Thread: Hardware Geek
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Old 11-14-2006, 02:20 AM   #4
kahm is on a distinguished road
Posts: 18
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Device: 505/Librie/Zaurus/iPhone
Originally Posted by tcv
Thanks for coming. I would love for you to expound on your use of the Zaurus as a reader.
Sure! Any chance to babble about my toys.

I'll talk about the latest generation Z - the cxx0 series (1000, 3000, 3100, 3200) The Zaurus is a clamshell PDA with a nice qwerty keyboard, and a 3.7inch VGA touchscreen. (The Z was designed as a showpiece for Sharp's screen technology - it is one of the brightest and nicest LCD screens you've ever seen.) They have a 4gb HD, and run linux from the factory - they are essentially mini laptops. Best of all, you can see between 5-8hrs battery life on them pretty easily. Not bad for a PDA.

Weight is about 300g. It's a bit thick at 25mm. The earlier models were thinner, and could be MUCH thinner with the small battery.

(Gibbled translations of specs for the 3200 here.)
Photos here.

The screen rotates and folds flat like a convertable tablet, so you can use it as a widescreen clamshell or a handheld pda/reader. There is a rocker switch on the back (left side in tablet mode) that, when held in the left hand with the screen folded flat, falls naturally under the left thumb. That makes it a very good format for reading, scrolling through the document using the rocker. In clamshell mode, there is a circular pad on the right, surrounding the "OK" button, that acts as arrow keys that you can use for scrolling. I prefer to read in tablet format, though. All of the software I use also allows you to "drag" the document by pressing and dragging anywhere on the touchscreen. If I'm holding the reader in my right hand I usually use my thumb to scroll through that way.

Software wise, there are a lot of choices. For text and HTML, I use the web browser (Opera). It is a very good web browser, even for content that isn't meant for a small screen. It also has built in zooming (by several hundred percent both ways) and a fantastic "small screen" mode - It strips ALL formatting from the HTML page and shows it as text. Combined with the zoom function, I find it to make a very comfortable reader and regularily read full novels this way.

There is a pretty good PDF reader, with full scrolling, zooming, font rendering, and text only modes. Great in a pinch - PDF isn't necessarily the best format for this size of screen.

There is also an excellent dedicated reader program called Opiereader. It supports a whole dog's breakfast of formats: (from the homepage at
* "Doc" format - also known as the original Aportis or AportisDoc format.
* Weasel or ztxt format.
* Plucker format.
* gzipped text.
* ppms text.
* iSilo 3 (unencrypted)
* Mobipocket (unencrypted)
* Rocket EBook (unencrypted)
* Plain text with special handling of PML or HTML marked-up text.
It has full support for fonts, font sizing, font/background colours, fully customizable keys, full screen mode, and screen scrolling support. You can even customize handling for codepages and formatting on the fly. It is widely regarded as "Must Have" software for the Z. (It's been a while, but I'm pretty sure that markup formats have fully supported links, etc as well)

Many people also read comics on the Z - there are a couple of graphic viewing programs well suited to the task, including one called Comicreader, which was specifically made for it. (Although I haven't used it personally.)

As befits it's customizable nature, there are other ROMS available for the Z as well. The version from the factory is pretty ugly, and runs Qtopia. There is a replacement rom running Qtopia called "Cacko" that's much prettier. There is a rom that is a fully open source replacement for Qtopia called Opie (or openzaurus - I don't follow it much). There is PDAXrom which replaces the Qtopia environment with a full X-windows based system - you can run Firefox and Open office on it, as well as pretty much any X windows program you can cross compile all the requirements for. There's even an OpenBSD port for it. I know one fellow who runs OpenBSD on his Z, and synchronizes his palm pilot to the software running on the Zaurus. I've personally done everything from watch movies to author and burn a CD directly from my Z - they're pretty fantastic and versatile little things


So...Any questions?
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