Dynamism for an unwarrantied Japanese import Zaurus re-flashed with a partially translated OS, though clearly the fact that some people are rather puts a hole in Sharp’s official position. Anyway, I waited a year or so to see if Sharp would relent and sell my a PDA I wanted, then crossed them off the list when they failed to do so.
So, my short list of options was: Tungsten T3, Tungsten T5, Sony CLIE PEG-TH55, Tapwave Zodiac.
The Tungsten T3 has a gratuitous sliding mechanism. The slider wasn’t going to protect the screen, and I couldn’t imagine any concievable circumstance where I’d want to make the screen smaller than it already was, so what was the point? The T5 kinda illustrates the uselessness of it. I expect it was purely a matter of wanting to recycle the case of the Tungsten T and just drop in a different screen instead of having to do a major redesign. So, not really very appealing.
Ah, the Tungsten T5. Looks like a fabulous device until you read some reviews. The biggest problem is that Pa1mOne b0rked the OS on the T5 and the Treo 650, so that every single database entry is now allocated in 512 byte chunks, like on a desktop PC. So if (like me) you carry small databases with hundreds of phone numbers, to-do items and scraps of info, suddenly they bloat out to 10x the size. To me, it seems like that rather ruins the point of the thing. Palm say they are going to fix it, but the fact that they’ve given Treo 650 owners free memory cards to make up for it suggests otherwise, and they’re keeping very quiet about fixing it for the T5. The T5 has 128MB, so allowing for bloat of the kind Treo 650 users have observed, it’s like a 32MB machine—and Palm think that’s OK.
Even ignoring the memory issue, though, there are other problems. The T5 has software compatibility issues. Most software developers are scrambling with updates, but good luck getting classic Palm freeware to run on it. The connector for sync is yet another new design, so none of the existing peripherals will work. And worst of all, it has no vibration mode. Yup, if you’re in a meeting, cinema, church or whatever, you can’t have it vibrate instead of beeping for alarms. It’s the same rather anemic speaker as the T3, and it’s mounted in the center of the back of the device, so as soon as you lay it on a desk, put it in a carrying case, or even hold it in your hand, the sound is badly muffled.
So in short, the T5 fails the basic functionality requirements due to some very poor design choices by Palm.
Next to be eliminated was the CLIE. Sony decided they weren’t interested in selling in the US any more. That left the Tapwave Zodiac, and I bought one.
Things I like about the Zodiac:
It has a graphics processor, leaving the CPU free to do actual CPU stuff, so performance is lightning-fast.
The stylus just clips on the back. I can see that getting lost.
The sync cable is hard to clip on; it tends to feel like it’s clipped on, only to suddenly drop off half way through a data transfer.
Case and dock cost extra. C’mon, guys, would it kill you to bundle a cheap neoprene carrying pouch?
Basically, it’s the nicest Palm device I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame that Tapwave’s strategy is to sell it as a game console, because it’s not so hot at being one of those. As a Palm organizer, though, it easily beats the competition—at least as far as the hardware is concerned.
© mathew 2017