Tips on using Casio Diaries and XLink/Win

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Updated Apr 2, 2003 

Communications FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Communications Problems
What settings work with the PCLink/DataLink/Yellow Computing cable?
Communications errors with the SF-5500B
XLink/Win and CASIF/Win Software
Converting PCLink data to CASIF/Win
Copying Schedule+ V7 Contacts list to CASIF/Win
Using CASIF/Win with Outlook
Using CASIF/Win with Lotus Organizer
Using CASIF/Win with Act!
Using CASIF/Win with Groupwise
Using CSF-series diaries with CASIF/Win
Using NX-series diaries with CASIF/Win
Using SF-5x80-series diaries with CASIF/Win
Converting data to SF-5x80 model from older SF diary
Casio Diaries
I forgot my password. Can I recover my Secret data?
"Data Error" message, or data inaccessible
My Diary Is Broken - Where Can I Get It Repaired?
My Diary Is Broken And I Didn't Have A Backup - Is There Any Way To Save The Contents?
Dust under the screen
Breaking the display, availability of protective covers
How Robust Is the Password Protection Used By Casio On Secret Data?
ISF-Axx series Casio diaries
Casio Program Cards and Programming Casio diaries
Cut and Paste using Letter Memory
Lucid 3D Spreadsheets
How Can I Convert Lucid 3D Spreadsheets to Excel Or Lotus Format?
Do Any New Casio Diary Models Have Spreadsheets?
CP-9 Copy Pen
How Much Memory is enough?
What's the best model to buy?
What's Different About the SF-5x90SY Models?
What's Different About the SF-6x00SY Models?

"Data error" message, or data inaccessible

The message "Data error" on the Casio diary, or the inability to access part of the data, is usually due to a soft memory parity error. The usual cause is low battery voltage, but it can also be due to a power fluctuation while changing batteries, or a random error (static discharge, cosmic rays?), or even a software error in Casio's internal programming (they don't admit to any, but there is at least one in the old ES-630 plug-in spreadsheet card's Find function which can damage the main memory). Note that a long communication session puts a heavy drain on the batteries, which can cause the battery voltage of weak batteries to drop too far and trigger communication errors and data errors.

A data error may break the memory "chain" of a data type, rendering part of the data inaccessible when accessed in the normal first-to-last order.

In the event of such an error, the only cure is a hard Reset using the reset button (see your manual for the location of this button - it may be on the back or even inside the case). WARNING: THIS WILL CLEAR THE MEMORY AND LOSE ALL CONTENTS.

You can try to back up your data before you reset if it is accessible, and restore it afterwards. When the "Data Error" message appears, try pressing one of the data mode keys (e.g. Telephone) to see if you can proceed past the error. If not, you are out of luck - it's Reset time!

If you can access only part of your data, for example if Telephone records after "H" are inaccessible, try the following:

If this works, you must transmit the items one at a time to the backup program to save them.

How robust is the password protection used by Casio on secret data?
Is there any way to recover the secret data if I forgot the password

Don't lose or forget your password! It is not possible for the end user to recover it (if it were that easy, what good would it be?). Don't ask IMSL Software - we know of no way to recover lost passwords or the password-protected information. All you can do is Reset the diary and erase all the memory contents. If you've just forgotten the password, try guessing all the possibilities you can think of, and don't forget that the password is case-sensitive.

The access password is intended for protection against casual snooping only. The data is not actually encrypted in the memory. Casio might be able to help you recover data if you contact them, but it would probably have to be pretty important data to make it worthwhile, and they would probably charge a hefty fee.

WARNING: Sensitive users should note that it probably is possible to read the secret data stored in the Digital Diary with the appropriate technical knowledge and equipment, and Casio USA is rumored to have assisted official investigative agencies in this regard in the past.

Remember that if you back up your Secret data on the PC, you should also protect it there. You can use the Secret encryption function in XLink/Win or CASIF/Win to protect your data, but archiving and encryption with a secure program such as PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is recommended for more robust protection.

