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Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 PDA Review

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the hardware-to-lust-after dept.

Linux 207

An anonymous reader sent us a link to a review of the Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 PDA. This Linux based handheld with a built in qwerty keyboard with decent connectivity. As with most PDAs, there are a lot of tradeoffs that have to be made yet. Read the review to see what they are.

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Most notable tradeoff (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303794)

This PDA with a full screen, keyboard and linux support is the size of a regular computer.

Cool (1)

ddew (684795) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303802)

Finally a pda even I can stand using, been using my palm now and connectivity with linux is at the best of times bad. Hopefully a linux distro which is easy to install will show up for it :)

Re:Cool (2, Interesting)

Jad LaFields (607990) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303888)

You bring up a good point about the linux install... the article blurb made it seem that the PDA comes w/ Linux pre-installed, but the first page of the article seems to say it comes w/ a Windows CD. I can't seem to see the second page of the article, it appears to be /.'ed. Anyone else know how it turned out?

Re:Cool (4, Informative)

dbowden (249149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303959)

The 5600 is native Linux -- it uses an embedix [] distro w/ Qtopia for the front end. There's also an Open Source [] distribution, which frankly, I prefer.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303968)

I can't get to the site either, but it's probably the Windows desktop software to connect the PDA to PC. I'm sure they support Windows with this thing.


Re:Cool (1)

McSnickered (67307) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304007)

The OS is Linux. The Windows CD is for connecting it to a PC.

Re:Cool (1)

Jad LaFields (607990) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304113)

Oh, alright, thanks. Didn't see that in the review, probably on the page that got slashdotted. Or if I had a Zaurus I would know, I guess. =)

Re:Cool (1)

Glyndwr (217857) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304023)

The PDA has Linux on it, but comes with a CD of Windows sync and link software to get files on and off, syncronise the Zaurus with Outlook, and whatnot.

Re:Cool (2, Informative)

pheph (234655) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304046)

There is a very decent, free, Linux Desktop Sync software for the Zaurus called Qtopia [] by TrollTech

Re:Cool (2, Informative)

Locutus (9039) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304104)

The new 5600 and the new ROM for the older 5500 nolonger can sync with a Linux PC. Sharp has changed the internal data structures for the PIM apps( ON THE ZAURUS ) from standard XML to their own database format.

The QtopiaDesktop for Linux will not sync with the new Zaurii. But people are working on this. Not Sharp though.


Re:Cool (5, Insightful)

N4m0r (592310) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304127)

The 5600 is a great PDA, I really like mine. As far as syncing with Linux though, forget it. The CD comes with software to sync with Outlook, that's it. Apparently the Qtopia-Desktop software for Linux allows you to backup data, no syncing though. I say apparently because I cannot get it to run on my Redhat 9 system. From what people are saying in the Sharp forums, not too many people have had success with it. Also, with the 5600 and the latest ROM update to the 5500 the PIM data format is different so if you were syncing your PIM data in Linux you won't be able to any more. The people who were working on syncing software have had to start over. It appears Sharp is leaving Linux desktop support for the Zaurus up to the community, and they are not being all that cooperative. The Kompany apparently has syncing on their list of features to add to their tkc PIM apps for the Zaurus. Of course they are only worried about making sure it syncs with their product Aethera. Its really too bad, I'm sure if Sharp would just cooperate enough to create some sort of libraries or tools for getting the Zaurus data to and from the desktop people would be writing sync software for every PIM desktop app under the sun.

Re:Cool (2, Insightful)

dbowden (249149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304307)

Yeah - I've had to tell a number of people not to buy one for that very reason.

Everyone's impressed when I pull out my 5500 and tell them it's running Linux, (especially since I got a pocketop [] keyboard), but then I have to tell them that the synchronization bites, and that they're better off with a Palm if they want to keep track of addresses/meetings.

I'm really hoping someone will come up with a better synchronization option soon.

Re:Cool (1)

Martok7 (634005) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304394)

There already is some different versions out there. The OpenZaurus ROM is Awesome and I believe there is a Debian ROM too.

Same tired post..... (3, Insightful)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303803)

I understand the convienence factor of PDAs, but a $499.99 price tag for the type of power and specs that you get with this Zaurus (and similiarly priced PDAs) is still too much. To truly get full functionality out of these PDAs (or at least do everything most people would want to do with them) you still need to purchase extra accessories and expanded memory/storage (considering that even the most expensive PDAs only have 64MB RAM native). In the end $499.99 quickly builds up to about $599.99.

I know that this comparing apples to oranges, but for $600 you can get a righteous laptop off Ebay or locally from a used reseller. This laptop is a full fledged computer with vast amounts more memory, storage, and room for improvement/expansion.

Considering that most people buy a new PDA every two to three years, why not just double your money now and buy a 15.4" Widescreen TFT LCD WXGA (1280 x 800 max. resolution) laptop [] that comes with an Athlon XP 2200+ CPU, 40GB of storage, 512MB DDR PC2100 RAM, CRDW/DVD drive, all the ports except IEEE 1394, and one of the best mobile graphics chipsets around, the ATI RADEON IGP 320M, for $1,250? It takes Mandrake 9.1 without any problems, and only demands slight tweaking from Red Hat 8.

I would rather have that laptop for four years then burn through two PDAs over the same period of time.

