Any recommendations for an inexpensive PDA to use with a Mac and PC?

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unknown1's picture
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I don't know if this question fits this forum but I usually post here and don't know where it would fit better.

Any recommendations for an inexpensive PDA to use with a Mac and PC? I'm thinking there has to be a good one for the $25-50 range (this price range rules out Newton as they go for like $100+).

Now that I have a Pismo on its way to me, I would like a PDA to do a couple of things I have been doing on a pocket-sized paper notebook for years. Manually re-writing all the phone numbers and email addresses from one book to the next every year or so when it fills up is so 20th century!

I need multiple reminders (alarms or voice) for appointments, take medicine, etc. I need to be able to enter (and sync) contacts etc. and take notes.

Nice but not necessary:
Expandable by SD card.
Voice/ music recording.
Color screen.
MP3 player.
Photo Viewer.
WiFi.
Etc.
Etc.

I've been to eBay and a few PDA sites but there must be thousands of models available, hundreds in this price range! I need somewhere to start and you guys have been giving great answers for years.

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Dr. Webster's picture
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For $25 to $50, you aren't go

For $25 to $50, you aren't going to get any of the things on your "nice but not necessary" list.

I'd find an older Palm or Handspring on eBay; they're cross-platform compatible, and Graffiti is easy to learn and relatively accurate.

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eeun's picture
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I agree, and think you'll eit

I agree, and think you'll either have to make do with less, or up your price a bit.

A couple items close in that range though, that I've got experience with:

iPaq 3850: should do everything but the WiFi, but will cost you closer to $70+. 3950s have WiFi, but the price is another jump up.

Casio E100/E125: With a CF WiFi adapter, will do everything you list, but none of it really well. It's a slow machine, and I'm unsure about Mac syncing without third-party purchased software (only the E125 is USB. The E100 is serial).

If you get closer to $80-$90, you might be able to get a Dell Axim X5. Its advantage is it has both an SD and CF slot, so if you track down a WiFi card for one, you've still got another expansion slot for storage.

If you decide to drop your requirements (a lot), the Palm IIIc is a really nice colour Palm, with good battery life. It was the favorite of the Palms I've owned, and my unit originally came from USASMDC (and Homeland brownshirts, please note it was wiped clean before I received it Wink )

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dankephoto's picture
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Palm

I like Palm, lots of cheap and/or free SW available, good basic built-in functions, widely available, good choice for not much money.

An Palm M500 is a nice reliable unit, USB connectivity plus SD card slot, but no color or those other options, costs under $25. I actually prefer the grayscale units, much easier to see in daylight, plus much longer battery life than the color models.

I've got a couple of Handspring/PalmOne Treo 600s (GSM version), my first cost ~$100, second about $50. Color & SD slot & cam & keyboard, plus of course it's a decent enough phone if you want that too (T-mo prepaid $100/1000 min SIM cards, around $90 on eBay, lasts me forever.)

my $.02,

dan k

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unknown1's picture
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Re: Palm PDAs and Phones

dankephoto wrote:

I like Palm, lots of cheap and/or free SW available, good basic built-in functions, widely available, good choice for not much money.

An Palm M500 is a nice reliable unit, USB connectivity plus SD card slot, but no color or those other options, costs under $25. I actually prefer the grayscale units, much easier to see in daylight, plus much longer battery life than the color models.

I've got a couple of Handspring/PalmOne Treo 600s (GSM version), my first cost ~$100, second about $50. Color & SD slot & cam & keyboard, plus of course it's a decent enough phone if you want that too (T-mo prepaid $100/1000 min SIM cards, around $90 on eBay, lasts me forever.)
dan k

I am leaning towards Palm as I just hate to deal with Windows more than I have to, even though the Windows Mobile interface looks really good (I haven't seen Palm's yet). Are there other operating systems out there? I know somebody makes a Linux Handheld, but it isn't cheap, and, well, we know the OS X handhelds aren't cheap!

I didn't know you could buy prepaid minutes for PDAPhones. We really haven't been able to afford regular cell phones for the last several years as two phones is about $80 a month no matter what you do and we have been thinking of going pre-paid for emergency use at least.

I really wish there was a 'Low End Mac for PDAs' or something that had different models specs and reviews especially for older units.

