portable computer for field work

Mark R. Stromberg stromber at VIOLET.BERKELEY.EDU
Mon Jun 10 08:01:48 CDT 1996


>>I would like advice (email to me personally) regarding a data entry
>>computer for field work.
>>My assessment is that I need something with no bells and whistles.  It
>>would be satisfactory for starters to use the DOS edit program, but an
>>upgrade to data base software is likely.  I don't see what I need a
>>color display for.  I don't see what I need Windows for.  (Except to
>>clutter the hard drive.)
>>Toshiba laptops come highly recommended for robustness, but the low
>>end model (like everybody's) comes with color screen and Windows 95.
>>The lowest price quote I have is just under $1800.
>>Should I look for a used monochrome machine?  Or is there an obvious
>>advantage to getting a new model that I am missing?  Any other advice
>>would be helpful.  The target collecting areas are very humid, by the
>After using a few different laptops in the field I have realized that it is
>difficult to see the screen very well unless the computer has an active matrix
>screen. Unfortunately, the same computer with a regular LCD, or monochrome
>screen is about $1000.00 less.
>Kelly Sendall
>Collections Manager,
>Invertebrate Zoology
>Royal BC Museum
>Victoria, BC CANADA

We have used the Psion 3a for much field data collection. It costs <$500
and can be put in a zip-lock plastic bag for work in drizzly days.
California field office of TNC use the H-P palmtops, and I think several
LTER sites in the US use similar Hewlett-Packard palm-tops. Both offer
Lotus 123 and can downlink via a wire to a portable (IBM or Powerbook). You
can set up Excel files on the laptom and download easily to the palm top
and vice-versa. The Psion is far faster in zipping around in a spreadsheet
than the HP. Psion has an extensive software collection (see Compuserve
libraries) with many active programmers. Much of the Psion development is
done in England, but they are catching on in the US. Fewer programs are
available for the HP, but the LTER site in central Minnesota (Cedar Creek)
has ecological data-gathering programs for the HP.

Mark R. Stromberg, Ph.D.
Hastings Natural History Reservation
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
University of California, Berkeley
38601 E. Carmel Valley, CA 93924
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
Office: 408 659-2664  fax: 659-7208
stromber at violet.berkeley.edu

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