Linux PDA to take on Palm/Handspring

Announced on the 15th at Linux World Expo, the Agenda VR3 was promoted as being a geek's ultimate PDA. Developed by Agenda Computing, the basic VR3, with 8MB RAM and 2MB FlashRAM, comes in at $149, the same price as Palm's and Handspring's basic models.

The VR3 features version 2.4 of the open source Linux kernal, and can even run a small Web site. It comes standard with many common PDA applications, like a schedule, contact, and mail utility built in. Go check it out; Is it a real threat to the m100 and basic Visor? Your comments are welcome.

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{finally} a decent linux-based handheld

eleutherius @ 8/17/2000 8:57:44 AM #
There will finally be something to challenge the cathedral-style PalmOS in the handheld market that has been reasonably put together.

A threat to all PDA's

sfitz @ 8/17/2000 9:44:03 AM #
I think we have seen the bar raised on PDA feature,
price, and size. But this is not just a threat to
PalmOS devices, but could easily blast CE right out
of the market. When the VR5 unit, a color version,
with a similar form factor as the PalmV comes out at
the end of the year(hopefully) then we will see the
full shift in the market. As for this Palm user, I
hate to say I've already filled out a pre-order form
for a VR3 to be out in October.
Here is how I see them stack-up:

Palm M100: 160x160LCD, 4.6x3.1x.72 4.4oz, 2mg, single task
Visor: 160x160LCD, 4.8x3x.72 5.4oz, 2mg, single task
iPaq: 240x320LCD, 5.1x3.2x.62, 6.3oz, 32mg, ? task
VR3: 160x240LCD, 4.5x3x.8, ~4.75oz, 8mg, Multi-task

M100: $149
iPaq: $449
VR3: $149 (projected)
While a bit heavier than Palm, smaller width and heigth
and better size/resolution on LCD out weigh the weight
issue. While not as fine of resolution as the iPaq the
viewable area of the LCD is slightly bigger. The iPaq
tops the scales in it's class, not good. I think the
VR3 understands the market and that the Palm factor is
the target, while power is the name of the game, while
not forgetting the price. Oh yea, price, at 1/3rd the
price of a iPaq, and the same as the M100 or Visor I
think it has more than hit the mark.

Most people see memory as an issue, but currently a
comparison on this level can't be done. While it has
more memory than a Palm, so does a iPaq. However 4mg
of memory on a Palm roughly serves the same ability as
32meg on the iPaq. This is where the VR3 may make it's
biggest mistake. Is the VR3's 8meg more like 2meg of
palm memory (not enough), or is more like 4meg (very
usable). Time will tell.

Kudos to Agenda for taking the chance on Linux, I hope
it pays off.

RE: A threat to all PDA's
Trinition @ 8/17/2000 10:35:55 AM #
The only stat I see missing is battery power. Somehow, I doubt this thing could last for weeks on 2 AAAs.
RE: A threat to all PDA's
Mark Sumner @ 8/17/2000 11:46:41 AM #
After taking a look at the available apps, the Agenda applications do seem considerably heftier than your average Palm app. For example the "minefield" game, which runs about 20K on the Palm, is 96K for the Agenda. A scientific calculator is over 200K.

Still it's a neat looking device and at the $149 price, I'll probably buy one just to play with it.

Geek's PDA

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/17/2000 11:25:44 AM #
The subject says it all. This does not appear to be a device with the mass-market appeal of the Palm. It may, however, sqeeze PocketPC in the niche market for feature wonks.

Not Compelling, Yet

Ed @ 8/17/2000 1:12:22 PM #
As I understand it, the main advantage Linux has over the other desktop OSes is that it is rock steady. Linux boxes can go for years without having to be restarted. But when we move over to the handheld world, the Palm OS is already pretty darn solid so I don't see where the VR3 has such a big advantage.

The Palm OS certainly has a lot of software available for it while the VR3 has just been launched. I'm sure developers are out there now hard at work creating and porting new apps for the VR3 but there are also developers making even more apps for the Palm. In the future, the VR3 might be a viable Palm alternative but right now I would certainly recommend the m100 over the VR3 just for software choice.
Palm InfoCenter


I.M. Anonymous @ 8/17/2000 2:27:31 PM #
How can this product be $100 cheaper than the comparable PalmIIIxe? Is Palm ripping us off?
RE: $149?
Paul P. @ 8/17/2000 3:21:18 PM #
Maybe not. Remember, the VR3 isn't actually out yet. It's possible the price point will increase or it just may not be as well built.

It does look cool though.

RE: $149?
eleutherius @ 8/17/2000 4:31:30 PM #
remember, Palm needs money from the thing. Linux (et al.) do not. There's a lot of wasted money and effort that goes into those Palms for the sake of the OS (with more than adequate results, i say). Of course the hardware itself isn't what jacks the price up on the Palms, and the hardware is mostly what you're going to pay for with the VR*s.
RE: $149? - Because it's not 8Meg
Jannisary @ 8/18/2000 5:18:08 PM #
While the first page in their web site says 8MB of RAM, the rest of the site says only 2.