My diary is broken - where can I get it repaired?

Casio maintains a list of authorized repair centers in each region. They change frequently, so you should check directly with Casio for the latest information. In answer to your most likely question, it costs about $100 to replace the screen, and you should probably buy a new diary instead of repairing it unless you have an expensive model which you particularly like.

If your problem is that your diary got wet and it doesn't work any more, contact IMSL Software Tech Support for instructions on how to get it working again.

Casio USA Mailing address: Casio Customer Service Dept, 570 Mt. Pleasant Ave, P.O. Box 7000, Dover, NJ 07801)

By telephone: 973-328-1670

On the web: Go to the Casio USA web site, click on Service and Support, select Personal Organizers, look for the link to contact them for service (the exact name and location on their web site changes frequently). Click on it and you will get an email form to enter your request.

Other countries: If you go to and click on contacts at the bottom of the page, you can find the name of a Casio distributor in your area.

In Canada you can try Cal-Q-Tronics (Vancouver) for Casio organizer repairs and data transfer assistance; email Andy Neggars at or Tel 604-524-4926.

My diary is broken and I didn't have a backup - is there any way to save the contents?

Maybe - it depends on what's broken. The memory content is maintained by the backup battery, and it may still be there even if the screen or keyboard are not working.

The first thing to try is a backup to another diary or to a PC backup program. Borrow a backup cable if you don't have one, and go through the procedure for selecting the Transmit All function on the diary. If you can't see anything on the screen, follow the keystroke instructions in the manual carefully. You should try this anyway before sending the diary out for repair.

A Casio repair center may be able to save the information in your diary - it's worth a try if your own backup attempt doesn't work, or you aren't sure how to do it. See the repair center information above.

And next time don't forget to do regular backups!

Breaking the Display, Protective Covers

The three most common breakages on Casio diaries are:

Casio can fix the display, but it isn't cheap! You can check that the ribbon cable is not pinched or pulled loose. You can clean the contacts on the circuit board. Other than that, there's not much you can do.

Casio does not offer any protective covers or cases for the diaries. Various people have suggested using available covers for calculators and cell phones. Feel free to experiment - the Casio diaries vary widely in size.

Dust Under the Screen

The Casio diaries are prone to get dust under the plastic screen cover, which then sticks to the screen annoyingly with static charge. The only cure for this is to CAREFULLY peel back the plastic screen cover, blow off the dust, and re-install it (it is self-adhesive). Casio will do this for you for a fee if you send it in to your local service center.

What settings work with the PCLink/DataLink/Yellow Computing cable?

These cables all draw their operating power from the serial port pins RTS and DTR, but they each require different combinations of +12v and -12v on these pins. The correct settings in CASIF/Win or XLink/Win are:

Old PCLink V1 cable (silver tip) RTS_OFF = FALSE (+12v), DTR_OFF = FALSE (+12v)

PCLink cable V2+ (gold tip) RTS_OFF = TRUE (-12v), DTR_OFF = FALSE (+12v) [CASIF/Win Default]

DataLink cable RTS_OFF = FALSE (+12v), DTR_OFF = FALSE (+12v)

Yellow Computing cable RTS_OFF = FALSE (+12v), DTR_OFF = TRUE (-12v)

You can make this setting in CASIF/Win or XLink/Win under Settings/Communications on the main menu, or directly in the Casifw.ini or XLinkw.ini  file.

Communications errors with the SF-5500B

The SF-5500B has a known problem with its serial interface. With many commonly-used cables designs it generates a high rate of random errors. For example with the standard PC-Link cable errors occur at a rate of about 1 in 30,000 characters. Doesn't sound too bad, but unfortunately it is frequent enough to occur during a typical backup. This is apparently due to a minor electrical incompatibility with certain cable designs.

Fortunately the Casio communications protocol includes error detection and the ability to retry the last record in order to recover from an error without aborting a transmission. This is implemented in XLink/Win, CASIF/Win V1.9c and later, and in WinLink version 2.0 and later. It may not be implemented in other software packages, which tend to ignore errors and go on.

