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Goodbye Palm, Hello iPaq

So, as you know from my previous rants, I made the decision to sell my Palm Vx. There was a variety of reasons for it, but mainly I wanted a) colour, and b) more memory (either in the device, or via storage).

I was all set to buy the Palm M505 model. I had lots of Palm software, I liked using the Palm OS, and at first, it felt natural to get that model. But after a lot of thinking about it, I ended up not going that direction – instead I went iPaq.

Here’s my iPaq sitting beside my notebook computer while I’m sitting outside today, writing this rant. I’ll get into the cool factor stuff about it in a minute, but hey, this is my rants page, and I’m about to rant big time over Palm.

I decided not to go for the M505 out of protest against Palm. The reasons are varied, but here’s the short list.

  1. Palm went and changed the connector, making some $450 worth of accessories I had for the Vx useless to me, including a folding keyboard, my Palm V modem, my battpac travel charger, and more.
  2. Palm is falling into the Apple/Steve Jobs mentality of the 80s – give the public only the barest minimal upgrades. Palm was king of the hill when they released the Palm V – the smallest full function PDA on the market – but they only released it with the 2mb of memory. It should have had 8mb, and was possible – but they saved that for the Vx. Now comes the 505, which should have been 16mb memory and a 320×320 screen. But they give us the same 8mb and the same 160pixel screen. Shame on you Palm.
  3. No multimedia capabilities built into it – where the hell are they, Palm?

All three of these points grated on me equally. Sony is able to bring out a brilliant 320×320 16bit colour screen model with full blown multimedia capabilities in their Clie NC710 model. Yes, the form factor is larger than the V/500 series Palms, but it was very possible for Palm to make their screen 320×320 pixels, and limited mp3 playback ability was also possible. (I would have bought the Sony, but it isn’t available in Canada).

No, Palm is saving the 320 screen and the multimedia for their Palm OS5 version, and their M520 whatever a year from now. They expect to sell millions of these “barely acceptable upgrade” M500 and M505 models, then get those people to buy their next year’s model – much like how Apple was under Jobs in the 80s – when each new Mac had minimal changes over the previous model – and certainly not state of the art for the time. “Hey! Check out the latest Mac SE IE EX! It now has a THIRTY meg hard drive, which is 10% bigger than  the previous model’s drive!!!”.

And don’t get me started on the connector change – I was seriously pissed at Palm, making me pay out another $150 for a new keyboard (a necessary tool for the Palm, IMO), and other accessories.

Because of this, Palm made me jump ship. Jump ship big time. I got myself an iPaq.

Now I’m not a fan yet of the Pocket PC platform. Microsoft still doesn’t get it. I can tell you why the Palm OS just kicks ass over the Pocket PC OS – the Palm *works*, is intuitive, is easy to use, and there’s literally 10s of thousands of apps available for it. The games for the Palm OS are simple both graphically and programming-wise, but are also highly addictive – anyone who’s played Bejeweled or Amusement Park can attest to this.

Pocket PC? Well, Microsoft at work. That should be all that should be said on it, but I’ll add stuff. Microsoft doesn’t get usability – things that took one or two taps and clicks on the Palm take 3, 4, 5 or more on the PocketPC. There is no real standard, no conventions… even Mikeysoft Apps on the PPC do similar things differently between different programs. I’m finding usability a real challenge. Maybe it’s because I’m so Palm ingrained, but usability study is a hobby of mine, and the PPC platform has a lot of work left.

But not all is negative. There are some serious cool factor components to the iPaq, and yes, even the PPC OS. Here’s a short list

  1. iPaq’s built in multimedia capabilities. For instance, audio note taking is one button press away from any app. Very sweet. Ability to record mp3s, avis, etc is also sweet. Playing mp3s and avis out of the box – sweet too. And I can even play DivX movies! Do that, Palm!
  2. Native Word support. I liked using WordSmith on the Palm, and it did an amazing job, but using actual Word docs in their native format on the PPC in Pocket Word is better. The ability to do drawings, tables, etc etc is pretty cool.
  3. Game quality is awesome. The iPaq has a problem where you can’t press more than one button simultaneously, but the games on the PPC rock.
  4. Networking ability – hook up the PC Card sleeve with one of my WiFi wireless network cards, and wallah, my PPC is net-connected. Soon, you can also do it with the Compact Flash sleeve, as WiFi CF cards are coming.
  5. Qmenu and QUtilities. Much needed software for the PPC. And the iPaq has them.

There’s more to like about it, but I’ll save those for another rant.



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