Buying a PDA - English/Chinese

Hey all, I’m considering buying a PDA and know nothing about them (I picked one up once). If I buy one in Taiwan, will it come with an English or Chinese OS? If Chinese, is it possible to change it to English? Any recomendation? I mostly want to use it for reading downloaded books or other documents while I’m away from home. My budget is pretty low. Any suggestions?

I suggest you get a Palm-based PDA. They are inherently English, but most handhelds here have an added program allowing for Chinese script.

I am told the Win-based ones are mostly Chinese, and aren’t interchangeable. In that case, you would want to go to HK for example to get an english-language model.

Hey Bill,

I’d say get an English OS system and then buy a Chinese language add-on, if you want it. I use mine only for my Chinese language flashcards.

As for reading novels or documents (which I do a lot of, too!), you probably wouldn’t need the Chinese system for that. I haven’t been able to get mine to work reliably for Chinese documents under WordSmith (a sort of PDA-based Word clone) or DocumentsToGo, all of which say without too much regret, “We don’t support Chinese yet.” Nor can I get PDF files in Chinese to display properly.

I can view English documents, memos and PDF files very well on my PDA, and I have quite a few novels and e-books on my expansion card. That’s one thing you might want to think about – books aren’t THAT big but they will take up space. You might want to consider spending a bit more, if you can, and getting a PDA with expansion card capability. I’m running 2 Clies and a Handspring Visor at the moment (I admit to being a bit overboard!) and always use my color Clie for reading because the backlit white screen is very comfortable for this. But the B/W Clie might be a good option as well – the price is right (it was about US$99 when I bought it a year back in the States at some electronics discount store, admittedly mostly because it was cheap) and it takes a Sony memory stick that holds more stuff than I’ll ever put on it. Also nice for backups if you don’t want to HotSync for some reason (all my devices run the same user name, so I have to be careful about files when I sync, but that’s another thread.)

Hope this helps, if you want to play around with mine someday let me know and I’ll throw 'em into a bag and meet you someplace.


I agree with Ironlady. I bought a Clie at Nova and the guy there installed the English OS plus some nifty software to do chinese with if I ever get the urge.

The Sony memory stick also works in my camera, although you can’t port pictures directly from one device to the other. You have to run them through some desktop software first.

Two words of caution:

Battery life with my colour disply is not great compared to a monochrome screen. I used to have a b/w Palm and you could use it for much longer. It’s a few years old now, and this issue may have been fixed with newer models.

The other thing is that the model I bought is not available in English speaking countries. There’s no online help that I can read, and I have been in need a couple of times. Just something to bear in mind.

Btw, you can download and install the Palm desktop free of charge without buying a PDA. Might as well play with the diary, address book etc and see if it is something you will be happy using in future.

You don’t have to use the Palm desktop software as there are also utilities that will let you sync with Outlook and other PIM software.

Having said that, I do use the Palm desktop because it’s simple and enough for my needs.

And as SB said, it’s free so you might as well give it a go.