With some cable designs the error rate is even higher, and you are unlikely to be able to get a good backup even with error correction. If you have such a combination of the SF-5500B and a mismatched cable, you'll have to change one or the other.

Copying Schedule+ V7 Contacts list to CASIF/Win

Use the text export capability of Schedule+ V7 to copy the Contacts list to CASIF/Win, following the procedure below. You must decide whether to import the data as Telephone items or Business Card items in CASIF/Win, and you must decide which Contact fields you want to import, since there are many more fields for Schedule+ Contacts than there are for the corresponding Casio data items.

  1. In Schedule+ V7:
  2. Select Export, then select Text format
  3. Select "Contact List" as the type of data you want to export, then click Next
  4. Click Next again to accept the default separator and delimiter characters comma and quote
  5. Click Next again to accept the default answers Yes to single line and No to field names
  6. Select each of the fields you want to export in the left side list, and click the Add button to copy them to the right-side export list. Then click Next when you have selected all the fields.(this field list will appear as the default the next time you use the Export function)
  7. Enter the export filename you want to use (or accept the default), then click Finish. Your contact data will then be exported to this file in CSV text format.

For example, try exporting the following Contact fields for the Telephone data type:


  1. Select File/New/Telephone list to create a new empty telephone table
  2. Select File/Import/Text file
  3. Enter the file name of the Contacts export file in the File Name field
  4. Select the fields to import to, by selecting each field name in the left side list and clicking the >> button to copy it to the right side import list:(click >> multiple times to repeat the same field name more than once)
  5. Save this list to an Import Spec file for future use by clicking the Save button. (you can recall it in future by using the Recall button)
  6. Click the Import button to import data from the file.

For example, if you exported the suggested Contact fields above to import to the Casio Telephone list, specify the following import field list in CASIF/Win:

This procedure is easier when you repeat it, because you can recall the default export and import lists you created the first time.

In CASIF/Win version 1.9b and earlier, there are no separators added between fields when you concatenate fields together on import, like First Name and Last Name. In version 1.9c and later a space is added as a separator in name fields, and a line separator in Address fields.

Using CASIF/Win with Outlook, Lotus Organizer, Act!, and GroupWise

You can import and export data between CASIF/Win and Outlook using CSV text file format. The first time you do this you must select which fields or your organizer program to map to which Casio diary fields, since organizer programs typically have many more fields. If you do the mapping in CASIF/Win, you can save the resulting map for future use. CASIF/Win has certain import/export functions to help with differences such as splitting or combining First Name and Last Name, Date and Time etc.. You will find these described under Importing and Exporting in the Help file. The example given above for Copying Schedule+ V7 Contacts list to CASIF/Win may be helpful to illustrate CSV text file exporting.

Lotus Organizer has an excellent visual field mapping module for importing and exporting text files, but there are some differences from the way the Casio organizer fields work (e.g. alarms are lead interval instead of time of day, and date/time fields are combined). CASIF/Win has import/export functions to handle these differences.

Outlook also allows field mapping, and retains the last import/export map used for CSV text files, but has no way to save it under a specific name if you use CSV text file import/export for more than one purpose.

Act! insists on exporting all of its many text fields, so be prepared to discard most of them on import to CASIF/Win.

Novell GroupWise has traditionally not supported CSV text file import and export. However, recent versions of GroupWise have allowed text file export and import from the address book, and the utility program GRIMPEXP.EXE is now available to support text file import and export of appointments - see GroupWise Tools at

You can also link to most of the advanced organizer programs using MAPI via DAO in the 32-bit version of CASIF/Win, but be warned that this is complex to set up, and Microsoft's MAPI component in DAO does not support all the data types.

Using CSF-series diaries with CASIF/Win

The CSF models have some minor extensions to the data format of earlier SF models. Be sure to select a CSF model number when you use CASIF/Win or XLink/Win to be sure that you have the correct format for Telephone and ToDo items, and so that Calendar Colors are enabled.

