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A Cheap and Portable Word Processor?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the writing-on-the-run dept.

Communications 428

An anonymous reader asks: "Last evening I was waiting for a bus and realized that it would be very nice to have a little portable word processor; not a fancy PDA, but something with a bare minimum of processing power, small screen, and a cheap mini-keyboard, so that it could fit in a jacket pocket. It doesn't seem like an infeasable product - consider the price that all-in-one 8-bit game machines like the C64 DTV go for, add that to the price that the cheap organizers go for, and you get a retail value under $50. The only major difference would be in the software, and with some attention given to expansibility it might even be a decent device for homebrews. Does Slashdot have any thoughts on what might fill these gap, or is there really no product that tries to be small, cheap and low-powered like what I'm looking for?""When I got home, I did a search for any such devices, and came up with two choices: bulky 1980s machines with outdated connectivity options, found on eBay for pennies - some of these are actually programmable too, interestingly enough; and overpriced 'educational' machines which are almost equivalent to the 80s machines (over $200 or even $300). Electronic organizers are going for under $20, but they are woefully limited machines. The only other cheap option is to get a used PDA."

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Sidekick (4, Interesting)

cookiej (136023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628595)

I'm a big fan of the Danger SideKick. It has the best form factor for text of all the typable phone/pdas. You can get one for a song if you sign up with the right provider. Me I signed up for a year and I paid -$35 (via rebates) for the unit.

Plus, I love posting first.

P.S. infeasable?

Re:Sidekick (2, Informative)

ProfaneBaby (821276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628640)

I've had both a Sidekick and Sidekick II, and I agree. The Sidekick II is very nice, and the SSH and AIM clients are also very useful for people who enjoy being 'connected'.

The web browser isn't great, but it's also relatively useful.

Re:Sidekick (4, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628669)

I see you glossed right over battery life and the lack of a replaceable battery. Both were deal-killers for me. Well, than and there was no desktop sync software (has T-Mo finally released this?) No way was I entering 900+ contacts using that itty bitty kybd.

Re:Sidekick (2, Informative)

ProfaneBaby (821276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628713)

I've never had a battery problem. I use it extensively (2000+ minutes per month of talk time, plus 20-30 emails per day and semi-regular IM use), and don't have any battery complaints.

Re:Sidekick (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628747)

How often do you charge it? I was lucky to get 24 hours out of a Sidekick II that we tested.

Re:Sidekick (1)

ProfaneBaby (821276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628854)

About every 2-3 days ... Mine's showing 2 bars left, hasn't been charged since Sunday morning, though weekends are slow, so maybe that's not indicative of normal usage..

Re:Sidekick (2, Interesting)

cookiej (136023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628759)


There is contact/calendar sync for both Wintel and Mac.

Also -- while Paris Hilton might have issues, I love the fact that my data simply sits on a server and my phone just replicates as necessary.

Pencil/Paper (4, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628597)

I think there's a major difference between your proposed cheap word processor and a handheld game/organizer, which is the output requrement.

I'm sure you would like to move your documents somewhere, maybe to a desktop for final processing, printing and whatnot? So maybe a USB, IR or a memory slot so that you can transfer data effortlessly?

Although these "expansions" are not expensive, they still cost money. So it's commercially inviable to produce it, because "for a little bit more" one can probably produce a PDA or mobile phone.

And what's wrong with the pencil/paper solution? Paper is a non-volatile memory so you don't have to worry about system crashes or forgetting to save your documents.

From my experience with PDA, you'll write/type about as fast on a PDA as you would on a piece of paper

Re:Pencil/Paper (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628725)

From my experience with PDA, you'll write/type about as fast on a PDA as you would on a piece of paper

You must be able to haul ass on your PDA...

Re:Pencil/Paper (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628777)

If I keep a pencil in my pocket I usually get stabbed when I sit down. Also I sometimes want a calculator, especially one that can do powers and sqrt. Doing sqrt on paper is tedious.

Re:Pencil/Paper (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628782)

And what's wrong with the pencil/paper solution? Paper is a non-volatile memory so you don't have to worry about system crashes or forgetting to save your documents.

Inserts take way too long, as they require recopying the whole document manually. It's also considered a Hard Problem (i.e. something not bundled with a scanner) to OCR handwritten text.

