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PDA recommendations

My wife has Rhemetoid (I botched that spelling) arthritis.  It's hard for her to hold a pencil or pen nowdays, so she wants a PDA.  Where are good sites I can send her to that has reviews of PDAs?  She is 100% computer illiterate, and proud of it.

The other option is she's been thinking of getting a Mac laptop.  I know nothing of Macs.  My understanding is IBM has major yield problems with the chip, and Apple quit making the older laptops a few months back (oops).  Is this true?  Can I get a 2 minute tutorial on Mac laptops somewhere?

Snotnose
Friday, July 16, 2004

A cheaper iBook would be an excellent value. The keyboards on macs are well designed and have clear tactile feedback. Her fingers will love them (or at least loath them less than most other keyboards). If she's a PC person introduce her to the Microsoft Natural keyboards. They are more gentle on her wrists.

Li-fan Chen
Friday, July 16, 2004

Thanks.  She's a 2 finger typist, a natural keyboard would make no sense for her.

And now that I don't have dinner on the BBQ I'll prove I can  use dictionary.com to spell Rheumatoid :)  It's a nasty ass disease, we've been dealing with it for about 4 years now.  Neither of us can ride bikes anymore, she stays in shape doing yoga and I'm just getting fat :(

Snotnose
Saturday, July 17, 2004

You didn't mention what she wants to use it for, but I'd have to assume that holding a tiny stylus would be even worse for her than a pencil. I recently bought a Palm Tungsten C, which has a built-in keyboard (and WiFi), which I love, but this too might be rough on her hands.

Mac laptops have excellent keyboards, as was mentioned above.  I'd agree with the recommendation for an iBook G4. You an get them for under $1,000 (12") on eBay, or slightly more new.  If she's not into computers, I'd have to guess that Mac is easier to pick up than Windows. If she knows Windows, then you may want to spend an hour showing her the differences. The "The Missing Manual" book on OS X is a smooth read and nicely shows off all that she could do with it.

As to the production, what you've heard is about the iMacs, the home line of desktops. They are readying a major upgrade to the iMac line, so they are running the channel dry for the time being. There were some chip shortages that held back release of the PowerMac G5 desktops as well, but both laptop lines are readily available, with no upgrades imminent.

Hope that helps, and that he condition gets better.

  --Josh

JWA
Saturday, July 17, 2004

"She's a 2 finger typist, a natural keyboard would make no sense for her."

So instead of spending half an hour to adapt to the split keyboard she;s going to abuse her arthritis on a regular one? Doesn't seem a good tradeoff to me.

Most PDAs use styli (i.e. pens) for input; so a laptop is a better idea unless she wants to carry it in her vanity purse. In that case, Palm with the folding keyboard is still the best deal for the money (and for you since its interface is Mac-based).

.
Saturday, July 17, 2004

This is the feedback I'm after.  She isn't sure what she wants, and as I don't have the disease I can only guess at what she goes through daily.  She wants to use it to communicate.  I don't think either of us has really thought of the ramifications.  A stylus would be a major step backwards.  She needs either a small keyboard she can hunt and peck on, or something similar.  She doesn't want to do the whack-the-key-till-the-letter-comes-up games she plays on her cellphone sending messages.

For "communicate", she can talk and listen fine.  I need to clarify with her what exactly she wants to do.  I know she leaves me and her mom notes, we can't make out her writing anymore.  I really think that's the key, just something she can write with.  That of course means a built in printer, which as far as I know doesn't exist.  A wifi link is sorta ok with me (um, what's that on the grocery list honey?  Lemme go check my IM, hang on), but her mom doesn't own a computer.

We're saying PDA because it's all we can think of.  I really think she would be happy for 2-3 years with something that would let her keep notes, either to herself, or to send messages to myself, her mom, or whomever.

This disease doesn't get better.  You can just slow it down.  In 2-3 years we'll be looking for something else.

Snotnose
Saturday, July 17, 2004

If you want somethign to allow her to make notes, from a PC/Mac there are those new DYMO label printers: http://tinyurl.com/2mybh

Or, there are a number of thermal mini printers for Palm Pilots. Like this standalone unit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005LDPI/002-4202210-4431202?v=glance
There are also some that clip onto the PalmPilot itself.

You mentioned that she uses her cell phone for this sometimes, so I assume that SMS would be fine. In that case you could go with a cellphone network device with a built-in keyboard like a Palm Tungsten W ($75 on eBay), an older Treo 300, or maybe a T-Mobile SideKick would work - that can send SMS, browse the web, and AIM. Otherwise there are all kinds of Motorola & Blackberry devices that should work.

Just a few ideas.

  --Josh

JWA
Saturday, July 17, 2004

It's not what you asked for but would a mini voice recorder do what she needs for leaving 'notes'?

_
Saturday, July 17, 2004

PDA is dead. The new king is pda-phone-camera hybrid.

Pete
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Get from under the bridge, Pete.

