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Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 PDA Review 207

An anonymous reader sent us a link to a review of the Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 PDA. This Linux based handheld with a built in qwerty keyboard with decent connectivity. As with most PDAs, there are a lot of tradeoffs that have to be made yet. Read the review to see what they are.
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Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 PDA Review

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    This PDA with a full screen, keyboard and linux support is the size of a regular computer.
  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:38PM (#6303803) Journal
    I understand the convienence factor of PDAs, but a $499.99 price tag for the type of power and specs that you get with this Zaurus (and similiarly priced PDAs) is still too much. To truly get full functionality out of these PDAs (or at least do everything most people would want to do with them) you still need to purchase extra accessories and expanded memory/storage (considering that even the most expensive PDAs only have 64MB RAM native). In the end $499.99 quickly builds up to about $599.99.

    I know that this comparing apples to oranges, but for $600 you can get a righteous laptop off Ebay or locally from a used reseller. This laptop is a full fledged computer with vast amounts more memory, storage, and room for improvement/expansion.

    Considering that most people buy a new PDA every two to three years, why not just double your money now and buy a 15.4" Widescreen TFT LCD WXGA (1280 x 800 max. resolution) laptop [] that comes with an Athlon XP 2200+ CPU, 40GB of storage, 512MB DDR PC2100 RAM, CRDW/DVD drive, all the ports except IEEE 1394, and one of the best mobile graphics chipsets around, the ATI RADEON IGP 320M, for $1,250? It takes Mandrake 9.1 without any problems, and only demands slight tweaking from Red Hat 8.

    I would rather have that laptop for four years then burn through two PDAs over the same period of time.

    • by alue ( 253363 ) < minus language> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:50PM (#6303923)
      In the end $499.99 quickly builds up to about $599.99.

      Actually to get full functionality of a PDA you have to spend a lot more than $600.

      PDA []$500
      128M Memory Card []$55
      Wireless Card []$140
      Extra Battery []$50
      Battery Charger []$45
      Carrying Case []$75
      TOTAL: $865

      And that doesn't include the opportunity cost spent on the hours it takes to get the thing to sync with Linux!
      • by vjmurphy ( 190266 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:56PM (#6304560) Homepage
        "Actually to get full functionality of a PDA you have to spend a lot more than $600.

        128M Memory Card$55
        Wireless Card$140
        Extra Battery$50
        Battery Charger$45
        Carrying Case$75
        TOTAL: $865"

        Running a porn server off your PDA: Priceless.
      • by Tin Weasil ( 246885 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:27PM (#6304860) Homepage Journal
        If you don't go for the newest hardware, you can get up and running with the "full functionality of a PDA" for a lot less then you quote:

        Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 - $199.99 (
        256MB Memory Card - $54.99 (
        Wireless Card - $29.99 (
        Battery Extender - $6.99 (
        Battery Charger - $16.59 (Radio Shack)
        Carrying Case - $24.50 (
        TOTAL: $333.05

        You just have to be willing to look for deals. Sure, the SL-5500 is not the 'latest' model. But it suits me fine. I've owned 5 PDA's prior to my Zaurus, and the Zaurus is the first one that has allowed me to leave my laptop behind.

        The "battery extender" mentioned is actually a much better solution then keeping up with an extra battery. It can be used to either run or charge the Zaurus and can be instantly replinished anywhere there's a supply of "AA" batteries.

        My SL-5500 runs OpenZaurus 3.1 and syncs just fine with Linux and Windows. I'm sure that putting an OpenZaurus ROM on the SL-5600 will also produce the same results. Flashing to OpenZaurus is easy. It takes under 10 minutes and requires no user interaction to setup.
        • The 5500 is really a better choice. It's only $199, has 64mb of ram, and all of the same expandability options. All they did between the two was half the ram and double the processor's clockspeed.

          A word of warning: The usb cradle SUCKS. I recommend a wifi card, or at the very least, removing the usb link from the cradle so that you can type while linked.

          It comes with a battery charger and impact-resistant hard-plastic screen protector.

          Oh, and be sure to use an SD card as your primary storage opt
          • I agree with you concerning the cradle. I rely heavily on the zaurus keyboard... in fact I'm typing this on my zaurus. The only use I've found for the cradle is for charging the battery at night.

