I've never owned a PDA such as one of the Palm models, but recently noticed you can get a good one for about $200 that can store many e-books such as Bible, reference, survival library, novels etc. Also games, maps, personal pictures, music files, etc in addition to the usual address and calendar functions. The Palm Tungsten E handheld has 32 megs of RAM.
Survival in style!
And you can also get a solar charger such as Brunton that can connect to it (or charge batteries).
Both items don't weigh all that much, you could even backpack or bug out with them.
Does anyone have one of the newer models of PDA? Ratings or information? How long before recharge, and does all the information remain if the battery dies completely?
I have had a palm for about 2 years. I just had to replace the rechargable battery. the new battery was 50 bucks and I put it in myself which saved 25 bucks and 2 days in the mail.
I keep everything on mine. Checkbook balance is easy, I use an Excel spreadsheet that I made to automatically balance my account. All my phone numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses, appointments, e-books, PDF files, just about anything you want to keep up with.
If the battery goes completely dead you lose everything. You have to back up to a regular computer to keep an archive to restore your lost info.
PDAs might be good for everyday use, but I'd question their survival value. That limited battery or solar power would be far better used with a more essential device such as a torch, shortwave receiver, CB or smoke alarm. The other problem is that the rechargable batteries will only last for a limited number of charge/discharge cycles, so as time goes on the information in the PDA will be lost.
When the power goes off the best information storage/retrieval system will be good old fashioned paper.
I agree that a PDA would probably not be very useful in a survival situation. They must be regularly backed up with a computer to keep from losing information. I have known many people with various systems who lost all data and didn't do regular back-ups. However, PDA's are great for everyday use and have numerous applications in various subjects.
Also once you start being a PDA 'power user' the amount of storage will fill up quickly. I had a 64M ipaq and filled it up with just plain text documents. When I switched jobs I had to give it back and I needed a better laptop anyway so I bought a small light and thin laptop and a small case for it. Its a bit bigger than a PDA but just as easy to carry around and I now have 60G for storage.
I've been thinking of posting something on this for those that did not see some of the old posts on this subject so I will make my comments here.
First, I highly recommend a Palm OS based PDA over any other type. They tend to be smaller (easier to carry in a pocket) and have far more software available that would be of interest to a suvivalist.
For background I have 2 PDAs: Palm M125:Perhaps the best handheld ever made for long term use, but no longer being manufactured. It uses 2 AAA batteries which is much easier to replace than recharging newer units. This is possible because of the small monochrome screen which may be difficult for some people to read. (Some of these had failed capacitors and would loose their memory when changing batteries, but they can be repaired for about $25.) It only has 8 MB of memory (Palm need less than Pocket PC units) but has an SD card reader and universal connector so it can use the same accessories as the new Palm PDAs.
M515:Also not being made anymore. However, it has a larger screen than the M125 and color making it much easier and more pleasant to use on a daily basis. AFAIK all new PDAs use rechargable batteries, including the M515. It has an SD card slot and universal connector so I can use the same cards and accessories on both units.
Comments: Get a PDA with a card reader! This not only allows you to store vast amounts of information, but you can also back up the unit's internal memory to a card, no computer needed. If it uses rechargable batteries, get an automobile charge cord for it. It will cost around $10 but you can recharge the unit from a 12 volt auto outlet. Also, most rechargable batteries used are Lithium Ion types. Keep it charged up. LiIo batteries DO NOT like to be completely discharged the way NiCads do; in fact doing so can kill the battery. Keep it topped off for longest life and best performance. Battery life can vary quite a bit. Programs that use the processor alot will drain it quicker that reading an e-book. Also the backlight is a big drain on batteries. Use the light on a reduced setting; or better yet, turn off the backlight when outdoors or under bright lights. Under normal use (calander,phone book and an occasional game with the backlight on low) my M515 uses about 10% of the battery per day. I top it off about every 3 days. If the battery drains too far the internal memory will be lost (remember to do backups!), but the memory on any card is safe. However, I know the Palm units will shut off at a predefined power level to save the info until it is recharged (they claim up to a week).
I will try to post some info on software later if anyone wants me to, but I must go eat Turkey now...
Buzz, my own agenda would be to have a lot of ebooks in one of these at camp, and read them for several hours per day, perhaps four hours. I might want to listen to a bit of classical music or gregorian chants at times also, maybe another hour there, but I wouldn't need a vast number of files - just some favorites. And top off the battery with a solar charger every day. About how many books could be stored in the newer model?
GH, as long as the PDA has some sort of card slot (SD, MMC, memory stick, etc.) the number of books it could hold is virtually unlimited. Any unit new enough to play music will have an expansion slot of some type. For reading, a greyscale display will use much less battery power than a color unit, but may be a little harder to read (less contrast). Play around with some at the store to get an idea of what they look like; just remember the store has real good lighting.
quote:And top off the battery with a solar charger every day.
What type of solar charger would you use? A normal solar charger that charges standard battery types won't work if your PDA uses it's own rechargeable cell. So you'd need something like the iSun that not only charges, but provides power so you can use it immediately. If not, you'd have to get a PDA that uses AA or AAA cells. Which will severely limit the choices you have when buying the PDA. With a good one that has a card reader, you can store lots of books on a memory card and not use up all the space on the PDA, and still have the books on card if all your data gets wiped out. It would be best to have a few backup batteries to carry with you. But that can get pretty expensive.
Good points, glaston, I've been struggling a bit with that because a cheap Brunton solar charger which does nothing but charge batteries is only about $20 at REI, but a Brunton that has all the bells and whistles and can charge PDAs and cell phones etc etc costs about $110 with AA battery pack.
