A Cheap Alternative PDA
|Several of my friends have purchased Visors in the last 6 months. I wanted one but it seemed like overkill for my needs; what I really needed was a clock, a calendar, a scheduler with an alarm, a notepad, a calculator, and a name and phone number list. I was on the verge of buying a Visor myself when I happened to purchase a Rolodex/Franklin RF-192 for my daughter to help her keep track of her assignments. I took a close look at it and realized that I also needed an anniversary reminder to help me with all the birthdays that I tend to forget. |
The RF-192 measures 96mm x 143mm x 14mm (about 3.8" x 5.6" by .55") and weighs 4.5 ounces with batteries. The non-upgradeable ROM includes the following functions:
Other features include:
- Anniversary Reminder (you get a pop-up alert each time you turn on the PDA on the anniversary date and for the six days prior)
- Monthly Calendar
- Business and Personal Telephone Directories
- Data synchronization
- Expense Manager
- Home/World Clocks with alarm
- Memo Pad
- Memory Gauge
- Metric and Currency Converter
- Password Protection (up to a 6-digit number)
- Scheduler with Alarm (when the alarm goes off the PDA wakes up if turned off, beeps, and displays the message)
- To-Do List
The case is slightly curved, has very rounded edges, and is thinner on the edges than in the center -- making it much more pocketable than its dimensions would indicate. Its sleek shape fits well in the palms enabling fairly efficient thumb-typing on the little qwerty keyboard. I can thumb-type considerably faster than my buddies can scribble into their Visors.
- 6-line display with backlight (the backlight provides a very even coverage of green light)
- 12- and 24-hour time displays
- 192 KB of storage
- Automatic shutoff (after about five minutes of no key press)
- Daylight Savings Time
- DataGuardŽ (I think this refers to the PDA's ability to retain data for 30 seconds while you change batteries. Woohoo!)
- PC Synchronization software and cable
- Six language prompts including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese
There is a pair of up/down search keys to the left of the LCD screen. Those little arrow keys let you scroll the various entries through the display. To the right of the screen is a numeric keypad with a calculator-style layout. And, immediately above the qwerty keyboard is a row of eleven function keys that let you select the various modes, turn on the backlight, or initiate a data transfer to your PC.
The biggest drawbacks I've found are:
Without the ability to carry around whole novels like the Palm Pilots and Visors, and without custom programs, 192K bytes of memory is a lot. I delete notes and scheduled events as I use them and have been running at about 95% of my memory free for the past week. At the rate I'm consuming memory, I shouldn't have to do a serious purge for a year or two. With luck, I may still be using the original set of batteries, another advantage over the more powerful Palm OS PDA's.
- Requires Windows to back up to your PC (I run Linux)
- Memo entries are limited to just over 100 characters (I'm learning to be concise!)
- There are no weekly repeating alarms (but it's easy to reset a scheduled event for 7 days later)
- There is only one daily repeating alarm
- There are no games or other custom programs
- The manual is tiny (100mm x 63mm) and is printed in a near-microscopic font (fortunately, after 15 minutes with a magnifying glass, you will never need the manual again; without the manual, it might take you 30 minutes to figure out all the important functions)
I'm very satisfied with the RF-192 and I am especially happy with the price. Suggested retail is $34.95 but I only paid US$22.47 plus tax at the local Wal-Mart. Circuit City also has them for $29.95. Those prices include batteries (2xCR2032), Windows 9X CD, and a serial cable for connection to a PC.
I may yet buy a Visor for the sheer geek appeal, but for my actual needs, the RF-192 is a perfectly adequate solution.
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|mail this link | score:9352 | -Ray Yeargin, May 26, 2000 (Updated: May 31, 2000)|
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