Most PDA sites have a few articles and links but mostly just want to sell you a new device!

EDIT:
Found this site http://www.mobiletechreview.com/ that has reviews going back to 2002! Wow, talk about decisions! Found a few on eBay with CF WiFi cards included selling for the same as the WiFi card alone!

My Current PDA system!

Gregory displaying my current 'PDA', which still go for 3 for $1.00.

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h3ch4's picture
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Definitely go for a Palm

Until a few months ago, I've been using a Palm Tungsten T3. It's about the most useful device I have ever owned. I used it during the last year of high school to keep phone numbers, track assignments, store bus maps, type up the occasional paper, and even change the channel or turn on and off television sets in classrooms where the teacher lost their remote. Since it has bluetooth, I was even able to use my cell phone to get online and view live bus schedules and download email.

The one thing the T3 lacks is wifi, which does not belong on PDAs anyway, in my opinion, because of the high power requirements. I've successfully synced it to a Pismo over bluetooth, infrared, and usb, so it's definitely mac-friendly. However, they still go for about $100 on ebay, so it's a bit out of your price spec, but I highly recommend going for it.

Also, look out for some of the newer Palm models. They've switched to using non-volatile memory, and I've heard that they have problems running older Palm apps, whereas the T3 runs anything. A quick google search should yield the affected models.

EDIT:
I forgot to mention the battery life. T3s are notorious power hogs. Don't expect more than 2-3 hrs continuous use on one, although this was enough for me to go through the day with on and off use to check appointments and add assignments.

If you're used to an old-fashioned pen-and-paper planner, I think an older model will fit you well, maybe an M500, even a Palm III. The venerable Palm IIIs are more than capable for PIM work, and the battery life is spectacular: 2-3 weeks on a pair of AAAs! The monochrome screen is also vastly superior to color screens in sunlight, which are rendered practically unviewable outdoors. I haven't tried it, but it should sync over IR on the Pismo. If you're interested, I can try and let you know.

Dr. Webster's picture
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I used to sync my Palm IIIe w

I used to sync my Palm IIIe with my PowerBook 3400 via IR; it was a bit of a pain to set up but worked fine.

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eeun's picture
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Re: Palm PDAs and Phones

Unknown1 wrote:

Gregory displaying my current 'PDA', which still go for 3 for $1.00.

;D
Truth be told, I never did find any of the various Palm / PocketPC / Newton devices I've owned to be more useful to my particular needs than a scrap of folded paper in my back pocket.

But a scrap of paper can't play Space Trader.

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unknown1's picture
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Obsessing on Palm PDAs

Doing my usual, I have been staying up till 2 or 3AM researching Palms and checking prices of various models on eBay.

I like the old m500 (greyscale) and the m515 (improved color over the m505) but the prices are crazy with m500s going for between $30 and 90, and m515s going from $35 to 120! The usual eBay strange wide spread of prices, just gotta be patient for the right price.

I think though the E and T series are a better deal. They are WiFi capable, do MP3s and a lot of other things on a nice 320x320 screen.

E series starting at $55 E2s starting at about $65-75 (better screen, battery life, more memory on the E2)

I REALLY like the current TX with its nice big 320x480 screen and built in WiFi, but I haven't seen many go for under $100 and I really don't need it. I just tell myself I can upgrade later...

The E and T series can be upgraded to WiFi for about $35 if I need that later. So we will see what happens. Patience, I tell myself...

Patience. :Smile
Patience? :?
Patience!!!!! Shock

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dankephoto's picture
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high M500 prices!

Ouch, so I guess my notion that M500s sell for around $25 is slightly off. I haven't bothered to check since the last time I bought one, and that's what they sold for back then (couple years now I reckon.) Funny how the values have gone back up, quite unusual for used reasonably modern techy gear.

The high prices show how highly valued they are I reckon, there's a lot of loyal users. I still have two and use one regularly as a book reader. That grayscale screen is tough to beat for reading text in bright light as well as in little or no light.

dan k

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unknown1's picture
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Finally found one.

I have been outbid many times then reexamined my NEEDS. I finally got a pretty complete m500 set for $14.50! Of course I then missed a nice E for $31 a few minutes later. Oh well, The needs are taken care of.

My 'New' and First Palm m500 PDA

Thanks for all the help!

Now back to the Pismo and 3400!

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