            I am looking forward to adding a wifi card... right now I'm settling for an old pretec wired ethernet that i inherited (it belongs to my company, but since the PDA it was bought for is dead, i'll continue using it)

            The zaurus is a great tool. i'm in love with iqnotes.
      • If you spend $140 on a wireless card, when they're available for $70, that's your problem. Extra battery? Battery charger? Why bother? You don't need those for anything. The device itself charges its battery, and the battery lasts a long time. Carrying case? I don't see much point, but if you want to spend the money, go ahead.

        I would budget more like:
        PDA: $450
        128MB memory card: $55
        CF reader for your desktop: $30

        and you're done. You don't need to fuss around with the sync crap. Beam old stuff ove
    • Perhaps, but it's awful difficult to stick that laptop in your back pocket, which is where my trusty Handspring Visor resides every work day. And has been since I bought it in August of 2000.
    • "I would rather have that laptop for four years then burn through two PDAs over the same period of time."

      That would be awfully hard on your pocket.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Why do women carry a purse that costs $200 and they change every month instead of just buying a suitcase for $600 that will last several years. Maybe it is because they don't want to carry a suitcase.

      You are paying for the convenience of having a SMALL device. Could you imagine walking down the street trying to schedule a meeting with somebody on a laptop?
    • Or if you aren't into eMachine computers, Gateway has something similar [] (M500 w/ 15.2" widescreen) with a P4, 512MB of RAM, 40GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW and integrated 802.11b/Modem/Ethernet, dunno about FireWire for a little bit more.

      Of course, a laptop isn't quite as portable as a PDA nor does it have an instant boot up that a Zaurus or any other PDA has. The C700 (IIRC) clamshell Zaurus is a nice cross between a tiny laptop, a clamshell Jornada/Psion, and the regular Zaurus. Too bad it's even more expensi
    • I agree with most of what you say about the PDA. I currently own and use the 5500, and it's a nice device, but yes I had to get more storage and a wireless access card, which drove up the price to past the $400 tag for the unit when I purchased it.

      There are limitations to the small handheld, such as
      - software that has to be written for it (smaller selection when compared to a full O/S).
      - Can't run as many apps.
      - limited storage and ram.
      - some apps run slow.
      - harder to get things to work, such as some types
    • There is some truth to that but as you said it's "comparing apples and oranges". You can't carry a laptop around with you like a PDA. While it is true, what most people use PDA's/handhelds for could be accomplished with a $100 Palm or (cringe) an pad and pencil, PDA's/handhelds are just becoming powerfull enough to run seriously useful apps. I recently wrote a flower recognition/classification app for the Zaurus which extracts data from an image captured from the Zaurus and runs it through a db all on th

    • You don't "burn" though a PDA like it has an expire date or you get only X uses. You can be still using the same PDA 6 years from now.

      People buy PDA for the size factor.

      Its like buying a grandfather clock vs a wrist watch. There are some things the other can't do becuase of the size.
    • I happened to get my 5500 from the HSN deal a few months ago. At less than $200 I could justify it (and the extra $60 for the wireless card). Basically, its my ultra portable web browser/e-mail/ssh client for when I head to a coffee shop. I don't use it for PIM functions (nor did I really use my Palm III when I had it). In fact, the closest thing I have to a PDA is my iPod, which I find perfect for storing my contacts and notes.

      The Z5500 is nice, but only at the sub $200 price I paid for it.
    • Exactly right!

      While the up-front development for a gadget such as this are high, I doubt they are much higher than a new motherboard, maybe less. Essentially these are tiny motherboards with some I/O devices screwed onto them. From keypads, to LCD screens there is nothing all that innovative about them.

      I'm not just talking about the Zaurus though, the Palm and Windows CE devices are even worse.

      I can hardly wait for the comoditization of these devices. Basically someone like Sharp, or Casio (it sure
    • My pants are not tailored to hold a full size notebook in the pocket. Other than that, great plan!
    • I understand the convienence factor of PDAs, but a $499.99 price tag for the type of power and specs that you get with this Zaurus (and similiarly priced PDAs) is still too much. To truly get full functionality out of these PDAs (or at least do everything most people would want to do with them) you still need to purchase extra accessories and expanded memory/storage (considering that even the most expensive PDAs only have 64MB RAM native). In the end $499.99 quickly builds up to about $599.99.