Re:Same tired post..... (5, Informative)

alue (253363) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303923)

In the end $499.99 quickly builds up to about $599.99.

Actually to get full functionality of a PDA you have to spend a lot more than $600.

PDA [] $500
128M Memory Card [] $55
Wireless Card [] $140
Extra Battery [] $50
Battery Charger [] $45
Carrying Case [] $75
TOTAL: $865

And that doesn't include the opportunity cost spent on the hours it takes to get the thing to sync with Linux!

Re:Same tired post..... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304072)


Try $17 for the Wireless Card. 8,39040 ,.shtml

Re:Same tired post..... (1)

akorvemaker (617072) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304525)

128M Memory Card

128M extra memory for the functionality of a PDA??? What are you trying to run on it? That's more RAM than my old laptop (which I still use regularly). Seriously, unless you want to run Open Office on your PDA, why would you need this much memory for PDA functionality? (Besides the whole "640k is more than anyone would ever need" argument.)

Re:Same tired post..... (4, Funny)

vjmurphy (190266) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304560)

"Actually to get full functionality of a PDA you have to spend a lot more than $600.

128M Memory Card$55
Wireless Card$140
Extra Battery$50
Battery Charger$45
Carrying Case$75
TOTAL: $865"

Running a porn server off your PDA: Priceless.

Re:Same tired post..... (2, Informative)

DoctorPepper (92269) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303927)

Perhaps, but it's awful difficult to stick that laptop in your back pocket, which is where my trusty Handspring Visor resides every work day. And has been since I bought it in August of 2000.

Re:Same tired post..... (1)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303930)

"I would rather have that laptop for four years then burn through two PDAs over the same period of time."

That would be awfully hard on your pocket.

Re:Same tired post..... (1)

cve (181337) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303934)

If you don't pay full-boat retail and buy an older model (5500) it should only cost you a couple hundred dollars.

I personally hate dragging around a desktop replacement laptop.

Re:Same tired post..... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303953)

Why do women carry a purse that costs $200 and they change every month instead of just buying a suitcase for $600 that will last several years. Maybe it is because they don't want to carry a suitcase.

You are paying for the convenience of having a SMALL device. Could you imagine walking down the street trying to schedule a meeting with somebody on a laptop?

Re:Same tired post..... (2, Insightful)

questionlp (58365) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303960)

Or if you aren't into eMachine computers, Gateway has something similar [] (M500 w/ 15.2" widescreen) with a P4, 512MB of RAM, 40GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW and integrated 802.11b/Modem/Ethernet, dunno about FireWire for a little bit more.

Of course, a laptop isn't quite as portable as a PDA nor does it have an instant boot up that a Zaurus or any other PDA has. The C700 (IIRC) clamshell Zaurus is a nice cross between a tiny laptop, a clamshell Jornada/Psion, and the regular Zaurus. Too bad it's even more expensive than the 5600 :(

Re:Same tired post..... (1)

Alpha27 (211269) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303969)

I agree with most of what you say about the PDA. I currently own and use the 5500, and it's a nice device, but yes I had to get more storage and a wireless access card, which drove up the price to past the $400 tag for the unit when I purchased it.

There are limitations to the small handheld, such as
- software that has to be written for it (smaller selection when compared to a full O/S).
- Can't run as many apps.
- limited storage and ram.
- some apps run slow.
- harder to get things to work, such as some types of wireless connections.
- needing special software to sync up at times.

But there are some benefits to having a small device.

1) easier to carry around.
2) easier for someone who commutes by packed trains alot (myself for example). So it's much more convinient to take out than the typical laptop, when you're standing.

I would like to switch to just using a small portable laptop, like the fujitsu p-2000, but I want the option of like a handheld extensino to it.

Re:Same tired post..... (2, Interesting)

grimner (646310) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303973)

There is some truth to that but as you said it's "comparing apples and oranges". You can't carry a laptop around with you like a PDA. While it is true, what most people use PDA's/handhelds for could be accomplished with a $100 Palm or (cringe) an pad and pencil, PDA's/handhelds are just becoming powerfull enough to run seriously useful apps. I recently wrote a flower recognition/classification app for the Zaurus which extracts data from an image captured from the Zaurus and runs it through a db all on the Zaurus. An enhanced app like this could be useful for many people from hobbyist to law enforcement (for face recognition). Can't run these on a traditional PDA and carrying around a laptop "in the field" would be impossible. Just an example where handheld computing may be heading, not just for address books. Your point about the price is well taken, they need to come down but keep in mind, realistically this is very early stage technology. These are not PDA's they are handheld computers. I think there is a major difference.

Re:Same tired post..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304081)

An enhanced app like this could be useful for many people from hobbyist to law enforcement (for face recognition).

Or a perv.

A Special Request To Slashdot: +1, Patriotic (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304048)

Would you please consider news that
seriously affects residents of the
United States of America as the current fascists []
continue to restrict our freedoms.

Thank you and have an Ashcroft-free day,

Get Your War On 23

How Dare You: +2, More Patriotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304159)

Challenge the trustworthiness []
of the President of the United States of America []

Very truly yours,
A Patriot

The Patriot?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304214)

Why'd you stop wrestling, Del? And why did they give Kurt Angle your music? To quote Hurricane, wuzzup wit dat?

