[cdt-l] Portable email question...

John Brennan john at frozenpoodle.com
Thu Jan 25 00:21:49 CST 2007


Here's my answer in the CDT-L archive, posted last December:
http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/cdt-l/2006-December/000401.html

In short, I carry a Treo with a full-sized keyboard. I may get a fabric
keyboard (2.4 oz), as shown here:
http://www.walkingwired.com/reviews/keyboard.html

-John/Cupcake
-----Original Message-----
From: cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
On Behalf Of Ken Powers
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 6:00 PM
To: cdt-l at backcountry.net
Subject: Re: [cdt-l] Portable email question...

Here are my thoughs on Francis' use of an IPAQ:


The IPAQ weighs less than 6 oz, but can't run on AAs. You'll either need a
solar panel (6.4 ounces) or just bring the charger and recharge in town.
That's the downside.

.....the charger will weigh more than the 2 ounce difference. Of course you 
can put the charger in your bounce box, but then you need to hit the PO when

it is open, then plug it in for 2 (?) hours. I really prefer the 
availability of AA batteries to the extent that I look for cameras that use 
them.


The upside of the IPAQ is that it has a MP3 player,

.... I don't carry an MP3 player or radio

 true GPS,

.......how functional is the GPS - can you load maps / waypoints

an 1.3 MP Camera with flash (that can be used as an emergency light)

.......a 1.3 megapixel camera doesn't even rate in my book,

 can take short videos,

...... I don't use that capability on my 6 megapixel camera

 takes 4GB storage cards,

....... to store what since I don't use mp3, the camera, ...

has a cell phone (with crappy coverage, I'm sure),

........ I haven't carried a cell phone, but I am beginning to consider one

wifi,

..... not sure you will find many wifi places where you coudn't find a 
landline phone

web browsing,

....... see wifi and cell phone coverage

and it might even cook some Ramen if you ask it nicely.

....... hmmm, no there's a thought


In short, you can ditch many gadgets and just take this thing.


...... My reply sounds really negative, but I have been looking at the 
function of these new cell phones. I am having trouble seeing the advantage 
of carrying one vs my well worn PocketMail Composer.  Another consideration 
that I haven't pursued is the relative costs of each service. PocketMail 
cost $150 a year and connects thru an 800 phone number. What would cell 
phone coverage cost for a year? My current cell phone is the second on our 
contract and costs about $17/month without internet access.

Ken
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Francis Tapon" <ft at francistapon.com>
To: <cdt-l at backcountry.net>
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 4:52 PM
Subject: Re: [cdt-l] Portable email question...


I used Pocketmail during my PCT thru-hike in 2006
(www.francistapon.com/pct), but for the CDT I'm considering the HP IPAQ
device (www.cingular.com/ipaq).

The Pocketmail service works fairly well, but I disliked how much the device
weighs (8 oz) and its limited functionality.

The IPAQ weighs less than 6 oz, but can't run on AAs. You'll either need a
solar panel (6.4 ounces) or just bring the charger and recharge in town.
That's the downside.

The upside of the IPAQ is that it has a MP3 player, true GPS, an 1.3 MP
Camera with flash (that can be used as an emergency light), can take short
videos, takes 4GB storage cards, has a cell phone (with crappy coverage, I'm
sure), wifi, web browsing, and it might even cook some Ramen if you ask it
nicely.

In short, you can ditch many gadgets and just take this thing.

Happy trails,

Francis Tapon
Check out my 2 minute video: http://tinyurl.com/yyzdbo
Learn about my book, Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking
Across America, at: http://www.FrancisTapon.com/book

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Terry Norton [mailto:terry.norton at msubulldogs.org]
> Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 10:44 PM
> To: cdt-l at backcountry.net; CJBarry420 at aol.com
> Subject: Re: [cdt-l] Portable email question...
>
> Barry,
>
> Honest questions are always welcome.
>
> Many people have been carrying a Pocketmail system.
> (http://www.pocketmail.com)  I carried one on the PCT last year, and
> hope to use it on the CDT this year.  It is a text only email system
> that uses an acoustic couple modem (cira 1985) to send and receive
> email.  The user dials a toll-free number (in the US) and holds the
> unit to a phone to send and receive email.
>
> The keyboard is small, and messages are generally limited to 4,000
> characters.  You probably won't want to type more than that on the
> small keyboard anyway.  Unless you have very small hands, you will
> likely type with your thumbs while supporting the unit on your
> fingers.
>
> I had no problems with my unit, but I have heard of people having to
> exchange several units to get a good one.  Also, dropping the unit is
> known to shatter the LCD screen.  As with most electronic gadgets, it
> is not designed to handle water, so I kept mine in a double layer of
> ziplock bags.
>
> I replaced the AA Alkaline batteries monthly, and had no issues with
> running low.  I did not use the backlight on the unit which is known
> to be the major power draw.  Using my headlamp was probably a better
> use of battery power.
>
> Operation with a cellphone is hit & miss.  It will not work on CDMA
> digital networks (Verizon), but you may be able to use it if your
> phone supports analog mode.  (I have done this.)  I have heard it
> works with Cingular/AT&T GSM digital networks.  I don't hike with my
> cellphone, so I have no idea how it works in remote locations.
>
> I got my composer and a one year of service for $99 through an offer I
> found in an RV magazine. I plan to renew for 6 months for the CDT. Be
> cautious about purchasing a used composer.  I have heard that
> Pocketmail is not very good about supporting customers with second
> hand units.  (You will likely talk to Pocketmail Customer Service at
> least once to solve an issue.)
>
> Pocketmail as a company has not been doing well financially. I imagine
> the Blackberry type devices are killing them.  Also, Pocketmail is an
> Australian company, and the falling dollar has hurt them financially.
>
> It's slow...It's quirky...It usually works...Pocketmail...
>
> cheers,
> terry
>
> On 1/23/07, CJBarry420 at aol.com <CJBarry420 at aol.com> wrote:
> >
> > Whether hiking the CDT, or any other trail/area...Can anyone offer some
> of
> > us non-technophiles suggestions on the most economical, versatile, etc.
> > means of portable email for the trail? Ex. Im out hiking for days alone,
> > want to write home, (or write period,) any recs for such a scenario?
> Gracias
> > amigos!


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