Peel Technologies Mini Library of PDA Questions and Answers


Dear Egbert: Great article! With all the hullabaloo about the Windows CE units, I still enjoy my Wizard 6500 with CEIR2 interface, and am seriously thinking of(lusting to own) a 5800FX kit Zaurus before the end of the year. ( I can get a pretty attractive price at Sharper Image Gadget Heaven with a Mastercard promotion coupon, i.e. about 480.00 US dollars).And that includes the Appliction Partner and cable. The modem will duplicate a CEMF4 I already own but what the heck. My only holdback is a tingling wonder if the Zaurus will integrate well with my current favorite desktop programs, which right now are Corel Wordpefect 7 and Sidekick 95. I used the Rupplynx for downloading, but I dont think I'm smart enough to learn multi-step file conversions. Anyway, your enthusiasm for Zaurus matches mine. It is just a fun unit from what I see. I have heard scurrilous rumors tht the backlight has a meager lifespan, but I doubt that it would be a problem. Also- are we poised for another big Zaurus roll-out in January? I originally sought to buy a 5700 model, but Sharper Image will apparently not stock it. I think the ZR-3000 is too stripped down for me. The PC card slot, I'm guessing, is the magic door to a lot. Anyway, if you have any words of encouragement of even caveats, let me know, Happy Holidays Gerry S., Mililani Town, HI. PS: I think Sharp has been a little sleepy until this fall in terms of marketing, but I like their design very much. I sneakily bought my wife a 6500 Wizard and she is now convertd to electronic storage vs Daytimer schlepping -:)

Hi Gerald. Thanks for the kind words about my December mobilis article. I was afraid it might be a bit heavy going for some readers, with explanations without graphics. For the next one I am planning to include some Zaurus screen shots along with the streams of words. I haven't had any hands-on experience with Windows CE. Regular Windows is such a resource hog, that I wonder if anyone in Microsoft has figured out that this won't go over very well yet in the PDA world. The advantage that I see coming is that the PDA developers like Sharp will be spurred on by the competitive aspect. I think Sharp is long overdue on deciding to provide a software development environment that is readily available to anyone skilled in Graphical User Interfaces & programming and who has a PC. Perhaps Windows CE will push Sharp that way soon, to the benefit of themselves and their loyal following. Now for some encouragement for you about integrating WP 7 and Sidekick with a Zaurus. I would advise you to spend the extra $ for a 5800, to get the extra RAM. I chose to buy a 5700 before the 5800's were released, because I wanted the spreadsheet and did not want to wait. For me, the PCMCIA slot was a key buying factor even for my original 5000, which is still the way I feel today. If a PDA doesn't support this, then to me it is more the class of an organizer. This is just fine, if that serves one's requirements! I haven't heard about any big roll out coming from Sharp. The word about the colour unit is impressive. However, I don't like the idea of a short battery life. It starts to get closer to a lap-top which croaks just as the plane is reaching cruising altitude. (Some of us are NEVER satisfied I suppose.....) Regarding your wordprocessing, I regularily move text files between my Z and my PC by using Rich Text Format (RTF). Zaurus supports that directly and there is no extra conversion steps to do. All of the formating stuff that I do in documents such as bold, centering etc. is kept whichever direction I am migrating files. For PC based Personal Information Management (PIM) tools, I have used Intellilink to go between the Zaurus and PC applications. My experience with it is that it is flexible, reliable and easy to use. You may find that with the extra power that a Zaurus will give you, that you will give up your use of Sidekick. However, you will know better about that than me! I do all of my PIM on my Zaurus, because that is most convenient for me. I always know what my schedule is, I enter the data once, no matter where I am, and so it goes. If I am in a big-time hurry to capture something short, then I go to the scrapbook and write with the pen, else if it is longer I go to the Notes application and do the same with the pen. My Zaurus is always with me: in my suit pocket, carrying case, brief case etc. I hope this helps you in your decision. I am interested to keep in touch, answer more questions. Let me know what path you take. From my point of view Zaurus is great. Sincerely, Egbert P.S. Re your wife, your actions sound sneaky alright. My wife does not particularily like my "computer things" as she calls them. However, she is always trying to sneak up on me and get a glimpse of my online diary (password protected of course) and so my Z still has a certain attraction to her. I thinks she imagines someday to gain access to all of those "juicy" things in my log. After 28 years of marriage, I think she knows there really isn't much in there to worry about.