Re:Same tired post..... (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304065)

You don't "burn" though a PDA like it has an expire date or you get only X uses. You can be still using the same PDA 6 years from now.

People buy PDA for the size factor.

Its like buying a grandfather clock vs a wrist watch. There are some things the other can't do becuase of the size.

Re:Same tired post..... (2, Informative)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304084)

I happened to get my 5500 from the HSN deal a few months ago. At less than $200 I could justify it (and the extra $60 for the wireless card). Basically, its my ultra portable web browser/e-mail/ssh client for when I head to a coffee shop. I don't use it for PIM functions (nor did I really use my Palm III when I had it). In fact, the closest thing I have to a PDA is my iPod, which I find perfect for storing my contacts and notes.

The Z5500 is nice, but only at the sub $200 price I paid for it.

Re:Same tired post..... (1)

cmacb (547347) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304096)

Exactly right!

While the up-front development for a gadget such as this are high, I doubt they are much higher than a new motherboard, maybe less. Essentially these are tiny motherboards with some I/O devices screwed onto them. From keypads, to LCD screens there is nothing all that innovative about them.

I'm not just talking about the Zaurus though, the Palm and Windows CE devices are even worse.

I can hardly wait for the comoditization of these devices. Basically someone like Sharp, or Casio (it sure won't be Palm or HP) needs to start stamping these things out by the millions and let users supply their own OS (Linux based makes the most sense). Only then will we start to see the prices come down anywhere near the manufacturing cost. (Which I bet is under $50).

Re:Same tired post..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304579)

Considering that most people buy a new PDA every two to three years, why not just double your money now and buy a 15.4" Widescreen TFT LCD WXGA (1280 x 800 max. resolution) laptop that comes with an Athlon XP 2200+ CPU, 40GB of storage, 512MB DDR PC2100 RAM, CRDW/DVD drive, all the ports except IEEE 1394, and one of the best mobile graphics chipsets around, the ATI RADEON IGP 320M, for $1,250?

Because it won't fit in my pocket?

my thoughts (-1, Offtopic)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303806)

CmdrTaco:Your pretty funny
DirtyKate:I don't remember you.. but thanx
CmdrTaco:Wanna cyber?
DirtyKate:OK, but don't tell anybody (wink)
DirtyKate:Who are you?
CmdrTaco: I've got blond hair, blue eyes, I work out a lot.
CmdrTaco:And I have a part time job delivering for Papa John's
DirtyKate:You sound sexy.. I bet you want me in the back of your car..
CmdrTaco:Maybe some other time. You should call up Papa John's and make an order
DirtyKate: Haha! OK
DirtyKate:Hello! I'd like an extra-EXTRA large pizza just dripping with sauce.
CmdrTaco:Well, first they would say, "Hello, this is Papa John's, how may I help you", then they tell you the specials, and then you would make your order. So that's an X-Large. What toppings do you want?
DirtyKate:I want everything, baby!
CmdrTaco:Is this a delivery?
DirtyKate:So you're bringing the pizza to my house now? Cause I'm home alone... and I think I'll take a shower...
CmdrTaco:Good. It will take about fifteen minutes to cook, and then I'll drive to your house.

DirtyKate:Jdogg, I'm almost finished with my shower... Hurry up!
CmdrTaco:You can't hurry good pizza.
CmdrTaco:I'm on my way now though

DirtyKate:So you're at my front door now.
CmdrTaco:How did you know?
CmdrTaco:I knock but you can't hear me cause you're in the shower. So I let myself in, and walk inside. I put the pizza down on your coffee table.
CmdrTaco:Are you ready to get nasty, baby? I'm as hot as a pizza oven
DirtyKate:Oooohh yeah. I step out of the shower and I'm all wet and cold. Warm me up baby
CmdrTaco:So you're still in the bathroom?
DirtyKate:Yeah, I'm wrapping a towel around myself.
CmdrTaco:I can no longer resist the pizza. I open the box and unzip my pants with my other hand. As I penetrate the gooey cheese, I moan in ecstacy. The mushrooms and Italian sausage are rough, but the sauce is deliciously soothing. I blow my load in seconds. As you leave the bathroom, I exit through the front door....
DirtyKate:You perverted piece of shiat

Re:my thoughts (-1, Offtopic)

The Other White Boy (626206) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303865)

the other ones were funnier.

Re:my thoughts (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303956)

It is a true shame that the majority of slashbots that browse at a higher threshold than this post will never enjoy the true humor of it. Browsing at -1 is the only way to enjoy slashdot. In fact, I really wish there were some way to hide all the useless drivel that gets rated +3 or higher and just cut straight to the humorous trollposts that I require.

Mad props to you, sir. You made my day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304514)

This is hilarious... but having the CmdrTaco name makes it a Goddamn scream...

But... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303818)

does it run Linu^H^H^H^HWindows?

ObSlashdotting Reference (5, Funny)

vjmurphy (190266) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303843)

Looks like their web server is running off their PDA. *ba-da dum*

Re:ObSlashdotting Reference (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303850)

So their PDA runs Windows ME?

Re:ObSlashdotting Reference (1)

Kadagan AU (638260) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303987)

The REALLY funny part about your post is that there is a port of Apache [] !!! =D

Re:ObSlashdotting Reference (1)

Kadagan AU (638260) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304013)

oh, here [] are more cool Zaurus server packages... web servers, MySql servers, samba servers.. you name it ;)

Re:ObSlashdotting Reference (1)

jared_hanson (514797) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303989)

How can any moderator rate posts like these funny anymore? This is one of the lamest, long-running jokes on Slashdot.

