3 July 2001

Palmed off

Sara’s Palm III is dead. I decided I could probably upgrade and pass her my Palm V.

However, after careful consideration I’ve come to the conclusion that all currently available Palm devices suck. That is, every model from every manufacturer has some fairly basic flaw that makes it unappealing to me.

Hard to believe? Let’s see…

  • Handspring Visor: 2MB RAM.
  • Handspring Visor Deluxe: Needs alkaline batteries, no rechargeables. Bulky plastic case. Slow.
  • Handspring Visor Platinum: It’s a Visor Deluxe but faster.
  • Handspring Visor Edge: Great design, great functionality. Unfortunately, the screen’s 160×160 and only really as good as the old Palm V screen, and the OS isn’t upgradeable to 4.0.
  • Palm Vx: Serial only, still OS 3.5, really no better than what I have except for the 8MB. And that’s not worth paying $300 for.
  • Palm m500: Great case, great size, good screen, latest OS… Price sucks. I mean, we’re talking about something with less expandability and less functionality than a Visor Platinum ($250), but it costs $400. Sure, I like the aluminium case, but not that much. And it’s still only 160×160 screen resolution.
  • Palm m505: It’s an m500 with a color screen for only $50 more. Which seems acceptable, until you see the screen. It’s reflective color, which is the right approach; but unfortunately, you’ll find a better screen on a $150 Nintendo Game Boy Advance. The m505’s screen is murky indoors, and the backlight hardly makes any difference. Plus it’s still only 160×160.
  • TRGPro: Yes! A decent screen resolution and a reasonable price. Unfortunately it’s butt ugly and still has no USB connectivity. (And I thought Palm were slow joining the 21st Century.)
  • Sony color CLIÉ: The color model with the current Palm OS is only on sale in Japan. The one with OS 3.5 is $400, but there’s no Mac support.

So the best option is $400 for either an m500 or an Edge. I’d probably get the Edge. In fact, I was going to—Handspring were running a promo where you got a free aluminium hardcase with the machine, and that was just enough to make me decide to go for it. So I went into two of the stores where the promo was allegedly happening—and neither of them had heard anything about it. So I went home again.

Of course, what I really want is my Newton back. But with USB connectivity and desktop software that doesn’t suck.

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