Due to infringement concerns with Palm, Royal revamped the newer DV1 (1 Meg) and DV4 (4 Meg) units. These are not full blown PDA’s, but more appropriately are a replacement for a paper planner, and this may become Royal’s daVinci’s niche. The DV’s have a to-do-list/priority level/status, name/address/other info, planner/calendar/reminder, calculator/exchange rate, notes, info search and world time. These features have the basic functions, but being basic makes it somewhat intuitive to use. This makes the DV units suitable for persons not wanting the complexities of never used optional features of other PDA’s, does not have time/want to study a users manual, not worry with downloading programs and viruses, is technology challenged, or just wants access to basic information and daily appointments. Information is stored under a Business or Personal category which can be viewed combined. The address book has preset data fields, but any alpha-numeric info and number of lines, can be put in the fields like in the Fax #, etc., but there is a Notes field for additional information. The planner/calendar ties into the, scheduler, to-do-list and Anniversary. All with start/stop times and alarm reminders. Holidays are not listed in the calendar so you enter them. Holidays occurring on a specific numbered day can be entered once in the Anniversary feature and will show up each year in the calendar. Searchable data fields are limited, but some creative noting will widen its abilities (in the Notes/Details field, i.e., include a general keyword like Plumber or Doctor). The display can be hard to read under less than ideal lighting and there is no scratch pad feature to draw maps, object, etc. so you still need some paper. The units’ small size makes it easier to tote than a paper planner, if lost your password keeps your info secure, and it is inexpensive to replace. The fold-up keyboard works OK for what it i s, and gets easier with use. Just don’t type to fast and “tune in” on the keystroke tones to catch errors. Data can also be entered by the screens “Virtual” keyboard, in lieu of learning “Graffiti Scripting”, a method used by some PDA’s. A steady hand and sufficient light to see these “keys”, are needed, but gets easier/quicker with use. A third data entry method is via your computer with the included DV Link software. Can up/down load, synchronize and back-up/restore info (if unit lost) to/from the daVinci through a PC’s serial port. The software provides options on how reminders, Anniversaries and appointments are timed and reoccur (i.e. every third Thursday), etc. on the handheld. It also allows you to cut/copy/paste info from one record to another. Software is not intuitive, with some areas leaving you wondering what it’s asking you to enter. Also supplied is Companion Link, software that interfaces with Outlook, Act and Gold Mine data. I have heard of system difficulties when it’s installed. So I just use DV Link, and so far, have not encountered any PC system (Win 98 SE) conflicts. People that prefer the simplicity of a paper planner but need reminders, a way to quickly search for info and see their schedule, and want to secure their privacy, may find this an appropriate step up. Price U.S. dollars on sale and with rebate is $50.00 for a DV1 and around $70.00 for DV4. Includes folding keyboard, handheld cradle/PC link, DV Link software and two extra styluses. SOME packaged units offer a free handheld/keyboard carrying case after you mail in the registration card.
I had a brief fling with a DaVinci. It was not really my choice, but a Psion had died on me, I was broke, and the DaVinci was on sale in a discount store for £70, including a fold-out keyboard. Originally, the DaVinci was based on the Palm system, or something very similar. Lots of people produced numerous add-ons of DaVinci-ware. Unfortunately, Palm took exception and after some legal wrangling, Olivetti-Royal conceded. As a result, the DaVinci system was dumbed down, so that now it is now longer possible to install any extra software. The software that is now available with the DaVinci is horrid. It is very primitive and nasty to use. You get a scheduler, notes, address and phone list and to do list. It is possible to synchronise with a PC, but the PC end of the software is equally awful to use. When the keyboard is not in use, it is possible to call up a small on-screen keyboard at which you can peck away with a plastic stylus. However, the display is very difficult to read without the backlight, even in marvellous lighting conditions. Consequently, I found I could not see the on-screen system. There is also a graffiti system to input data by tracing symbols with the stylus. That worked so-so for me. Some letters always caused problems, despite the crib sheet on the inside of the lid (which is probably the only positive feature I can find on the DaVinci). Another supposed plus is the fact that the data is stored in flash memory. Theoretically, this means that it will not be lost if the battery runs out. However, the DaVinci died on me when I was in the middle of inserting new data. When I replaced the battery, I found that it had reset itself totally, and everything was lost. In the end, this turned out to be a blessing. I was feeling more flush at the time, so went and got myself a Palm Vx which has proved so very much better in all respects. If you see a DaVinci going for £70, don’t be tempted. If you can’t afford anything bet ter new, try to find a better make going secondhand at a price you can afford.