Sharp Zaurus 5000D Rocks!

Stephen D. Williams sdw@lig.net
Tue, 11 Dec 2001 21:27:40 -0500


http://developer.sharpsec.com/
There are many review out there, here's mine.

I've had my Zaurus 5000D for a week.  I'm glad I waited.  I nearly 
bought an iPaq.

You can read the specs, but suffice it to say that it takes iPaq 
equivalent hardware (StrongARM 206Mhz, 32/64MB ram, etc.) and adds a 
pretty good, but not perfect, mix of built-in IO and features.

And you don't pay a MS WinCE tax since it ships with Linux/Java/QTopia.

Nice, works well, keyboard is cool (not quite as good as the Blackberry, 
but respectable).

It's amazing to bring up a shell window with a click, run Linux 
commands, and even create and mount a swap file on the compact flash in 
two commands exactly like you would on any Linux box.

The unit has a CF slot, SD slot (secure digital, basically just a 
memory-stick like slot for flash ram), headset/microphone jack, a built 
in keyboard (normally hidden), and an IO connector with both real USB 
and serial support.  It has a removable Li-ion battery.

It ships with a 1.18 JVM (full, with JDBC), full networking ready for 
ethernet, modem, or 802.11b, nice PDA apps (no spreadsheet yet), games, 
jpeg/gif/png viewer, Mpeg1 video and MP3 audio player, email client, and 
the Opera web browser.  I added Konquerer by just downloading last 
night.  Both support HTML 4.0, cookies, ssl, and Javascript.  Probably 
also support Java, haven't tried.  Perl, Python, Jikes, Pico, uEmacs, 
ssh, vnc, and much more are ported and installable already.

The cradle USB connection can even be used as a point-to-point 
ethernet-like connection.  This is how it does sync to the Win32 client, 
but it can also be used with masquerading (or a web proxy) through a 
Linux box.

Production unit with 64MB ships early next year, dev unit with 32MB ram 
shipping now for $400.  A CF 802.11b, new style with just a small 
antenna block protruding, is $189.

Dev environment/cross compiler for both QTopia and Java are available 
for download.  QT Embedded is normally expensive for commercial use, but 
open source is free and it's worth it in any case.  The whole 
environment and PDA apps are open source, part of QTopia.

Mistakes:
Should have 2 compact flash ports instead of the CF/SD combination. 
 What you want is large memory (up to 512MB cf or 1GB+ microdrive) and 
wireless Internet (802.11b, CDPD (available 1Q 2002), bluetooth, 
ethernet, modem).  The USB port is underused so far also.  A pigtail or 
base is needed for easy non-cradle use.

No built-in speaker or microphone like the iPaq.  Would be handy for 
dictation, meetings, and cheap-audio for Mpeg1's.

When are these devices going to surpass 320x240???  This one does have 
64K colors like the newest iPaqs.  QT does font smoothing like Win32.

Even the Dev units should have 64MB.  Can StrongARM use more than 64MB? 
 Obviously if you have MMU support to do paging to a swap file, you 
could bank memory when needed.


The secret to these things is obviously that the ram is static, which 
makes the pricing more understandable, and you generally never reboot 
them.  Pressing the On/Off button just suspends/unsuspends.  Takes about 
2 seconds to wake up and 2-4 seconds to sleep.  You can select reboot 
from the gui with no data loss.  Hard reset flushes data not on external 
media, like CF.

sdw