      I know that t
  • But... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:39PM (#6303818)
    does it run Linu^H^H^H^HWindows?
  • by vjmurphy ( 190266 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:41PM (#6303843) Homepage
    Looks like their web server is running off their PDA. *ba-da dum*
  • by dbowden ( 249149 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:41PM (#6303844)
    The 5600 is little more than an upgrade of the 5500. That's been out for a year and a half.

    Shoot -- I'm not an early adopter and I've had mine for over a year. This is not news.

    On the other hand, the C700, 750, and 760's [] are hot, and I want one!

  • Nice, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rekkanoryo ( 676146 )
    This is the first PDA I've ever considered as worth the purchase price, but I still think PDAs have a long way to go. I'd prefer to see a PDA with a 640x480 screen capable of at least 65k colors, but preferably capable of the 24-bit "true color" laptop TFT displays are. I'd even settle for 480x640.

    I'll still wait a while before purchasing any PDA.

    • Re:Nice, but... (Score:4, Informative)

      by dbowden ( 249149 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:45PM (#6303880)
      See my post above re: the C700, C750 and c760 models.

      640x480 65k screen w/ clamshell keyboard. Plus all the goodies (Linux, OpenZaurus, etc.) from the 5500/5600 series.

      Aw, what the heck. Here's the link [] again.

      • Thanks for the link. Do you have any clue when this will be out? I would love to get one IF it will offer a good cellular service option. i.e. not some big honken modem like the 5xxx series. I currently use an Ipaq 3970 with a Tmobile PCMCIA card to ssh back to our servers and it sucks. The thing looks great, and I would love to have one now.
        • It's out. Unfortunately, it's out in Japan, and it's more difficult to get here in the US. Here's another site [] that's selling them.

          Good luck getting one.

          I would love to get one IF it will offer a good cellular service option

          You are aware that these don't have a wireless option built in, and you'll need to get a compact flash or secure digital card to have wireless connectivity?

          I don't know about cellular services, but 802.11 and bluetooth cards are both available.

        • I forgot to add -- The ZaurusDevNet forums [] have a rumor that the C760 is available today only for $650 -- instead of $799.

          Details here []

    • by The Other White Boy ( 626206 ) <> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:46PM (#6303890)
      I'd prefer to see a PDA with a 640x480 ... I'd even settle for 480x640.

      • by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:12PM (#6304124) Journal
        480x640 is a special screen resolution for the dyslyxic. Everything is displayed as though it was rotated 90 degrees. Since dyslexics can tell top from bottom easier than left from right, it makes it easier for them to read lines of text that go from the top to the bottom. There is still the problem where they have problems deciding which line to go to next, but the new PDAs with this resolution will have arrows on the bottom to help them choose.
    • Re:Nice, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:53PM (#6303961)
      You forgot the hard drive. Dammit, ipods and nomads have a HD, why can't *ANYBODY* bring out a PDA with one?

      I want a 400mhz+ XSCALE CPU, lots of RAM, a nice, big color screen and some decent storage (for a lot less than a laptop).

      Games, video and pr0n on the go!

      • You forgot the trolley to push the battery around in.
      • Re:Nice, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 )
        You are all mising my point. I owned an iPaq right after they came out, with a microdrive.

        If the ipod and nomad have a *LARGE*, *INTERNAL* harddrive, why not put one *INSIDE* a pda?

        How long does the battery last in an ipod? No cart needed there.

        I have a GP32 now. It takes SMC cards up to 128MB. Nice, but too small. I want 20GB+.

      • My theory is that Apple is moving in a sneaky fashion towards turning the iPod into a PDA, without alerting competitors. They've added address and calendar. They just need to beef up the CPU and put a color screen on the thing, and they've got a cool looking PDA with 30 gigs of disk space.

  • Not a KWhore (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:42PM (#6303855)
    The site seems to be /.'ed, so here's the first page of the article:

    Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 PDA

    Systems / Servers / PDAs

    Product name
    Sharp Zaurus SL-5600

    Model number

    Manufacturer name
    Sharp Electronics Corporation

    Provided by
    Sharp Electronics Corporation


    Review by

    A long time ago, when I first heard about Sharp releasing the Linux based Zaurus 5500 PDA, my interest was peaked. I was just dying to see what it could do. Alas, I never had a chance to try one out for myself. Over the next few months I plan on purchasing a new PDA to take over from my Palm IIIc, and just recently, Sharp was good enough to send us one of the newly upgraded Zaurus SL-5600 units and I was able to finally give it a whirl. Let's see how things shaped up.