Users of the CSF-7950 report that they must use 8 databits (not 7) when uploading data to the Casio diary from CASIF/Win. Reason unknown.

SF-Axx series Casio diaries

The SF-Axx series (SF-A10, SF-A20, SF-A30, C-300) use a different communications protocol from the other Casio diaries. They are compatible with standard Casio cables, but they cannot communicate directly with other Casio models. Casio has never supplied any software compatible with the SF-A series. CASIF/Win version 1.9e and later fully supports all the SF-A models, and can convert data to and from other Casio models. Earlier versions of CASIF/Win do not support these models.

Casio Program Cards and Programming Casio diaries

Some Casio models accept plug-in cards for memory or optional programs. These cards use a Casio standard form factor (not PCMCIA), and are not compatible with anything else.

Models which accept Casio plug-in cards: the SF-9000 series (9000, 9500, 9700), the SF-R10 and the SF-R20.

Cards produced for these models:

Anyone know of any others?

The Casio diaries cannot be programmed by the end user. The Casio diaries operate entirely from a fixed program in ROM. There is no software programming capability, nor has there ever been one. The closest they came was the plug-in program cards. There was at one time a BASIC programming card available from:

Stahlgruberring 34
D-81829 Muenchen
FAX +49-89-426285

Presumably Casio has a developer's kit available which was used to develop ROM card programs like the Lucid 3D spreadsheet in the ES-630 spreadsheet card. However, none of the newer models accept plug-in cards, so Casio appears to have abandoned this card format.

Using NX-series Diaries with CASIF/Win

The NX-4000/6000 color pen model has some minor extensions to the data format of SF-series models. CASIF/Win version 1.9c and later handles these extensions. Be sure to select an NX model number so that these extensions are enabled, including the Sketch data type.

CASIF/Win versions 1.9c and 1.9d will back up the Sketch data type of the NX-6000, but provides no viewing or editing capability. CASIF/Win version 1.9e and later will export Sketches to BMP format. You can export BMP files to the diary as Sketches, but they must be in exactly the correct format (xy size and 16-color depth). Examine an existing Sketch file to see the correct parameters.

Using SF-5x80-series Illuminator diaries with CASIF/Win

The SF-5x80 series uses a different communications protocol from earlier SF-series diaries. V1.9d of CASIF/Win supports the SF-5x80 series. They are not compatible with earlier SF-series models or with older versions of backup software, including Winlink 1.1 and CASIF/Win V1.9c and earlier.

There is a section in the CASIF/Win V1.9d Help file which describes the differences between the SF-5x80 "Illuminator" series and other SF-models, and the issues which must be resolved in converting data between them. Most important issues:

Converting data to SF-5x80 from an older SF model

If you have tried this you probably already realize that you cannot transfer data directly between the two Casio units, as they use a different communications protocol. You must transfer the data through a PC backup program which handles both models, like CASIF/Win V1.9d.

The CASIF/Win procedure is:

  1. Set the model number to your old model SF-xxxx under Settings/Digital Diary Model (you can also right-click the Transmit toolbar button to call up this settings window)
  2. If you use any "free fields" with your telephone entries, make sure that you have these extra fields defined in CASIF/Win under Settings/Data Format/TEL (you can also right-click the Open toolbar button to call up this settings window)
  3. Receive the data from your SF-xxxx (i.e. click the Receive toolbar button or select File/Casio/Receive and follow the directions)
  4. Save the received data tables as text files (File/Save As)
  5. Change the model number to SF-5x80 under Settings/Digital Diary Model (say Yes if it asks to overwrite existing TEL free field settings)
  6. If you have used extra free fields with your SF-xxxx TEL items, you must now re-map them to SF-5x80 fields using Import (see below)
  7. Convert and Send your data to the SF-5x80.

