Sharp Zaurus SL-5500
(Discontinued. Check out our review of the Zaurus
SL-5600 and Zaurus
SL-6000 which replaced the SL-5500)
And now for
something different: a Linux-based PDA with handwriting recognition
and a built-in keyboard that's revealed when you slide the bottom
portion of the PDA down (see image at left). And now for some
of the same: the hardware specs of this PDA are the same as any
Pocket PC 2002 device. In fact, this device could run Pocket
PC 2002 OS, but Sharp, once a leader in the organizer industry
with their Zaurus line of products and OS (operating system),
has decided to do it their way, once again.
is cheaper than Pocket PCs since Sharp didn't have to pay Microsoft
for the Pocket PC OS license. You'll find the hardware and features
are same as a Pocket PC 2002 PDA.
What do you
get? You'll enjoy a 65,000 color front lit LCD, viewable indoors
and outdoors. The resolution is 240 x 320 pixels, same as a Pocket
PC. For you MP3 fans, there's a stereo headphone jack and MP3
keyboard is there when you need it, and concealed when you don't.
It integrates beautifully into the device. You can buy an optional
$169 digital camera which plugs into the CompactFlash card slot.
Its resolution is 1/3 megapixel (350,000 pixels). These add-on
cameras seem to be all the rage these days. . . that's to say
several companies are making them for their brand of PDA.
the usual PIM apps: Calendar, Contacts, Memo and To-Do, along
with the Opera web browser, email client, MP3 and video player,
Image Viewer, and Hancom Office, which includes a word processor
and spreadsheet program which are compatible with MS Word and
MS Excel and a Powerpoint presentation viewer. To check out additional
3rd party software available for the Zaurus, visit Handango's Linux
PDA software section and LinuxLinks.com.
Just in case the physical keyboard isn't enough, you'll also
get an onscreen software QWERTY keyboard and handwriting recognition
which does not work well, alas. The SL-5500 comes with excellent
support for network cards, both wired and wireless.
The unit is
very expandable: it comes with a both internal CompactFlash type
II slot AND an internal MMC/SD slot. These will allow you to
use accessories memory cards, modems and network cards (including
wireless network cards) simultaneously if you wish.
is via USB (a $39.95 serial cable is available as an accessory
should you not have USB ports on your PC). USB syncing can be
is quite popular in Japan. The list price is $399 in
Both an SD slot and a CompactFlash expansion slot built into
the unit-- you can use a modem or wireless card at the same time
you've got a memory card installed. Battery is replaceable. Built-in
support for wired and wireless networking is very good. Integrated
keyboard is neatly designed and only there when you need it.
The hardware is as sophisticated as a Pocket PC, but the Zaurus
costs less. Con: Not much software out there yet for this operating
system. Handwriting recognition isn't good. If you want to hear
sound from MP3s or games, you'll have to listen through headphones.
Syncing via USB can be unreliable.
Linux Game Reviews for Zaurus!