[cdt-l] Portable email question...

Francis Tapon ft at francistapon.com
Thu Jan 25 18:14:03 CST 2007


Ken: You bring up excellent points. I wasn't suggesting the IPAQ was
suitable for everyone and certainly not you! ;-)

I was simply offering another option for CJBerry who asked for "suggestions
on the most economical, versatile, etc. means of portable email for the
trail."

Pocketmail is certainly economical and much cheaper than the IPAQ; I used
Pocketmail on the PCT and was satisfied with it.

However, it's not incredibly versatile. No HTML/Rich Text, no web browsing,
and poor compatibility with cell phones.  Every cell phone I borrowed to
sync up my Pocketmail failed to work for the reasons that Terry pointed out
below. This was frustrating on the PCT because I thought, "Gee, if I had a
cell phone that did email (like the Treo, IPAQ, etc...), then I could be
sending and receiving right now since there's reception here. But since
there's no landline, I'm screwed."

Because of Pocketmail's low versatility, I suggested that CJBerry also
consider the IPAQ. 

Of course, anyone can poke holes in any product because it doesn't meet
their needs. 

Since I have no idea if CJBerry likes carrying MP3 players, cell phones,
GPS, or is happy with 1.3 MP of resolution, etc.... I figure he's smart
enough to figure that out. I just laid out the features so he can figure out
if it's worth the trade offs. 

Perhaps CJBerry (or someone else on cdt-l) is one of those backpackers who
loves carrying an MP3 player, a GPS, a cell phone, Pocketmail, a camera and
would love to shed a few pounds of gadgets, batteries, and/or chargers. The
IPAQ can help consolidate a few of those. 

One Sobo on the PCT hiked without a camera. For her, a "free" 1.3 MP camera
thrown in might be fun. Others might like having a backup. HYOH.

Yes, the GPS is fully functional, capable of running
www.backcountrynavigator.com or the dozens of GPS programs available for
Windows Mobile 5. That's the IPAQ's biggest bonus over the Treo, which
Cupcake mentioned. 

I'm not sure what the Treo does that the IPAQ can't do. Having GPS is nice,
but it's also a HUGE battery drain. So like any thru-hiker carrying GPS,
you'd probably want to use it sparingly and not have it on all the time,
even if you are lugging around a 6.4 ounce solar roll. 

Lastly, I don't own the IPAQ. I used it for a week and enjoyed it, but I'm
not sure if I want it on the CDT. I might try it and see if it sucks.

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: Ken Powers [mailto:kdpo at pacbell.net]
> 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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