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Review: IBM Workpad z50 (Flashback)

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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2005-03-03 2:21 PM
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The second hand Handheld PC market is booming. With H/PC's seeing far less depreciation, and much higher long-term value to their owners it is no wonder that the H/PC produces such strong passions amongst their owners.

If you are looking at the second hand market for a device, then chances are you have scoured the Internet looking for reviews and up-to-date opinions on the various models that have peeked your interest.

With what we hope will be the first of many 'Flashback' articles, we take a detailed look at the IBM Workpad z50 from the perspective of a 2005 user, showing you the pros and cons as well as what type of user the device is best aimed at.

Review: IBM Workpad z50
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Yoldering Page Icon Posted 2005-03-05 11:02 AM
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Thanks for the article; I wish I had seen it earlier!
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2005-03-05 11:06 AM
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I thought it was a great article, informative and well-written. It made me nostalgic for a z50 and I never even owned one

Jake
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Snappy! Page Icon Posted 2005-03-05 2:54 PM
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Jake - 2005-03-05 9:06 AM

I thought it was a great article, informative and well-written. It made me nostalgic for a z50 and I never even owned one

Jake


hehe ... just like how a Newton does for me ... makes me nostalgic even though I've never owned nor seen one!
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surrealmonk Page Icon Posted 2005-03-05 7:48 PM
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Snappy! - 2005-03-05 11:54 AM

hehe ... just like how a Newton does for me ... makes me nostalgic even though I've never owned nor seen one!

Yeah... I love getting nostalgic for things I never experienced too...
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Snappy! Page Icon Posted 2005-03-05 8:28 PM
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surrealmonk - 2005-03-05 5:48 PM

Yeah... I love getting nostalgic for things I never experienced too...


hehe ... I think the *fun* part of this is that, 1) you never had to spend exhorbitant money for those things, since they cost an arm and leg and more when first released and 2) you never had to deal with its flaws in actual usage so 3) we can happily dream on how wonderful it would be and be nostalgic about it!

Sounds almost like getting mushy over that dream girl or dream job that we never got!
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sophisticatedleaf Page Icon Posted 2005-03-07 7:39 PM
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I'm with ya on the newton
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dazz
dazz Page Icon Posted 2005-03-07 9:36 PM
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I have had an IBM z50 for a long time now and have always loved it! I have used it for writing a LOT of articles and business letters and for checking and sending e-mails while on the go.

Until you have actually tried one you would not believe how great the keyboard is!! Almost all other HPCs feel like toys compared to it.

The screen was never great but certainly good and it was always much more portable than any notebook I have owned. Considering I bought it for $400 quite a few years ago it was a great deal. I would still be using it but recently the battery died and I think it is going to be too expensive to replace. If I find on eBay I might buy it.

If you can find one at a good price buy it!! They are cheap enough now that you can snap one up and sell it again for about the same $$ if you don't like it. If all you need to do is wordprocessing then this is a great way to go.

BTW, great review Chris!
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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2005-03-08 8:22 AM
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Thanks dazz, I'm glad you liked it.

There are a number of the extended batteries on eBay UK & USA at the moment.

The keyboard certainly is a selling point. I wrote the review itself in Pocket Word on the z50, so can vouce for that.

You can also swap around the language very easily on the z50 - unlike most CE devices. There are four ROMs:
ROM CARD (English) 10L1218
ROM CARD (Japanese) 10L1256
ROM CARD (French) 10L1258
ROM CARD (German) 10L1257

So if you wind up with a foreign version you can swap it over.
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guonbeeman
guonbeeman Page Icon Posted 2005-03-15 10:10 AM
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Great article! I'm the very happy owner of a Z50, which I use for novel writing. The Z50 is a nearly perfect writing subnotebook... very portable, good battery life, terrific keyboard, etc. My only complaint, as was pointed out in the article, is the screen refresh rate. I frequently "lose" the cursor when working.

I actually found this article while searching for an "enlarge the cursor" program... if anyone knows of one for this version of WinCE, please let me know. FYI, www.pocketpccity.com has a a terrific collection of WinCE software. Though not, alas, anything that'll change cursor size.

FYI to the user with the dead Z50 battery... I bought the Z50, the extended battery, and the AA battery case on Ebay, all for very reasonable prices. There's a vendor selling the extended battery and AA battery as a set, for about $20.

---Ell
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guonbeeman Page Icon Posted 2005-03-15 10:25 AM
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And wow, y'all have a great collection of HPC software here, too! (she says a little embarrassedly, now that she's actually explored the site for the first time.)

---Ell
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alphacrumb
alphacrumb Page Icon Posted 2005-03-15 12:25 PM
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I, too, use my HPC (a Jornada 820) for writing and have suffered the dreaded 'disappearing cursor'. I've searched for anything to increase the cursor thickness, including registry edits, but there appears to be nothing out there.

I recently wrote Softmaker (the developers of Textmaker) about the problem and they've told me they're considering putting a 'text cursor thickness' option into the next version of their word processor, which is due out this year. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

(As for going the stylus method--which would, I confess, make things a bit easier than a mouse/trackpoint/trackpad--I find it a bit jarring having to take my hands away from the keyboard as I write.)
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Yoldering Page Icon Posted 2005-03-15 8:30 PM
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dazz - 2005-03-07 8:36 PM

I have had an IBM z50 for a long time now and have always loved it! I have used it for writing a LOT of articles and business letters and for checking and sending e-mails while on the go.

Until you have actually tried one you would not believe how great the keyboard is!! Almost all other HPCs feel like toys compared to it.

The screen was never great but certainly good and it was always much more portable than any notebook I have owned. Considering I bought it for $400 quite a few years ago it was a great deal. I would still be using it but recently the battery died and I think it is going to be too expensive to replace. If I find on eBay I might buy it.

If you can find one at a good price buy it!! They are cheap enough now that you can snap one up and sell it again for about the same $$ if you don't like it. If all you need to do is wordprocessing then this is a great way to go.

BTW, great review Chris!

Dazz
It would be a shame for you to not use it anymore. check out this http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=14298&item=6...


Edited by Yoldering 2005-03-15 8:33 PM
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fupjack
fupjack Page Icon Posted 2005-03-19 9:55 PM
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Yoldering - 2005-03-15 8:30 PM

Dazz
It would be a shame for you to not use it anymore. check out this http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=14298&item=6...


I picked up one of these batteries from Ebay recently, though from a different seller; my z50's original battery wasn't holding much of a charge. It's a bit bigger than the original battery, so it sticks out past the back edge of the z50. Other than that, no troubles. I haven't tried the version with AA batteries yet - haven't had to.

My current goal is to find one of the memory upgrades for the Z50. (Pointers welcome) I want to put NetBSD on there, but I don't think I can get X Windows working too well without the extra RAM.
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billyb
billyb Page Icon Posted 2005-03-20 3:56 PM
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- nice wrapup, but the article failed to mention one of the BEST reasons to use an IBM Z50:

it runs NetBSD!

using NetBSD and an inexpensive CF/microdrive/PCMICIA card you have a wireless X11 terminal (w/a virutual screen if desired) w/a 10-hour battery life that also runs off of AA batteries (about five hours off of good alkalines, more w/LiIon AAs)...

see:

http://www.netbsd.org/Ports/hpcmips/

- i don't think i've ever used any of the CE software (stil in shrinkwrap in the box)...
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