Palm Tungsten Blog


Friday, October 31, 2003

Proporta Leather Case

Proporta won the 'race' to get the first T|E case to me. I have never had a Proporta leather case before, only their ABS, aluminium and neoprene ones, and I was impressed by the quality. I went for the book-type case because I have never used one before. I may be quickly converted to this design of case.

The T|E attaches via the silo on the left, which gives easy access to the reset button (rarely needed, but ...), and on the back flap, and thus underneath the Palm itself, there are two pockets for SD cards. On the front flap there is a single credit card pocket and a cash/receipt pocket.

The effect of the light grey over-stitching is very smart - it adds detail without being fussy, and even the logo looks discreet and distinguished. This is certainly a case one could take to a boardroom without looking geeky, and yet it only costs 19.95.


Tuesday, October 28, 2003

iPod

I have just bought my wife an iPod. Wow, that is one cool piece of kit! But here are some comments from a Palm users perspective:

Pros:
Smooth rounded casing feels good in the hand.
Touch sensitive controls work nicely (but you need that Hold button).
Best backlight on a B&W screen that I have seen.
MASSIVE storage capacity.
Excellent quality audio playback, even with Audible books.

Cons:
Tiny, low res screen.
'Nested menu' OS makes navigation hard when you can only see the current menu.
No file manager (not even of the limited type provided by Palm's standard Launcher)
iPod connects to the travel charger via the same firewire cable it connects to the desktop (so if you try to hide cables on the desktop, using the travel charger is a pain - given the price of this thing, why couldn't they include 2 cables?)
The price is higher than a T|T3, but it lacks 90% of the functionality.



StyriteUSA: P-arno 661

A package arrived from StyriteUSA including their combo pack. Unfortunately, they do not have the T|E ones ready to ship yet, so the cable is for a T|T. But it is better than my Brando one.

Most impressive, however, was the P-arno 661 stylus (where do they get these names from?). The concept is familiar: a standard ballpen with a stylus tip at the top, so all you need to do to switch is turn it around. This is a simple and excellent idea (it is the one that Mont Blanc use for their stylus pen too). What makes the P-arno stand out is that it is a miniature ballpen: from tip to tip is is almost exactly the same length as the T|E. This makes it perfectly suited for PDA use.

In fact, I think that this may be the 'killer accessory' for Clie owners. It is well known that the Clie stylus is horrible, and for the few months I used a Clie I found myself carrying a stylus/pen around all the time, even when walking the dog. But unless you are wearing a suit, or a jacket with inner pockets designed for pens, carrying a full-size multi-function pen adds considerably to the inconvenience of being dependent upon your PDA. But the P-arno adds next to no weight or bulk.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

T|E vs. T|T3

I went out for a beer with Craig last night and he brought along his T|T3. This was the first time I had had a really good play with one. It is a nice piece of kit, but I am happy to have the T|E and 150 change. The 'killer feature' for me is that the T|E really does fit comfortably in a shirt pocket.

What was quite clear is that the T|E has the better screen. It is brighter, and also it retains its clarity when viewed from a slight angle, whereas the T|T3 screen only looks its best when viewed head on.

The brightness issue could be explained by the need to conserve battery life on the T|T3, because, surprisingly, when you close the slider the lower portion of the screen goes black but remains illuminated by the backlights. So from a power consumption point of view, you are using the whole screen the whole time.


Friday, October 17, 2003

Accessories

StyriteUSA is doing a neat 'combo pack' for the T|E (and jsut about every other PDA you have or have not heard of). Currently they do not ship to Europe, but head honcho Brian tells me they are working on it. I will review the combo pack soon.


Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Crash

I noticed over at Freewarepalm thatCrash has been updated. Then I could not remember whether I had installed it on the T|E or not. Why couldn't I remember: not had any crashes yet!! That suggests OS 5.2.1 is considerably more stable that OS 5 on the T|T.



Battery Life

An interesting article by Ed Hardy at Brighthand on the function vs. battery life problem set me thinking: how come I don't mind charging my PDA every day (usually just a top up, but I still drop it in the cradle or whatever every day), but would resent charging my phone more than once a week?