I'm Impressed by the screen and price

Tim @ 8/17/2000 9:25:21 PM #
The higher screen resolution is the way Plam should go. 50% more is a lot on such a little machine. And the price is in the 'why not buy one' range.

It needs to pick up developer software but I think the Linux enthusiasts will take care of that. Lots of good Palm software designs to serve as models.

Not 8 Meg

Mark Sumner @ 8/17/2000 10:23:19 PM #
My reading of the web site is that the base unit has 8 Meg or -ROM-, but only 2M of RAM. This puts it on an equal footing with the M100.

In fact, considering the larger size of the applications shown on the web site, it seems like a smaller working space.

RE: Not 8 Meg
Franco @ 8/18/2000 1:46:44 AM #
The way I'm reading the specs you have it backwards, it's "8MB RAM + 2MB Flash Storage".

Still, you have to look at what kind of footprint a standard app will have. If it's anything like a typical WinCE app then there's not going to be much room avail.

Also, from reading the "Power Management" text it looks like it's not going to be an instant on system (such as the PalmOS) hence the "Auto Hibernate" option, it looks like it's going to require a good old boot-up (tic-toc-tic-toc).

Only 2MB of RAM
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/18/2000 5:33:14 AM #
From the "Product Specifications" page:

Processor 66MHz 32 Bit NEC VR4181 MIPS
Memory 8MB ROM + 2 MB Flash Storage

On another page, it does list the machine as having "8MB RAM."

However, it seems unlikely that they would have three models of machines that differ only in the amount of flash storage available. This looks to be a machine with 8MB of ROM to hold the Linux core plus applications and either 2, 4 or 8MB of Flash RAM (2MB on the $149 version).

RE: Not 8 Meg
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/13/2001 3:17:57 AM #
Where do you find the 2MB Flash... ?? I thought the linux PDA have 8 MB RAM and 16MB of Flash as in the website ??


Maybe a contender

Tim @ 8/18/2000 9:29:53 AM #

There’s a huge base of apps and developers for PalmOS. There are a large number for Linux. How much work will it take to make a desktop Linux app work on the PDA? This PDA has the potential to steal more market share than any other PDA OS.


Scott @ 8/18/2000 3:50:37 PM #
Ok, this is unrelated to anything on this board, but I wanted to pass it along because it is so COOL.. Go to" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW> and read how to use you PC's keyboard to enter text on your Palm. This is FREE! It uses a combination of Hypertermainal and a free 21K hack. You can even paste to your Palm. This is really slick for apps that don't have a conduit. And, as I am doing now, you can enter text in AvantGo and have it upload next time you sync. Check it out!

Korean Cyberbank to produce all in one PDA

Chris @ 8/18/2000 5:41:23 PM #
Cyberbank of Korea has released an overview of their new all in one PDA, cell phone, pager, email, and web browser device, called the MULTIPALMn see the particulars at:"Brighthand" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>"Brighthand

This device will run the much feared (by palm and M$) TEAPOT OS get a download of the os at:" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>

I have tried to post this new story on the news board but have been blocked by unseen malicious forces

RE: Korean Cyberbank to produce all in one PDA
Ed @ 8/19/2000 9:56:57 AM #
Hi Chris, I guess I'm your unseen malicious forces. Sorry, but I think the Multipalm is off topic for this site. We try to focus on devices that run the Palm OS, not to PDAs in general. While we do run occasional off-topic stories, like this one on the VR3, we try not to make a habit of it and even those stories I try to phrase as "how do you think this will affect the Palm community?"

However, you guys are pretty much free to discuss anything you want to in the Comments section so bringing the Multipalm up here is great.

Palm InfoCenter

RE: Korean Cyberbank to produce all in one PDA
Chris @ 8/19/2000 12:31:50 PM #
note to ED.

Thanks for the Info, Although I currently use a handspring visor deluxe(and I love it!), I also find information about all other PDAs useful, as the industry changes and responds to new introductions of products and software.

To add to my earlier post,

When can we expect something like this to run on a palm OS? Are there plans in the works? What is the 3com development team working on to address the all in one situation, and inevitable integration of PDA/Phone/TV/Pager/web browser?

How will a single use item compete with similarly priced all-in-ones?

Agenda vs. Palm

I.M. Anonymous @ 12/17/2000 12:42:39 PM #
The agenda beats the palm without an issue. The palm OS is weak and was created very quickly without much room to grow. It is only 16bit and has some memory adress space problems. Of course programs need more space on the agenda as they are more complex. With more memory the Agenda is a definate competitor if it ever gets released. For power users it destroys WINce and palm. Price wise you get better hardware and handwriting recognition. But again when is it going to be released, this is the issue because in the computing industry time to market is important. It has to be released in Jan or Feb inorder to be viable because after that palm and Microsoft which are major corporations will find a way to dispose of it.


I.M. Anonymous @ 12/17/2000 12:51:00 PM #
this is a real computer and all of the software is stored in rom, the storage is the flashrom and the Ram is just system memory to run programs and load the operating system and fuctions. This is not a typical palm type setup, it is a real computer just like a pc and this is why it is significant. There is another variant of linux for embedded objects which runs on some existing handhelds, it works like the palm os except all the progs are java with xml graphics. This agenda is very cool indeed.



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