    Inside the Zaurus SL-5600 Box

    Meet the Zaurus SL-5600:

    Included in the box is what you'd expect for any new PDA including cradle, power cord, instruction booklet, and of course your standard Windows software CD-ROM.

    At first glance, I was surprised at the size of the PDA Unit, measuring 13.8cm x 7.4cm (5.4" x 2.9") and a thickness varying from 1.8cm to 2.3cm (0.7" to 0.9"). It also weighs in at a hefty 203g (7.1 oz). This is pretty big for a new PDA, and it's even bigger than my old Palm IIIc. With size comes issues like how to carry it (pocket, bag, briefcase, etc.), but size can also mean more features. Lets leave the size issue for later, and take a better look at the unit itself.

    The Zaurus SL-5600 is a very large PDA.

    Right from the start I liked the appearance of the Zaurus. The plastic silver casing is attractive to look at, but its resistance to scratching would worry me. It doesn't look like it could take much of a beating from use. The big 3.5" reflective TFT screen (320 x 240 resolution, 65,536 colors) is sharp and clear. It displays well in various lighting situations, something I can't say about my Palm IIIc. Also included is a clear protective cover for the screen - a nice feature. The colours are bright and vibrant, and contrast very well. Below the screen are indicator lights for E-mail and Battery indicator lights, a very useful addition in my opinion.

    The Zaurus boasts a big 3.5" display at 320 x 240 resolution

    At this point, there is a break in the casing, and my favourite feature of the Zaurus comes into light. Sliding down the bottom section of the case reveals the QWERTY keyboard. The trend for most new PDAs is to move away from the stylus based text-input to a finger-keyboard type input method, a move I totally agree on. The keyboard on the Zaurus is quite responsive, and it has a pretty good layout. One of my only gripes is a lack of an 'Esc' key, as I struggled to use a port of Vim which I installed on the unit. A stylus is still a good idea for navigating menus and selections, and a software based graffiti-like text input method is also available. A neat feature of the software-based keyboard is the option to customize it to recognize your own personal handwriting. This could allow you to write more naturally, than say, writing using Graffiti on a Palm device. I definitely found that I could input text faster using the Zaurus's keyboard using my thumbs than with a stylus.

    Sliding down the bottom of the PDA reveals a QWERTY keyboard

    Under the keyboard is the usual set of easy access keys, included with almost every PDA. These include Calendar, Address Book, Home, Menu, and E-mail. Keys for Cancel/OK are also included on either side of the "cursor key", a navigation button that allows you to scroll your cursor up/down, left/right in any of the applications. This is a nice addition, and I found it quite handy.


    The Zaurus SL-5600 contains an Intel XScale processor at a speed of 400Mhz. I found this processor very powerful, and the Zaurus was very responsive. Applications launched quickly, and I was easily able to p
    • Re:Not a KWhore (Score:2, Informative)

      by sirket ( 60694 )
      ... my interest was peaked.

      What was the author trying to say here? His interest had been rising, he saw this PDA, and now his interest was falling?

      Or, perhaps, did the author mean to say that this new PDA had "piqued" his interest?

    • A KWhore? Is this going to be in the next release of KDE? Will the gnome project release a corresponding gWhore? At least we won't have to worry about an open standard for interoperability between the two...
    • Not a KWhore

      KWhore? Probably just a new application in KOffice...
  • by Meat Blaster ( 578650 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:45PM (#6303879)
    Kind of nifty, coming from a PalmOS standpoint. I like the idea of being able to leverage my knowledge of Linux when I'm jotting down a note or looking up an address.

    Irregardless, the usage factor is one of the things that's been getting to me lately with these handhelds and cellphones -- I know that Dick Tracy concept of having a computer on your wrist is chic, but nobody seems to notice that these things are getting pretty cramped! But one of the things I got to see lately that I'm thinking about picking up is the TabletPC.

