Dr. Matt Levin uses his Zaurus for patient's data and after hours call-in processing.

First off, I'd like to thank you for your well-written summary articles
in Mobilis on the Zaurus. Your series of articles on the Zaurus line
detailing special projects, etc, was of interest to a heavy user like
me, but the June 1997, article is a great response to the flurry of Pilot and
Windows CE enthusiasts that I was worried would shut down the great
Zaurus platform.

For me, I'd looked for an enhanced PDA originally in 1994 or
thereabouts, when I started with the Wizard line. Then, I moved on to
the Zaurus 5000, and 5800 for the spreadsheet and additional memory. A
brief look at the HP line resulted in returning the HPLX200 to my local
superstore due to an impossible keyboard and screen (how can anyone
really type on that?) but my search for handwriting recognition led me
to get an Omnigo 100. Alas, I kept it for the concept, but gave up
quickly when I found out that the battery drains incredibly fast, there
is no AC input jack, and the screen is truly microscopic. I did like
the fold-around design concept, though.

As a busy physician in a geographically widely spread system, I've been
able to set up templates for patients when they call in after hours. By
typing up the notes (or, if alot of information is provided quickly,
handwriting and then converting this to type later), I can send the
information by fax the next day to other physicians in the network.
This makes sure that their MD is up to date, and with the insurances
issues, it ensures that the patients don't have trouble later proving
that I've authorized an emergency visit if the claim is initially denied
months from now. Admittedly, I don't take full advantage of the Zaurus
by faxing directly with its modem, but by printing out the notes, and
faxing this hard copy, I can keep this in a permanent paper file. Even
though the paperless office isn't quite accepted yet, it is on its way!

There are a few aspects of the Z5800 Zaurus that I've found referenced
quite minimally, if at all. First, battery life in my Z5800 was quite
limited if I used alkaline batteries and the backlight feature. I'd
continued to buy packs of 8-12 from Radio Shack, and kept a log of
replacement to monitor this (I'm not in your class to do the electronic
measurement of battery drain). Wonderously, by using Lithium AA
batteries, I now get 3 months of *daily* use out of my Zaurus when I
supplement with an AC adaptor!

In addition, like you said in several articles, I use a flash RAM card
for general storage; this works well for me so that I'm less lax in
backing up data. Although a pricey solution, it really beats using the
IR interface to back up to my laptop (used to be 20+ minutes for the

Finally, I mail ordered a wonderful parallel printer cable for $49.95
made by Aegis from Pygmy Computers ( nice and helpful
source for extras not available in stores, such as AC adaptors, extra
pens--when I lost mine!). This adaptor lets me print directly from the
Zaurus into the parallel printer. Even digital ink applications, like
the scrapbook and notes, print out, even though rather crudely.

Keep up the good fight for the Zaurus, and I'll be keeping up with your
Web page and your writers' articles in Mobilis.

======= Email # 2 ========

Please feel free to use any part of my observations in your
article. I'd even like you to use my name and identifiers, including my
email address, as I'd like to find other users, especially physicians, who
use the Zaurus platforms for medical uses.

You're probably aware that the HPLX and the Newton platforms have been
extensively used by the medical community. "Hotbed" proponents are
Massachusetts General for the HP, and Johns Hopkins (and others) for the
Newton. Most of these users have been able to put a great deal of text-
based information into their platforms, which the Zaurus can't do in the
same way.

But the Zaurus' databasing capabilities are excellent with the included
applications. This is one of the strengths that I've found. If the
databasing also included selective report generation, then the Zaurus could
truly be a standalone electronic medical record generator.

Dr. Matt Levin
Pittsburgh, PA
Email Dr. Levin with your comments & questions.

Contact us at: with any of YOUR PDA usage stories that others would benefit from reading. We will see about putting them online. Questions, comments are welcome also.

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Last modified Feb 7, 1999