The procedure to Send data to the SF-5x80 is:

  1. Open a text data file to a table window
  2. Optionally, select any specific data records you want to send
  3. Click the Transmit toolbar button, or select File/Casio/Transmit/Transmit All
  4. Follow the directions to Transmit

Note that you cannot transmit the CAS file you received earlier from the SF-xxxx directly to the SF-5x80 - the CAS file has a model-specific format. You must transmit from text files so that they will be converted to the correct SF-5x80 format.

Free field re-mapping:

The SF-5x80 models have different Telephone fields from the older SF-series. The standard 3 TEL fields are re-mapped automatically when you change model number, but you must decide what to do with any additional "free fields" you have defined yourself, since the SF-5x80 does not have these free fields. If you have an existing TEL file from an older SF-series with some additional free fields, you can use the File/Import/Text file function in a New TEL table window to import the file to SF-5x80 format and re-map the fields. For example, if you had defined your own Fax field as a free field in the SF-xxxx telephone item, you could re-map it to the SF-5x80 Phone2 field. See the description of the Import function in the CASIF/Win Help file, and the explanation of SF-5x80 differences, then experiment a little.

Lucid 3D Spreadsheets

The Lucid 3D spreadsheet program is available as a built-in program on some older Casio diary models like the SF-R10/R20/M10, and as the ES-630 plug-in program card for those models which accept plug-in cards. The Lucid 3D spreadsheet card is the best buy among the plug-in cards for the old Casio SF diaries. It's a very good compact spreadsheet program which has been well adapted to the small screen and keyboard. It has "3D" capability, that is the ability to link cells between spreadsheets. It has a very complete set of numeric functions and format options, but has no date or text functions. It has built-in Help, a very nice feature when you're on the road and don't have the manual. It has a separate 64K of RAM memory built in for holding spreadsheets. The "Cell Notes" feature can be used to hold long memos (up to 16Kb), and the spreadsheet program has a much better text editor than Casio's Memo mode.

Casio supplies the ES-630 card with the Power Spreadsheet program for PCs, which can send, receive, and convert Lucid 3D spreadsheets to Lotus 123 format (although not always reliably). It uses its own communications protocol, but it is compatible with the regular Casio-PC serial cables. An updated version of this program called Lucid Link is included with the diary models which have built-in spreadsheets. Lucid 3D is available as a separate spreadsheet program for PCs (see Lucid Corp).

CASIF/Win can send, receive, and display ES-630 spreadsheets, but cannot translate the formulas or convert to other spreadsheet formats. On the other hand, you can edit Cell Notes in CASIF/Win and upload the edits to the Casio diary.

The ES-630 card is functionally the same as the spreadsheet program built into the SF-R10/R20/M10 and SF-8500 diary models, but the built-in version is V2.0 and has a different internal data format (see the warning below).

Warning: there are two serious problems with the ES-630 spreadsheet card:

  1. If you attempt to load a Lucid 3D V2.0 spreadsheet from the SF-R10/R20/M10 diaries into the V1.0 program in the ES-630 card, it will crash the diary badly enough to require a reset, wiping out all data in the memory.
  2. There is a serious bug in the Search function of the ES-630 spreadsheet program which may corrupt the main memory of your diary, wiping out part of your data.

Don't bother asking Casio Tech Support about these bugs. They don't know anything about them and there is no solution.

How can I convert Lucid 3D spreadsheets to Excel or Lotus format?

The ES-630 Lucid 3D spreadsheet card for the SF-9000 series comes with a program called Power Spreadsheet. The SF models which have the Lucid 3D spreadsheet program built in come with a different version of the same program called Lucid Link. These programs can backup and restore spreadsheets from the Casio diary, and convert between Lucid 3D format and Lotus 123 or Excel format. The two versions of the spreadsheet program use slightly different internal formats: Lucid 3D V1 files (ES-630 card) have the extension .BSW, and Lucid 3D V2 files (built-in versions) have the extension .BS2. The two formats are not compatible. Do NOT attempt to load a version 2 spreadsheet into the version 1 card program - it will crash the diary and require a reset which will erase all your data.

