The advantage of the Linux version is that Linux is a fast-growing market with lots of available software. Additionally, almost every Linux user has a ready environment in which to develop for the Open Handheld. It can even run the same code as that for regular Linux computers by simply compiling for the StrongARM platform. The Open Handheld has most of the same features of a standard Linux desktop, thus users may already be familiar with the user environment. The H3600 is not likely to run KDE or GNOME because of the complexity of such user interfaces, but it will run X and simpler window managers such as TWM.
Compaq's wait-and-see attitude for the Linux version may be understandable, considering that the company doesn't really support Linux on most of its products, doesn't have the necessary technical support infrastructure, and has to try the new product in a very competitive market. However, should the H3600 take a strong hold in the market, it is likely that Compaq will offer it as a full product.
The $499 price tag is sweet. It is about $50 higher than the Palm IIIc but lower than larger handhelds from Psion and others. The H3650 Windows CE version should start appearing in major retail stores such as Radio Shack and Best Buy around the US by mid-July. The PCMCIA expansion port costs $149 extra, while the CompactFlash expansion costs $49.95. If you want to be one of the first on the block with this bad-ass PDA, you can register with Compaq (see Resources for a link) to be notified as soon as they come out.