Review: PalmOne Handheld PDA

I’ve just seen the latest PalmOne model known as the LiveDrive. It is pushing the boundaries as far as PDAs are concerned including a 4GB disk drive, it can act as a mobile media player as well as being a PDA, and still have enough space to save your important files that you can sync with your main computer using Bluetooth or WiFi. It also includes Documents to Go, and the Adobe reader as standard allowing you to keep (and edit) most of your important documents whilst on the move.

Unfortunately as I already have a PalmOne PDA I can’t justify the cost of purchasing one of these at the moment. I include a review of my current PDA which gives you an idea of what the PalmOne PDAs are like.

Review: PalmOne Tungsten T3

Tungsten T3
The PalmOne Tungsten T3 was a fairly recent model when I purchased it in December 2003. It is now being phased out replaced by the Tungsten T5, and the LiveDrive (see above). The main features of the T3 is the screen which slides out to give maximum space when open, but is compact when closed. It also has the option to rotate the screen to use in landscape or portrait mode, and has a soft graffiti area that can be hidden to again maximise the amount of useable screen area.

The PDA has bluetooth, but unfortunately doesn’t include Wi-Fi as standard. The bluetooth works with most mobile phones it worked with my Sony Ericsson T68i out of the box, and needed a small download for the Sony Ericsson K700i which I have now. Bluetooth works with a PC allowing you to sync information over bluetooth, although I found it easier to attach a USB cable, or use the docking cradle both of which can charge the PDA whilst synching. Using bluetooth it’s also possible to use over my home broadband connection. To do this with a windows computer may require the server edition or some other way of providing the ppp daemon, but it can be done for free with a linux computer.

The supplied web browser has a few issues, such as it’s lack of support for textarea’s within forms, but is useful for looking up information without having to go to the main computer. It has the option to work through a special proxy server that reformats the page and reduces the size of images to speed up download times. This makes web browsing workable over a standard mobile phone data connection.

The DataViz Documents to Go suite is included with the PDA which allows you to view and edit most office files. It doesn’t include Slides to Go as standard, but it is available if you purchase an upgrade. It includes software to act as an MP3 player using Real, but if you want to view video then it needs the Mplayer software. It has it’s own software for synch’ng most things, but uses XTNDConnect PC to connect to Outlook to sychronise mail, calendar, contacts, notes and to-do list. It works well but only on the default folders, requring a upgrade to use personal folders. I use XTNDConnect PC to synchronise Outlook to both my PDA and my mobile phone, so I purchased the upgrade allowing me to have a personal folder with the contact information rather than using my default outlook one.

The PDA includes 64MB on the PDA and then supports SD cards to add more memory. I’ve used up to a 512MB card which holds enough for a full compressed DVD video file. If you have a digital camera which uses SD cards then you can take the card out of the camera and view the pictures on the PDA giving you a much bigger screen than the camera display. There are also some software titles available on MMC cards, such as the Game Essentials.

In use I find that it is very capable for handling mail, appointments and the todo list. I’ve also used the notepad and Documents to Go a lot including writing large project documents with Documents to Go. Whenever a hotsynch is performed all the databases are backed up. I have had the battery full drain down, when it had been left without a charge for a long time, and as a result it lost all the data, but running a hotsync and all the programs and data were restored back to how they were before.

I have a bluetooth GPS and use the ViaMichelin Navigation Software (click this link for review of the software), which converts the PDA into a full GPS navigation system.

The major problem I have had is when I installed a logitech portable keyboard. The keyboard was older than the T3 and didn’t include support for the T3. As a result the T3 became unstable. I ended up resetting the whole PDA and changing my machine name, although I now realise I could have fixed it by just deleting the driver files that were installed.

All in all I’m very happy with the PDA, it performs everything you expect of a PDA with lots more with the bundled multimedia and office support.