Re:Pencil/Paper (5, Insightful)

pdbogen (596723) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628788)

I type much faster than I write, and I enjoy it much more, and it's a lot readable (to me as well as other people.) Plus, even a small/old word processor like this (TI used to make one; I don't remember what it's called, but I've read stories about how it's solid as a rock and still in use) would have significantly more capacity than a pocket notepad, or anything else of equivalent size.

Uh... (1, Insightful)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628598)

Pen and paper?

Stop posting, everyone - the definitive answer! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628664)

Pen and paper?


And the beauty is that your response is not only the best answer, it's also sarcastic, cynical and funny! Holy smokes! It's like a work of art in three words!

Re:Uh... (1)

Shut the fuck up! (572058) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628702)

Pen and paper?

How about an exacto knife and your body as your paper. The person who submitted this 'Ask Slashdot' sounds like a cutter to me.

Re:Uh... (1)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628855)

I use an old police notebook I picked up at an Army Surplus store. Durable covers, fits perfectly in your back pocket, numbered and ruled pages. It's a delight.

Jung abg whfg fbzr cncre? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628600)

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gung V qba'g trg vg.

Nabalzbhf EBG13 xnezn juber.

Re:Jung abg whfg fbzr cncre? (1)

Staos (700036) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628681)


Re:Jung abg whfg fbzr cncre? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628684)

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shyyl pncnoyr CQN sbe abg zhpu zber.

Re:Jung abg whfg fbzr cncre? (1)

Terri Schiavo (870207) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628771)

Trbetr J. Ohfu vf gur orfg shpxvat cerfvqrag Nzrevpn unf rire unq. Nyy lbh junyr-shpxvat, gerr-uhttvat yvorenyf ner whfg gbb shpxvat cvffrq gung ernyvgl shpxf lbh hc gur nff. Cerfvqrag Ohfu unf qrsrngrq greebevfz, erqhprq gnkrf, naq fgvyy znantrq gb fnir gur rpbabzl sebz gur shpx-hcf bs gung frzra-fchegvat cvt-shpxre Pyvagba. Vs lbh fgvyy pnyy lbhefrys n yvoreny va guvf qnl naq ntr, gura lbh ner tnl. Gur pbhagl unf frag n ybhq naq pyrne zrffntr gb gur qrzbpengf: lbh snvy vi shpxref!

Wordpad (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628603)

Now if they would only throw in Clippy.

Uhh, no? (0, Redundant)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628609)

I'll be the first to answer no, such a product is of no value.

You want a word processor that fits in your pocket...

Have you considered a pen and a paper notebook?

Hold off on the "It's called pencil and paper" com (4, Insightful)

Raindance (680694) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628645)

Besides all the functional benefits something like this would have over a little notebook, which are significant (but also mixed), some people are more productive- and perhaps even think better- when at a keyboard than with a pencil and notebook.

People should use whatever device allows them to get their thoughts out into some coherent form. For some, that's going to be a little pocket notebook, and for others who usually do their thinking in front of a keyboard, it'll be a device such as this fellow is looking for.

I'm much more productive (at this point in my life, at least) with a keyboard under my hands than with a pencil in my fingers. Said like that it sounds so unromantic... but I'm interested to hear what sorts of devices are out there.

Re:Uhh, no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628648)

Bravo, simple and to the point, more importantly, practical and realistic.

Try this (5, Funny)

RossTheHayes (885727) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628616)

Mead v1.0 carbon based cellulose WordPad. Unfortunately, you also need to purchase the Bic v2.0 ballpoint inkjet.

a brush! (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628658)

Or you could be very elegant and use a chinese writing brush and ink.

Re:Try this (1)

faust2097 (137829) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628768)

I prefer Rhodia and Miquelrius pads, but don't get me started on those Moleskine bastards!

I went through 2 electronic organizers and 3 generations of PDA until I realized that for me the portability, durability and usability of paper really can't be beaten. If you have an idea that's REALLY good you'll be happy to transcribe it again.

What is the problem you are trying to solve? (3, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628617)

You want to type words into a cheapo, pocket device, that is clear. Then what? Keep it there and only read from the chepo device? Do more editing on cheapo device? grep text on cheapo device? transfer text to some other device? via what means? how much text?

Go used (1)

14erCleaner (745600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628619)

What you probably want is a used Apple Newton or something like that.

Or maybe a pad of paper and a pencil. Way under $50.

