PDA recommendations for a college student please!

Discussion in 'PDAs and Handhelds' started by klefgar, Jun 19, 2007.

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  1. klefgar

    klefgar Newbie

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    Hi, im a current student enrolled into a health major and decided its time i utilize a PDA just to keep track of my schedules and whatever. I don't really care much about the extra features like video playback, mp3 or whatever though they're nice features and all, but im running on a tight budget. I just need it for looking over ebooks, word documents, spreadsheets, and a kickass scheduler. A sufficient amount of memory would be nice as well. Thanks in advance!
  2. Dick Tracy

    Dick Tracy Detective/Moderator

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    Welcome to Brighthand klefgar.

    Do you intend to sync with a Mac or PC? If the latter, what OS is on it?

    How tight is your budget? Do you want something new with a warranty or would something used fit your budget better?
  3. Konrad Pierce

    Konrad Pierce Village Idiot 2.0

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    PDA models are dominated by two different platforms: either Windows Mobile ("Pocket PC") or Palm. They're both good, and it seems to ultimately boil down to personal preference.

    I'm functioning under some assumptions:
    1) Obviously you'd like the most capable device you can get, but - at this time - your primary consideration is cost.
    2) You will generally follow a light usage pattern (eBook reader, word processing, spreadsheets, and - most importantly - scheduler).
    3) As a college student, of course you're gonna want to run multimedia (mp3s, pictures, video) lol, and you want a PDA that'll look pretty slick so you can show off a little bit. <g>
    4) Your campus may (or may not) provide wireless connectivity or hotspots, and if so, you'd really benefit from a device with integrated 802.11 WLAN.
    5) Stuff like BlueTooth, Infrared, GPS, and phone capabilities are all really cool but not really that useful for your needs. At least not useful enough for you to want to pay extra.

    Well ...

    Every single PDA has "kickass scheduler" functions. And if you're not satisfied with the default stuff, you can install whatever software you like, including hundreds of different scheduler apps that all improve on the basics in many exciting ways. Even the commercial/shareware apps that have a price tag are generally very affordable (less than $25) and will give you free trials for at least a few weeks or a month or so - if you decide that you really need a particular piece of software, you can at least defray the cost until later.

    If you want a Palm system, I'd recommend a Palm TX (for about $225) as your best bet; followed by a Tungsten T5 ($200), T3 ($190) or E2 ($175); or even one of the Zire models (about $100 - $175) satisfactory for your needs.
    But I'm not really the guy to ask about Palms - I'm strictly WM and I like my Windows. Most of the rest of Brighthand users seem to be all about Palms, so whatever recommendations they give you would probably be much, much better than my meager offerings.

    Aha, but if you want WM device ...
    Really, anything that's running WM2003SE or later, has a 400-520Mhz (or faster) CPU, and packs a minimum of 64MB RAM + 64MB ROM will fit your bill. I'd recommend any of the Dell Axim X5's (X50, X50v, X51, X51v) you can get your hands on for less than $250. Many of the HP iPAQs running less than $200 are also quite good. Shop around, like eBay or whatever.
    I'm unsure about the Palms, but all PPCs come with Mobile/Pocket versions of Microsoft Reader (for eBooks), Word, Excel, and Outlook (for calendars/scheduling/reminders, contacts, email, and all the usual "Outlook Pro" stuff), and Media Player. You can always install other free readers (from Adobe, and even from Palm) and media players (there's even some things like WinAmp and RealPlayer for playing mp3s/oggs and videos).
  4. klefgar

    klefgar Newbie

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    hi, thanks for the quick replies guys. Im going to be syncing to a PC. My budget is around <$200 but i'm torn between the two OSs, probably because i don't know anything about either really. Are they pretty similar in features or which one would suit me better? So far I've been taking into consideration the z22 and the TX, but im open to suggestions. Thanks!
  5. Dick Tracy

    Dick Tracy Detective/Moderator

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    I would not recommend the Z22 as it has a 160x160 screen and no expansion capabilities.

    I have both the E2 and TX. TX wins hands down.
  6. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Mobile Deity

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    If the Office docs are an especially high priority, I'd go Palm OS for the sole reason of Documents To Go(preferably version 9 or later). I don't know if someone's released a comprehensive Office replacement on the WM side of things that supports Word, Excel, AND PowerPoint, though-the best I've seen only covers the first two. Windows Mobile devices generally have superior multimedia capabilities(higher-resolution screens on some models, GPUs for video acceleration on some models, and better WMA/WMV support), better Internet browsing options(the best being Opera Mobile), and multitasking support, however.

    You'll also probably want a big screen for viewing those docs and e-books, and that means HVGA on the Palm OS side of things(WM devices can go up to VGA or even WVGA, but now you're talking devices out of your price range unless you can get a great deal like I did and snag a X50v for 143.60 US$ shipped). The T|X generally goes for 200 US$ AT THE LOWEST, so you'll probably have to settle for a T|T3 or CLI&#201; NR/NX/NZ, which could be found on eBay for less than 200 US$ if you look hard enough.