The conversion function in the PC software is not very reliable. It seldom works with Excel spreadsheets in any format, and most complex spreadsheets don't convert with Lotus formats either. Unfortunately there is no alternative. CASIF/Win will backup and restore spreadsheets, but will not do conversion. Lucid does have a newer version of their spreadsheet program which supports the Casio link and claims to support newer Excel and Lotus formats (see Other sources for a demo version), but the conversion does not seem any more reliable.

Do any new Casio diary models have spreadsheets?

Only the BN-10/20/30 models and recent PV-nnnX/S models, which are more expensive high-end units which are incompatible with earlier Casio diary models.

Cut and Paste using Letter Memory

The Casio diary models in the SF-7500 through SF-9700 range have 10 "letter memories" meant, according to the manual, to hold frequently-typed text which you can insert with one keystroke. However, these letter memories can be used as cut-and paste buffers, just as they are on the SF-M10/R10/R20 models. Here's how to do it:

  1. First bring whatever you want to "cut" into the "editor" by putting it at the top of the screen.
  2. Set data in/out to in
  3. Press the Function key, then number one (data item to edit)
  4. Edit it to read how you would like by deleting or typing in additional information
  5. Press Letter Memory, then Shift, then 0-9; this loads the information into that letter memory location
  6. You can now "past" it anywhere you would like (and as many times as you like) by pressing letter memory and 0-9

For example, to copy from a Schedule item to a Memo item: cut from the Schedule item as above, then go to the Memo mode, press letter memory and 0-9, and then press Set.

How much memory is enough?

Various models of the Casio electronic diaries come with memory capacities ranging from 8 Kbytes to 2048 Kbytes. Generally 64 Kbytes is adequate for holding all the telephone numbers and schedule appointments which an average user would need, but heavier users might want 128 Kbytes or more, for example if you have a lot of business cards, or you want to keep a full year's schedule on hand. The additional memory is also useful with models such as the SF-R20 which also support spreadsheets and storage of long text files, or the PV/NX models which support graphic sketches.

The full stated memory capacity is not all available for storing user items; some of it is used up by the Casio diary software itself, ranging from a few Kbytes on models like the SF-7500 to almost 40 Kbytes on the SF-M10/R10/R20. Users upgrading to a newer model with the same stated capacity should be aware that they may have less actual memory capacity.

The built-in memory can only be expanded on high-end older SF models which support Casio's plug in memory cards. The memory cards come in 64 Kbyte, 128 Kbyte, and 256 Kbyte capacities. The card memory appears as a separate memory area which must be specifically selected (like the "secret" area on many models). Data can be transferred between the card memory and the main memory. Each card has a small backup battery on it to preserve the memory contents, which must be replaced every few years.

What's the best model to buy?

There are dozens of electronic organizer models currently available from Sharp, Casio, and other manufacturers. Several hundred older models have been sold over the past few years which are no longer in production. Each is slightly different in appearance and features, and obviously which one is best is a matter of individual taste and usage.

This is what people say is most important to them according to the ongoing poll by PDABuzz:

1. Scheduling (33%)
2. Internet Access (20%)
3. Contacts (18%)
4. ToDo/Memos (12%)
5. Email (5%)
6. Games (5%)
7. Other (4%)
8. Audio/Video Playback (2%)

Forget Internet Access, EMail, and Audio/Video in a pocket electronic organizer - no inexpensive organizer model supports those features, and most expensive PDAs don't support them well enough to actually use. On the other hand any inexpensive organizer will support Scheduling, Contacts, and ToDo/Memos. So maybe you should ask, what's the point of buying a $400 PDA to do the job of a $40 electronic organizer? Sooner or later you are going to lose it or break it!

The one feature which you must have in an electronic organizer is PC backup capability. Nobody in their right mind would spend a lot of time entering their valuable data into an electronic organizer and then take the risk that months or even years worth of irreplaceable information could be wiped out in an instant by a trivial accident like battery failure, dropping the organizer and breaking it, or simply having it lost or stolen. Cheap organizers with no backup capability are nothing more than toys.