A fundamental limitation of any device like this will be the crappy data-entry device. Blackberry users get RSI problems with their thumbs just from doing short emails, so you probably wouldn't want to write your PhD thesis on one of these things, even if they did exist.

Re:Go used (2, Interesting)

Dielectric (266217) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628677)

Yep, an MP2000/2100 with a keyboard is very usable day-to-day. Heck, even the HWR is good enough for me to have taken notes in most of my humanities electives. The outline mode was outstanding for this. It fit comfortably in the pocket of my field jacket, but so do small children, so I'm not sure it fits the pocket-sized definition.

Software? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628816)

Yep, an MP2000/2100 with a keyboard is very usable day-to-day.

I have a Newton MessagePad 2000. It came with file transfer software compatible with Mac OS 8, and that was fine when I used a Macintosh Performa computer. But now that I no longer use a classic Mac as my primary computer, where can I get software to move files between my MP2000 and my Windows PC?

Well I WAS going to say an old Tandy (1)

toygeek (473120) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628620)

But it looks like you've got that covered. I am also interested in this. I must say though that I have a Treo 600 and it does admirably well. I take notes with it all the time. Its VERY useful for its purpose. A small laptop-sized keygboard with a 2 or 3 line LCD, and a USB connection would be uber-nice though.

Black and white (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628621)

A black n white palm pilot. or even a blackberry.

Mcdonald's Toy? (1)

kerv (734279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628622)

If you wait a couple years you might find one of these in a McKids Meal! I just wish I had all these new cool gadgets when I was growing up.

Tape Recorder (2, Informative)

CypherXero (798440) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628623)

Just buy a cheap tape recorder from Wal-Mart, and anytime when you get some creative spark (I assume you want this device to write creatively with), just turn on the recorder, and speak to your hearts content. Then, get home, and transcribe your notes onto your computer.

Re:Tape Recorder (2, Insightful)

cmowire (254489) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628767)

Doesn't work. You broadcast halfassed ideas to the rest of the world, sounding like an idiot, and the pathway between mouth and brain is very different than the pathway between mouth and fingers. Typing on a keyboard is private, unobtrusive, and a lot of folks are far more articulate when they type things instead of say things.

Re:Tape Recorder (1)

SPY_jmr1 (768281) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628799)

Transcribe? Whattttttt?

It's the 21st century, shouldn't we be pushing for speech-to-text applications for this sort of thing?

I thought apple had a new thing just for things like this, to record a meeting, and dump it to a document later.

All that said, transcription is probably more accurate, especially if you do a lot of it.

PDA or Pocketmail? (1)

molo (94384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628628)

A used PDA would be good.. or maybe you could try Pocketmail (see - write yourself emails and hold the acoustic coupler up to the phone to transmit it. The service isn't cheap though.


Re:PDA or Pocketmail? (3, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628755)

Get a used PDA and a portable keyboard, such as this [] .

They are small, easy to carry and really work well. You can download one of the many opensource light-weight wordprocessors out there and use it quite easily in any environment.

Even the older Palms come with IR options, and so communication is not a problem.

Unless you're going to be churning out megs of text daily, it would do quite well.

Just as you suggested - eBay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628629)

Dell Axim PDA (used, ebay) $150 (just a guess)
Dell External Keyboard $75
Not only word processing, but playing games, holding contact information, restaurant guides, mapping programs, cookbooks - you name it - in one little handheld.... priceless.

For most people, there's eBay and Google. For everyone else, there's Ask Slashdot.

Dude, a pencil! (1, Interesting)

andawyr (212118) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628632)

You know, that wooden thing with carbon in the middle? Carry a piece of paper in your wallet, and you're good to go. It's small, portable, and it doesn't need batteries! Heck, you could even use a pen if you're willing to talk on the wild side!

I'm constantly amazed at this gadget obsession people have.....

Re:Dude, a pencil! (1)

coop0030 (263345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628685)

I agree, sometimes it is better to just use the stinkin' pen and paper.

I've tried a Tungsten E, and everytime I needed to write something down, it took longer than it should have. Then when I needed to look it up (like my password), I could never find what I wrote.

Pop a little pack of post-its in your pocket and your set!

Re:Dude, a pencil! (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628706)

People who use pens have sex with transexuals, or you have to have sex with a transexual in order to use a pen? :)

Sure, but... (1)

HishamMuhammad (553916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628716)

...isn't it a bit cumbersome to transfer the notes to the computer afterwards? I don't think OCR is advanced enough to actually recognize my handwriting.

