The Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 is a PDA, like a palm pilot. The primary difference is that it runs Linux as the operating system, rather than PalmOS like on a palm pilot, or Windows, like on everything else.
This isn’t going to be a "real" review, where I talk about how it compares to other PDAs, or where to get good software, etc. I’ve had mine for several years now, and these are my thoughts on how I use it.
I’ll even give you the summary now; If you’re looking for a good day planner, get a Palm instead. If you’re looking for a portable Linux computer to ssh out of, OR, a quality pocket web browser, this is it.
It came with some office software. Word processor, spread sheet, etc. I immediately deleted it. I don’t process words, even on the desktop. I also don’t use the calendar at all. It’s ok for looking stuff up, and it’ll beep/buzz if you schedule something, but it’s not nearly as sophisticated as the Palm’s. Also, the Year view, where you can see 12 small months, crashes the calendar. Kind of a pain.
I use the phone book app. It stores phone numbers well, and is fairly easy to sort.
I don’t ever sync it, and I don’t ever use their desktop stuff. It’s buggy, overly simple, and just a pain. On the other hand, the data is all laid out with XML, and copying it off over the network is a piece of cake. With the Z on the network, a savvy coder could make a desktop interface that interacted directly with the data on the Zaurus.
I use my Z for two things. Games and SSH. Occasionally I use it for web browsing, and I have to say, it has the best portable web browser that exists. I don’t prefer Opera on the desktop, but on the handheld it’s light years beyond anything else.
I installed the terminal program from their cd, and downloaded OpenSSH and away we went.
The keyboard is cool, I like it. It’s not hard to use one handed.
All that to bring us back to the summary. The Z excels as an internet interface. SSH, web browsing, etc. Just killer. For everyone else I know, who are looking for replacements for their giant notebook day planners, get a Palm.
Oh, and while they don’t make the 5500 anymore, you can still get one for about $140.