Dear Egbert, Thanks for the prompt and informative response. I will definitely be buying a ZR-5800 next week- won't even mention it to wife . She has never in 37 years kenned my enthusiasm for hi-fi stereo,- how can I expect her to savvy this mobile PDAmania.? Of course she loves her Solitaire on screen, and chat groups." But seriously, I am trying to get her to accept the Sidekick PIM, which I have about done, because of its familiar "face." We tried his and her" Rupplynx 3.01 links and it didn't work. I am officially Navy retired, but have a full schedule, and have to keep up with 10 yr old we are raising. So when " hair appointment" collides with "school potluck- Boing!!! My 6500 is marvelously compact yet too small keyboard for my fat fingers for acceptable typing. I think the pen/ keyboard design of the Z will let me achieve what I want, i.e. to do a family history and an ethical will while I am in my musing places (coffehouses, naturally). And yeah,Sharper Image store has a generous 60 day return policy. Also,I wil get the application partner free from SharpCorp ,the laid back corporation- and try it, and I called Intellilink/ Puma and will check out theirr offerings. I dont use a spreadsheet, but have the urge to learn , because it may open some new doors ,and just because I want to keep up with what is clearly the magic of this silicon world. I got Quattro Pro with the Corel Suite. ( Ah so much software, so little time') I agree that from what I have read, Sharp has closely contained their development partners- they prefer to call it "selectivity". But it meant pricier items and slower progress as you say. Eveh Rupplyns 3.01 needed tweaking to work with WIN 95... I see no need for a mobile Windows -half Windwos really device. If I wanted Windows, with its acknowleded quirks, I will get Pentium laptop with a Lithium battery- at a flea market in 2 years ;) Again thanks for your most useful comments and encuragement. You will be hearing from undersigned, soon to be Pen -enhanced(pun intended) Pal again, with more questions.( Sure I want my mug on the screen,but don't yet own a scanner or digital device, Photo-CD for now maybe?) Or how about my fax machine? Aloha, Gerry S.l PS. Notice E.V., I resisted teasing about the weather back there in mush -land ,But what is Christmas without the white stuff.