Re:Sure, but... (2, Insightful)

fuck_this_shit (727749) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628809)

90 percent of all those scraps never need to make it into any electronic device. and typing a phonenumber again isn't really something I'll break into tears over in sorrow over the time I wasted by not hooking up a pda, walking through some menus and then sending it over... oh... wait...

Google?? (5, Informative)

l810c (551591) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628635)

I took your exact article title and put it in Google []

The very first hit led me to these two devices which seem to fit the bill exactly.

Alphasmart []
Quickpad []

Re:Google?? (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628712)

These are both 199$+. Doesn't fit the requirements.

google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628732)

Who needs google when you have the almost-just-as-effective only much slower option of Ask Slashdot?

It's all the rage these days, didn't you know that.

Alphasmart SUCKs (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628774)

Re:Google?? (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628775)

In your effort to prove how much smarter you were than the OP, you forgot to check that the prices are greater than $200 -- and thus what the OP described as "overpriced 'educational' machines which are almost equivalent to the 80s machines (over $200 or even $300)."

Re:Google?? (2, Informative)

JawzX (3756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628817)

That little Alphasmart thingie looks like a re-packaged TRS-80 portable (102)...

Maybe an old TRS-80 would fit the bill? 25-30 hours on 4 AAs, and you can even program in basic on it! There are few WP's with spell check available for TRS-80 portables too.

Re:Google?? (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628830)

Except of course that he is looking for something under $50, which neither of your links provide.

Zaurus (1)

menace690 (531682) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628636)

I have one of the original model Zaurus's. Has a keyboard, 16 shades of green lcd, weighs a but too much, several useful apps including a word processor annd spreadsheet, and it connects to the cpu with a serial to usb adapter (serial only necessary, I just don't have serial ports).

PAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628638)

Notecards, binder clip and a decent pen.

Check out some old school solutions (1)

zzendpad (84506) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628641)

Perhaps a Psion organizer or an old HP palmtop would be your answer.

Re:Check out some old school solutions (1)

JawzX (3756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628858)

Or a TRS-80 102?

Notebook? (0, Redundant)

JoaoPinheiro (749991) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628646)

I don't know about you but I simply use a good old-fashioned paper notebook.

An old Sharp Zarus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628657)

An older Zarus (ala ZR-3000) comes with a handy built-in word processor that, as an added bonus (or penalty, depending on your point of view) is Word '95 compatible. There's a serial or USB connectivity kit included with most that will transfer reasonably quickly. If you want any faster transfers, I don't think you're going to nail it for under $50.

QWERTY keyboard, backlit screen, and AAA batts. All for well under $50.

Blackberry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628659)

Just get a Blackberry -- nice small keyboard and ultraportable and you can write decent-length memos with it.

I got you covered (0, Redundant) (858445) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628662)

Pen + Paper

So Why not a PDA ? (2, Informative)

Dale549 (680107) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628663)

I would think a PDA and folding keyboard could be snagged on eBay for not much over $50..

Obvious answer (0, Redundant)

Electronik (821589) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628665)

I suppose the obvious one is pen + paper and a good text reading software package at home!

Anyway, $200 - $300 is quite cheap anyway, no?

Blackberry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628666)

I paid $25 on ebay for a used Blackberry 7230. It is locked to AT&T, but I use it only for a PDA and don't intend to get service. It has loads of memory, a serviceable screen, >1 month battery life on a single charge, and a keyboard.

I use it to write short stories when I'm away from home, it works great.

Why the heck would you want some little crappy device when you can pick up a cheap used blackberry that does everything you'd need and can accept J2ME applications besides?

Don't forget... (2, Insightful)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628670)

You still need a way to get files off. Wireless would be cool (except for certain security issues), or cable (might be cheaper, too).

AlphaSmart (2, Insightful)

ap0 (587424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628695)

I remember using these [] things in elementary school (I'm in college now) -- they seemed decent then, and I'm sure they're even better now. They're a bit bigger than what you were looking for, but they are a simple, portable word processor.

