Poor man's Ipod Touch
February 15, 2010 11:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a cheap ($50 or less) PDA or cel phone that will sync with either Google Calendar or Ical. All I really want is the calendar/alarm, so when I'm not carrying my laptop I can be reminded of meetings.

I was using a Palm zire, but the palm desktop no longer syncs with Ical or the google calendar in Snow Leopard. In the past I was able to import google calendar into Ical, then sync everything up.

I know that Apple has a list of Isync-compatible phones, but when I google different phones I am regaled with stories of glitches, problems, and having to insert custom code to get things to work. Also, I can't afford an Ipod touch.

Are you using a cheap, reliable cell phone that syncs flawlessly with Isync and your Mac?

Is there some other obvious solution I'm overlooking?

Many thanks.
posted by mecran01 to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
Just print out your schedule and carry it around in a packet. That is what I do. Paper is so much better than electronic devices, and its cheaper.
posted by candasartan at 11:24 AM on February 15, 2010

Google sync for blackberry works pretty well for calendar & contacts. But you do need a data plan from your carrier.
posted by Long Way To Go at 11:28 AM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: Paper doesn't beep at me when I forget to take it out and look at it.

I'm looking for a plan-less solution, if possible, but it would appear that the era of subscription-free electronics is drawing to a close.
posted by mecran01 at 11:30 AM on February 15, 2010

forgive me if this is too basic, but Google Calendar allows you to send SMS reminders to your cell phone, so that might be a step towards a solution . . .
posted by davemack at 11:45 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Speaking from recent experience, it's not going to be easy to find a usable cell phone/smartphone for the price range you're describing, especially one which will sync with online services like Google. If possible, the cheapest solution might be to get a cheapo cell phone from a carrier like T-Mobile (mine cost $55 or so and is crappy but does the basics) and use Google SMS to send you texts about meetings, etc. (I don't know quite how you would do that; maybe there's a setting that will beep when a text comes in?). But even that solution still requires a cell contract and monthly charges. Others may have better suggestions than I do.
posted by blucevalo at 11:47 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'll go the SMS route if I have to, I just hate the idea of paying $15 a month for it.

What I should have asked was, "Is there a cheap phone that will sync seamlessly with OS X's Ical"

I tend to clutter up my questions with confusing digressions.
posted by mecran01 at 11:58 AM on February 15, 2010

I used to use a Palm M500 sync'd up with my OSX Tiger Mac Mini.
I remember that it would either sync with Google Calendar and/or apple's Calendar app.
There are many available on eBay for less than $50.
Highly recommend for something light and cheap.
posted by willmize at 12:03 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oops! Sorry about that. I saw PDA first and went with that route.
Looks like your priority is for a phone.
posted by willmize at 12:04 PM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: A PDA will work too, but the latest version of Snow Leopard doesn't appear to work with the palm conduit any longer.
posted by mecran01 at 12:06 PM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: I know I could purchase The Missing Sync for $40, but then I'm into it for about $80. It looks like a cheap text-only cell plan and a disposable phone will be the way to go.
posted by mecran01 at 12:09 PM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: It looks like Datapilot will sync with a number of cheap phones at VirginMobile, so in theory I could get a phone for $20, the software for $30 (with cable) and be able to sync contacts and the calendar.

Thanks all!
posted by mecran01 at 12:31 PM on February 15, 2010

Best answer: I found a solution in my previous question.
posted by Cogito at 12:49 PM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: The Feisar plugins seem to work only with Sony-Ericcson phones, but I will check it out--thanks.
posted by mecran01 at 1:28 PM on February 15, 2010

You can try an older or used Android phone "with Google." They have built in Google Calendar sync and you can probably snag one for $50 or less; of course, you will need a data plan.

I sync mine thusly, and also have the same gcals synced to my work computer's iCal.

Maybe a T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream? Verizon's Droid Eris is $99 (sorry, not $50) with agreement.

Newer Android phones (Droid, Nexus One) will usually run between $150 and $200 with agreement. Not within your $50 range but very, very sweet. Phones with the Google moniker have built in apps for Gmail, Gcal, Google Contacts, etc.
posted by those are my balloons at 1:29 PM on February 15, 2010

Can you really not get PAYG data where you are?!

If not, just use Google Sync and a cheap second-hand phone with wifi?
posted by turkeyphant at 1:52 PM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: Ideally I just want something--a used cell phone or a pda--that will sync with Ical on my macbook. Then I have a portable, beeping reminder for when I forget the odd meeting or appointment.

What I will probably end up doing is buying a VirginMobile LG Flare, which is really an LG LX160. I'll use their $15/month texting plan to receive appointment notifications via google calendar,


I will sync it with Ical using Datapilot and forego any monthly charges.

I'll report back if this works. The LG phone is only $20.
posted by mecran01 at 3:27 PM on February 15, 2010

Classic ipods sync with iCal, and you can have it alert you to things, but I'm not sure if it can alert you to things that you've synced. This tends to corroborate my theory. Maybe you can get one on Craigslist for cheap.
posted by amethysts at 4:40 PM on February 15, 2010

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