> > Hi Gerald > > I am thinking about adding a question and answer section about Zaurus to my > newly established web page ( I would > organize the questions already asked from people such as you and put the > answers that I gave along with them. Any references to names, email > addresses etc. would be removed. Please let me know if you have any > objection to this and I won't use any material relating to questions that > you have asked. I am hoping that this mini Zaurus library of Q & A will > help potential and new Zaurus users. > > I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. > > Sincerely, Egbert Verbrugge No problem at all, Egbert, here . I think a Q and A page would be super useful to those who have adopted and remain loyal to the Z. Not of any great consequence, but I bought my unit on 12/19 from Sharper Image, one of Sharp's obviously major US retailers. Got it from a pleasant salesperson who I know has been with the chain for at least two years.Nice guy. When I noted that the box said "5800 "(vs 5800FX) Dwight reassured me there was indeeda modem packaged inside. Not so, as I found out this morning. Well, I was ready to negotiate a price accomodation (since I already own the CE-FM4 which was packaged with the discount store 6500FX kit I bought for Carole). However, the saga is not over- when I put in fresh batteries, the screen said " Time to replace the backup battery" and, as you know, none of the functions were operational. ( Funny, the package and manuals look intact. ) Neverthelesss, this early demise of the little button cell backup battery in a new unit, never initialized, waved a red flag to me and I asked the salesperson to locate another complete 5800FX kit. It will take a week t least cause their Oahu inventory is shot. I guess I wonder if you agree that my tingling misgivings about the depleted backup battery in an off the shelf Z is valid-? ( If there is premature drain on the backup cell or I have got an early,or defective production model, well, who needs the aggravation? Funny part is that Sharper Image Co. does not even retail the 5800 solo unit and I dont know how it wound up in their store. Anyway, I am disappointed -no toy for Christmas-because a peek at the manuals confirms my decision that this is one hell of an upgrade from my organizer. ( Wife's comment:(blank pokerface) "Hmmmmmm!" We have sort of an understanding. She buys,with her pay, such devices as a 600 buck knitting -machine (that is primarily room sculpture) and I don't say "Harumph."( I think she thinks its time to buy a sofa and of course she, as all spouses, is right, nesting instinct you know.) No high- tech hormones, these gals. Good grief, I wont be the first on the block to buy DVD (maybe the third :) Aloha from your, (once this transaction is straightened out) Keyboard Enhanced penpal, Mele Kelikimaka to You too, Gerry S.
HI Gerald Thanks for the green light on the Q & A pages. Sorry to hear of your rocky start with Zaurus. I have to agree with your approach to get a unit that works properly as it is taken out of the box. Both my ZR-5000 and ZR-5700 worked perfectly as I took them out of the box. Regarding your wife's comments, maybe the sofa can still come, but just delayed a little while. I think that part of the nesting instinct is to cajole husbands when it looks like another object is becoming the centre of attention. Bye for now, Egbert
Hi Egbert, Just some brief feedback on my two week experience with the ZR5800. I couldn't swap the wrong model and battery exhausted one sold to me for two weeks, since Sharper Image outlet was out of stock. Decided to replace the backup battery and give it a test run. I was impressed with the applications and the documentation. ( Survivor of old Canon camera instruction manuals from the 70's -( before your time I know :). But I had to say that the unit I got (albeit, very likely a defective one) had a couple of nagging annoyances. Primary one was that the screen seemed much dimmer than my Wizard 6500, and I was having trouble making out the menu icons, as in the Notebook application. Also,although the keyboard is bigger, as you point out its still not" touch typing land." So I somwhat reluctantly convinced myself I didnt want one and returned it to the dealer before they got their new shipment of the real 5800FX model I thought I was buying. Then, to my wonder, Sam's Club outlet store is selling new 5700's for 300.00 US ( and coupon for APP Partner!) By now, I knew enough abouut the Zaurus to appreciate its merits, and minor shortcomings, and the price was irresistable. And so that is what I plan to use. No 2 meg, and no backlight, but all the other features you so well describe in your articles. Seems like the screen is broghter than the 5800 I had in my hands, and that the screen material is also of a different plastic material, similar to my Wizard. As a matter of fact, as I learn the ins and outs, I marvel at how well thought out and friendly, the unit is. I will keep the W 6500 as a fannypack handy organizer and the 5700 as my "poor man's laptop.' In any event, what else can buy so much fun for 300 bucks? Printed out your well written January piece for mobilis. For some reason, the December number is not accessible via my Browser- keeps jumping back to Nov issue... Another mystery caused by those durn UFO's,or the Windows CE cartel.? Aloha from Mililani Town, Gerry S.
Hi Egbert, I was reflecting on your Mobilis articles, and your comments about the euphoric and intimate relationship with a Zaurus; You have hit on something, you know. It reminds me of a comment by James Burke on the BBC show " Connections." He was displaying an early- maybe 16th century- egg sized watch/ chronometer, beautifully enameled, engraved, handcrafted and, for that era, astonishingly accurate. " Imagine having one of these in your hand at a time when there were still wolves roaming the forests of Germany." I am not personally a techno capable person and have to force myself to sit with a manual.( Almost flunked organic chemistry at Harvard College and quickly switched to the liberal arts !( Class of 1958 by the way)). Still pride myself on gadget enthusiasm, but no scientific discipline Despite my more eclectic nature, I am a very enthusiastic member of the Z family, thank you. Aloha Gerry
Hi Gerry Your email was a pleasant surprise. Thanks for sharing your reflections about the 16th century chronometer etc. I hadn't thought of my zeal for PDA's that way before. However, I agree with your observation. I have always prided myself in recognizing pratical & useful new technology and then all that goes along with being an early adopter of it. I suppose someone who was trained in psychology could write an interesting article about the way that technical people like us are /attracted to / dependant on / "victimized" by gadgets/technology. This could be contrasted to others whose love is restricted to animate things. Thanks again for the email. I must run along and start my day. Keep in touch. Bye for now, Egbert
Not an urgent question: I am curious about the nature and utility of the various types of RAM cards that can be used in the Zaurus 5700. I graduated from a Wizard organizer,never used a laptop, and want to eventually exploit the possibilities of that mysterious slot! Static RAM, FLASH RAM, etc., still hunting for a definitive understanding I guess. Perhaps meat for one of your mobilis articles or the Q and A on your site.? A regular ( and ardent) user of the Z by now. Aloha, Gerry S., Mililani Town, Hi. Our clergyman was genuinely impressed by my unit last Sunday at adult ed, but has "Pilot on the Brain," and I couldn't get him to consider the Zaurus. One has to be partially a keyboard person I guess.
Hi Gerry Too bad about the clergyman having "Pilot on the brain". If his environment is mainly entering data on his PC and using the Pilot for carting that info with him, then I suppose it would be an ok environment. However, if the Pilot is to be used most as a stand alone, then I think he will find the lack of a keyboard a pain. It is fun to show others what Z's can do. One of my colleagues at work today was in my office when my Z beeped at me to do something. He said "I suppose that is one of those things that has your life in it". I took the cue and stopped our informal meeting, stepped around my desk, sat down beside him and proceeded to show him a few of the Z's features for 10 minutes. Then it was back to the work at hand. Now for an explanation of RAM cards for the Zaurus as you asked in your email. There are two types of RAM cards, SRAM and Flash RAM. They come in various formats, but the Z & other PDA's want them to be in PCMCIA Type 2 packaging. Let me describe each of them separately and how the Zaurus can use them.