The questions reminds me... (4, Funny)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628700)

This question reminds me of a joke gift I had a while back. It was a small, elongated, yellow box with the words "Emergency backup word processor" on it. Inside was a pencil with the word "input" and an arrow pointing to the tip of the pencil, and the word "delete" with an arrow pointing to the ereaser. I don't have it anymore, I gave it to my roomate when his hard drive fizzled the night before a paper was due.

try wang... (1)

ShineyMcShine (799387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628701)

word processor central...

The pen and paper comments are cute, but (5, Insightful)

jjsaul (125822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628703)

Some of us type more than ten times faster than we write and like to transfer our text conveniently.

There are easy solutions though - a used Jornada off ebay and a targus stowaway keyboard cost me less than $100. It isn't the perfect solution, but it actually addresses the poster's needs.

For all of you writing those novels on notecards with pencils, good luck with that. Seems to have worked for Stephenson.

Re:The pen and paper comments are cute, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628827)

If you can type 10x as fast as you can write using a PDA keyboard, there is something wrong with your handwriting. Regular keyboard....sure...PDA keyboard..even the clunky fold up way.

How about combining it with a cellphone?? (1)

sourabhkothari (847285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628720)

Combining simple word processor functionality with cellphones might not be a bad idea. I think cellphones are the only devices which people don't want to forget when they leave home. That everybody carries them.
With this u can read your fav eBook on your cell whenever you have a little spare time. That might be a bus stop ,train or even loo.

Nokia has done this... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628779)

Nokia Communicator [] ...

Dol7 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628723)

Culture of abuse was in the tea I al know we want.

Alphasmart products (2, Interesting)

guanxi (216397) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628728) []

Doesn't quite meet your specs, but worth looking into.

I've always wanted one. (3, Informative)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628737)

I've always wanted some cheap portable device designed for taking notes, hacking etc. sort of a sub-$100 electronic notepad w/ a decent keyboard.

The Psion Revo/Diamond Mako was pretty close. It had a nice wide display (but it wasn't backlit), a decent keyboard (for being a 1/3rd size keyboard), a pen interface (for drawing a picture in your notes), and my favorite part is that it was a clamshell design so you could just fold-and-go.

The draw backs were that when it was new it was fairly expensive (I got mine for $50 new, but that's because the stores were just trying to get rid of them). And it had no flash memory (you let the batteries run down and you've lost everything since your last backup), and no way to insert external memory (MMC/SD/CF would have been nice).

A less powerful pda in the same form factor that sold for a little bit more than those "pocket organizers" would seem like a good idea to me. If oyu make it close enough in price to a pocket organizer, but flexible enough to do more than just addresses that'd be great.

Honestly I don't need a 400Mhz cpu, color screen, wireless headset, and 64Mb of RAM. Especially if it means I will have a $300+ device in my pocket that can get broken or stolen.

What would be neat is some arm-thumb or 68hc11 device with an MMC/SD slot(the interface to those is dead simple to do). Running maybe Contiki or some other 8-bit, but "modern" OS.

Although they have compactflash readers(look for SuperCard) for Gameboy Advance, and it's not hard to wire a small or fullsize keyboard into a GBA. You could probably build yourself something interesting with a cheap used gba and some hot glue. :)

Something I've Been Waiting For Is... (2, Interesting)

KhaZ (160984) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628740)

A revolution in input devices. Graphics cards, RAM, storage, etc, have all been making leaps and bounds in technology, but we're still hammering away at the same(-ish) keyboard. While I don't know what I'd do without my carpal-tunnel, I'm curious what the replacement for the keyboard will be. I'm not sure if it will be a voice recognition system, or something middle-of-the-road, but I definitely think something like that is a limiting factor for me and PDA's, or the organizer you mention. I just can't separate myself from a keyboard, where I can type ~100 wpm, versus a rickety little Graffiti-esque POS, where I'm doomed to five letters a minute on. Anyhow, rather tangential, but jus' what I'm thinking. :D

TI calculator + keyboard (4, Informative)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628741)

Take a regular TI graphing calculator (you might have one already from high school or college) and add the TI Keyboard [] . If you have a computer uplink of some sort for the calculator (either a GraphLink or on-board USB for the newer models), you can transfer your documents to MS Word.

(Vernier's not the only source; they're just one of the cheaper ones. TI doesn't sell the keyboard directly anymore.)

Re:TI calculator + keyboard (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628798)

Take a regular TI graphing calculator

and type 8008135, hheeh

Re:TI calculator + keyboard (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628872)

Actually, since it's a graphing calculator, it's easier to type "BOOBIES" (or draw them, if you're so inclined.) The font makes 8008135 look like...5{l8008.

