Monday, August 20, 2007

New Sharp Zaurus!

Sorry to lead on any Zaurus fans with the title - it's not truly a new Zaurus, but merely new to me. The Zaurus line is long since defunct (indeed even the last few models were little more than cash cows to milk some more profit out of the design, with very little innovation), and my old SL-C860 is a little long in the tooth with the hinge now starting to misbehave a little. With this in mind, I thought it was time to upgrade before it was too late. So a few weeks ago we headed off to Akihabara where I expected to pick up the newest (least old) SL-C3200 for about ¥50,000 or a little more. You can learn more about the 3200 model here BTW.

Rather to our surprise, we managed to find a small Sofmap shop which sells 2nd hand stuff, which we had last visited several years ago (in fact I might have got my 860 there). Things often change over that sort of time scale here, and our memories were hazy about its location anyway. But it is still there, and had the full range of Zaurus models (along with all sorts of PDAs and cameras). I hadn't really gone looking for the older 3100 model, but I vaguely remembered that it was almost the same as the 3200 - just a slightly smaller disk, and less software for English learners, neither of which I am bothered about. So for a further saving of about ¥8,000 compared to their 3200s (which were already well below the best "new" price I could find), I chose the former. Although nominally 2nd hand, I think they must be unsold shop returns as they are in near-immaculate condition.

So now I've got a new Zaurus to install all my favourite software, and an excuse to have another look at the full range of software available (which to be honest hasn't changed much). The machine is clearly better than the 860 in many minor ways - better keyboard feel and layout, a nice Japanese-English dictionary and encyclopedia (especially now I can read it a bit), obviously massive disk space (comparatively speaking) and a slightly more elegant base shape. There are some other minor updates to the bundled software which are moderately useful/entertaining, like a train timetable/planner. It is also now very clear that my 860's battery was getting rather weak - the new machine lasts much better. Mostly it's the same however, which is what I wanted.

As well as gaining a shiny new SL-C3100, I have of course also gained a spare disposable SL-C860, which means I can play at being a Linux geek and install new distributions like pdaXrom on it - this is a full X11 windows manager thing with huge number of applications available. Installing the basic package was straightforward, setting up things like the internet connection rather less so, but I've even got (one method of) that working OK now (ok, jules fixed the last bit for me). I'm not sure that it is really that useful to me, especially since it means losing a lot of Sharp's inbuilt Japanese language abilities (and/or losing a lot of hair trying to install enough bits and pieces to get back roughly to where I started). But it's something new to play with.

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