    You also have to consider your primary means of data input. Most PDAs don't have thumbboards, generally relegating you to handwriting recognition, a small virtual keyboard, or an add-on touch-typable keyboard. The old T|C has a nice thumbboard and falls within your price range easy(and the Wi-Fi could come in handy for a college student like yourself if everything's not encrypted in the unsupported WPA security modes), but you may not like the mono Nokia headset jack and the 320x320 screen. The CLI&#201; NR/NX/NZ models have both a HVGA screen and a thumbboard, though I've heard that the thumbboard in question doesn't have great tactile feedback.

    Overall, there's a lot of options that would work great for you. Hopefully, the details I've thrown out could help you decide a bit better.
  7. Streaky

    Streaky I can't remember

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    Welcome to Brighthand, klefgar.

    Right, now that I've listed all the considerations above please come back and let us know what you end up doing. :)
  8. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    Welcome to Brighthand, klefgar.

    Good luck with your decision. :)
  9. PinCushionQueen

    PinCushionQueen Oxidants Happen

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    I use my TX constantly for University. I highly recommend it. I take notes using Doc2Go - a lot of my profs have docs or ppts available for download and Docs2Go allows you to edit native format documents. I have about 6 textbooks (from online text sites) that I read using Plucker (a fabulous free reader for Palm). I check email and IM on breaks between classes using free campus WiFi. I could go on and on... but others have already given you lots to think about - I just thought I'd let you know first hand that the TX is IMHO fabulous for college.
  10. Silly Rabbit

    Silly Rabbit In training!

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    I've had both an E2 & TX & agree.

    I know you're on a tight budget. And while I'm not an advocate for spending more than one can afford, sometimes the extra few $$ to get something a bit better is worth it in the long run. IE, being able to use WIFI or bluetooth to check email or the 'net may not seem like a priority now, you may find it's helpful to have later on. (But only you can decide that.)

    Also, when I had the E2 & really started adding alot of third party software (my TX now functions like a little computer away from my computer), the E2 was very limiting (memory.)

    Also, I'd suggest you plan on adding an SD card, if your device supports it. I keep all my photos, ebooks, Word & Excel documents on the SD card, which frees up memory for other things.
  11. Konrad Pierce

    Konrad Pierce Village Idiot 2.0

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    Having your device support flash memory cards is essential! I wouldn't even spit on a device that couldn't plug in a card. CF and SD formats are pretty much universal these days.

    Besides, you can always purchase these cards later. If you're not too particular on getting the costly high-end performers, they're quite inexpensive now (a 4-pack of "generic" 512MB SD cards is only $15 at Wal-Mart, lol).
  12. klefgar

    klefgar Newbie

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    thanks so much for the suggestions! I just scored a used tx on the bay for <$200, ill be looking forward to it!
  13. lelisa13p

    lelisa13p Your Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    Congrats, and keep us posted. :)
  14. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    Congratulations, klefgar! If the used TX is in good shape, it's an excellent choice. Please let us know how it goes.

    Once you've done some video playback on the TX, you might change your mind. :) Check out the links in my signature for TCPMP (and plugins) as well as PocketDivXEncoder.

    If you don't already have one, an SD card and SD card reader would be good investments. The SD card will give you more memory (storage) capacity. It's also a handy way to transfer files between your TX and your computer.

    My signature includes a link to NVBackup, a handy freeware application for backing up your device to an SD card.

    Head on over to the TX forum. The first few threads stuck to the top of the forum are very helpful. Searching the forum is a great way to find answers to your questions, but don't hesitate to post if you need help.

    :) Welcome to Brighthand!
  15. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Mobile Deity

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    T|X for under 200 US$? Nice deal you have there.

    Be sure to notify us when it arrives, okay?
  16. ruiz_carlo01

    ruiz_carlo01 Newbie

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    Hi everyone! i am gonna be a new pda owner myself! Hooray for me! and I was gravitating towards buying a TX. Do you mean that video playback on a TX are nice and crisp?! if so ill definitely go with TX.... :eek:
  17. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Mobile Deity

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    The T|X is an alright choice for video playback, with a HVGA screen and a moderately-clocked PXA270 at 312 MHz by default-just make sure that you re-encode your video so that the device can handle it.

    If you just want video playback, though, the Dell Axim X50v/X51v and HP iPAQ hx4700 would probably be more compelling options, since they have VGA screens(twice the T|X's resolution), PXA270s at up to 624 MHz out of the box, and finally, GPUs that'll accelerate MPEG-4 video decoding, allowing you to downclock the CPU and save battery life while retaining smooth playback.

    Both Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices run TCPMP, which is pretty much THE media player to have. It plays just about everything(except WMA and WMV on Palm OS), and it's free.
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