Oh, and it's 5318008, not 8008135.

Apple eMate / Sharp Zaurus (2, Informative)

energylad (53932) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628746)

I'll agree with an earlier poster that the original Danger Hiptop (T-Mobile Sidekick) has the best keyboard of any other like device, it has the absolute worst connectivity. The likelihood of getting my data off the thing dropped as near to zero as made no difference, so I gave up on it.

The old Apple eMate -- a Newton laptop -- did me well for years. It's got a tripod mount on the bottom, it gets 12 hours of battery life with no problem, it's a real trooper. They only made them for educational folk, but you can find them on eBay still for pretty cheap -- there are a number there now, from $28 to $100. And hey, no moving parts plus a great keyboard. It's the relatively modern equivalent of the '80s word processors mentioned above.

Today, the Sharp Zaurus is the most awesome thing I've used in some time. By that I mean the C750-class clamshell machine, on through the modern 3000 & 1000 devices, only produced for Japan but also available on eBay. And there's OpenBSD for the durn things now, too. Only drawback is battery life. And price -- you're looking at >$500 for one of those.

European Carryall Required! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628754)

Cellphone ... check
PDA ... check
Pen Drive ... check
MP3 player ... check
Graphing calculator ... check
Handheld word processor ... check

Check out Alphasmart (4, Interesting)

KingPrad (518495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628758)

Check out the Alphasmart [] website. They make modern word processors. Their products have full-size keyboards, extremely long battery life, and are very durable. The Dana, for example, is made of ABS plastic molded into a great form factor. It weighs 2 pounds and the rechargeable battery lasts 12-15 hours but can be replaced by regular AA's if you need to. It runs PalmOS.

the Alphasmart 3000 is the cheapest version. The battery will last pretty much forever. It is an absolutely basic writing tool (other than paper and pencil) and has a good reputation also.

Clio! (1)

Achra (846023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628761)

One bit of outdated, too big to fit in your coat-pocket is the Vadem Clio, you can find these on ebay for varying prices... They shipped with Wince 2.11, Microsoft Word, and a scrunched little keyboard.. They flip open like a tablet PC and have a 10hour battery life. Very cool, totally useless.
Other than that, I'd suggest a Palm. That grafitti stuff is pretty damn slick, and there are thumb-keyboards for them also. I'd suggest the i705 for a $30 really decent palm.

Re:Clio! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628800)

What about an old Palm M100 and the fold up keyboard? its small and lightweight, uses AAA batteries, the keyboard is fullsize, laptopesque?

Old Palm w/ Keyboard = cheap (1)

coop0030 (263345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628766)

Try a Palm IIIe, and get an old keyboard with it off of eBay. You could get that whole package for about $30-$40 bucks, and it would probably work better than a generic made word processor.

Psion Series 5 (look it up) (3, Informative)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628772)

Now available cheap. Someone will come along and tell you who sold/branded it in the US - but it does exactly what you want in the way you want it to. No messy external keyboards, decent keys, just enough CPU to perform, etc. etc.


The Alphasmart Dana (1)

kincho (886706) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628783)

I can recommend the Alphasmart Dana. Palm based with a large display, decent keyboard, and built in word processor. [] Shameless plug - great keyboarding tutor for the Dana - almOSEd.html [] It's listed at $379

Like a mini Alphasmart Dana? (3, Informative)

mjprobst (95305) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628796)

This is something I would really like. PDAs are too small to type on. I type at 115 wpm and can't stand using PDAs at all, yet there are things I'd like to do without the power consumption, size, and weight of a full laptop.

I'd love something like the Alphasmart Dana [] except in clamshell style. Doesn't need to be incredibly tiny, just as big as a small keyboard.

Unfortunately, even if I liked the size of this device, it costs around $600. Smaller and cheaper than a laptop, my butt. I'm currently using a used IBM T21 laptop that cost $425.

Handspring Treo 90 (1)

thegrommit (13025) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628806)

Yes, it's a glorified PDA [] . However, it has a usable thumbboard and supports SD/MMC cards for file transfer. Being a PalmOS device, there is plenty of support for synching with the platform of your choice. It's also small enough to fit in your jeans pocket (unlike the fancier Tungsten C).

Shame they're not made any more.