I'd love a good PDA that takes AA batteries like all my flashlights, and can also take a memory card that can store a small library - more for the nonvolatile memory than a need for tons of memory.
A number of Pocket PC's have a plug for +5vdc which will power them as well as charging the battery. A solar charger can be made for them (or bought from at least two companies) that works fine.
I have a Toshiba E750 that is heavy (I have the large battery installed) but works great. I have a 1gig microdrive, a 256meg SD card as well as 32meg built in storage. This all in addition to the 64meg memory it has.
With the right additions it can funstion as a GPS also.
I was going to pick up a palm that takes AAA batteries but they seen to have discontinued them. I just picked up a new cell phone which has a calendar and note taker. I've ordered a serial data cable for it for about $12 shipped and surfed some cell phone hacking boards and found the command set to read/write data to and from the phone. My phone has an extended battery available that will give it almost a week standy time and I have the 12v adapter already. So I think my cell phone can double as my pda. I can't run it from AAA batteries but its smaller and lighter than a pda and I don't have to carry two things now (pda and phone). Seems like a decent deal for $49.
Another one to look into might be the Sharp Zaurus. The 5500 and 5600 have decent speed, use both Compact Flash and SD Cards(two slots, you can have a 2gb microdrive in the CF slot and a WiFi card in the sd slot simultaneously), and have a lot of options. http://www.myzaurus.com/accessories.asp
It runs on Linux, which means there are lots of options, including 2-3 entire new OSes built by Linux geeks with source code listed, so if you're the paranoid type you don't have to worry about being monitored. You can also run a Palm OS emulator so you can use palm software.
quote:It runs on Linux, which means there are lots of options,
That sounds interesting! I'm a Linux fan though too. That would be a great item especially if you have coding knowledge and can add to the capabilities (which is actually the essence of Linux).
GH, with the iSun, you can get addons that will charge just about anything. Plus it has connecters that allow you to plug devices in and use them while the batteris charge. Which means you don't need to get a PDA that runs on standard alkaline cells, you can use the lithium ion battery, then charge it with the iSun when needed. That will save you money on rechargeable cells because the lithium ion lasts a LONG time, and allows thousands of charges before it's dead.
quote:Originally posted by Buzz: How about getting more SD cards?
Well, I was going to argue price but 4 128 cards are only $10 more than a 512 card. Assuming I have lots of data to keep up with, holding on to four cards is a lot harder than one though. SD cards are tiny, I could lose one and never notice. I'd rather have it so there's only one card(in the PDA) to hold onto(and a duplicate of that sd card stored in a safe place).
I'm still not sure the AAA batteries is worth it when there are much more powerful systems out there, especially in light of solar chargers that will work on PDAs.
Of course, with the Zaurus, you can use a 2.2gb microdrive for $205. Having the equivalent 17 128mb SD cards would be $646. You can download files to the microdrive from you SD 802.11b wifi card.
Thought I'd throw this link up for anyone interested in a PDA that runs an embedded Linux system. Also known as SoC (System on Chip). I'm fascinated by PDA's that run Linux, there's definitely to be one on my christmas list this year.
quote:Originally posted by Scotsman: I'm still not sure the AAA batteries is worth it when there are much more powerful systems out there, especially in light of solar chargers that will work on PDAs.
It's really a trade off. For just reading e-books, a monochrome unit with AAA batteries will last quite a while. That's why I still have my old M125. For most other things though color is a real nice addition, but at the cost of a much shorter battery life and the need to keep them charged up.
For anyone that really wants to use their PDA in rough conditions may want to look into an Otter Box. They even have one that allows use of a PDA while still in a protective case. http://www.armorbyotter.com/
quote:When the power goes off the best information storage/retrieval system will be good old fashioned paper.
Well, hopefully if there's a widespread power outage, there will be efforts made to restore it. I'm not anticipating anything that knocks the power out forever! Of course, it could happen, but if something that huge happens, chances are good that machines that make paper will also be gone for good. Then what? Another thing, the amount of data that a PDA and memory sticks hold, the same amount of data on paper would weigh too much to carry around. A PDA can hold hundreds of manuals, contact info, images, video, sound clips, and can be interfaced with other information devices. Smart thing to do is have plenty of backup batteries, an alternative power source interface, solar power capabilities, and only use it when absolutely necessary. As in no entertainment uses. It will eventually cease to work for a myriad of reasons, but that's the breaks. It shouldn't be relied upon to always function, and crucial information should also be stored elsewhere. But the same goes for anything. If all your documents are on paper, what if they're lost?
I can see plenty of uses for a PDA in a survival situation. Not when you're way out in the sticks on a campout style survival scenario, but then again who says that's gonna be your situation!?
Not every situation will be the end of the world lights out now power forevermore. There are a lot of localized disasters, floor, tornado, etc where it would be beneficial to take your information with you easily and lugging boxes of paper won't be that easy. Myself I work with compters so I have to keep up with the technology just as a doctor has to keep up with the new medicines and treatments. If some situation were to happen, flood, fire, layoff that would put me in a survival situation and I would be forced to "bug out" my survival would depend on getting getting back up to speed on the local tech market. I see those situations far more likely to happen than the end of the world. If the end of the world happens I will still take my laptop and use it as long as it lasts to read and gain as much knowledge as possible. I also have a portable printer
quote:Originally posted by Buzz: It's really a trade off. For just reading e-books, a monochrome unit with AAA batteries will last quite a while. That's why I still have my old M125. For most other things though color is a real nice addition, but at the cost of a much shorter battery life and the need to keep them charged up.
Very true, Buzz. In fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have one of the M125(which you can get on eBay for ~$60) just for that purpose. For a daily use item, I prefer having more power though.