    Really, a tablet is the logical super-portable version of a notebook -- not too expensive to lose, big enough to work with, simple enough to ink a document as quickly as you need to. So when I tried out the TabletPC, I guess I wasn't that surprised that it seemed much more natural than these handhelds. Any area much smaller than a computer monitor is unworkable these days, particularly with web applications... but I think a TabletPC with WiFi fits the bill.

    • This is not an attempt to troll or flame or anything, but I really have to question the statement "I like the idea of being able to leverage my knowledge of Linux when I'm jotting down a note or looking up an address."

      Sorry, but no matter how geeky I am feeling, when I want to jot down a note or look up an address on my PDA, I don't want to have to "leverage my knowledge" of the underlying OS, I want to jot down a note or look up an address.

      Can you clarify what you mean, please? I'm genuinely lost as to
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:45PM (#6303882) Journal
    I see that the Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 would make a perfect server for a school server []. Definitely not overkill.

    However, these reviewers need to stop hosting on the devices they review.

  • Only x posts and slashdotted! Must be running their site on product "A".

    Imagine a beowolf cluster of item "B", on a "C".

    Just wait till the RIAA hears about this! and/or Just wait till the MPAA sees this! and/or Just wait till the **AA hears and/or sees this!

    Something SCO would do....Or Sue! Sue! call SCO

    BSD is dying, only a few million users left!

    Oh and MS knows security like they know open competition.

    I used Mozilla once!

    1. Action "D"
    2. ???
    3. Result "E"

    MS sucks. or MSFT sucks. or Microsoft sucks. or Micro$oft sucks or Micro$loth sucks.

    Linux has a far superior kitch factor.

    I'm going to patent patenting. I'm going to patent the wheel, air, fire, water, item "F". Quick hide it from bezos.

    I'm going to sue for violating my first post (patent|copyright).

    Check my l33t signature!

    Accomplishing goal L: Cost "G". Accomplishing goal M: Cost "H", for everything else there is item "I".

    Something, something, something, private part [giggle like the school child you are], something, something, something.

    something, other, something, Natalie Portman, something

    Boochicka wowwow, something, hot grits and person "J", who may or not be Natalie Portman

    Some guys widespread anus []

    In Soviet Russia, Item "J" does "K" to YOU!

    Apple R0xx0rs!

    Apple Sucks!



    Amigas aren't dead!

    [options a-g] ...
    h. [unable to participate] you insensitive clod!
    i. [cowboy neal poll option]
  • by mirko ( 198274 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:52PM (#6303950) Journal
    SL5500 users can now benefits from the same application set as SL5600.
    check here []
    • Not only that but using alternative 3.1 Rom images found Here [] you can change the default usage of memory. Buy a SD card and keep all your applications on that, leaving plenty of space for runtime useage.

      That pretty much makes a 5500 = 5600 except for battery advantage. 5500 Can still be found for around $200.

  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:55PM (#6303978)
    Funny, just before seeing this posted, I had just finished reading a review of the 5600 at []. Since the review posted is slashdotted, maybe you can check that one out.
  • I adore my SL5500 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Glyndwr ( 217857 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:57PM (#6303999) Homepage Journal
    It's not really a PDA, it's a pocketable Linux computer.

    First, the PDA side of things. People criticise it for having weak PDA features which, compared to Palms, and that's somewhat true; my previous Psion PDAs had a few extra features around the edges that I miss, but by and large the PIM features are fine for my moderately advanced use.

    But there's so much more! SCUMMVM in the palm of your hand with mp3-encoded talkie versions of Fate of Atlantis or Day of the Tentacle is pretty nifty.Add a Wifi card, install Wellenwreiter [] or Kismet, and go low-profile warwalking. I have a Pocketop [] IR folding keyboard for long documentation on the go; the screen rotation software Just Works, unlike a lot of PocketPCs.

    Unlike Palm owners, I can handle DOC and XLS files native on the device; this is particularly key because the Zaurus is a computer in its own right and not a PDA. The Hancom office apps shipped with it are usable enough for quick on-the-go editing and creation. I could do with one of these [] now for instant printing of invoices when I'm out at a client's site.

    The big compelling piece of software is OpenZaurus [], a completely open source and regularly updated distro to replace the Sharp ROM. It's a bit like trading Debian stable for unstable; kinda hacky at times, kinda buggy at others, but it's so exciting to get a massive batch of upgrades every few weeks full of improvements. It's never been buggy enough to lose my PDA data, and in any event with multisync [], unison and rsync my data is backed up six ways to Sunday.

