The near future (obvious predictions?)

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If you had a handheld with...

* internal wifi and bluetooth
* vga screen 480x640 or better with it's own dedicated RAM
* vga out directly to monitor (cable) for an LCD monitor to allow
standard screen resolutions like 1024x768
* small USB port such as found on digital cameras to connect external
devices (hard drives, printers, etc).
* folding keyboard that hold device whilst you type at correct angle
level (or usb keyboard)
* pocket word/excel/outlook/media player/etc
* cell phone capabilities

... you wouldn't really need any other equipment at all would you?
Think of the huge speaker systems that iPods get "set into" to allow
"big" sound with a "little" device.

The other day I was updating my resume because it has been over 7 years
since I've looked at it.  When I was finished, I realized that Pocket
Word would have done the job just as well as MS Word 2000.  If you
think about all the bloated "features" of MS Word, my point becomes

Most of this exists now right?  You could say to me "Duh dude, that's a
tablet PC" and you would be correct of course but think of the size and
cost.  Tablet pc's are just WAY to expensive now.  They're big too.
Try and put one in your pocket!

Currently, when installing software to handheld, you need to first
install it to your PC via CD ROM.  Most software I've come across can
be found on my laptops hard drive in the C:\Program Files\ folder.  Why
is that?  Why isn't software availiable as stand alone executables?
How about distributing it on SD media rather than a CD ROM?

I used to be a gamer.  PS2/XBOX/PC - I did it all.  Now, the "fever"
has left me.  To much time was being spent sitting on my ass.  Now, I
want tools, not toys.

What do you think?


Re: The near future (obvious predictions?)

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The Sharp Zaurus is already pretty close!  Off the top of my head, I
know that some of the high-end clamshell versions (available from Japan)
include the following features:

  * Internal wifi and bluetooth

  * VGA screen (640x480, 16bpp)

  * No VGA out, but I believe it can be done with a CF card
    (e.g., one for connecting a PDA to a projector)

  * USB host (not all models can do it, but Zaurus is one of very few lines
    of PDAs that can do it _at all_)

  * Built-in QWERTY keyboard.  (You can get folding external ones, too.)

  * Access to numerous office productivity apps (some commercial, some
    open source), numerous media players (even XMMS and MPlayer!), etc.

The one big thing from your list that they can't do is act as a cellphone.
(But hey, you could do VOIP! ;^) )

I recently finally got around to installing OpenZaurus onto my SL-5500
(the original model from early 2002, not counting the 5000D developer edition)
and am amazed with how much better it is (and how much more diverse the
available software has gotten) compared to even a year or two ago, when I
found I wasn't playing with my Zaurus as much.

I decided I needed to replace the little 64MB SD card I bought for it back
in 2001 with a nice big 512MB one.  All told, I have ~64MB of RAM for
running applications and either 512 or 768MB of storage, depending on whether
I have my 256MB CF memory card plugged in (or, say, a WiFi, Ethernet or
Camera CF card).

Some useful sites:

  Sharp USA's official Zaurus page /
    Note: Sharp pretty much discontinued the product in the US, so this is
    no doubt way out of date.  I don't have any links handy to the
    Sharp Japan, which would have (in Japanese) plenty of into about
    the newer models. Sorry. :^/

  Zaurus User Group /

    A portal for all things Zaurus, ran by users. Includes FAQs, forums,
    how-tos, reviews, software feeds, news, and info about regional
    user groups.

  Embedded Linux Software Index /

    A searchable index of nearly 1300 pieces of software for the Zaurus.'s Linux PDA Showcase

    Includes news and reviews of the numerous Sharp Zaurus PDAs
    (both US and Japanese), as well as other Linux- and Qtopia-based PDAs.
    ( in general covers news & reviews of all things

  OpenZaurus /

    Hope of open source alternatives to Sharp's stock Zaurus software.
    Some, like OPIE, are derivative and compatible.  (In other words,
    they're pretty much like the stock software, but more up to date
    and cared for and fed by a community of voluntters.)  Others are
    completely alternative systems (e.g., an X-Window environment in
    your pocket).

One thing I still haven't seen, and wish someone would put together
(either at or, is a big table comparing,
point by point, the features and capabilities of each of the various

Anyway!  Welcome to the future! ;^)

-bill!                                    Tux Paint 2006 wall calendar,                CDROM, bumper sticker & apparel

Re: The near future (obvious predictions?)


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Oh!  One thing I forgot to mention is that Linux cellphones are becoming
more popular.  Many of them happen to use the same underlying GUI system
(Qtopia from Trolltech) as the Zaurus did, so it's likely that the slough
of software that's come out for the Zaurus over the past ~4 years will
be able to run on those phones. :^)

Here's the Linux Mobile Phones Showcase over at

And, since I mentioned them, an obligatory link to Trolltech's Qtopia site: /

(I happen to work for a company doing cellphone video games under BREW.
I'm eager for the day when Linux cellphones are a viable platform to
target, since -- based on my experience with Linux and Qtopia -- they have
to be _so_ much easier to program and debug! :^) )

-bill!                                    Tux Paint 2006 wall calendar,                CDROM, bumper sticker & apparel

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