If the organizer does not come with a backup cable and software included, then make sure that it is easily available and you know how much it will cost. For some models it's an expensive and difficult-to-obtain accessory, although in many cases you have the alternative of building your own cable and downloading shareware software. Don't put it off too long - you'll end up wishing that you had done that backup about 10 seconds after you realize that your data is gone forever!

Other considerations:

Memory: If you plan to store just your telephone list and your current schedule, a basic 64 Kbytes of memory is quite adequate. Some models have up to 2 Mbytes of memory. While this could be useful for example for storing thousands of business contacts, or entire text documents, most people don't need it.

Screen size: A bigger screen generally costs more, but it lets you see more information at once and it's easier on the eyes if it uses a bigger font. This is usually a matter of personal preference versus price. Keep in mind that a bigger screen can also make the organizer too big to fit in a pocket.

Portability: The smallest organizers slip easily into a pocket. Larger ones have more features and convenience, but often are too big and heavy to fit practically in a pocket. Features which make an organizer bigger include a bigger screen and keyboard, and the use of standard AA batteries.

Batteries: The smaller electronic organizers use watch/calculator batteries, which generally last for several months (unless you use the display backlight). But they can be expensive to replace. Standard AA batteries are much cheaper, even though they made the organizer bigger than pocket size.

Features and Functions: They all have a telephone list, schedule, memos, alarm clock, calculator. Some models have additional functions for anniversaries, To-Do lists, and expense tracking, but these are generally less important. Other unique features are far less used. Broadly speaking there isn't really much to choose between them when it comes to the basic features most people will actually use.

Usability: Some are easier to use than others, but they all work well enough, so it's a matter of personal preference.

Pen vs. Keyboard: Pen models are more compact, but many people prefer typing on a real keyboard. Pen models usually have a bigger screen for a given organizer size, but the more vertical screen proportions sometimes results in a less usable information layout.

Price: Prices generally run from less than $30 to more than $200 for electronic organizers (not including cheaper toy organizers and more expensive PDAs). The best value for money is under $70 - beyond that you would be paying extra for specific extra features, so make sure you need them. Be sure to include the cost of PC backup if not included in the base price.

See Reviews for comments and recommendations on some specific Casio, Sharp, and Oregon Scientific models.

Casio models:

Casio has discontinued most of their older models, at least in most of the world. There are no longer any models in the CSF (color) or NX (color pen pad) model lines. The only models which are still widely available currently are the 6x00SY/7x00SY series, and the SF-4985ER models. The latter are almost identical in function to the older SF-4600/4700/4900 models, and have more memory and screen backlighting. They can communicate directly with older Casio diaries and software packages. See Review for more on both of these model lines.

The SF-5x80/5x90SY/6x00SY/7x00SY models are considerably different from the older Casio models, and have some limitations as well as some advantages. See Review for comments on the advantages and disadvantages. The SF-5x80/5x90SY/6x00SY/7x00SY models cannot communicate directly with older Casio models or software packages, although you can convert data back and forth using software which understands both protocols (like XLink/Win or CASIF/Win V1.9e). They use a different serial cable with a larger 3.5mm plug.

The BN-10/20/30 models are the most similar current models to the old high-end models like SF-R20. They have a large screen, a plug-in card slot for a modem, and built-in word processor/spreadsheet/communications software. The BN and PV models share a common communications protocol which is incompatible with other Casio diary models. However the BN models are not widely available.

The PV (Pocket Viewer) models are pen-pad models like the old NX series or the Palm PDA. They do not have color like the NX, but they have a lot more memory than the old NX models. The built-in functions are fairly standard, but the PV-100/200/400 models available in North America do not allow new programs to be downloaded like the Palm Pilot. A newer series of PV models (S and X models) available in Europe does allow programs to be downloaded (see The PV models come with a docking cradle and PC Sync software. Casio offers free download of another program called Harmony for synchronizing these models with Microsoft Outlook.

