocketPC,
although the ones that look the best seem to be the most expensive
(~$500).

I second Dennis Wish's comments from an earlier thread recommending
PhatPad from PhatWare.com  I use PhatPad all the time.  No more
napkin scrounging when I want to show someone an idea or brainstorm
for a test program.  Since I can export the results as a jpeg, I can
send it around for comments before developing a final drawing.



Charley

-- 
Charles Hamilton, PhD EIT               Faculty Fellow
Department of Civil and                 Phone: 949.824.3752
     Environmental Engineering           FAX:   949.824.2117
University of California, Irvine        Email: chamilto(--nospam--at)uci.edu




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