Storm (lesserstorm) wrote in fandom_tech,

A question about PDAs and mobile devices

I'm thinking of buying a PDA and hoping that somebody a bit more technically experienced than myself can offer some advice, particularly as I expect to be using it primarily for entertainment rather than standard office functions.

The key things I would like to be able to do with it are listening to music (I would be using it instead of buying an MP3 player) and reading ebooks.

I would also like to be able to use it to transfer photos off the memory card of a digital camera and onto something with a bit more space while I'm travelling, although this is not an essential requirement.

In the light of that, at a first look at specifications, the Palm Lifedrive looks very tempting because of the 4GB hard drive and persistent memory, but I don't know whether that is just because I am used to products which generally carry their memory with them. I would consider something like a video ipod, but I would also like some access to office functions and I would also be concerned that there would be too many restrictions on file formats. How do any other devices handle large volumes of data? Are there any other devices that would be able to transfer files from a camera's memory card to their own hard drive? (The lifedrive will only do this for an SD card, which restricts the cameras I could buy in future.)

I would like to be able to watch video on it ultimately, but it's not something I would know how to go about doing right now. (Query -- is there a fairly straightforward way to change DVDs that I already legally own into a format that can be watched on digital devices and with a small enough to file size to put on a memory card? Or can I download films already formatted?) In terms of watching video, I'm only really interested in a method of transferring commercial films to the device -- I can't see myself wanting to download shorter videos

As regards ebooks, can anyone give me any tips from the experience of using them? Which operating system I go for will obviously determine which format books I can buy and use. I would like to be able to get hold of some classics relatively cheaply/for free and books by my modern favourite authors for less than I would pay for the paperback. I would also much prefer to have just one reader on my PDA, rather than having to mess around with several different formats. And I strongly dislike Acrobat as means of viewing documents, so I would like to avoid Adobe reader unless it is a radically different interface. Has anyone found problems with availability of one type of ebooks or another? Do there tend to be differences in price? What are the different readers like as reader experience goes? How easy is it to import documents that are publicly available in text or HTML format into something that the reader can read (eg fanfiction)? I'd also like to keep file size down as much as possible.

Would either the make of device I go for or its operating system affect the format of music files I could listen to or cause any problems with regard to restricted rights? Would there be any problem with having copies of music, video or ebooks on both my PDA and my laptop PC?

Although I expect to use it primarily for entertainment purposes, I do want the option to be able to edit and create basic word compatible documents and ideally do the same with Excel.

I would also like to be go to use it for internet surfing, although again I don't expect this to be something I spend a great deal of time doing.

I don't expect to use any organiser function at all and I explicitly do not want either a smart phone or an integrated camera -- I deliberately want my phone and camera to be smaller, cheaper devices that I can carry in more extreme conditions and damage without losing other data. Are there any products that are primarily portable media players but would also handle the basic word and internet things I want to do?

I do want the device to be light enough and small enough to carry with me easily -- anything the size of a normal PDA should be fine for that.

Can anyone tell me anything about battery life in any of the devices that might be suitable? One of my concerns with the Palm lifedrive is that the user can't replace the battery, which I think might be an issue for using it to read ebooks or watch videos on long journeys.

If I went for an iPaq or for one of the different Palm devices, would I end up carrying several different memory cards and needing to swap them over for different data? Presumably that would mean that I could not listen to music and read an ebook unless they were saved on the same memory card and that I couldn't use the device to copy from one card to another? Does the lack of persistent memory risk losing data?

Financially, I was hoping not to have to buy too expensive a device -- the Palm lifedrive at £250 sterling was a bit more than I wanted to pay, but if I go for something without an integrated hard drive I will have to factor in the cost of extra memory cards, which could also get expensive.

I know that that's a lot of questions, but if you can answer just some of them then please do comment.

Posted to my own journal and a few other places where I hope people may have a bit more specialist knowlege

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