Sharp models:

Sharp has a wide range of electronic organizers which are generally similar to the Casio diaries. Their most recent models such as the EL-6890 and YO/ZQ-190 are less expensive than Casio's at the low end (including the PC backup cable), while their high-end models like the OZ-770 have more functions and a better user interface. See Reviews for comments on the relative advantages and disadvantages


Oregon Scientific has some interesting alternative organizer/PDA models. See Reviews.

At the high end (> $200) most people are switching to the Palm PDA or Windows CE/PocketPC models, since these models have an open programming environment which creating a broad range of 3rd-party software.

CP-9 Copy Pen

The CP-9 Copy Pen is an accessory which can be plugged into certain Casio diaries, such as the SF-9000 series. It looks like a very fat pen, and can be used as a standalone copier/printer, or as a compact accessory printer for the Casio diary. It is no longer in production. It was too expensive and difficult to use.

Converting PCLink data to CASIF/Win or XLink/Win

PCLink stores data in its own unique file type .BSS. To convert this data to XLink/Win format, export it from PCLink in SDF format (Standard Delimited Format). This is equivalent to what is called CSV Text format (Comma Separated Values) in XLink/Win and most other Windows programs. PCLink uses the same order of data fields as the Casio diary, as does XLink/Win, so the SDF files exported by PCLink can be directly opened by XLink/Win if you give them the extension which XLink/Win expects, e.g. .TEL, .BCD, .MEM, .SCH.

If you need to convert a .BSS file and you no longer have PCLink, you can use a spreadsheet program like Excel to open the .BSS file as a text file with fixed-length fields. You can sort the data by type and then discard the column containing the leading fixed 5-byte data type field on each record. The resulting data can be saved in CSV text format.

Communications Problems

Serial communications problems are common and can be difficult for the inexperienced user to resolve.

There is an extensive set of step-by-step diagnostic procedures in the XLink/Win or CASIF/Win Help file under Communications Troubleshooting. Use it! It represents the best advice drawn from solving hundreds of individual problems.

If you really don't like to read and follow procedures (*sigh*), here's the short version of what to do when the Casio diary says "Transmit Error!" and nothing is communicated:

If you had it working in DOS before, you probably have a Windows COM port conflict, or the wrong cable power settings, or a timing problem. Check that you don't have a serial mouse or an active fax modem on the same IRQ as your Casio COM port. If you don't know how to do this, try running MSD (Microsoft Diagnostics) in DOS. You can also download a nice set of COM port diagnostic utilities from Check whether the RTS and DTR settings are correct for your brand and model of cable.

The Casio diaries are notoriously timing-sensitive. Try 4800 baud if 9600 baud doesn't work, especially if you have recently switched to a faster PC.

If this is your first try with new hardware, check those connections! The most common problem is a loose plug - push the Casio end in until it clicks into place.

What's different about the SF-5x90SY models?

Casio introduced the SF-5590SY, SF-5790SY, and SF-5990SY models in 1998. They are very similar to the corresponding SF-5x80 models, and in fact they are compatible with these models in capability, data format, and communications protocol. However, they have the following important differences.

The Synch function allows the PC backup software to add, delete, and update records in the SF-5x90SY diary, a capability necessary for synchronization which was missing from all previous Casio diary models.

Existing Casio-PC serial cables with a 2.5mm plug will NOT work with the SF-5x90SY models or vice-versa - they operate at a different voltage. Do NOT attempt to use a plug size adapter.

Existing backup software which supports the SF-5x80 models will work in Send/Receive mode, but will not support the Synch function. CASIF/Win since version 1.9e partly supports the Synch function.

What's different about the SF-6x00sy/7x00SY models?

Casio introduced the SF-6500SY, SF-6700SY, and SF-6900SY models as replacements for the SF-5x90SY models. They belong to the same family as the corresponding SF-5x90SY models, and in fact they are compatible with these models in capability, data format, and communications protocol. They also use the same cable with the larger 3.5mm plug. However, they have the following important differences.

This information is maintained by IMSL Software
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