    Other people like apps like opie-reader for ebooks, portable Ogg players (there are a few), portable DivX playback, email (this is noticeable ropy under OpenZaurus, but getting better), and many more... For more ideas, see this thread [] on

    Downsides? I find the QWERTY keyboard wearing after a few minutes, hence I have the Pocketop, and I've managed to scratch the screen under the handwriting recognition area so I can't really use it any more (I think that was my fault, to be fair). The battery life sucks too, but then it does on all these colour mobile devices. Apparently, the SL5600 is better.

    So basically, if you want a PDA, get a Palm. If you want a pocketable Linux computer in a PDA form factor with respectable PIM features and a mountain of open source apps [], get a Zaurus.
    • OpenZaurus, a completely open source

      Open source, eh? Do you happen to know what license it's under, then?

      Their website [] doesn't mention anything about that.

      Since it's apparently based on Linux [], I'd expect it to be under the GPL [] (at least in part). But that obviously isn't the case. Look at the Openzaurus download page []. There are links to 20 different binary packages, but no links to source code. According to the GPL, you must put source links in the same place as binary ones [].

      Downloading an unpack
    • nothing like typing '/sbin/lsmod' on a PDA to see if it correctly recognized your CF wireless card!

      This is definitely more of a mini-pc (pinky to mouth) than a PDA.


    • Oooh! How does one do MP3-encoded talkies on scummvm? I have a couple of CD versions of games that I'd love to have on my PDA.
  • Whoa... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bdesham ( 533897 ) <bdesham@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:10PM (#6304118) Journal
    This Linux based handheld with a built in qwerty keyboard with decent connectivity.
    That sentence no verb!
    • That sentence with no predicate at all, actually.
  • by no_such_user ( 196771 ) <jd-slashdot-2007 ... amallday DOT com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:32PM (#6304284)
    I bought the 5500 when HSN was clearing them out a few months ago... but I ended up returning it. While I really loved being able to hold linux in my hand, I quickly realized that it just wasn't a replacement for my Palm Vx.

    The most limiting factor was battery life... which the 5600 claims to improve. Any linux geek who will play with one of these things will be playing HARD... ogg decoding, game playing, etc. These things burn up battery life, and you quickly need to make a run for the nearest AC plug.

    The other thing that discouraged me was filesystem management. Installing packages wasn't smooth and required some fancy footwork to install them on CF/MMC cards. And if you drain your battery and don't recharge within 24 hours (perhaps less), you'll lose anything not in flash ROM or on a memory card. Sure it's the same with any other PDA... but my palm can go for weeks w/o a charge... and I can recharge it with a 9v battery if I'm desperate.

    There are hacks to setup backups to a CF card or whatever, and hacks for wireless connectivity, and hacks for getting X apps to run, and hacks... and hacks... but you start to realize that the entire thing is about hacks... it's not clean. It made me miss my Newton. Flexibility? No... but sure was slick!

    Two things would have made me keep it:
    1. Better battery life (fixed in 5600?)
    2. Ability to boot off the CF card and turn the device into a full-speed, fully functioning palm emulator (the ones I tried had serious limitations). A dual-boot pda!

    Just my $.02 - I look forward to trying again in a couple of years :)
    • The most limiting factor was battery life... which the 5600 claims to improve.

      funn, I did not find this to be an issue, First you disable the backlight. this makes battery life X10 and in the office the screen is viewable without the light. Second, anyone expecting it to do all day while listening to mp3's and 802.11b is plain old nuts. NO color PDA with the processing power the SL-5500 has can do that.

      Anyways, I use mine all the time, more than my old PALM IIIx and much MUCH longer than the piece of
    • "There are hacks to setup backups to a CF card or whatever, and hacks for wireless connectivity,"

      Huh? If by "hacks" you mean "an easy way to back up to CF" and "wireless connectivity when you plug in a wirless lan card" than I agree. I can back up my system to CF or SD in two steps, and getting wireless to work was about a 3 minute process the first time, and a 5 second process now.

      "hacks for getting X apps to run"

      This is true. Try loading Windows apps on a PocketPC and see if you can do it. You are slam
      • Huh? If by "hacks" you mean "an easy way to back up to CF" and "wireless connectivity when you plug in a wirless lan card" than I agree.