.
Saturday, July 17, 2004

On the other hand, it's easy to write on Palm using a finger nail, instead of the stylus. Just like using your finger dipped in ink, only letter forms are even simpler.

You could try to borrow a sample for your wife to see how easy it turns out for her.

.
Saturday, July 17, 2004

You may also want to consider a Tablet PC -- power of laptop with Windows XP,  but using pen as input.

Regarding PDA's -- I had a Palm III (.. very old) and recently upgraded to a iPaq 4150. Great PDA but sadly -- I miss my Palm. Serious stability problems with the iPaq -- at least once every few weeks it hangs for no apparent reason. always when using the internet explorer.

liam
Saturday, July 17, 2004

can you write big with a palm? by that i mean write one letter at a time using the entire screen? i'd imagine this would be the biggest advantage of a palm over any other system.

tablet sounds cool, but you must use the special stylys. with most PDAs you can use anything--finger, easy to grip stylus, whatever.

many PDAs do have voice-recoding features, which might be very useful.

there must be a support group for this issue, probably even online. it might be a bit hard to find since it's self limiting. (typing about not being able to type.)

mb
Saturday, July 17, 2004

You know, depending on the context of where she's using it, there are plenty of voice input options available, and most of them very workable, if not really good. Mac OS X has a well regarded system built-in, and Tablet PC's have what's supposedly a good system too. On Windows in general I always hear mention of Dragon Naturally Speaking (?). Maybe that would work even better for her.

  --Josh

JWA
Saturday, July 17, 2004

I don't know what you mean by communicating, and the mac does sound like a good idea, but I thought I'd mention that the Sony Clie` is well built & one model or two does have a little qwerty keyboard.

Make sure the mouse is comfortable for her. The Thinkpad tiny eraser mouse sucks, but a regular rectangulary area type laptop mouse may be ok. The best kind is the kind you can just tap to click instead of having to click the button with your thumb.

The Toshiba Tablet PC's ($$$) may be a good mix, but I'm not sure if you need to use the pen to write on the screen or if your finger will do. Anyway, it looks cool, and you can go between typing & tablet mode. See if you can test one out.

Weight & size may be an issue if she really wants to carry it around, and you have to worry about laptop theft. Finding a good ergonomic bag may be a problem.

The Danger Sidekick (T-Mobile offers this) does a handful of communications things & is a cell phone. I think it's discontinued, and I heard reliability on those things is horrible. It has a qwerty keyboard.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Why don't she wait for Nokia 9500 ?

Pete
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Most new palms allow writing anywhere on the screen.

However, you DO REALIZLIE that most modern pda’s are of NO use without good access to a full functional pc?

In other words, a pda all by its self is not going to cut it very well. For any installing, saving of data etc, someone will have to a have a good working PC available for that pda to work with. These things are generally NOT stand alone units.

I also second the idea that perhaps a small keyboard might be better. However, one should test/try a pda and see how the writing input works. For a  handicapped person, I just simply don’t know how well a pda for data input would work. (it might very well be the best possible input here…or perhaps the worst!).

If someone who aids this person’s care has a good working pc, and willing to make that pc a extension for the pda, then setup could work well. Most pda’s now support email exchange with the desktop pc. You can write/read/reply to email, and the you “sync” this with the desktop pc, and all incoming/outgoing email gets sent.

It would be MOST interesting to see how well this kind of setup could help a handicapped person. I do think that if the person could well use the pda, then a whole new world would be opened up for that person. However, how well this works would depend on the person setting up the pda on the pc side. Also, as mentioned, I really don’t know how well the input/writing would work for a handi capped person.

I would check with any organization that has expanse in this area, as then you might avoid a lot of problems, and save learning some hard lessons.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Charles W Moore, a Mac columnist, says that he has "problems with neuritis  that sometimes makes typing pretty uncomfortable for him". I believe that he uses ViaVoice and iListen on his Macs to reduce his typing load.

His review of iListen at http://www.applelinks.com/mooresviews/il16.shtml may give you some insight.

Kura-Kura
Sunday, July 18, 2004

So far as the bike/arthritis issue, if her hands and not her feet are the problem, get a recumbent tandem trike and let her be the stoker.  Then she can relax her hands and just pedal and you can do the steering.

See, e.g.:

http://www.tandembike.com/
http://greenspeed.com.au/tandem.htm
http://www.wizwheelz.com/

Kyralessa
Monday, July 19, 2004

Use voice recognition. Either a Windows PC or a Mac. Doesn't matter.

Stephen Jones
Monday, July 19, 2004

Thanks for the feedback.  I suspect a cell phone with a little keyboard is going to be the way to go.

As for the bikes, we met riding.  But my knee gave out (genetic thing, last option is replacement surgery, which I'm not ready to do yet), and she could no longer shift gears.  If we got a tandem then I'l be pedaling with 1 leg and shifting, she'd do everything else.

Snotnose
Monday, July 19, 2004

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