Re:ObSlashdotting Reference (1)

noitalever (150546) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304109)

in soviet russia...

Lame Jokes and a solution... (1)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304547)

They are:

1. Imagine a Beowolf cluster of...
2. In Soviet Russia...
3. Web server running off of reviewed hardware

How about rounding up everyone that uses one of these three jokes, tying them up with cat-5 cable, dropping them on Moscow after paying somebody to plug in the cable.


5600 is old news. C700, 750, 760 are new (4, Informative)

dbowden (249149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303844)

The 5600 is little more than an upgrade of the 5500. That's been out for a year and a half.

Shoot -- I'm not an early adopter and I've had mine for over a year. This is not news.

On the other hand, the C700, 750, and 760's [] are hot, and I want one!

Re:5600 is old news. C700, 750, 760 are new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303946)

Sharp Mobile is collapsing. Don't expect it to be around in 3 months.

Re:5600 is old news. C700, 750, 760 are new (3, Funny)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304151)

Has Netcraft confirmed this? :)

Nice, but... (2, Insightful)

rekkanoryo (676146) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303846)

This is the first PDA I've ever considered as worth the purchase price, but I still think PDAs have a long way to go. I'd prefer to see a PDA with a 640x480 screen capable of at least 65k colors, but preferably capable of the 24-bit "true color" laptop TFT displays are. I'd even settle for 480x640.

I'll still wait a while before purchasing any PDA.

Re:Nice, but... (3, Informative)

dbowden (249149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303880)

See my post above re: the C700, C750 and c760 models.

640x480 65k screen w/ clamshell keyboard. Plus all the goodies (Linux, OpenZaurus, etc.) from the 5500/5600 series.

Aw, what the heck. Here's the link [] again.

Re:Nice, but... (1)

rekkanoryo (676146) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303977)

Yes, now that (the C760) is very close to what I was hoping for. Thanks for the info!

Re:Nice, but... (1)

FatherOfONe (515801) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304428)

Thanks for the link. Do you have any clue when this will be out? I would love to get one IF it will offer a good cellular service option. i.e. not some big honken modem like the 5xxx series. I currently use an Ipaq 3970 with a Tmobile PCMCIA card to ssh back to our servers and it sucks. The thing looks great, and I would love to have one now.

Re:Nice, but... (3, Funny)

The Other White Boy (626206) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303890)

I'd prefer to see a PDA with a 640x480 ... I'd even settle for 480x640.


Re:Nice, but... (1)

rekkanoryo (676146) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303915)

480x640 would be a screen 480 pixels wide and 640 pixels tall (picture a VGA LCD on its side).

Re:Nice, but... (4, Funny)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304124)

480x640 is a special screen resolution for the dyslyxic. Everything is displayed as though it was rotated 90 degrees. Since dyslexics can tell top from bottom easier than left from right, it makes it easier for them to read lines of text that go from the top to the bottom. There is still the problem where they have problems deciding which line to go to next, but the new PDAs with this resolution will have arrows on the bottom to help them choose.

Re:Nice, but... (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303904)

So that's a small Tablet PC that you want, right? Or the Vulcan Mini-PC [] , or the Tiqit eightythree [] ?

Re:Nice, but... (3, Interesting)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303961)

You forgot the hard drive. Dammit, ipods and nomads have a HD, why can't *ANYBODY* bring out a PDA with one?

I want a 400mhz+ XSCALE CPU, lots of RAM, a nice, big color screen and some decent storage (for a lot less than a laptop).

Games, video and pr0n on the go!

IBM Microdrive (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304165)

IBM/Hitachi makes a 1 gig. micro-drive for handhelds that'll plug in to a Type II CF card, and there's even one for sale [] on the Zaurus site.

Re:Nice, but... (1)

rekkanoryo (676146) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304268)

If you want a hard drive that bad, there are PDAs with PCMCIA slots. Get a PCMCIA drive cradle and attach a laptop IDE drive to it, then plug it into the PCMCIA slot.

Having a hard drive included would be basically making it a small tablet PC, and would add a bit of weight to the device. I've always been under the impression that PDAs were supposed to be lighter than other mobile computing devices.

Extra RAM would be nice, as would extra flash memory built-in. But I'll settle for 64 meg CF cards or 64 meg SD cards at least for now.

Re:Nice, but... (1)

dbowden (249149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304347)

I'm actually pretty happy with a 64mb SD card for applications and either my wireless CF card for connectivity or a 512MB CF card for data.

If you watch for deals, the prices aren't even that bad. I paid $60 for the wireless card and $108 for the 512MB CF card.

Re:Nice, but... (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304544)

You forgot the trolley to push the battery around in.

G-Spot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303847)

G-Spot Rocks tha G-Spot! G-Spot Rocks tha G-Spot! G-Spot Rocks tha G-Spot!

