Note So Simple?
October 9, 2010 8:43 PM   Subscribe

Mobile note-taking device with a hardware keyboard, no monthly fee, and simplenote?

I want to be able to jot down an idea on this device when I'm in the middle of nowhere. Once I get in range of my wifi network, it should automatically sync, so when I can pull up the note on my computer and fill in more thoughts/details. The updated note will then sync back to the phone, which I can now carry with me to wherever.

So far android/simplenote seems like the best combination. Is there an android device that would be best for this, or some other gadget?

posted by Real.Wolf to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How small is this device? You want "no monthly fee," but then you propose a phone. Do you mean no additional monthly fee for the note-taking service? Are you willing to pay the monthly fees for a smartphone? If so, I'd start trying as many devices as possible for you to find the keyboard that you like. Remember too that most such devices will accept portable bluetooth keyboards, so you can get a folding keyboard and carry that around for times when you want to take more extensive notes.

Evernote is another great service, with desktop clients, web access, and apps for most smartphones.
posted by zachlipton at 10:44 PM on October 9, 2010

Best answer: zachlipton: Using a phone does not necessarily require service -- get an old G1 off ebay, don't put in a SIM card, and Real.Wolf has what he wants.

I think a phone is sub-optimal for this, but I can't think of anything better. I use a notebook and pencil. It's always with me because ... I carry it around.
posted by jrockway at 11:19 PM on October 9, 2010

An iPod Touch can host SimpleNote. Just as you described, when you're back to a Wi-Fi hotspot, it can sync to your computer's copy of Notational Velocity or whatever.
posted by Alt F4 at 4:20 AM on October 10, 2010

Sorry. Missed the bit about a hardware keyboard. I'll keep thinking.
posted by Alt F4 at 4:21 AM on October 10, 2010

Best answer: If you're willing to sacrifice on the automatic sync and don't want to pay any monthly fee, including for phone/data service, you could get a used Palm Treo (680, 700, Centro, Pro, etc) and sync manually/locally to Palm Desktop (free). You'd be cutting out the cloud middle man in this scenario. If you're going to be sitting at your computer to update and expand memos anyway, it's not a big deal at all to click a button and do an IR sync or bluetooth sync or even, horrors, a cable sync.

You see a lot of people these days asking how to replicate Palm's memo function using Android or iPhone - - its memo function is something it does very well. The Treo keyboards are excellent too, very easy to use with those domed buttons, at least the 650s 680s and 700s are - I never tried later ones. You could put lots of other useful offline apps on there while you're at it. I have a basket of handy things on mine.

My 680 has been more of a mini computer for me these past few years than a phone, and I've never had a data plan. Now as I eye Android and iPhone, I'm trying to figure out how best to replicate the memo thing with its categories and cross-memo search and easy usability and all. I do just what you do - I take notes, record thoughts and observations, make lists, store reference info, and collect random info in memos all the time, for both temporary and permanent reasons, often alter them on the desktop, and always have them with me. It's my own personal reference library and logbook.

With all that said, if you're going to carry around a phone anyway and pay for a plan, it might as well handle these functions too.
posted by Askr at 9:28 AM on October 10, 2010

Maybe rehab an old TRS-80 Model 100? You'll have to finesse the RS232 interface for sync, but that's not very hard with appropriate USB drivers.
posted by jenkinsEar at 12:19 PM on October 10, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the input. (Some clarification: I should have said 'pocket sized' instead of mobile.)

Askr, thanks for the Palm Treo recommendation, I'm certainly going to check that out.

If anyone has further suggestions, please let me know!
posted by Real.Wolf at 6:21 AM on October 11, 2010

Simplenote works well for this, but there is another option that you might consider. There are several iOS apps that sync using Dropbox (free accounts available). Two good ones are Elements ($4.99) and Plaintext (free). Personally I prefer these to Simplenote's proprietary sync solution.

An iOS or Android device will probably be more useful than a Palm device if you have any intention of using apps other than text editors, but will be more expensive. Of course you'll also receive support and probably see better battery performance than on an aging Palm. FWIW, the displays on the newest generation of the iPod Touch is really great for reading.

The downside of using iOS, I suppose, is that sync will only occur when you are connected to wifi and the app is running. You may be able to get around this limitation with an Android device, but I'm not sure.
posted by crosbyh at 4:18 PM on October 11, 2010

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