Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something a bit different: Palm Zire 31 Review...

OK, I'm going to try something I haven't yet done. An electronics review.
I had gotten a Palm Zire 31 on the cheap for taking notes and remembering things this year, and I've used it for about two weeks, so here's my review.

The standard Zire 31 package comes with the device (blue and white plastic cased), a screen protector (already installed), a stylus (also packed away inside its slot), a USB cord, a wall charger, and a flip-cover thing attached to the device, made of rubber that keeps the screen from getting poked while its in your bag. The package also includes a CD-ROM with the PalmOne Desktop and Hotsync software for PC. My CD didn't work, so I downloaded it from the Palm website. It has an expansion card slot capable of hosting up to a 1GB SD or MMC card.

The Palm Zire 31 uses PalmOne 5.0 or higher software, I think mine's 5.2.8. With this software you can add apps like Student (http://www.palmdev.tk/, look it up) or Mobipocket (ebook reading software, converts and reads .txt, .doc, .pdf, etc etc. www.mobipocket.com). I found the Adobe Palm Reader software to be utterly useless for some PDFs, and a resource hog. Also useful if you read a lot of text-based websites, is Plucker (http://www.plkr.org/). Another I really like is the BibleReader from Olive Tree Software (http://www.olivetree.com/). I have the NRSV (new revised standard version). I had to pay for it but it's worth every penny for not having to lug my huge Bible around campus to class.

It comes standard with all or most of (as far as I know) the normal Palm apps like Calc, Calendar, Card Info, Contacts, Expense, Hotsync, Memos, Notepad, Photos, Prefs, Real One (for listening to mp3s), Tasks, and World Clock.

  • Lightweight but Sturdy.
  • Cheap and Entry-Level in features--won't break the budget or confusticate new users.
  • Expansion slot for extra storage capacity.
  • Plays MP3s.
  • Reads PDFs (with proper software, either Adobe or PalmPDF).
  • Long battery life--will last an entire day between recharges.
  • Fast Processor (for the price).
  • Battery is NOT user-replaceable, so when it goes, the unit goes.
  • Expansion slot only accepts up to 1GB cards, larger cards (2GB, 4GB, 8GB etc) won't work.
  • Display, while good, is not as good as the larger, higher-resolution screens found on more expensive PDAs.
Bottom line: If you want to edit, read and send documents wirelessly in their original formats, if you want great readability in all lighting conditions including outdoors in the daytime, if you want to use your PDA to "tether" with a wireless connection or to use it as a modem, if you want huge expandability or lightning-fast speeds, don't get this one. Get the Zire 72 or higher instead.
However, if all you need or want is a basic note-taker with ebook reading and music playing capabilities, you need look no further than the Zire 31.

Place of Purchase: www.gizmos2go.com
Price: 74.88 shipped (at the time).
Condition: Refurbished.

Berserker's Overall Rating: 5 Stars! This one does exactly what I need it to do:)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Frank Beltrame Italian Bayonet Blade Auto Review...

Hey all,
I'm back and I'm feeling rather hip, what with the new, hefty, and classic piece of steel in my pocket. It's a Frank Beltrame stiletto, made in Italy with care. The Beltrame family has produced switchblades of the classic sort that you see in 1950s gangster films for many, many years, the skills needed to make them passed down from generation to generation. I'm very happy with my new toy. Here's why.

  • Well-made. These fall around midway or above average on the scale of price vs. quality. As my friend Duane on Youtube says, you can pay much more for autos (up to 1k in extreme cases) or much less, but if what you want is a quality knife that will last for years stick with Beltrame knives.
  • Stiff leaf spring will not wear out quickly.
  • Brass liners and pins hold it all together nicely and with style.
  • Piece of artwork that will last for years even with repeated openings and closings.
  • They have a very cool, bolster-based method of closing the blade. Very cool. Get one and see for yourself;)
  • They are illegal to own in many states, and as far as I know only legal to carry in AZ and FL.
  • Pretty much only a killing tool, so be sure to keep this one at home. They're not useful for much else, and prison sentences/fines aren't fun.
  • Otherwise, there are no cons to list. These knives are beautiful and fun to play with.
Here are some pics and a video review I've done on this one:

Place of Purchase: BladePlay.com (I highly recommend this site!:)
Price: $62 @ BP.
Berserker's Overall Rating: 5 Stars for Beltrami Autos!

You know you want one...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Maratac Bailout Bag Review.

Recently I upgraded my schoolbag to a Maratac Bailout Bag. These are a great alternative to MOLLE bags as they don't look quite so "tactical", blend in better etc. They've got great features and pretty solid construction.

Here's some pros and cons as I see them:

  • It doesn't make you look like a mall-ninja,
  • The nylon is of decent quality,
  • It's got lots of differently-shaped and sized pockets, some velcro lined, including the hidden gun/weapons concealment pocket,
  • The Velcro is authentic Velcro brand, and the zippers are YKK,
  • It's nametape/patch-ready for decoration. If discretion is necessary, slap a Hello Kitty patch on there and nobody'll give you a second glance.
  • There are no rain/debris flaps to get in the way of opening the main compartment.
  • The shoulder strap seems to be cheaper than on their old EOD bags,
  • There is no practical way to cordwrap the handles to make it more comfy to carry,
  • The zipper on the main compartment seems a bit fine in the tooth for heavy/bulky loads (seems easier to mangle).
What I like about it, though, is all the little details that have been added to make it the ultimate go-to bag that you won't fear to lose or get dirty, such as the velcro at strategic points, the carry handles that wrap around the bottom of the bag for extra support, and the purpose-designed pockets (for pens, flashlights, small items, long items, "suspicious" items, etc etc).

Some pics:



Bottom "tube pocket" showing contents:
Front "small items" pocket open:
Dual pen/pencil pockets are wide enough to hold two slim pens apiece:
Flashlight pocket will hold either a thick-bodied light or a AA-sized Fenix-type light with room for more pens.
Showing one end radio/water bottle pocket (they use quick-release shock-cord):
Showing one of the loops of shock cord w/cordlock to tighten it:
First of the back long velcro-pockets (put my FAK in there w/room to spare):
The other long pocket (multitool and sunglasses):
Battery cases and a bottle of lube oil for knives/tools, in the mini-pockets above there are mints and a headlamp:
The "secret" pocket with velcroed-on knife and baton pouch:
The contents I loaded it up with:
Note that this was not a full load-out and some items were redundant...so you could actually fit much more stuff in this bag than I had in there.

Available from: LAPolicegear.com or Countycomm.com.
Price: Generally less than 40.00 with shipping.
Berserker's Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars! This is a keeper.

If you need a heavy-duty bag that will last you a while but you don't want to fear losing or getting filthy, pick up one of these!