My first thought about this question was overly subtle and complex: my phone is something I do not think about until it grabs my attention. It is part of the background of my life. My Palm, in contrast, is part of the foreground, it is something I am continuously seeking out, and interacting with.

However, I think the real explanation is much simpler: whenever I sit down at my desktop computer, I take my Palm out of my pocket and hotsync, and I sit at my desktop computer for several hours each day. So my Palm is charging all those times.

The break to routine is when I am away from home, on work or a holiday. But then either I do not expect to use my Palm much, or it is easy enough to take a charger since I am taking luggage anyway. In other words, I am making special plans for the trip, so planning in how to keep my Palm charged is minimal extra hassle. The important thing with a PDA is that you do not have to think about how to keep it charged in your day to day routine.

And if your day to day routine keeps you away from the desktop for long periods, you might note that the T|E charger is so small and light, that for a while I thought of carrying it about with me all the time anyway.





Tungsten T3

I see Craig is back blogging and has got his T|3 woes sorted out at last. I will be interested to read his experiences, but I am happy I saved the money and went for the T|E - not least because our central heating boiler needs replacing this winter!


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Graffiti

I don't use Graffiti very much, being a Fitaly fan, but some of the command strokes are very useful, especially when you are setting up a new Palm. I immediately found that Graffiti2 on the T|E was not worth the learning curve. In fact, I always found Graffiti very natural and easy to use (though as slow as using block capitals), but realize that is in part because of some very useful tips I found while surfing the 'net one day. I have lost the original URL, but I made an iSilo version of the page, which is here. If this is your webpage I have nicked, get in touch and I will give appropriate credit and links.

Anyway, the point is that I followed the instructions here to install original Graffiti on the T|E, and it has worked fine ever since.

BTW, if anyone wants a free alternative to Graffiti, have a look at Millikeys.


Saturday, October 11, 2003



News about Cases



Proporta are doing their clever sales trick again: pre-order an aluminium case for your Tungsten E here and get a free neoprene case to tide you over while you wait.

Interesting aside: Guy Monson, who runs Proporta, was a journalist before he went into the PDA accessories business with the original ABS hardcase for the Psion Series 3. It was breaking a few of his own Psions that led him to design teh ultimate case. Back then the company was called Palm-Tec. I rather hope he comes up with an ABS case for the Tungsten E, because those cases certainly offered the best protection possible for a PDA.


Thursday, October 09, 2003



Update


I was away for the weekend, and have had a rather hectic week, so not much time for posting about my T|E experiences.

So far it is absolutely fine in day to day use, but not perfect. While I think the moral is that one shoud not even hope for perfection at this price, I will detail a few niggles:

1. The shiny surface marks very easily - even just the flip cover rubbing on it can leave a mark.
2. The 5-way navigator has a nice 'click ' to it, but this does not always correspond to a connectin being made. So you might press, hear the click, and yet nothing happens. This is especially bad with the up-direction.
3. When carried in a trouser pocket, the flip cver presses on the Calendar (aka Datebook) button. While there is an option to stop the T|E being turned on by hard button presses, that is a less than perfect solution since it requires one to use the fiddly Power button. I currently have TealLaunch set to 'Turn Off' with a long press on the offending button, and that solves most of the problems.
4. This is subjective (I might do some tests if I have a few minutes at the w/e), but it seems to me that there is a noticeable delay at power on. It might be an OS5.2.1 thing.

On teh basis of teh screen alone, I cannot imagie myself going back to the T|T. Closed and held in the hand, the T|T is much the better form factor, but in a pocket the T|E is the clear winner. Which is preferable when comparing the open T|T to teh T|E in the hand depends upon what case or cover you have with the T|T.



Friday, October 03, 2003



Cases


I asked E&B cases about a Slipper case for the T|E, specifically mentioning the need for a cut-out for the headphone jack, and received this reply:

"Thank you, we are currently working on a case, please check our website in a few weeks for pre-order opportunities."





USB charging



The trickle charge through USB seems quite effective. My original charge on the T|E was down to 17% after 5+ hours of intensive use at full brightness. Then I did a quick hotsync to update my iSilo files, and after the hotsync, the charge was at 29%.

