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pda for med student

I am trying to decide which pda to purchase to be used in a hospital setting. My price range is $300-400. I need:
-minimum of 32 MB plus option of expandable memory to keep full medical texts in my pocket
-long battery life
-OS supporting medical programs
-user friendly
-reliable (since I will be using it 8+ h/d)
-light and thin so that it's not a burden to have it in my pocket all day
-opens pdf files
-plays music and video

So far in the hospital, I've seen Palm's, Sony's, and Hp's. Any thoughts on which model would be best suited for my needs? Also in terms of the Palm OS, how difficult is it to transfer powerpoint and word files between window's on my laptop and the palm OS on a pda?

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Look into a Palm LifeDrive or Palm TX...

In reply to: pda for med student

Sony doesn't make handhelds any longer. The only way to get a Sony handheld is used.

Palm handhelds generally...for their lower price versus PocketPCs...have higher resolution screens which makes them more desireable to me.

The selection of available application, including medical apps., is more plentiful for a Palm OS device. The LifeDrive has a built-in 4GB hard drive. The TX has 128MB internal useable memory.

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Some extra notes...

In reply to: pda for med student

Office files

Palm OS can do Office files pretty well

The T|X comes with Documents To Go 7 Professional edition which lets you view, edit, and create native Word, Excel, and Powerpoint (Windows only) on your handheld. The desktop software lets you transfer files through Hotsyncing between your T|X and laptop.


If you get an older PPC with Windows Mobile 2003, keep in mind they come with Pocket Word and Pocket Excel, which are crap since formatting is stripped (not as in not visible, but lost) when transferred to handheld. For a handheld with M$ software, it's surprising Powerpoint isn't even supported here. All is not lost. Worst comes to worst, you can always buy 3rd party apps that cover the whole suite while retaining formatting and such. The extra $$ you save buying these older handhelds will surely cover the cost of getting a (better) 3rd party Office app.

If you got with a newer PPC, they come with Windows Mobile 5 (or was it called 2005?). Anyways, this OS comes with M$ own updated Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, and finally includes Powerpoint Mobile. It's reported that these apps finally retain formatting, but not having any direct experience or otherwise with it, I'm not sure how well those apps work.

For PDF viewing
Palm has a freeware app called PalmPDF which is maturing very nicely.

Note that for Documents To Go to do native PDF files, you'll need to get Documnets To Go 8 Premium edition which is at least a $30 upgrade. Else 7 can do PDFs, but it strips away graphics/tables/pictures. Plus you can't zoom in/out or anything, so if the text is too small, you won't be able to read anything


I don't know what's available for PPC by name, but there's gottta be something decent here

Battery life
AFAIK Palms are reliable overall. However, while the newer Palms have much better batt life then its descendants, it can either be great or just OK, depending on who you here it from. 8hr/day may be a stretch. Keep in mind that Palm's are like ipods in where the user rechargeable batteries are non-replaceables. Well, they are, but it requires probably a screwdriver and taking the thing apart. Not practical to swap batteries on the fly. If you're gonna be close to an outlet while at the hospital of yours, you can drop off your T|X in the cradle if the batt runs low. Else, there should be some portable power that you can attach for power on the go without adding unacceptable weight or bulk to the device

PPCs are hit and miss. Some have GREAT battery life, others mediocre. At the very least, you can always buy a spare rechargeable battery and swap that in when the 1st one starts going dead. A spare battery will set you back another $50+, but at least you have the flexibility here to swap it in.

Music and Video
Music, the vets who use both platforms will agree in general both are good and the same at this

For video, check out TCPMP. Freeware video that plays divx/avi/mpg, and other popular movie formats. PPC can be the same, to be better here, but some factors that contribute to this are b/c of some PPC's that have a VGA screen (640x480) instead of a QVGA screen (320x240), higher processor, and especially the presence of a graphics accelorator.

If you're not a videophile (well, a vidphile wouldn't use a PDA either, but that's another topic) or video isn't going to be your main interest, then definately keep Palm on the table to keep your options open.

medical stuff and finishing remarks
Palm OS definately has alot of these. PPC was catching up, but I don't know if they actually did.

I think the T|X would suit you almost perfectly. I think the only hamper may be the battery life, but before you go out and get a PPC instead, do make sure it has what you're looking for. Specifically, the OS is user friendly enough for you (many say PalmOS is more user friendly, but some find PPC OK as well), the batt life and scenario is acceptable, and the med software you want is there. I can't recommend any PPCs since I'm mainly a Palm user, but I'm sure you'll get some great suggestions from a PPC forum.

As for Palm, there are many great forums out there just for that, but is unique because it's the only forum I know of with boards also categorized by industry, with medical being one of them. Go to that site, lefthand side, click
forum->Palm (Requires seperate sign on)->Medicine
Scroll down to find Medicine. You'll need to sign on to perform searches. At least i have to.
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More notes and recommendations...

In reply to: pda for med student

Ackmondual hit all of the main points pretty well, but here are some details I'd like to add:

* Windows Mobile 5.0 (run by all current-model PocketPCs), includes updated versions of Word Mobile and Excel Mobile. These versions leave all formatting in tact, unlike the previous versions which stripped it, and can display/modify/create most of it.

* WindowsMobile 5.0's Powerpoint Viewer is just a cannot edit or create ppt files. For that you'd need a third-party application.

* Adobe offers a free version of Acrobat Reader for both Windows Mobile and Palm operating systems.

* As noted, Palms do not have user-replacable batteries. With a PPC, on the other hand, you can swap out batteries, or purchase an extended battery that lasts twice as long as the standard batteries, meaning around a full 8 hours of use. That's something you should really consider.

* Like ackmondual said, the Palm used to be the far better choice for medical databases and related programs, but the PocketPC is now right along side. Most software comes in both Palm and PPC flavors, and those that don't have a near-twin on the other platform.
Overall, I'd suggest going with a PocketPC, primarily due to the battery issue. In that case I'd go with the Dell Axim X51v currently on sale for $374 (normally $499). It is the most powerful PDA currently available in all fields: processor (624MHz), ROM (256 MB storage), display (3.7'' VGA), and graphics (16MB multimedia accelerator). A spare battery is $50, and an extended battery is $100. To save costs you can also go a step down to the X51 Mid, which still meets all of your requirements.

If you decide to go the Palm route, the Palm TX is by far your best option, though note the 4-5 hour battery cannot be replaced.

Hope this helps,

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I have Axim X51v with software loaded....extra SD card

In reply to: pda for med student

Not a MD....just an RN Happy
Got the upgraded Axim X51v to the max so that I wouldn't have to upgrade later. Got the extended battery. Got a 1GB SD card..will get another. Have Davis' Drug guide , Critical Care Fast Facts, Armimedes calculator, Differential Diagnosis loaded so far.I spent alot more than 400.00, just because I got it loaded at the beginning. You may want to do that , rather than a little at a time, I don't know.Get a good sturdy case. I got the extended battery alumunim Rhinoskin case. Carry it in my inner pocket at work, to prevent it sliding out of jacket pocket, when bending over.Too expensive to hit the floor, for sure. has medical software, and you pay for and download online.I got several things here. is another site.I got the critical care software here.It also has ACLS with meds, etc. is another site you may want to look at.
The software isn't expensive considering it's usefullness at work.
Don't nice to the nurses...especially the night nurses.... Happy
Good luck in your training. We need good docs out there.

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