PDAs and Internet Cafes- do I need my laptop anymore?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Shane Gralaw, May 5, 2002.

  1. Shane Gralaw

    Shane Gralaw Second Unit

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    Hello all,

    I will be moving abroad soon (to Japan) and my poor old laptop is about dead. As I only use it for internet, email, and some word processing (like a journal), do I need to buy another computer or could I get away with a PDA or palmtop computer?

    As phone connections are expensive where I am headed, I figured I might just rely on an internet cafe, but wondered if it would be possible to compose emails on a PDA and download the pics and messages to folks back home through a cybercafe. Also can one download ebooks or games easily to a PDA without a home connection?

    Any info or recommendations of PDAs for these uses would be appreciated (I had my eye on the new Sony Clie w/ the built-in camera, but am not sure if it will do all of this or if it is too much when a much simpler PDA might suffice- I'm such a techno-idiot it all goes over my head).
     
  2. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Well, you can do a great deal with a PDA and a foldable keyboard (http://www.thinkoutside.com). PDA's can have internal modems too so you can use the PDA itself to send mails; PocketPC's especially have built-in mail and even web surfing (granted the screen puts some limits on how enjoyable it is, and the built-in browser, pocket ie, stinks).
     
  3. Eugene Hsieh

    Eugene Hsieh Supporting Actor

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    Wireless 802.11b costs $$$$ for a PDA, plus who wants to surf on a PDA?

    Use a PDA as a PDA and a laptop as a laptop.

    By the way, at least around here (North America), it often costs more to use wireless in an internet cafe than it does just to use a wired computer they provide.
     
  4. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    A PDA with a keyboard today is only marginally more limited than a laptop for certain tasks. Typing out emails and such can be done with similar comfort.

    Yes, of course a laptop is still much more useful for quite a few tasks, but the PDA can give you a great combination of portability and usability by adding some accessories.

    Of course, Palm PDA's are somewhat limited in what you can do because of the anemic CPU's they use and the lack of true multitasking, but PocketPC's are virtually PC's in a small format nowadays.
     
  5. Eugene Hsieh

    Eugene Hsieh Supporting Actor

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    I have a Visor Deluxe with a fold out keyboard, and a friend has an iPaq.

    Emails are fine, but anything else a is big pain in the arse.

    If you want a real computer, get a laptop (if you can afford it).

    A nice sub 5 lb iBook with wireless and 12" screen is great. That's what I use at the internet cafe, and at home, wirelessly.
     
  6. Shane Gralaw

    Shane Gralaw Second Unit

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    Thanks for the reponses. I have had my current laptop for three years but hardly ever use it for anything but email. I'm wondering how hard it is to download or upload info with a PDA from a remote source like an internet cafe. I understand this is quite simple with a laptop, but how easy is it to do it with a PDA? Do they have the same connections that would allow you to compose emails beforehand (with pictures) and download them at an internet cafe? How about downloading ebooks? I wouldn't be using a PDA for internet surfing, the internet cafe computers would do nicely for that.

    Internet connections are outrageously expensive in Japan (if you can afford a phone, extra charge natch) so I would like to avoid getting a home connection but want to send back a weekly journal to friends and family and download ebooks in English.
     
  7. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Shane, you can do all that... but it will be a pain. I'm not sure how you'd connect to the internet cafe computers either (ie, not sure what you can do at an internet cafe since I've never even visited one...)

    PDA's are also very limited when it comes to memory, so that might be an issue since you mention that you want to send binary files, pictures, as well. PocketPC's do have up to 64MB of memory now but not all of that can be used for data, and palms are 8MB or less, I think.

    I love my Pocket PC but I wouldn't use it as my only computer. It's a great complement to one, but not a replacement.
     
  8. Peter S

    Peter S Agent

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    Shane,
    Yes, yes, yes. Surfing the net from my PDA is okay, but it's not as ideal as a larger screen. What I hear you saying is that you want to use the InternetCafe wireless from your PDA just for doing a few specific tasks -- is that right?
    Downloading ebooks and other things to your PDA will be simple, once you know the URL of the item you wish to download to it. Surfing right on the PDA looking for an eBook, for example, would be bothersome. But... if you find the item from a larger screen machine, determine the URL, then go directly to the URL on your PDA, (to download an eBook, for example) That should work great. Sending email you've composed over the week (as in Journal entry) or a DOC as an attachment should work well, too.
    For me, the real question would be how I was getting those images on to your PDA, so you can attach them to emails. One big draw back I find with my HP Jornada 560, is that I must remove the 128Mb memory card to plug in the wireless 802.11b card. In doing so, I lose access to a great number of documents and pictures I store there. (not to mention games, programs and tools)
    Regarding the cost of wireless cards, there are a number of models in the $150-170 range. If wireless is what you want, then it can be had. Wireless is all over the local campus where I work, so I find email and ICQ very convenient from my shirt pocket.
    I have been home 6 months following an extended visit to Japan, Osaka area. Internet cafe's are rare. Most of the Japanese I came in contact with used the Internet just for email, which they do mostly from their cell phones. The calling plans over there are cheap, and include email and instant message services for around 2000Y ($20) a month.
     
  9. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    It depends on what PDA you go with, as well. For instance, the upcoming Fujitsu-Siemens Pocket LOOX (name is silly, the rest isn't) has dual expansion options, ie Secure Digital and CompactFlash. That would allow you to plug in a 128MB SD card and keep it in there, and use the CF slot for wireless networking, for instance, or a plain 56k modem for that matter.
    The Thinkoutside keyboard isn't available for it - at least yet - though. There are other PDA's with built-in dual expansion.
    Needless to say, with rich feature sets come a fairly high purchasing cost, though.
    And then of course there is the new-but-so-far-vapourware OQO ... [​IMG]
    Let me recommend some PDA web sites for you to do some browsing at; it will lean heavily towards PocketPC, which is what I use and prefer. Perhaps someone else can chime in with Palm resources?
    http://www.pocketpcpassion.com
    http://www.brighthand.com
    http://www.infosync.no
    Edit: Hmm, looks like the OQO web page is pretty unresponsive... here is more info about the machine at a third party site of which I know nothing except that they had photos. [​IMG]
    http://www.tiscali.co.uk/technology/galleries/oqo/
     

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