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The Gadgeteer: Hands On Review: Sharp Zaurus SL-5000D

Dec 12, 2001, 15:45 (23 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Julie Strietelmeier)

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"The OS as it is on this developers unit is still rough. It doesn't feel as polished as the Pocket PC or Palm. The main PIM apps just aren't ready for the masses as far as I'm concerned. They seem flat and sorely lacking in advanced features. However, I do like the style of the interface. For Linux users, it has that KDE look to it and is called Qtopia from Trolltech. Qtopia is the GUI and a core set of applications which include: an Address book, To-Do List, Appointment Calendar, E-Mail client, Opera Web Browser, a multimedia player capable of playing MPEG1, MPEG2, and MP3 format files, image viewer, Command Line Terminal and File Manager, Text Editor, Calculator, City Time app, and several games, including Asteroids, Go, Mindbreaker, Mine Hunt, Patience, Snake, Tux and Word Game (Judie and I both loved this Scrabble clone!).

Below are some screenshots that I lifted from Trolltech's website. Visit it to see more.

It's always fun to play with a new PDA, and this one was no different in that respect. But after playing with it for several hours, I realized that it couldn't be my main PDA until the software becomes a little more robust. Sure, if this device takes off, there is going to be a large community of developers that will rally behind it and create better applications. Right now, it has a big appeal for hackers and Unix geeks which is great, but it doesn't feel like a consumer device for the average person. If this device were running Pocket PC 2002, I would say that Sharp might have created the next golden child of the PDA world. But since they decided to go with Linux and Java, it makes me wonder if they will be able to succeed. The Pocket PC is only just now gaining on Palm in the battle of the PDA OS's after being on the frontline for several years now. Bringing yet another OS into the fray seems like a mistake to me. But I will withhold my judgment until I see the actual consumer version. I will be anxiously waiting to get my hands on one to review."

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