Tuesday, February 28, 2006

eBay Bargains?

I was idly browsing through eBay (which can be dangerous) looking at iPods, and saw a new iPod Shuffle for $71, excluding shipping. Not really knowing the prices I looked elsewhere and found the new iPod Shuffle with the same 512 MB capacity for $65.99 on special at MacMall. It was also going for $69.99 at Circuit City and Best Buy.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Mobile Internet Part II

In a previous blog Mobile Internet I mentioned problems accessing certain websites with a Palm and a Wi-Fi card. I also referred to having better luck with a Linux-based Sharp Zaurus and a Wi-Fi card. Anyway, this "Handheldoholic" bought a Dell Axim X30 Pocket PC on eBay - the model which has built-in 802.11b wireless. I then did a real world test by taking it down to Atlanta with me, where we were staying in a hotel with free wireless access in the lobby. The "Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition"-based Pocket PC worked like a dream, once I had found out which of the supplied connectivity utilities to use. I did not have any problems accessing any website, including Google Mail and eBay. Being able to browse in landscape mode was great, but - a minor quibble here - Palm's implementation of portrait and landscape mode is far superior, both with ease of switching between modes and Virtual Graffiti area placement in Landscape Mode.
I can't wait to try the Beta of the Opera Web Browser on the Dell Axim.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

High tech, high price

One of the things I enjoy when in South Africa is looking at the prices of electronics and software. It makes me feel a bit better about leaving the beautiful weather here and going back home to New York.

Since my renewed interest in gaming I looked at gaming hardware and software:
First I priced a Sony PSP Value Pack - the exact same one I bought brand new on eBay - 2600 South African Rand (ZAR) at a computer chain store. That is around $430 at a good exchange rate - $180 more than street price, and almost double what I paid on eBay.

Then there was a GameBoy (probably an Advance) for sale at a toy store for the equivalent of US$140, as well as a Sony Playstation 2 (I'm not sure if it was the Slim edition) for about $240, which is $90 more than I paid at NewEgg.com.

As for Sony PSP games, the cheapest I saw was "Metal Gear Acid" on sale for about $47 (normal price $65) - it normally goes for about $40 in the USA, and may drop to $30 on special. Other, more popular games like "Burnout Legends" or "Need for Speed Underground Rivals" sell for around $65 minimum.

The main reason for such huge price differences is the import duty the South African government levies on electronic goods.
Of course doing direct price comparisons like this doesn't take currency exchange rate fluctuations into account, or the relative buying power of the local currency

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Different juice - technical problems

Since this is a tech blog, I won't refer to flight delays, although I have certainly had my share this week.
Instead I had electrical problems - due to an incorrect assumption.
Since my Sony NX60 handheld had a power brick which accepted the South African 220 volts without a problem, I assumed that the Tapwave Zodiac that I took with for gaming and my wife's Palm Zire 72 would be the same. They aren't - both come with power adapter plugs that only accept 110-120 volts input.
Fortunately, on a previous visit I had seen a 220 volt to 110 volt converter plug. It only cost slightly more than $10, and since we both required our handhelds for the important task of playing games we bought it.
I had initially thought of bringing my Sony PSP with, but decided that the Tapwave Zodiac would do, since I had several games for it as well as 2 pre-recorded TV shows on SecureDigital Card. Also, I left my Treo 600 behind, and brought an old unlocked GSM Motorola V60 for use with a PrePaid SIM card on one of the South African cellular networks. Ironically both the Sony PSP and the Treo would both handle 220 volts without an extra adapter.
Of course I couldn't do without a handheld computer, so I brought the Tungsten T3, for which I had just bought a travel charger for (otherwise it would require carting a cradle around just to recharge). The Zod (Tapwave Zodiac) would have been adequate, but I was concerned about "toasting" it with one of the games. I must confess that although I have had a couple of Fatal Errors from games they were only soft resets and the Zod is a pretty stable PDA.
However, I've grown to really like my Tungsten T3. With the slider closed it has a really small form factor and it has a more intelligent Virtual Graffiti area than the Zod (You cannot popup a virtual keyboard inside the Zod's Virtual Graffiti area). In fact the Virtual Graffiti and Portrait to Landscape mode is even better than that of the Dell Axim X30 Pocket PC - but that is another story. The Tungsten T3 also has the updated PIM applications (Alarms from Tasks etc.) and its screen is as good as, if not better than the Sony Clie NX60. The T3 is fast becoming my top choice to replace the handheld computer part of the Treo 600. Its main drawback is that the battery life sucks - possibly due to it being a used unit when I bought it.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


In a previous post "Go figure" I wrote that the Handspring Visor Pro runs on 2 AAA batteries.
This is not correct. According to the Wikipedia entry for the Visor Pro, and other sources, it runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Handheldaholic's nightmare!

From an article on Brighthand.com to a link in
The Inquirer: One man company fixes PDAs.

But I really do need a new one!