Not a KWhore (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303855)

The site seems to be /.'ed, so here's the first page of the article:

Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 PDA

Systems / Servers / PDAs

Product name
Sharp Zaurus SL-5600

Model number

Manufacturer name
Sharp Electronics Corporation

Provided by
Sharp Electronics Corporation


Review by

A long time ago, when I first heard about Sharp releasing the Linux based Zaurus 5500 PDA, my interest was peaked. I was just dying to see what it could do. Alas, I never had a chance to try one out for myself. Over the next few months I plan on purchasing a new PDA to take over from my Palm IIIc, and just recently, Sharp was good enough to send us one of the newly upgraded Zaurus SL-5600 units and I was able to finally give it a whirl. Let's see how things shaped up.

Inside the Zaurus SL-5600 Box

Meet the Zaurus SL-5600:

Included in the box is what you'd expect for any new PDA including cradle, power cord, instruction booklet, and of course your standard Windows software CD-ROM.

At first glance, I was surprised at the size of the PDA Unit, measuring 13.8cm x 7.4cm (5.4" x 2.9") and a thickness varying from 1.8cm to 2.3cm (0.7" to 0.9"). It also weighs in at a hefty 203g (7.1 oz). This is pretty big for a new PDA, and it's even bigger than my old Palm IIIc. With size comes issues like how to carry it (pocket, bag, briefcase, etc.), but size can also mean more features. Lets leave the size issue for later, and take a better look at the unit itself.

The Zaurus SL-5600 is a very large PDA.

Right from the start I liked the appearance of the Zaurus. The plastic silver casing is attractive to look at, but its resistance to scratching would worry me. It doesn't look like it could take much of a beating from use. The big 3.5" reflective TFT screen (320 x 240 resolution, 65,536 colors) is sharp and clear. It displays well in various lighting situations, something I can't say about my Palm IIIc. Also included is a clear protective cover for the screen - a nice feature. The colours are bright and vibrant, and contrast very well. Below the screen are indicator lights for E-mail and Battery indicator lights, a very useful addition in my opinion.

The Zaurus boasts a big 3.5" display at 320 x 240 resolution

At this point, there is a break in the casing, and my favourite feature of the Zaurus comes into light. Sliding down the bottom section of the case reveals the QWERTY keyboard. The trend for most new PDAs is to move away from the stylus based text-input to a finger-keyboard type input method, a move I totally agree on. The keyboard on the Zaurus is quite responsive, and it has a pretty good layout. One of my only gripes is a lack of an 'Esc' key, as I struggled to use a port of Vim which I installed on the unit. A stylus is still a good idea for navigating menus and selections, and a software based graffiti-like text input method is also available. A neat feature of the software-based keyboard is the option to customize it to recognize your own personal handwriting. This could allow you to write more naturally, than say, writing using Graffiti on a Palm device. I definitely found that I could input text faster using the Zaurus's keyboard using my thumbs than with a stylus.

Sliding down the bottom of the PDA reveals a QWERTY keyboard

Under the keyboard is the usual set of easy access keys, included with almost every PDA. These include Calendar, Address Book, Home, Menu, and E-mail. Keys for Cancel/OK are also included on either side of the "cursor key", a navigation button that allows you to scroll your cursor up/down, left/right in any of the applications. This is a nice addition, and I found it quite handy.


The Zaurus SL-5600 contains an Intel XScale processor at a speed of 400Mhz. I found this processor very powerful, and the Zaurus was very responsive. Applications launched quickly, and I was easily able to playback MP3 audio files. MPEG1 video playback is also supported, but I was unable to test this feature.

Onboard the unit is 64MB of flash memory to keep your data safe incase of battery depletion. Another bonus feature of the Zaurus is the fact that it contains expansion slots for both CompactFlash (top of the unit), and SD memory (right hand side of unit). This allows you to simultaneous add extra memory using the SD slot, while utilizing a connectivity device like 802.11b/LAN/modem in the CompactFlash slot. The possibilities are endless, and I see this as a definite strength for the Zaurus. Few other PDAs besides the Dell Axim boast this feature.

I'm still waiting to get to the part where he describes the linux install...

Re:Not a KWhore (1)

aztechClanIII (536891) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303992)

Yeah, ok, having heavily researched all my PDA options I've finally given up on Zarus as not quite ready for me. The one *major* downside is lack of proper e-book support. This is a big deal for me, as I love to read e-books on my IPAQ. So far, I'm super happy with Pocket-PC 2003. Transcriber kicks ass, and the new Ipaq 2215 absolutely rules. Sorry Zaurus, get with it! And for the love of god, please get your damn wireless services website up and running. Can't I get a straight answer whether or not I can wirelessly use GSM/GPRS or Sprint?!!?


Re:Zaurus eBook support (2, Interesting)

dbowden (249149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304172)

I've been using Opie Reader [] on the 5500, and I've been very happy with it. It doesn't read all the formats, but I haven't found anything yet that I can't read either in its original format or by using a conversion utility.

Opie Reader supports: (from the above web site)

  • "Doc" format - also known as the original Aportis or AportisDoc format.
  • Weasel or ztxt format.
  • Plucker format.
  • gzipped text.
  • ppms text.
  • Plain text with special handling of PML or HTML marked-up text.

It doesn't support:

  • iSilo
  • TealDoc (afaik)
  • PalmReader/Peanut - although the early versions of these files were based on "Doc" format and Opie-Reader can manage some of the free files.
  • EZReader.