        Requiring the user to buy a separate CF card and then manually backup his data is truely a hack. (Where "hack"=workaround for shortsighted design) The device includes onboard flash memory- you shouldn't have to take extra, costly steps just to protect your appointments from a RAM wipeout.

        The (traditional) Palm stores everything in RAM, but it hardly ever crashes or ex
  • I own the SL-5500 (and love it) and received an email from Sharp stating that people who participate in the Sharp open source app development can receive a nice discount on both the SL-5500 and SL-5600. If I remember it was a pretty good deal too.
    • Here's the text from my email:

      Sharp has teamed up with PC Connection to offer our developers a special discount price on the Zaurus and accessories. The SL-5600 is available for $424.99 and the SL-5500 is $229. This special price is only valid for approved developers of the Zaurus Developer Program. To access the Developer store, please login to the Zaurus DevNet at and from the menu click Developer Program->Store. If you haven't enrolled into the Developer Program, you mu

  • by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:43PM (#6304427)
    Not sure if anyone brought this up, but Sharp changed the method of storing PIM data from XML to binary for the 5600, which promptly broke all current open-source methods of doing synchronization. For the record, TrollTech didn't seem too happy about the change, either.

    Thus, if you want an open-source synch tool for Linux, you may be out of luck for a while.

    • by Minna Kirai ( 624281 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @07:05PM (#6307197)
      1. The storage was never actually XML, just a similar looking arbitrary format. The filename ended in .xml, and XML parsers worked on it, but it wasn't fully compliant. There were no DTDs supplied, for example, and some fields were totally undocumented. However, since the data was all fat ascii, it was trivial to reverse-engineer the important parts.
      2. From a performance perspective, switching away from XML is a big win. You can't really argue it, technically. The pseudo-XML format wasted space and was slow. If they'd just provide documentation on the binary format (and also a prediction as to how long that format will be remaining unchanged), then everything would be fine.

        In fact, since the system is based on Free Software, they should just release the whole source code to their PIM apps and be done with it. A programmer would jump up from the "community" to take care of their Linux synchronization needs- and probably someone else would volunteer to improve the UI on the PIM itself (which needs a lot of work in comparison to the competition from Palm)

        By selling a Linux PDA, but not distributing the code to most of the applications, Sharp is getting the worst of both worlds in terms of user acceptance.

      Some more technical detail:
      Why does pseudo-XML waste space?
      Because more than 50% of the total file is repetitive boilerplate. The addressbook.xml looks like this:
      < Contact FirstName="Bob" MiddleName="Mack" LastName="Dobbs" FileAs="Dobbs, Bob Mack" Company="CoSG" BusinessPhone="866-512-7801" >
      Not only are strings like "FirstName" and "BusinessPhone" repeated for every entry, but each person's name is stored twice! And remember, on a handheld portable, file size is more precious than on desktops or laptops.

      Why is pseudo-XML slow?
      Because XML is a linear file format. If you have 900 entries in the contact list (not at all unrealistic), and you add a new email address to contact #356, then the entire file past that point will have to be re-written. (Unless the programmer was extra-careful and used specialized file-shifting code, which still won't help in all cases). In practice, this meant that Zaurus users with thousands of contacts had to withstand startup or shutdown times of 20+ seconds.
  • by allrong ( 445675 )
    I spend about 4 hours travelling on trains everyday and my Zaurus has made a big difference to my productivity. I used to lug a laptop around with me, but it is heavy and slow to boot up (suspend not really working under Linux).

    I sit in the train or lie in bed and use tckEditor to write PHP applications. It's extra hours of productivity that I would otherwise not have available to use when I need it (like right now).

    When I want to test something I can run (an old version of) Apache, PHP and MySQL. I start
  • I have a 5500, and I run windows.

    How on earth do I compile software for the Zaurus?
    • How on earth do I compile software for the Zaurus?

      gcc runs on the Zaurus, though I haven't installed it because I do run Linux. It wouldn't hurt to try it, though I can't speak for its performance or anything.

      hope this helps -- i believe the package name is zgcc or something.

  • A long time ago, when I first heard about Sharp releasing the Linux based Zaurus 5500 PDA, my interest was peaked.

    :) So his interest peaked way back then. Too bad, I think the newer Zauri may be even better.

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