Flash RAM.

I have a 2 Megabyte Flash RAM (Manufacturer Maxtor, Model MobileMax) that I use for archiving my Z's memory to it approximately once a week. The Zaurus archive utility lets me keep as many of the previous archives as there is space available. The card sits in my desk at home all the time except when I am doing an archive. Then it is in the PCMCIA slot in my Z. This gives me the peace of mind that if my Z croaks / dies / gets lost or otherwise becomes unavailable to me, then I have retained my data that I have built up over 20 months. Then I just need to get to another Z and plug in the card and load the archive back into memory. As a precaution, I also archive my Z data to my home desktop PC using Sharp's ZR Link utility and CE-133T serial cable, but less frequently. Flash RAM cards do not require any power to retain their information. When they are being actively used by the Z they use a moderate amount of electricity. When they are just plugged into the Z and not being accessed they use very little extra power. Flash RAM cards are now available up to 40 Megabyte capacity. I don't think the Z can access all of that. However, I am not sure. The HP 200LX Palmtop computer / PDA can use that amount of memory. It seems to be a function of the specific PDA and its operating system rather than the basic hardware. I think of a Flash RAM card as being a solid state disk. They are very fast to read and write. On a Zaurus an archive of 500K of data takes about 1 minute. They are rugged and require no special precautions when in storage or in use. Another use of Flash RAM cards is to hold 3'rd party S/W application programs. These programs can be executed from the Flash RAM card. They cost less than SRAM cards but they do have one drawback. The Z can not use them directly as an extension of the internal RAM for data storage or direct access. For Z's, only SRAM can be used for this. Only specific Flash RAM cards will work in a Zaurus. It is best to check with a Z dealer to find out which ones are ok.