The newest version even has a nifty new scroll function where it "paints" over text instead of scrolling it. It's a lot more like reading a book, in that the text doesn't actually move -- the text you've already read is gradually replaced by the next page, while you finish reading the previous page. Very nifty.

Re:Not a KWhore (1)

katsushiro (513378) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304212)

Lack of e-book support? I read e-books on my Zaurus all the time (I also blog, code, do network troubleshooting for clients, and do image editing on my digicam pics from it as well, but that's beside the point)! Try QTReader (a.k.a Opie-reader), a very full featured ebook reader with auto-scrolling, screen rotation support, Unicode, and more, which will read just about anything, Aportis "Doc", plain text, weasel/ztxt, gzipped text, Plucker compressed html and its own very highly compressed format.

What it *can't* read is proprietary eBook formats, but that's not the Zaurus' fault, it has the neccesary hardware to run it, but the people who make the readers for those formats haven't bothered to make Zaurus versions of their reader programs. It's the same problem as Palm not being able to read some Microsoft Reader formats, and PocketPC's not being able to read certain Palm formats. The problem is not with the Z, but with eBook publishers not releasing their books in formats that are cross-platform readable, and in not releasing readers for their formats for all platforms. But there's still a buttload of eBooks that come in non proprietary formats (and I'm not just talking abotu Project Gutenberg stuff, go check out FictionWise [] , where a good chunk (I'd say maybe half) of their books are available in unencrypted formats that are easily readable on a Zaurus, real books by real authors.

And on a geekier note, most of their encrypted books are available on Adobe Reader format, which is available for the Palm, and the Zaurus can run a Palm emulator, so, if you're truly hell-bent on reading those on the Zaurus, well.. I don't think I need to spell it out for the Slashdot crowd. :)

Re:Not a KWhore (1, Informative)

sirket (60694) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303995)

... my interest was peaked.

What was the author trying to say here? His interest had been rising, he saw this PDA, and now his interest was falling?

Or, perhaps, did the author mean to say that this new PDA had "piqued" his interest?


Re:Not a KWhore (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304184)

A KWhore? Is this going to be in the next release of KDE? Will the gnome project release a corresponding gWhore? At least we won't have to worry about an open standard for interoperability between the two...

That didn't take long to get slash dotted. (0, Troll)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303870)

I saw the article once, clicked on a picture link, then I couldn't even hit the back button. Dammit, should have opened in new tab.

I looked at one of these. (3, Interesting)

Meat Blaster (578650) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303879)

Kind of nifty, coming from a PalmOS standpoint. I like the idea of being able to leverage my knowledge of Linux when I'm jotting down a note or looking up an address.

Irregardless, the usage factor is one of the things that's been getting to me lately with these handhelds and cellphones -- I know that Dick Tracy concept of having a computer on your wrist is chic, but nobody seems to notice that these things are getting pretty cramped! But one of the things I got to see lately that I'm thinking about picking up is the TabletPC.

Really, a tablet is the logical super-portable version of a notebook -- not too expensive to lose, big enough to work with, simple enough to ink a document as quickly as you need to. So when I tried out the TabletPC, I guess I wasn't that surprised that it seemed much more natural than these handhelds. Any area much smaller than a computer monitor is unworkable these days, particularly with web applications... but I think a TabletPC with WiFi fits the bill.

Re:I looked at one of these. (1)

Repugnant_Shit (263651) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304052)

To quote "The Parlor"

Old guy: Irregardless isn't even a word!
Teen: Yes it is. It means "without lack of regard"

Re:I looked at one of these. (2, Funny)

ColdGrits (204506) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304205)

This is not an attempt to troll or flame or anything, but I really have to question the statement "I like the idea of being able to leverage my knowledge of Linux when I'm jotting down a note or looking up an address."

Sorry, but no matter how geeky I am feeling, when I want to jot down a note or look up an address on my PDA, I don't want to have to "leverage my knowledge" of the underlying OS, I want to jot down a note or look up an address.

Can you clarify what you mean, please? I'm genuinely lost as to how you "leverage your knowledge" of Linux when jotting doiwn a note on a PDA!

Re:I looked at one of these. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304503)

but a PDA doesn't leave 3rd egree burns on you arm like a table pc does

After I read the review... (3, Funny)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303882)

I see that the Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 would make a perfect server for a school server [] . Definitely not overkill.

However, these reviewers need to stop hosting on the devices they review.

Most Insightful post ever (4, Funny)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303945)

Only x posts and slashdotted! Must be running their site on product "A".

Imagine a beowolf cluster of item "B", on a "C".

Just wait till the RIAA hears about this! and/or Just wait till the MPAA sees this! and/or Just wait till the **AA hears and/or sees this!

Something SCO would do....Or Sue! Sue! call SCO

BSD is dying, only a few million users left!

Oh and MS knows security like they know open competition.

I used Mozilla once!

1. Action "D"
2. ???
3. Result "E"

MS sucks. or MSFT sucks. or Microsoft sucks. or Micro$oft sucks or Micro$loth sucks.

Linux has a far superior kitch factor.

I'm going to patent patenting. I'm going to patent the wheel, air, fire, water, item "F". Quick hide it from bezos.

I'm going to sue for violating my first post (patent|copyright).

Check my l33t signature!

Accomplishing goal L: Cost "G". Accomplishing goal M: Cost "H", for everything else there is item "I".

