These inexpensive Oregon Scientific organizers offer some interesting alternatives to Casio, Sharp, and Palm. They are manufactured for Oregon Scientific by IDT.
The OS Pro Elite is a clone of the Palm PDA which sells for less than $100.
The Echo is a tiny credit-card size PDA (like the Rexx), about $70.
The PDA256 is a slightly larger pocket-size PDA which includes a nice multi-language dictionary, about $60.
IMSL Software developed the PC backup software for all 3 of these units, and has therefore had plenty of chance to work with them and compare them to similar Casio, Sharp, and Palm units.
You can buy these units online through Oregon Scientific resellers like www.pdabuzz.com.
OS Pro Elite
"The OS Pro Elite comes with 2MB of RAM to handle the most demanding tasks for work and travel. Its clamshell design provides ergonomic comfort and fits easily into a pocket or briefcase. Its included docking station enables data synchronization with your Windows 95/98 PC, and its 160x200 grey-scale LCD screen is larger than competitive models and thus easier on your eyes.
Its touch screen helps you access and organize your contacts, appointments, to-do lists and memos. Use its preloaded fax/email software and a modem (sold separately) to get your email. Let OS Pro remind you about holidays, birthdays and anniversaries; Track expenses when youre on the road. Includes: phone directory, calendar, anniversary reminder, alarms, to do lists, expense manager, appointment scheduler, memo pad, calculator, world clock, IrDA Infrared port, and FineART™ handwriting recognition for easy data input. Only 5 1/4" length x 3 1/4" width x 3/4" depth."
In other words, it really is very similar to the Palm PDA, and includes even more built-in functionality than the Palm.
Price is under $100.
Main differences from Palm:
If you like the organizer functionality of the Palm PDA, and it's not important to you to be able to use 3rd-party Palm application software, the OS Pro Elite is a bargain. But don't expect to be able to use any Palm software.
"The "Echo" personal digital assistant (PDA) with 512K memory synchronizes with your personal computer to "echo" your desktop information wherever you go!
The Echo includes the following:
The package includes Companionlink Software(TM) synchronization software for Microsoft Outlook(TM), Act!(TM), Goldmine(TM), Lotus Organizer(TM), Schedule +(TM) and a PC Docking station for synchronization with your computer!"
Pice is about $70. The package includes a soft protective cover for the unit.
As you can see from the photo, this is a very compact credit-card size organizer. Not that you would ever put it in a wallet - it's too thick, and it would break if you tried to flex it. But it fits very conveniently in a pocket or purse.
If you are familiar with the Rex PDA, the Echo is similar in form to the Rex unit, but with the following differences:
The screen contrast is not quite as good as the Rex, or most other pocket organizers for that matter. There is no backlight.
No graphics capability - text only.
If you are looking for a very compact pocket organizer, you can't beat the size of the Echo. It has all the functionality and memory capacity of other pocket organizers, and the pen data input and editing is no less convenient than any of the other pen-based units in spite of the compact size. It can synch with a PC database or organizer program, and the communications hardware and software is included. The only real drawback is the poor screen contrast.
The PDA256 has the same features as the Echo above (they are more-or-less the same unit internally). It sells for about $60.
Differences from the Echo:
The extra feature of the PDA256 is a very nice multi-lingual dictionary. "Translates over 45,000 words in seven different languages - English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch." It's better than a paper dictionary.
The PDA256 wouldn't be a bad choice to take on a European trip, although same caveat as all the other compact pocket organizers: the batteries can be expensive and difficult to find on a foreign trip, so make sure they are good before you leave!.