I do not have experience myself with an SRAM card in a Zaurus. The information below is what I have been able to learn by reading the Zaurus manual, PDA journals etc. SRAM cards have a small battery inside them that is necessary to keep the data that has been written to them. Provision is made for periodically changing the battery. I don't know what the battery life is. I don't know how you know when it is time to change the battery either. When in a Zaurus, SRAM becomes an extension of the internal user available RAM for data or programs. It can be used to store data or add on programs. This is not transparent / automatic. The Zaurus has to be told whether to use the internal RAM or the SRAM card. This is easy to do from the utilities built into the Z. A logical way would be to put the data that is not accessed very often into the SRAM card. For me that would be the document files and the scrapbook data. SRAM cards are more expensive that Flash RAM for the same capacity. The largest SRAM card that I have heard about is 2 Meg. One more thing to think about is that when a RAM card is in the PCMCIA slot, of course you can not use another PCMCIA card, such as a fax/modem at the same time. If you must connect to the outside world while a RAM card is present, then Sharp's serial modem or a generic modem connected to the serial port is necessary. That is about all I can think to tell you about RAM cards for the Zaurus.

You also mentioned about using the PCMCIA slot in the Z.

I have two Fax/Modem cards for my Z. One (APEX 2400/9600) is slow & miserly on battery power and the other(Megahertz, Model CC4144) is 14.4KB fast and a real hog on power. The fast one will only run with the Sharp external power adapter plugged in or an external batter pack, such as MOBILPAK connected(an economical product we designed and make). As in the RAM cards above, Sharp provides a list of which cards work. Others may work, but you need to try them out for yourself first. For instance, I have a cheap Compaq fax/modem PCMCIA card that draws too much power and won't run in the Zaurus at all. It works ok in a laptop, but laptops seem to be able to dish out enough power even for the hungriest of PCMCIA cards. My ZR-5000 had trouble driving the fax properly at 14.4Kbaud. There would be bands of data skipped in the fax sent, with no indication of any send error. My ZR-5700 drives the fax at 14.4Kbaud perfectly. I use the two fax/modems for both faxing and connecting to other computers over normal telephone lines. They work fine. I have used my Z in this way while I have been in far away places such as the middle East and South America. Zaurus has the application S/W built in that makes it quite easy to fax data out or connect in various ways to other computer systems. The less than 80 character display on the Zaurus ranges from a nuisance to a pracitical problem, depending on what computer system you are connecting to. It works, but it can be a pain to read the display when the line wraps around. I hope this memo shed some light on that 'neat' slot in the Z. I am glad to hear that you are getting along well with your Z. Sincerely, Egbert Verbrugge

Hi Egbert Thanks for the response, and for setting up such a useful page. Now that I have my Zaurus, I find myself carrying around a new softsided Lands End briefbag, with Zaurus, the two manuals,- and perhaps a bagel or two.You know, In Hawaii,a briefcase or coat is only for attorneys and Amway distributors :) As a retiree, that is quite a tribute to the utility and attraction of the Z. I reach for it instinctively to record dates now in preference to the 6500. I save all my appointments to day one from the 6500 (May 1995) at present, without memory problems. That may well change if I get the diary habit, I know. I like to show people the complete spell checked letter I just wrote to Benjamin Netenyahu. Now if I read some piece and feel I want to sound off by letter, I am ready to compose, anywhere anytime,complete and spell checked. The feature where one highlights the time bar and up pops the new entry screen is a tour de force.Love it. Same for the search functions. If I get a page call, I often enter the phone number in the Z to see who is trying to reach me. I guess I dont have to sell you, so I will quit. Tnanks again, Gerry

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Last modified March 7, 1997