The Zaurus SL-5600 is the updated version of
the SL-5500. Like the 5500, it runs
Linux and has hardware specs similar to Pocket PCs. While not a
big seller in the US, the Zaurus Linux PDAs enjoy a devoted following
of those who want the power and versatility of Linux in a handheld.
If you're new to the Zaurus, you can expect a
PDA that's turnkey and user-friendly, with PIM apps and Office
software to meet your everyday needs. For those familiar with the
SL-5500, the 5600 adds an XScale processor running at 400 MHz,
more reliable USB syncing, a built-in mic and the ability to play
MP3s through the built-in speaker as well as headphones. The Zaurus
is a more polished, feature rich unit than the Yopy
YP3700 which also runs Linux.
The SL-5600 has an Intel XScale processor running
at 400 MHz, which is plenty of power! The built-in apps and OS
have been optimized for the new processor. The unit feels snappy
and responsive, except program launching, which takes a few seconds.
It has 32 megs of RAM and 64 megs of flash ROM. The ROM is a non-volatile
area where the OS is stored, but you can store data and apps on
the unused 35 megs of flash ROM, bringing total built-in storage
up to ~ 65 megs.
Display and Multimedia
The Z has a 3.5" 65,000 color front lit
LCD that's viewable indoors and outdoors. The resolution is 240
x 320 pixels, same as a Pocket PC. Unfortunately, it is not a transflective
display and isn't as color-saturated and bright as PDAs with transflective
screens. I was disappointed by the dimness of the display.
For you MP3 fans, there's a stereo headphone
jack and Media Player which can play MP3s and MPEG videos. You
can play MP3s through the built-in speaker or headphones connected
to the standard 3.5mm stereo mini jack. Sound is quite good, though
Media Player doesn't offer any bass boost, treble or balance adjustments.
You can turn off the display when listening to MP3s to conserve
Keyboard and Controls
The thumb-type keyboard is there when you need
it, and concealed when you don't. It integrates beautifully into
the device. It has a standard QWERTY keyboard layout with a numlock
key (yay!) and a function key to enter in symbols, numbers, and
punctuation. The keys are made of hard plastic and offer good tactile
feedback. As with many thumb keyboards, the keys are small, and
you'll probably need to use your thumbnails rather than the flesh
of your thumb to type accurately.
The Z has a 5 way d-pad that's great not only
for games, but navigating on-screen. There are buttons for home,
calendar, address book, mail and a button which activates any drop-down
menus in apps. The calendar button also functions as the voice
recorder button— press and hold to bring up the Voice Recorder
app and start a recording. The menu button also functions as the
backlight button: press and hold it down to turn the backlighting
on or off.
Software and Syncing
You'll get the usual PIM apps: Calendar, Contacts,
Memo and To-Do, along with the Opera 6.0 web browser, email client,
MP3 and video player, Image Viewer, and Hancom MobileOffice, which
includes a word processor and spreadsheet program that are compatible
with MS Word and MS Excel. You'll also get 7 games, including Asteriods,
Go, and Patience. To check out additional 3rd party software available
for the Zaurus, visit Handango's Linux
PDA software section and killefiz.de/zaurus.
If you want to use a terminal to issue shell commands, check out
the additional software installation on the CD for a free terminal
program that even has a popup selector to enter common UNIX commands
like ls, pwd and more. There's also a File Manager on the CD that
you'll want to install, along with HancomPresenter for PowerPoint
presentations. Opera 6, perhaps the best PDA browser, is included
layouts on small screens extremely well.
The Z can sync to the included Qtopia Desktop
or Outlook via Intellisync, which is also included. Qtopia is a
desktop PIM application that syncs with the address book, calendar
and Todo list on the Zaurus. It supports categories, and all the
fields most of use will ever need for contacts. The calendar supports
alarms, repeating events and categories. Tasks offers priority
levels, start date, completed date, due date and categories.
If you're an Outlook user, you'll likely want
to use Intellisync for Zaurus, which can sync contacts, calendar,
email, tasks and notes with your Zaurus. The Zaurus Linux PDAs
only come with Windows software, there's no Linux or Mac support
in the box. There's an early version of a 3rd party sync solution
for Mac OS 10.2 and higher users, which you can find here: http://maczsync.sourceforge.net/.
To install applications and files on the SL-5600,
you'll use the Zaurus File Transfer application on the desktop.
This app gives you a folder view of the Zaurus' internal flash
memory, and any expansion cards you have in the PDA. You'll drag
files to these folders to install them on the Z. To backup and
restore the PDA, you'll use the aptly name Backup and Restore application
on the desktop.
Just in case the physical keyboard isn't enough,
you'll also get an onscreen software QWERTY keyboard, handwriting
recognition, a pickboard (hard to describe, but it reminds me of
T-9 on steroids) and unicode character entry system. While handwriting
recognition wasn't good on the SL-5500, it's definitely ready for
prime time on the 5600. It allows you to write natural lower case
print characters and has very good accuracy. It's very similar
to character recognizer on Pocket PCs.
Expandability, Networking and Accessories
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.
Networking and WiFi cards are well-supported.
The D-Link, Socket,
Symbol and Linksys cards work without
any additional drivers. WiFi speeds are great with the Zaurus,
surpassing Pocket PCs. However, like the SL-5500, the 5600 can't
connect to base stations whose SSID's have spaces in their names.
You can buy an optional $169 digital camera which
plugs into the CompactFlash card slot. Its resolution is 1/3 megapixel
(350,000 pixels). If you're interested in wide area networking,
you can purchase the CF Sharp Mobile Modem Card, which is an Enfora
Spider IIC CF card that runs on the CDPD network at 19.2k and connects
to the Sharp
Mobile Network service. A 3g (1xRTT) CF card for the Zaurus
Battery and Cradle
The SL-5600 has once of the largest standard
batteries available on a PDA: 1700 mAh, and it is user-replaceable.
I've gotten runtimes of about 5 hours continuous use per charge.
Connectivity is via USB, and the Zaurus comes with a cradle that
allows you to sync and charge the PDA. A $39.95 serial cable is
available as an accessory should you not have USB ports on your
PC. USB syncing on the SL-5600 has been very reliable.
Pro: 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. Con: Not much software out there yet
for this operating system. UI has a learning curve. Window close
and cancel widgets are way too small, just as with the SL-5500.
based embedded OS (Embedix3) Qtopia, Personal Java4.
x 5.4H x .9D. Weight Approximately 7.1
in speaker, mic and stereo headphone jack. Voice
Recorder and Media Player included.
operating system. Calendar, Address Book, To-Do,
and Memo apps, Hancom Office suite: Word processor
compatible with Word docs, spreadsheet app compatible
with Excel files, Opera 6 web browser, E-mail program
supporting POP3, SMTP, IMAP4 protocols, ImagePad
image viewer and editor, Media Player for videos
and MP3s, TextEditor, Calculator and more. Java:
PersonalJava™ and Insignia Solutions Jeode™.
software: Qtopia and Intellisync for Zaurus
(synchronizes with Outlook). Syncs with Windows only.