View Full Version : Another Digital Issue...

08-16-2007, 23:11
So I'm wondering what the best all around PDA/Cellphone/music player/ whatever... for a thru-hike. I run a blog, will need to keep up email on occasion, and journal. Plus it will help keep me intouch with family.

Any ideas?

08-16-2007, 23:12
I hope this hasn't beed discussed before. But I just realized I haven't checked with the search and its WAYYYY to late for me to try...

08-17-2007, 07:02
It has been discussed at least to some degree, but I don't think there's any consensus on "best". I'm planning on an '08 PCT thru-hike and bought an ETEN Glofiish M700 and am reasonably happy with it so far. There are a lot of options; one piece of functionality you didn't mention is GPS. If you're not looking for a device that includes a SiRF Star III GPS, then you've got a wider field to choose from. If that's the case, one you might consider is the Motorola MC35 which is advertised as being "rugged" (3-foot drop tested). Water, Grit/dirt and just jarring or potentially dropping are all failure modes that I'm a bit concerned about; my solution will be to just be careful ... <g>

There really are a number of factors, including how you keep it powered up, whether it has a built-in keyboard or you use a bluetooth keyboard or no keyboard, whether a particular device is tied to a particular cell service provider and whether that provider gives good coverage (my best guess is that Verizon and Cingular have better coverage maps, but I don't really claim to know).

If it's "wayyy too late" to even search, you might be a bit crunched --- apart from selecting and then obtaining a unit, it took me quite some time to get mine setup in various ways and learn some of the nuances.

08-18-2007, 00:12
Thanks for your reply. I'll look at the motorola...

By "Way too late" I meant Dark thirty. I was tired and had already stayed up past my bedtime....

I KNOW I am getting old...

08-18-2007, 02:32
Ah, got it. Good, I think the process of going to one of these is time consuming, at least if you're going to fully utilize what they offer.

One thing to consider is whether you get an unlocked device, or one that you buy from (and are then locked in with) a particular service provider (Sprint, Verizon, etc). I got an unlocked device, but since mine is a GSM phone, I was pretty much limited to Cingular (aka AT&T) or T-Mobile. The former appeared to me to have the better coverage map, so I went with them. Then I found that the pay-as-you-go plan that I wanted ("gophone") has a *different* (more limited) coverage map. There have definitely been gotchas in this migration.

And do you expect to get a 3G device and want a faster network? I don't much care about that, but if you do, don't assume they're all the same; 3G devices are just coming out, and not all cell companies will offer the same; Cingular (that I'm with) is somewhat behind the curve there I believe with their EDGE network. Fine by me, my device isn't 3G anyway.

This might already be an out of date list, but some other devices to consider are the Pharos GPS phone 600, iPAQ hw6945, ASUS P526, HTC Advantage, Nokia N95 or E90, an ETEN like mine (there are different models), MITAC MIO A701 ... new all-in-one devices are popping up all the time. I mentioned the Motorola unit only because that one advertises that it's "rugged", and that's no bad thing in the backcountry.

I wouldn't consider an iPhone. Apart from the lack of GPS, my understanding is that the battery isn't removeable. That's a must for me, that I can carry spare batteries.

If GPS isn't an issue for you, and if you don't care which operating system you run (that can affect what kinds of 3rd party software you can buy), one factor to consider is the quality of the included camera. They all kind of suck, but they're all kind of acceptable too, depending on what you're doing --- you don't get a zoom, forget taking pictures of wildlife, but for still landscapes they can be okay.

Be careful not to assume too much about third party apps you might plan (hope) to install and use. I'm an audible.com customer and had assumed that since they support pocketpc devices, they would support any such device. Wrong: DRM (digital rights management) gets a bit aggressive here, if you want to run any DRM stuff (books, music, video I guess), make sure the app(s) you want to use will work on your particular device, or accept a priori that you'll have to live without that.

Or don't obsess about this nearly as much as I did, buy something that seems like it will work and learn as you go! Good luck with it, and please let us know any lessons learned from your experience.

Brian Lewis

08-22-2007, 16:51
Wow! thanks for that! I will certainly watch my step as I go. I knew it was a complicated issue but I forgot to take into account the speed at which technology changes. We may split it up and I will take the camera and my Mom will take the rest. Or if my wife goes we can split it up three ways. Or we will just go with an all in one. I'll try to keep track of all we go through and post it on my website.

Thanks for all that data!!!!