Why not PDA? (1)

bobthemuse (574400) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628810)

Why not a low-end PDA? I used to take notes in my class on a Palm folding keyboard and an old Palm IIIx. Downloaded a free editor that was way better than what came with the OS, I was in business. Entire thing could be folded up and easily carried. Syncing is already taken care of, and you have the additional programmability you're looking for.

Poqet PC (1)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628822)

I still have my Poqet PC from ~1989. Fujitsu bought them out and while they haven't been made for years, you can still find them on eBay - usually for less than $100.

80x25 screen, MS-DOS, keyboard you can touch-type on, Lotus 1-2-3, etc. It's instant-on and runs for weeks on a pair of AA batteries. It won a 1989 Byte award of distinction.

I suppose a Palm with a folding keyboard might do the trick nowdays but the Poqet was (is) a slick little machine.

Please tell this guy... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628825) use a god damn spelling and grammar checker.

And are the editors asleep or drunk?

It's all about the advertising! (4, Funny)

Nomihn0 (739701) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628834)

[the following is a faux advertisement for pen, paper, and your dear brain]

Ancient technology rediscovered for your business' convenience!

This computer is manufactured using the most ancient techniques known to man. We at Saminger & Splenor Co. have combined these amazing processes with cutting edge technology to produce the most powerful mobile computing platform ever made!

The screen alone is a worthy investment for your small business:
13.9 inch viewable display that is only nanometers thick!
Crisp viewing at any angle, even in bright sunlight!
Can be rolled up or even folded lightly for convenient storage!
Consumes no energy and emanates no heat
A zero latency screen refresh rate allows for instantaneous feedback!
The display also functions as a small scale topographical scanner!
Stylus based input system allows for minute movements to be recorded
Tip of stylus allows text and images to be rapidly entered
Included stylus attachment functions as a non-linear and instantaneous undo function
Optional stylus sets allow for thousands of tip shapes and thicknesses to be emulated

The CPU/RAM bundle adds even MORE functionality to your system:
-Utilizes a neural network based CPU based on a proven system that has been thoroughly tested at some of the most prestigious universities in the world
-At its peak, the RAM chip is as powerful as your short term memory, guaranteed
To order call 1-888-555-SandS
Operators are standing by 24/7
Saminger & Splenor Co. - © 2004

nec mobilpro (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628852)

wintel, but excellent

I picked up a mint 880 for 300$ (and paid too much) it has 800X600 res, and can run terminal services into my xp machine.

fits inside my Scott EVest inside pocket.

the 790 are half the size, with a 800X400?300? resolution

(half vga)

seriously consider this...

Jornada 820 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628865) /personalsystems/0038/ [] I've enjoyed using my little Jornada 820 for years now, for it's office suite (Pocket Office), internet capability, presentation options (can plug into a projector), etc.

I bought mine on e-bay, I'm sure they are still around.

Yes it runs Windows CE, no I'm not apologizing, it is a functional tool, just like my Linux system :)

Under ten dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12628867)

Pencil and notebook.

What level of sophistication? (2, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628873)

Something like WordWise, Smart Wordprocessor or WordCraft would fit onto a small machine, with the largest of these fitting comfortably in 64K and the smallest into 8K. That includes everything you need for the program, the document and even a simple spell-checker.

On the other hand, if you want something that can create hevily stylized documents of high quality, but where you can enter the text quickly, you're probably after a TeX-aware text editor, where you can pipe the output through LaTeX to generate a quality document, but where the source is 100% editable on something that has very low overhead.

But, then, if all you want is a jotter, rather than an actual text processor, you're really wanting something that's a graphics tablet that has enough space for only one letter/symbol, with no display, and two buttons - space and backspace. It would have all the power you'd need for a jotter, and wouldn't have anything you didn't need (such as word recognition).

Now, if what is REALLY wanted is a very fast, very small device, then a 5-key chord keyboard, with memory, should be sufficient. 2^5=32, which means you've enough combinations for all letters and a good range of symbols. A bubble memory would be fine for this, as you're just storing and recalling linear streams. Bubble is good, because it is small, low-power and can survive total loss of power.

They used to make this... (1)

denttford (579202) | more than 9 years ago | (#12628878)

And now it is cheap - its called an HP100LX. I see them on ebay for ~$50. 200LX is still pricey tho.
It runs for weeks on AA batteries.
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