I am deliberately trying to condition the battery by allowing the first full charge to fully discharge - but it looks very much like an hour or so plugged into the USB cable every day will keep the T|Es battery fully charged.

Brando has announced a screen protector for the T|E, shipping on the 8th October. I am waiting for a retractable USB cable.





FitalyStamp



I did not list the software I had installed on the T|E yesterday, so every little while it will occur to me to comment on something:

1. The FitalyStamp overlays for the T|T fit perfectly on the T|E, and the software works as well.
2. I have resurrected TealLaunch, and its 'Tungsten Specific' button mappings work with the T|E's 5 way navigator. I use press'n'hold left for Previous APP, and press'n'hold right for LauncherX.





Sound success!



Installing PalmAudioUpdate did the trick - interesting that it is not available as a separate download from PalmOne Support. Call me a cynic or a conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if there was not some sort of deal with Real here: deliberately cripple the software, provide a patch, but only distribute it with RealPlayer. That may have been the plan with the original T|T, but Real failed to get the player out in time so Palm was forced to release the patch as a separate download.

Once the sound was up to quality, I did notice something I had not noticed on the T|T: Audible books at 'FM quality' (Audible format 3) sound distinctly low grade compared to MP3s played on the T|E. Makes me think that this really is quite a capable music player.


Thursday, October 02, 2003



all is not perfect ...



Well, I borrowed a Windows PC at work to get the T|E registered for Audible and copy over my books again (there must be some 'encryption' which ties the copy on you SD card to a particular device, so if you change device you have to re-install the files - but at least Audible Manager now lets you do that to an SD card directly, without a hotsync). I had a quick play through the speaker to check it was all working, but did not get out my headphones until it was time to walk home.

YEUUCK! The sound is loud but lousy! So I have just spent some time trying to find out why no one has mentioned this. I think the solution may be that I did not install RealOne Player (preferring PocketTunes). If you read the 'MultiMedia Manual' carefully, you will see that RealOne has a Windows installer but Mac users have to do it themselves. And in the instructions for Mac users to install RealOne it says 'install all the .PRC files in the RealOne folder. And there in that folder is one called PalmAudioUpdate.prc. In other words, straight out of the box, the T|E needs a patch to play sound properly. Well done Palm - I thought only Micro$oft did that!

Unfortunately I left the USB cable at work, so I will report on the effect of installing this patch to-morrow.





T|E



Well, I have been playing with it for 3 hours now. The battery is down to 60%, but then I have done about 20 hotsyncs, plus a back-up to SD, and copied loads of stuff from teh SD card as well. SO that is roughly comparable to what I was getting on my TT.

What is not comparable to the TT is the screen - this is fantastic. I have yet to try it outside in bright sunlight, but inside it makes the TT seem gloomy - a bit like going back to a poor B&W screen.

Speed wise, the 126mHz OMAP seems as fast as the 144mHz in practice, and reading and writing to the card feels quicker.

32mb (28.8 user accessible) is masses of space. All teh software I have tried so far works, but one interesting thing is that the new 'Calendar' app, which replaces the Datebook and has categories, has imported my Datebk5 categories! I quite like it, and since 'Tasks' has alarms, I might even drop DateBk5.

Apart from the fingermarks and the flip-cover being imitation leather, this is a very impressive PDA. If you can make do with IR for connecting to phones, modems, keyboards etc., the T|E is a great buy.





New Toy


The blog has been very quiet recently due to my life getting in the way. But I joined in the feeding frenzy this week and bought a Tungsten E. Why? Well, it was very cheap, so I do not need to sell my T|T yet. And I was curious to see what this lowend 'business' device was like. And it comes with Docsto Go v.6 (the one with native file support), so I don't need to buy that. And it has a proper flip cover. And I use my T|T with teh slider open most of the time. [That's enough post facto rationalizations - Ed]

Anyway, it is having its first charge now and I have not turned it on yet. First impression: it is noticeably bigger in teh hand than a closed T|T, but also noticeably lighter. Overall, it feels cheap and plastic (the case is very shiny and finger marks show up instantly). The best quality parts of the package are the charger, which is very small and comes with international adapters making a travel charger unnecessary, and the stylus, which is made of metal and a decent size.

More later ...