Something, something, something, private part [giggle like the school child you are], something, something, something.

something, other, something, Natalie Portman, something

Boochicka wowwow, something, hot grits and person "J", who may or not be Natalie Portman

Some guys widespread anus []

In Soviet Russia, Item "J" does "K" to YOU!

Apple R0xx0rs!

Apple Sucks!



Amigas aren't dead!

[options a-g] ...
h. [unable to participate] you insensitive clod!
i. [cowboy neal poll option]

heh... (0, Offtopic)

ed.han (444783) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304182)

i'm just curious to know what taco's reaction will be when he sees that you've been able to distill this entire site down to one post... :>


Re:heh... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304358)

My guess is

"mod -1, redundant" :-)

That's what he gets for catering to idiots. If the editors used a modicum of restraint and insight when picking stories the readers here wouldn't post nonsense for kicks.

re: heh... (1)

ed.han (444783) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304433)

well, close...

hey, this is nifty: w/ my preferences set to +1, i can't even see the post to which you're responding...o irony of ironies...


Re:Most Insightful post ever (1)

chef_raekwon (411401) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304238)

you forgot "all your "B" are belong to "C".....

Cute coed gets naked (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303947)

ROM 3.10 available for SL5500 (5, Informative)

mirko (198274) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303950)

SL5500 users can now benefits from the same application set as SL5600.
check here []

Makes it close to 5600 (1)

bstadil (7110) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304279)

Not only that but using alternative 3.1 Rom images found Here [] you can change the default usage of memory. Buy a SD card and keep all your applications on that, leaving plenty of space for runtime useage.

That pretty much makes a 5500 = 5600 except for battery advantage. 5500 Can still be found for around $200. has another review of this (4, Informative)

gosand (234100) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303978)

Funny, just before seeing this posted, I had just finished reading a review of the 5600 at [] . Since the review posted is slashdotted, maybe you can check that one out.

Mod with twisted panties? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6303982)

tell me what YOU think. 03 882
Doesn't look like a troll to me 03 870
Nope, not a troll eaither 03 843
still not a troll, lame maybe, but not a troll

This, now THIS is a troll. Saying mods have their panties in a twist IS a troll. The others however, well grab the torches and pitchforks.

I SAID TROLL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304099)

not off-topic dammit.

I adore my SL5500 (4, Informative)

Glyndwr (217857) | more than 11 years ago | (#6303999)

It's not really a PDA, it's a pocketable Linux computer.

First, the PDA side of things. People criticise it for having weak PDA features which, compared to Palms, and that's somewhat true; my previous Psion PDAs had a few extra features around the edges that I miss, but by and large the PIM features are fine for my moderately advanced use.

But there's so much more! SCUMMVM in the palm of your hand with mp3-encoded talkie versions of Fate of Atlantis or Day of the Tentacle is pretty nifty.Add a Wifi card, install Wellenwreiter [] or Kismet, and go low-profile warwalking. I have a Pocketop [] IR folding keyboard for long documentation on the go; the screen rotation software Just Works, unlike a lot of PocketPCs.

Unlike Palm owners, I can handle DOC and XLS files native on the device; this is particularly key because the Zaurus is a computer in its own right and not a PDA. The Hancom office apps shipped with it are usable enough for quick on-the-go editing and creation. I could do with one of these [] now for instant printing of invoices when I'm out at a client's site.

The big compelling piece of software is OpenZaurus [] , a completely open source and regularly updated distro to replace the Sharp ROM. It's a bit like trading Debian stable for unstable; kinda hacky at times, kinda buggy at others, but it's so exciting to get a massive batch of upgrades every few weeks full of improvements. It's never been buggy enough to lose my PDA data, and in any event with multisync [] , unison and rsync my data is backed up six ways to Sunday.

Other people like apps like opie-reader for ebooks, portable Ogg players (there are a few), portable DivX playback, email (this is noticeable ropy under OpenZaurus, but getting better), and many more... For more ideas, see this thread [] on

Downsides? I find the QWERTY keyboard wearing after a few minutes, hence I have the Pocketop, and I've managed to scratch the screen under the handwriting recognition area so I can't really use it any more (I think that was my fault, to be fair). The battery life sucks too, but then it does on all these colour mobile devices. Apparently, the SL5600 is better.

So basically, if you want a PDA, get a Palm. If you want a pocketable Linux computer in a PDA form factor with respectable PIM features and a mountain of open source apps [] , get a Zaurus.

Re:I adore my SL5500 (0)

Jad LaFields (607990) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304146)

SCUMMVM in the palm of your hand with mp3-encoded talkie versions of Fate of Atlantis or Day of the Tentacle

Stop right there. You got me, I'm buying one.

I can't wait to see the looks on the train I'll get when I load up DotT and out booms the megalomanical voice of Purple Tentacle: "Nonsense! I feel great! Stronger! Smarter! More aggressive. I feel like I could... like I could... TAKE ON THE WORLD!!"

Damn those were good.

Re:I adore my SL5500 (1)

dbowden (249149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304219)

Unfortunately, it doesn't have a built-in speaker, so you need to use headphones or an external speaker.

The OZ [] folks do have an experimental driver that uses the onboard piezo clicker to reproduce sounds other than beeps, but I haven't tried it yet.

