Palm Tungsten T Q&A

Saturday, September 28, 2002
External Memory

OK, if you are a busy medic in a busy hospital, you might be carrying around 60mb of pharmaceutical data on your Palm, but does the average user really need external memory?

The two main uses of external memory are to back-up internal memory and to carry large data files. If you Hotsync every day, the chance of serious data loss is small. Only if the data entered since the last Hotsync is critical and hard to duplicate does the possibility of on-board back-ups become essential. And if you have flash ROM, these may be possible without resorting to external memory. I often write down notes or thoughts on my Palm, and feel that it would be disastrous if I lost them, but I am sure I overestimate the loss and underestimate my ability to remember and reconstruct.

So what about large data files? A quick review of the applications I use which support VFS is revealing:

1. Various ebook readers: I carry about 6 books on the memory card, but in fact only ever have one on the go at a time, so I could easily keep that one in RAM and change it when I finish it.
2. HandBase: I only have a few databases here and none is big enough to warrant keeping on a memory card.
3. iSilo: Now I must admit that I keep a copy of the latest Foxpop upload on my Palm and at 1.6mb highly compressed, that has to live on a memory card. But that is a luxury, and the other websites I read offline (The Guardian and the Met Office five day forecasts for York and London, plus my own Blogs) come to less than 250k.

None of my other data heavy apps have VFS support (Avantgo does not, nor the Radio Times, nor pedit, nor Life Balance), but I still seem to be getting on OK with 1.8mb free on an 8mb unit.

So if I am honest, external memory is a luxury, and not essential for my PDA to do its job.

Friday, September 27, 2002
Well, I have discovered that if you are having a hard enough time with dud Palms (see below), they will no an on-the-doorstep exchange. That is teh courier brings a new one and takes away the dud. That speeds things up a bit. And this one works.

I am thinking of re-launching this Blog (What? Already?) as 'Low End Palm'. In the world of desktop computers we often find ourselves with a machine powerful enough to run the economy of a small country or edit the latest Spielberg film, while all we want to do is check e-mail, write a letter and read the news. Sadly, the same seems to be happening in the PDA market, or at least starting to happen, as the Palm OS manufacturers try to compete with the PPC manufacturers for the longest list of gadgets and gizmos.

Fortunately, there are still entry-level devices about, but not many and maybe not for long. If you are reading this you have almost certainly at some point been tempted to buy some item of mobile technology because it can do amazing things, only to be brought up sharp by the realization that you have no need and little desire to do those things. So I would like to dedicate this Blog to the thought that everything worth doing on a PDA can be done on a basic model.

I don't want to 'dis' the latest hi-end technology coming out from Palm or Sony, merely to point out how much you can do with an older or more basic device. Do you prefer a B&W screen or AAA batteries? Send me comments or stories, please.

Monday, September 23, 2002
I dispatched my faulty m505 on Thursday and the replacement has arrived this morning. That is pretty good service. And the replacement looks in really good condition. It is on the cradle having its 4 hour charge right now, so I have not had a look for dust in the digitizer, but the screen is unmarked.

I was planning to sell it and save up for a Tungsten T, but when I have it back in my hand, I cannot make up my mind.

HO-HUM. The replacement Palm is a dud! I did as asked, charged it for 4 hours without touching it, but it will not switch on or reboot (either a hard or a soft reset). I had a few minutes where it was displaying 7 vertical lines on the screen, which is my greatest success to date. Another one to send back. Thank goodness for my 'back-up' SL10. I think I has better buy a Pocketop keyboard asap.