---------- ---------- PC Pro Realworld Computing: Paul Lynch - PDAs

Palm V in New Clothes?

Palm are pushing their advertising behind the Palm V, with naked ballet dancers posed in black and white in the dailies and non-computer monthly press. The ads are eye-catching, but don't really say much to existing Palm users. I believe the term is "life-style" advertising. That's fine, and indicates that the PDA market is turning a new corner; it doesn't have to be geeky to use a PDA.

But despite the superficial welcome granted to the Palm V, easily eclipsing the sturdy and useful Palm IIIx, it has some flaws. Three of them, in fact. The case is officially not openable by users, being stuck together with some sort of sticky mastic compound. I am not recommending that anyone try this, but raising the case temperature a few degrees with a hair drying frees up this compound enough to be able to open the case. If you are then adept with a miniature soldering iron, it is possible to replace the standard 2 Mb RAM with 8 Mb. This isn't something I'd even consider attempting myself, but there are several web sites advertising an exchange service for upgraded Palm Vs. The difficulty in opening the case leads on to my next problem: the battery isn't user replaceable either. This means that, if you need to use the Palm V on a long trip away from mains power, you can't. Heavy use for a couple of days would be required to flatten a fully charged Li-Ion battery, so this won't affect most of us: but the associated problem will. After a while even a Li-Ion battery will die, probably after a couple of years of excellent service. When this comes about, it's time to junk your Palm V. Last problem: when Palm released the Palm III, this had a slightly modified hot sync connector, but you could just about jam a PalmPilot onto a Palm III cradle, and vice versa. It took a while for accessory manufacturers, like Option with their Snap-On GSM modem, to come up with a properly fitting case for Palm IIIs. The new connector is much neater, technically speaking, but there is no way to fit a Palm V onto a Palm III or PalmPilot cradle, or any other accessory. Palm like to compare their marketing to mobile phones, and have managed to duplicate one of the biggest problems slowing down upgraders in that market - accessory lock-in.

Palm V 8 Mb upgrade; http://www.efig.com

Words and design by:
Paul Lynch
Last updated: August 18, 1999

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