Re:I adore my SL5500 (1)

Glyndwr (217857) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304259)

It's rather rubbish, I am informed.

For full on commuter scaring, however, one of these [] would appear to be in order. I should buy one, really.

Re:I adore my SL5500 (1)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304288)

have you tried any of the MAME packages? can you run the games at a playable speed?

Re:I adore my SL5500 (1)

Glyndwr (217857) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304496)

No, I haven't done it myself; apparantly the Gameboy emu is full speed now, and MAME is supposed to be OK for old and simple stuff. I keep meaning to get around to playing with it but there's so little time...

Re:I adore my SL5500 (2, Informative)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304586)

OpenZaurus, a completely open source

Open source, eh? Do you happen to know what license it's under, then?

Their website [] doesn't mention anything about that.

Since it's apparently based on Linux [] , I'd expect it to be under the GPL [] (at least in part). But that obviously isn't the case. Look at the Openzaurus download page [] . There are links to 20 different binary packages, but no links to source code. According to the GPL, you must put source links in the same place as binary ones [] .

Downloading an unpacking those binaries won't reveal any licensing information, nor "an offer good for three years to supply source to any third party".

Searching around on the Openzaurus site for source code, I find an intriguing FAQ entry [] which claims that Openzaurus code is GPL, and another [] which explains a way to get the source. Or rather... a way to get some source code. Actually... patches against other, 3rd party distributions. Which if you had those distributions, you might be able to assemble into the Openzaurus source code... The code to some version of Openzaurus, not necessarily the same code that built the binaries you have.

All of that is completely against the GPL.

You can't give out patches- it must be the whole source [] .
The source code and binaries you provide must correspond exactly (same revision) [] .

The Zaurus is cool but... (1)

twifkak (177173) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304101)

doesn't the DMCA dis-allow it? If RIAA finds out that it might be capable of aiding in the distribution of copyrighted material (like floppies), we're screwed. Besides, Microsoft or SCO probably has a patent on it anyway, those useless losers. Anyway, the Zaurus wouldn't be cool unless it were completely free [] .

This message has been approved [] for use on Slashdot.

Whoa... (5, Funny)

bdesham (533897) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304118)

This Linux based handheld with a built in qwerty keyboard with decent connectivity.
That sentence no verb!

This sentence no verb. (0, Redundant)

TFloore (27278) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304210)

This Linux based handheld with a built in qwerty keyboard with decent connectivity.

I know... expecting proper grammar from a site that can't handle spelling things properly is a bit much to ask... but I had to read that two before my pet peeve would let me continue.

(How many typos and grammar mistakes did I just put in a post complaining about typos and grammar? Well, I found two, but corrected them before hitting 'submit.')

Re:This sentence no verb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6304337)

This post already. []

I want one, but... (1)

Slayback (12197) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304257)

The lack of a real replacement for PocketQuicken is the only thing hanging me up. Until there is software that syncs directly with Quicken and/or Money (not just exporting QIF's), I think that it rules out the Zaurus as an option for many looking to make the switch. Perhaps QPOSE [] could be used, but until I'm certain that all functionality could be emulated (HotSync conduits), I can't afford to take the plunge. I've seen numerous posts about this on newsgroups and forums, but no one seems to have an answer.

I had the 5500 and returned it... (4, Interesting)

no_such_user (196771) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304284)

I bought the 5500 when HSN was clearing them out a few months ago... but I ended up returning it. While I really loved being able to hold linux in my hand, I quickly realized that it just wasn't a replacement for my Palm Vx.

The most limiting factor was battery life... which the 5600 claims to improve. Any linux geek who will play with one of these things will be playing HARD... ogg decoding, game playing, etc. These things burn up battery life, and you quickly need to make a run for the nearest AC plug.

The other thing that discouraged me was filesystem management. Installing packages wasn't smooth and required some fancy footwork to install them on CF/MMC cards. And if you drain your battery and don't recharge within 24 hours (perhaps less), you'll lose anything not in flash ROM or on a memory card. Sure it's the same with any other PDA... but my palm can go for weeks w/o a charge... and I can recharge it with a 9v battery if I'm desperate.

There are hacks to setup backups to a CF card or whatever, and hacks for wireless connectivity, and hacks for getting X apps to run, and hacks... and hacks... but you start to realize that the entire thing is about hacks... it's not clean. It made me miss my Newton. Flexibility? No... but sure was slick!

Two things would have made me keep it:
1. Better battery life (fixed in 5600?)
2. Ability to boot off the CF card and turn the device into a full-speed, fully functioning palm emulator (the ones I tried had serious limitations). A dual-boot pda!

Just my $.02 - I look forward to trying again in a couple of years :)

Developers get a Discount (2, Informative)

Martok7 (634005) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304362)

I own the SL-5500 (and love it) and received an email from Sharp stating that people who participate in the Sharp open source app development can receive a nice discount on both the SL-5500 and SL-5600. If I remember it was a pretty good deal too.

SL-5600 Synchronization Problem (2, Insightful)

Erwos (553607) | more than 11 years ago | (#6304427)

Not sure if anyone brought this up, but Sharp changed the method of storing PIM data from XML to binary for the 5600, which promptly broke all current open-source methods of doing synchronization. For the record, TrollTech didn't seem too happy about the change, either.

Thus, if you want an open-source synch tool for Linux, you may be out of luck for a while.

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